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.
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
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
@JeffLan just becaues something is new it DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO LIKE IT, nor it means that it is automatically better than the previous "thing". Just because we are developers we do not have to jump on every new product and start like it, do we? We should try it and then based on our personal experience we should form and express our opinion. But that doesn't mean that we should like it nor that we should accept it. Get it!
P.S. Note that this do not apply if you in group of adults in age range between 15 to 25.
I want my colors back
The sky is not falling. Change != bad. If you have any criticism of something that has changed then it's YOU. Realize that you're just adamant to change. Microsoft knows what you like and what's best for you better than you do.
Accept that you're only a paying customer. Just resign to pay and use the unappealing and less user friendly UI that has been given to you by your lords.
Sheesh! Get over it!
Robert Fulton commented
I like the overall 'Dark' and 'Light' default themes, but I have to agree about the colors and the icons. At least give us a choice on that...
The sky is falling... The sky is falling... Change = bad.
Get a grip people! You work in the tech field. Things change. That's the nature of our biz. I've used the new VS for a few days and am already getting used to the new scheme. Most (not all) but most of the new icons are plenty clear. They are just different. Sheesh! Get over it!
Is Microsoft going to quit from business? Is this a secret plan for migrate all customers to Apple?
Sly Gryphon commented
Color sounds nice, but (like the Ribbon in Office) go with the statistical results of useability studies.
Nicholas Bedford commented
Installed Visual Studio 2011 beta hoping to get some time in with the new features and additions but the UI *distracted* me to the point of needing to get it off my system. It's currently uninstalling. I'm too adamant of the importance of colour and shape in the human visual perception pathway. Not only that, we have visual muscle memory. Absolutely disgusting. It also made my icons look like slates from the Stone Age.
Ian Bradley commented
I can sort of see what you've tried to do with the monochrome look, but it doesn't work. Not even slightly. I have a few of the early extensions which already work in 2011 running and it is quite jarring when they add a colour icon to a monochrome toolbar. I much prefer their colour icons to your monochrome ones though.
I really don't want to be developing in this environment for the next few years. Don't leave it to the community to provide themes, fix it please.
Metro on tablets and phones OK but on the desktop with mouse and keyboard instead of touch it will fail even more then Vista failed, I've absolutely no doubt about that.
I rather switch to Apple or Ubuntu which both have a decent desktop UI.
Karl Shifflett commented
VS is no longer fun to work with. How do black icons make me work better, faster or more productive. On top of that, you have changed the actual icon for some functions like, "Comment and Uncomment" selected lines of code. Whatever happened to Fail Fast at Microsoft. Was this UI vetted inside Microsoft?
May be you guys disagree with me. Blend don't have color icons !!!
I like the interface, both gray and black.
May be there should be a colored icon theme for those who need colors...
Tudor Turcu commented
Indeed, it's VERY unproductive and frustrating to have only B&W icons - let at least us install custom icons sets.
IBM, in 1981, invented the first graphics adapter, but didn't know microsoft would simply use black&white or grayscale themes in 2012!
Started using VS 11, got depressed by the UI, switched to VS2010 and immediately my mood lightened - 'nuff said.
It's not about admiring, it's about overall impression and usability and user experience. Those are all very imortant principles of inreractive design and am afraid that MS just violated all of them in one go.
Secondly, your main reason for going to restaurant is to eat, yet I'm sure you care about the "look and feel" the place make on you, don't you? You don't want to eat in depressing looking place where waiting staff is unhelpfull and arrogant, or you don't mind because you're there just to eat?
1. Let user decide how he wants to use it
2. Make look custimizable
3. what I mean by this is:
a) just full editor window (nothing else visible)
b) if user wants toolbars, menus etc he ctrl + right clicks , and all those things are visible now
c) user can pin/unpin certain things so they stay visible all the time
d) user can customize how those things look (color/icon)
I'm sure there have been many credible and helpful suggestions here for improvements to the VS11 IDE look and feel. But for me personally I just don't get the passion around multi-color icons. With the heat being generated here, it seems like people fire up Visual Studio just to admire the beauty of toolbar icons... "ooh... just look at that scissors-icon, it's like the glint of sunlight is cascading off of its shiny really-sharp blades! If only they would animate it: opening... closing... then it would be so... scissors-ish!" For me, I'm too busy trying to actually get **** done with this tool and meet deadlines, I'm not looking to it to brighten my day in some sort of zen-like overload of technicolor. If MS comes up with a way to just get Visual Studio out of the way.. like saying they're trying to meet the needs of devs who are code-focused, and make the editor as slick and awesome as humanly-possible, that works!
Tom Zschaage commented
When reading the comments there is a clear direction: Users are not just disliking the new style, they are hating it. So I guess it is very import for MS to rethink about removing the color from VS (or better undo the new style).
We also thought about using single color, simple shaped icons to reduce costs. However, this had not good feedback and we now use colorful icons. I personally hope to see colorful icons in VS final version. If not I hope someone is writing a "plugin" I would definetly buy it. Because I do not want to work with such an ugly looking UI (shame on the designers).
What kind of F***d up world do we live in where someone decided that re-drawing all the icons was more important THAN MAKING THE OPTIONS DIALOG RESIZABLE??!!!!
I can live with the horrid looking little grey toolbar icons, as I've learnt Ctrl-S to save etc, but I am really upset about the state of Solution Explorer. It is just so terrible to use on a medium sized project, I just can't put into words. I can't imagine what it would be like on a large project. Finding anything at a glance is impossible.
Obviously there is an "Emprorer's new Clothes" culture in MS, how else can you explain this making it to Beta???
Won't somebody please think of the children?