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Add some color to Visual Studio 2012

Usability studies have shown that both shape and color help to distinguis visual elements in a UI. The upcoming/current beta release of Visual Studio 2011 has removed color from the toolbars and from icons in e.g. the Solution Explorer.

Please make this optional so those of us that want a more accessible and user friendly IDE can have their cake and eat it too.

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    Michiel shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Updated Status: 7/2/2013

    Thanks to everyone who voted and commented on this issue. Visual Studio 2013 has increased color and contrast use within the user interface while continuing to focus on giving the content you are creating and editing visual prominence. We’ve utilized the feedback you gave us to help refine our approach to color and contrast within three main areas: 1) we added color to icons and reduced line weights to improve icon scan-ability and to better communicate icon meaning and categorization; 2) we added line work and raised contrast levels to increase visual separation between screen regions; 3) we included a built-in “Blue” theme option at product first launch to better support user choice.

    In keeping with these three areas we have made many changes to the Visual Studio 2013 built-in themes. In high utilization and icon intensive areas of the product, such as common toolbar actions and code hierarchy elements, we refined the color and/or line weight of over 1,000 commonly used icons resulting in color being applied to ~80% of standard and debug toolbar icons, ~75% of code hierarchy icons, and 100% of active notifications. In both the Light and Dark themes we increased contrast levels and introduced more border line work to better highlight the edges of content areas such as input fields, tool window borders, active selection states, etc. We also introduced the ability to choose the theme that best meets your preferences and work environment needs as a part of the product first launch experience.

    Many of the changes we’ve made are subtle in nature but broad reaching in their application. As Visual Studio 2013 Preview has now shipped, we’re closing this item to give your votes back for you to use on emerging topics. We encourage you to try out the changes we’ve made and then share additional feedback you might have.

    Visual Studio UX Team

    Hi folks,

    Take a look at the VS 2012 Color Theme Editor – it is an option for creating and editing your own Visual Studio themes.


    Doug Turnure – Visual Studio PM


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      • VinceJS commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Please add a 2010 color theme to VS2012, the light and dark are not working for me. One feels like working in the sun, the other it like I am working in a cave. I work in neither and need something in between!

      • SamCPP commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Not a very intuitive colour scheme for the new UI. Makes me wonder if MS developers sat some VS developers in front of VS2012 and asked them what they think of the new interface?

      • Jack commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The new UI just sucks - whoever designed this and more importantly whoever said "Yeah that's cool - let's ship it!!" should be fired!

        I love the new features but the UI is horrible.

        Microsoft listen to your community! Thousands of developers ******** about the UI can't be wrong!

      • Tomas Zima commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am another one here who is unable to look at VS2012 UI for more than 20-30 minutes. Hey MS please wake up, we want to work with VS but our eyes & brains do not accept your experiments.
        When using typography without lines to create structure, you need more space. When removing colors from objects, you need bigger objects to deliver the same information. But you combined it the wrong way: removed lines & colors without enlarging spaces/objects, and then put all objects even closer to each other.
        Quick solution I would suggest: VS2010 theme.

      • David Bradley commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I have been bragging about how good the IDE was getting with VS2010. I read that VS2012's interface was bad. I downloaded the RC today and unfortunately I agree. I am not looking forward to spending my next few years without the visual benefit that I am use to with VS2010. I don't think I would jump ship at this time but also don't thing the ride would be very enjoyable. Please change it back or at least give us developers the ability to change it ourselfs.

      • Joy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        For the first time I installed visual studio 2012 And I was absolutely stunned by its disgusting . Is that really Ms piece of **** ????? I cant believe the difference I had between 2012 and 2010 . 2010 was absolutely breeze with colors and beauty !! Well is that a trend in Microsoft that whatever developers / users like Microsoft needs to change it ? Whether the user / developer Likes it or not ????? Please bring back the colors of visual studio 2010 . We absolutely love it . Please dont remove that . That would be utterly disgusting to work on with 8 hours a day .

      • rchutch commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Phase I was releasing the beta with the really bad UI.

        Phase II was receiving all the complaints about it and really not doing anything about it.

        Phase III was releasing the product with the same really bad UI (remember, this is a product where its users typically sit in front of it all day long where it used to have a REALLY good UI).

        Phase IV is asking for users for comments and not ack'ing that there might be anything wrong.

        Phase V, I believe, just came with the MSDN article where MS tells us how it is really our fault if we have problems with the UI because the VS 2012 IDE is really a masterpiece. Read it for yourself.

      • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        >I need to know if I can keep developing on .Net, or become a Java developer and switch to Eclipse..
        Microsoft obviously trying to drive out developers from VS. What is not understandable - why? Is this intraspecies struggle, one political group in MS trying to kill successful project of another group?

      • Christian Hawkins commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Yeah, I gave this some time, thought maybe I'd get used to it... NOPE, STILL SUCKS!

        I'd bet the same idiots that thought the Office Ribbon was a good idea did this.

      • Janie Pumphrey commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        We need brighter color in all icons, but especially in the Solution Explorer icons.

        In VS 2010, I could use the colors in my peripheral vision to spot what I need and open it quickly - without taking time to look at the list in detail.

        In VS 2012, I need to look at the files and folders individually to check the shape of the icon, read the file name, etc. It's not efficient.

        The tiny splash of dull accent color in the icons isn't enough - we need the colors to be visible in peripheral vision.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        As everyone said, the UI is plain terrible! At first, I thought I would hate VS 2010, but when I used it, I absolutely loved it... so I'm not the kind of people who can't accept a change if it is good...
        Unfortunately, it is not the case here at all, the lack of colors makes my eyes hurt and decrease my productivity. I want to write code to make a living, not to become blind.

        How such a thing could ship is beyond me...
        Stop hiring art designers who don't have a clue about the applications they work on...
        Do developers at MS really use VS 2012? What do they say? Do you have a mutiny on board?

        It really makes me anxious for the future... what's next? A big ribbon in our VS, taking half of the screen?

        Anyway, why is there NO reply or feedback from the VS team on this since June? Will this get fixed by an add-in or service pack? Please tell...

        I need to know if I can keep developing on .Net, or become a Java developer and switch to Eclipse...

      • Hans Pfaff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The VS2012 GUI is as bad as it can get. Not enough contrast in toolbars, titlebars, tabs etc...
        Only now I can honor how wonderful the VS2010 GUI was.
        I hate having to look at this smeared blurr of like colors.
        Dark theme is all black in black, Light theme is white in white. This stresses my eyes and I am afraid this damages them in the long run.
        I customized my editor colors; unfortunately this is not possible with the rmainder of the %#@!*&^$# application.

      • Billy Carson commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This is the most disguisting and dissapointing UI I ever seen. When demostrated on MS conference I thought is was a joke. Later on I really thought it was a RC or beta.

        WTF is this crab. I can't be true I have to look at this piece of **** 8 hours a day :-(

        Gonna quit

      • RobM commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        DROP THE CAPS and add some colour. Surely MS must of checked with developers (real developers) before going live?!??! If they all agreed the CAPS and colour scheme was fine, then they can't be developers.
        I'm struggling with this guys, please allow us the option to change colour and remove the CAPS, who the **** liked the CAPS!

      • Ndh commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The dark theme is too dark, and the light is too light!
        And it is hard to differentiate different window areas!

      • radioman.lt commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        ..i wonder how long failure can continue without crashing the system, as microsoft they deeply know, how to save system and not corrupt anything else, immediate BSOD and restart is quite necessary, at least on windows systems ;}

      • Crispin Wright commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate


        I'm currently working on a gig where we have solutions with upwards of 350 projects, I've loaded them into VS2012.

        Scrolling up and down between projects to find anything is simply excrutiating.

        Even with Resharper helping me find files, classes and types e.t.c, I still do a fair bit of scrolling up and down as you can imagine. In terms of giving your team something measurable, I'd say it takes me at least three or four times longer to find any single item in solution explorer in VS2012 than it does in VS2010.

        In terms of using the actual UI for 8 hours a day, it's not even remotely funny.

        The new features in VS2012 are great, but the UI is absolutely and completely unusable.

        I'd say it's so bad it's comparable to the first fifteen minutes of the movie Elizabethtown. I feel sincerely sorry for whoever is Orlando Bloom....

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Please Please Add Some color to VS2012 IDE, and Drop the Caps!!! on menu items. VS2005-2008,Great IDE, VS2010 Even Better...Something went pear-shaped on VS2012.. makes me not want to use it at all

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