I suggest you ...

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.

13,321 votes
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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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      • MS 31684 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Read the comments and open your eyes..please don't change good things to ugly...

      • MS 31684 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        we don't need this stupid theme extensions..we are used to color codes for visual studio...why u guys r changing things which people like...thts how u wana start developer hating Microsoft or what..the visual studio 2010 has the great theme and people want to be stable in this as you guys release a new version every 2 years...insane it is..i scrictly condemn this action which puts this organization at risk of peoples hatred..

      • ste commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This has nothing to do with personal taste - it's an accessibility issue!

        Surely this was brought up in the beta? oh wait.. it was.

        I've been considering Android development for a while now, but I love Visual Studio too much. That's why I've spent a day of theme/icon hacking, and after almost two weeks of trying to get used to it, it's still not usable.

        Thank you Microsoft - the desktop certainly is dead now!

      • Wayne Bloss commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I don't want to edit the theme or hack the good icons back in.

        I just want it to look good out of the box like VS 2010 did.

      • gerdi commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        amazes me how many votes basic little user interface tweeks are getting. I get the feeling that visual studio has become extremely popular. So much so that designers are opening up VS instead of photoshop.

        All you ppl complaining please do yourself a favor and download any other IDE ( free or other ) and use that and let the users trying to create a productive environment for development get on with issues pertaining to the actual framework and its integration with the IDE. You can sit and struggle with those platforms while we get on with it ... they do have "color" well not really xcode but hey apple made that so it must be good hey.

      • DevMaster commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The color theme editor can not recreate the vs2010 look and feel and thats what people want back!

      • metz2000 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This is a developer tool, please don't confuse it with Office and other end-user products (what should NOT be monochrome either!).
        And use Windows colour scheme what the user selects, don't ignore it!

      • Max commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Ugliest and useless interface ever .. It looks like its missing colors icons and so on, I first through did I miss something in the installation or do I need to take some acids to see colors in it ?! .. There are people out there working with this tool please come back to what it was in 2010 or even better 2008 .. Talking about consistency Office 2013 has at least colors to for its icon why not visual studio ?

        Dudes we are in 2012 soon 2013 and not in the 80s with an old mac! I guess we will unfortunately have to revert back to 2010 as is its not possible to work more than 1 hour as it is. What a shame ...

      • Andrew W commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks for the theme editor.

        A suggestion folks - use the theme editor but after your selection you need to re-import your colour/font settings from vs2010 as these are reset by the theme editor. This helped me.

        Still need to re-learn icons. They were perfect in vs2010, we knew them, we loved them so why oh why change them who had that as a metric? - Looking at the new ones while some may actually make more sense, the comment/uncomment icons for example this is not the point, the old ones are imprinted.

        With all due respect designers need to learn to step aside sometimes.

      • Mark Sowul commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        QFT, on the issue of (pointless) consistency:

        "While the Visual Studio 2010 visual appearance is unique, it does follow the Microsoft Windows UX guidelines. Microsoft does not use one standard visual appearance for all its products for multiple reasons, including:
        • Not every product has the same users and therefore the same UI is not appropriate everywhere
        • Microsoft has such a wide range of products, it would be impossible to do one visual appearance that is a "one size fits all." For example, it would be virtually impossible to use a single UI design for Zune, XBox, Visual Studio and Bing.
        • Different visual appearance of different products helps differentiate/brand them.
        • Having a single UI appearance would not give individual products flexibility to evolve as needed in response to trends, customer and business needs.

        If there are specific aspects of the Visual Studio 2010 UI that you find hinder the usability, I encourage you to follow up with these details.

        Thank you,
        Suzanne Hansen, Program Manager, Visual Studio Platform Shell Team"

        (See how many people complained about VS 2010, a whole 11 of them...versus 17 downvotes)

        What happened to her?

      • rchutch commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I had a thought where this new "direction" in user interfaces (Visual Studio, Office, MapPoint, Windows 8) might have come from...

        It all comes from when the people who grew up watching "Sponge Bob Square Pants" and "Ren & Stimpy" learned to accept those cartoons as the "state of art" for computer graphics.

        They have now grown up and become the ones who make the decisions as to what goes into the new generation product user interfaces.

        VS 2010 had something like "Finding Nemo" graphics; VS 2012 now has "Sponge Bob" graphics. The problem is that most of us grew up on "Finding Nemo" quality stuff. Our expectations just got too high - yeah - that's the problem.

        I hope I've not been too abstract...

      • Developer Art commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I have been reading all those infuriated comments since the beginning of the year. I was doubtful what to make out of it. Finally I succumbed to my curiosity and decided to give the thing a try. So I just downloaded and installed an Express edition. Well...

        In about 7 minutes my eyes started to ache from the "light" theme. I went to the menu and switched to the "dark" theme. Well...

        It's not usable either. The problem is too much contrast from very bright text on a dark background. It blurs in my eyes. It's an absolute no-go. The text should be softened otherwise it pops out and distracts you from the content. You see bright letters and bright lines but you lose the focus on your work.

        Therefore neither light nor dark theme are usable. Frankly I'm at a loss. Is that an innovation over VS 2010 design? It reminds me of the old MS-DOS days where there was a black screen with bright letters on it. I suppose I could take it upon myself to put up my own theme but I don't have neither time nor inclination to spend my precious time on something which should work out of the box.

        Furthermore all monochrome icons make it indeed very difficult to distinguish elements quickly. They look great when you dwell on them and meditate. But they don't work if you attempt to use them.

        What I also don't understand why when most of the icons are monochrome there are still very bright and colorful icons now and then. Forgot to replace them?

        VS 2010 was elegant, stylish, intellectual.
        VS 2012 is coarse and brutal.

        Take it from a programmer with an eye for design and usability (or a designer with a thing for programming) - VS 2012 design is unfortunate with very low usability. It must be fixed. And given that just about everything about it is unfortunate the wisest course of action would be to reverse to 2010 design and continue to inject little improvements now and then where they make sense and the community votes up. The 2012 should be discarded completely.

        I think I will be staying with 2010 for the time being. I can live with it for a few more years without a problem.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I done with visual studio - **** themes. the whole thing is ******* slow. i am switching to developing using sublime text and using build scripts **** you visual studio even if it means losing intellisense and otehr ****

      • Rick C. Hodgin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Phil, hadn't thought of that. Well, as another poster said... "Eclipse is even starting to look inviting, and that's saying something..." Just about true.

      • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Macintosh icons eventually became full-color after ~15 years. Are MS going to repeat evolution of Macintosh, and we must wait same 15 years till UI come back into sanity?

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