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
Ronan Thibaudau commented
This is a horrible horrible choice. As someone who's pushed very hard in his previous company for new versions of VS, and now self employed and paying quite a few k$ for VS / year i'm very sad that things got this way.
There is zero reason to change a working UI, don't change things that work, not without prior feedback, even if you had received good feedback this would have been a horrible decision, just one you'd have been Lucky on. Posting early concepts costs but a few minuts and could have told you how poorly received all of this would be.
On a technical level this is also a very bad decision, i love WPF, i love it very much, but you rewriter a large tool in WPF and then . . . give us a ****** skin , not optional but instead of the old one? So let me get this straight, you waste resources on something that everyone hates, and can't turn off? Why not take advantage of using WPF and , you know, do a large undo on all that work, and transform it in a usefull feature, keep the old UI, making it themable throught xaml files, make a codeplex project with the xaml overrides for the grey / dark themes for those who want it (or even ship them with VS), everyone's happy, all the haters will not commit suicide due to grey depression, your product gets a new feature that should be pretty cheap to implement, and those who actually liked the new theme can still enjoy them, as well as those few select ones wanting fushia gradient font color who can roll their own!
There is no excuse for this, you have the tech to revert it, go do an undo, and make a theme framework. It's a win for everyone and, most importantly, not a loose for anyone!
Robert: visual studio is a tool for developers first and, since blend came in, not at all for designers, why should the "default" be the one that targets the population that is supposed to be using a dedicated tool . . . that already has the look that population seeks?
I would prefer if the color and icons remained the same as VS 2010 but were less saturated. If I take a screenshot of VS 2010 and reduce the saturation of everything except the code window it looks OK, attention is drawn to the code but the solution explorer and toolbars are still familiar.
Bill Menees commented
::: HATE ::::::::::::::::::::
I'd give this suggestion 10 votes if I could. I've never been distracted by the color in VS 20xx, but I am constantly distracted by the lack of it in VS 11 Beta.
I've used VS 11 Beta a while now, and I HATE its lack of color. My team members have said, "If that's how VS 11 looks, I don't want to upgrade to it."
Lack of color sucks. Nobody buys black and white TVs, cameras don't take black and white pictures, and no real programmers code in Notepad without syntax highlighting (i.e., color). I'm absolutely floored that a whole UI design team would think that removing color from all the icons would be an improvement. This is an epic fail. It's about as nice as Microsoft Bob, except VS 11 Beta is uglier!
Although I do like the new style, I do agree with the OP.
Colors help a lot in identifying particular icons on the screen without bothering to even recognize what's even in the icon.
Removing the colors would indeed be a 'modern' attitude of MSFT, but is still inefficient in the development area where icons means a lot, much more than other environments.
I am very glad that Microsoft is experimenting with new looks, but the color removal is just a plain & simple miss for me. It's aggravating and a productivity killer.
Chris Wright commented
Spent some more time using VS 11 BETA today and I can honestly say that if the UI doesn't change a lot there is no way I will ever buy this product. It amazes me that such a terrible UI design got this far, but if it isn't radically changed by launch time then you are going to lose A LOT of customers.
Stijn Herreman commented
You might as well remove every single icon. The goal of icons is to quickly recognise something, with all this grey I don't recognise a single ******* thing.
Craig Larsen commented
We absolutely need the option to give us the same kind of coloring for IDE icons and toolbar objects as we have in VS2010. IMO, the current UI for VS 11 Beta is incredibly painful to use !
It's not ONLY color that's needed... removing the "line work" to such an extent pretty much makes everything a muddle. The tabs at the bottom of the windows (output, debug, error) are particularly messy without line-work.
TOO MUCH chrome is bad. TOO LITTLE visual distinction makes it hard to differentiate among UI elements. You guys have gone waaaaay too far on this. It creates exactly the OPPOSITE effect from what's desired. You have to take your eyes OFF the code you're writing and look carefully at the interface elements to get your work done.
Please, please, please... fix this before release. I've got to stare at this UI every day of my life.
Stephan Tolksdorf commented
Please just give us an additional "Classic" color theme similar to the one in the VS 11 developer preview.
Richard Yung commented
I think...if add the Metro App, can use new Theme, and if add the Normal Desktop App/Web App... developers can choose classic theme or the new theme...
This is exactly what I thought when I opened the environment for the very first time. I know the idea was to have it look clean and professional, but remember most of us developers like some color in our lives! Gray make me feel like a cloudy day, I think a little sun shine brightens everyones day!
Pent Ploompuu commented
My opinion of the new UI is exactly the same as Ami Schreiber's:
"I have liked EVERY new version of Visual Studio that you guys have rolled out since the days of Visual Interdev, so this is not an issue of someone like me "resisting change"."
In fact, I was quite excited about the VS11 developer preview already, but then came the beta...
Please listen Visual Studio team. I would like the option to turn the color on as well.
Its nonsense the argument of "focus on code". When I'm coding, I never got distracted by an icon, neither 98% of developers do, I'm sure.
Following this argument, lets remove all icons then. When they are all gray, they all look the same.
Also lets remove the the code editor colors. "The 'public' keyword is distracting me because it is blue"
Phil Barila commented
The stark black on gray (or optional white on dark grey) color scheme feels "unfinished". I feel like I'm working with an alpha, not a Beta that is close enough to done that you offered a Go Live license.
Other than the color scheme, which leaves me feeling snow blind after using it a while, I like the new release. Fix the colors and I think you have a winner!
Great point about color in dialog boxes - when that's on your screen, you're not paying attention to anything else.
You're absolutely right about the helpfulness of color in finding the project type you're looking for, I also didn't realize how much it helps until using VS 11.
Joe, having to move the mouse over every item one wants to look at would be terribly inefficient. Evolution solved the eye/brain's problem of prioritizing the stuff in the center. Items in the peripheral field of view are not distracting as long as they do not move or blink. Peripheral vision is still in color.
BTW, crummy gray icons appear in Windows Explorer.
Even leaving the UI colorless until a toolbox becomes active (or maybe even a mouse hover) would be a massive improvement.
Furthermore, if you don't want to break the design decision to keep the UI from being too distracting, at least add some color to the dialogs. The "New Project" dialog, for example. Those *are* the thing the user is focusing on while they're up.
I never realized how much I used to rely on the colors to find a particular project color until trying out VS11 beta.