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.

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    MichielMichiel 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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      • MichaelMichael commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I used to work with Visual Studio 6, 2003 and 2008 on Windows and MonoDevelop on Mac. And up to now I never had the "need" to change the UI of an IDE immediately after starting it the 1st time. But with Visual Studio 2012 before starting to code or explore any new features I spent 2 hours of customizing the UI, using the "Color Theme Editor" and the registry patch for disabling the uppercase style in the main menu bar. And up to now Iam still not satisfied.

        Other comments talk about bad usability regaring to the UI I don't know if this is really the case.
        but if I look at Studio 2012 it does not feel good and positive, no matter what I do to the colors.


      • ITMAGEITMAGE commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        You know I was just thinking about something. We've all been under the impression that Microsoft has changed the UI to be more inline with metro and such. However,,,, I wonder if there's another plan at work here. In not using the Windows themes, colors and icons, maybe they're trying to make VS more platform agnostic, which would mean this might be a step in making VS easier to port it to another OS. I'm probably way off base here, but hey who knows.

        Just thinking out loud.

      • ITMAGEITMAGE commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        " should support the features of the given operating system. In other words - VS 2012 running on Windows 7 should support Aero and the other visual features"

        Absolutely agree.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        To be more specific, I think Microsoft products running on a Microsoft operating system should support the features of the given operating system.

        In other words - VS 2012 running on Windows 7 should support Aero and the other visual features.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Chris - no problem. For me personally this is more of a “what the...” moment than hate for 2012 - VS 2012 has good bones and poor skin. It's beautiful on the inside. I personally don’t care for the new (old) look and think a return to the 2010 skin would be a better and more visually compatible solution.

      • ChrisChris commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Not quite sure why there's so much hate for VS 2012. Once I got it set up the way I wanted it (for example, by switching to a custom dark theme), and got used to certain feature changes (like the TFS interface), I definitely prefer it to 2010 and I find myself working just as efficiently, if not more so, than with 2010. I'm a front-end developer and the js/css support in 2012 makes it worth the switch for me. I agree that the default setup is ugly and it's well worth the time to put some customization effort into the IDE.

        (By the way, I don't work for Microsoft and I'm not a salesperson. I'm just voicing my personal opinion.)

      • Ben BowenBen Bowen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The color theme editor does not begin to redress the issues introduced by this UI change. Restore the UI from 2010, or at least make that an option. There is a huge population of developers that loved VS 2010 and whose productivity is negatively affected by the horrendous changes introduced by this version. This is terrible, insipid, bordering on unusable.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I don't know if this is true or not but I stumbled across this doing some research on whether or not we should actually consider switching platforms.


        Microsoft, if this is true make sure you keep Aero and put the chrome back into Visual Studio i.e. give us an option for the 2010 interface. There's still quite a few business application developers out here and there's no demand for Metro apps. I recognize and appreciate what you're trying to do and I have some empathy but honestly you were warned when you asked everyone what we thought of this.

        One other thing just in case someone is actually paying attention to this. Your font technology is not working well. Could we please clean this up or at the very least put an option in there to not use it. I strip it out of Win 7, pick a nice True Type font and everything looks better... well everything except your browser. Why do this?

      • Anthony StiversAnthony Stivers commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I seriously doubt any of Microsoft's programmers have spent a significant amount of time in VS 11. If they have, they certainly switched from the default them to the dark theme. This is a major failure on Microsoft's part.

      • Rashid MansoorRashid Mansoor commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        On the country I've never been more efficient with Vis Studio. I suppose it could use some colour, but I really like how compact everything is now.

      • ALAL commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        VS 2012 UI is a step back. Things are difficult to find and your monocrome icons (which they are not called icons anymore) are difficult to find, see and even understand. You should have made a product that is intuitive and easy to use, you have done the opposite.


      • PaulPaul commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The layout of 2012 is good and I like a lot of the new features (My Work especially), but I'd really much prefer the overall skin/colour scheme of Vs2010.... it's just so much kinder on the eye.

        Like many people here I'm experiencing eye strain when using the new interface. I also find it much more difficult to scan & find places to click - tabs, buttons, toolbar etc. The new style doesn't demarcate different areas strongly enough.

        I appreciate the efforts to move forward, but I'd just ask we have a skin theme so that we can choose what works for us best.

      • SequiturianSequiturian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        When I first noticed the monocolor icons, I thought I had real problems: I had suddenly become completely color-blind to all spectrums!!! Well, that was not it; I could see colors outside my flat-screen. It had to be a hardware problem with my monitor causing it to lose all color!!! Again, that wasn't it, since other apps displayed properly. It wasn't until I noticed the terrible all-caps menus that I finally figured out that Doug Turnure was really pulling a fast one on developers. Yeah, it was an April-fools joke of the worse kind. Except, it wasn't April. The only explanation was "bath-salts" at Redmond -- the Visual Studio development team had turned into zombies.
        Yeah... that's the ticket.

      • Ashma DoodhAshma Doodh commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Windows 8's Metro UI is a garbage so that doesn't mean you guys should force us ie Windows 7 users the same old garbage. One thing that really wonders me is who was responsible for designing this garbage UI?

      • job Thimayaljob Thimayal commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am going to call CDW and return my copy of Visual Studio 2012.
        The funny thing is they upgraded me for free to Visual Studio 2012 from Visual Studio 2010 because I complained about Intellisense completely missing in Visual Studio 2010 native C++. They took it out because they did not have enough time to add the feature..the same Microsoft attitude we see now.

        I guess in the future, I have to wait an year or two and completely review future Visual Studio release to make sure that they did not ***** up.

      • job Thimayaljob Thimayal commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The GUI looks really bland and it is very hard to distinguish items in Solution explorer.
        My question is if the app used to make all other apps follows this paradigm, shouldn't all apps in windows use this?
        How about this webpage itself? How about Windows 8 ? How about every app in windows 8
        This what you need to do:
        Just have a simple menu in the beginning in Visual Studio 2012 for people to chose multiple themes. Themes with new monochrome. Themes with Color. Themes with Visual Studio 2010 icons.
        Somebody said wait 3 months and try use this features.
        We are not guinea pigs to waste our time to try see if this will work or that will work. We want options to do what we want.
        If Metro Visual Studio is a problem- have them use a different GUI

      • Peter CrabtreePeter Crabtree commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        A color theme editor, as if that would fix things, because the problem is that we developers are so sad that we can't have a blue background.

        Look, we're developers. Most of us use ugly tools with stupid colors all the time (insert some kind of Eclipse joke). Some of us care about having exactly the colors we want exactly where we want them. Most of us don't.

        What we all care about is the usability advantages color brings: Being able to look down a list of files in the Solution explorer and immediately identify the icon we're looking for. Having a clear visual distinction between conceptually distinct elements of the UI.

        Look, the new icons are neat in that they're more distinct in shape. That's good! And there's even a bit of color in them now. Also good!

        But if you think the color theme editor is a decent response, you missed the biggest point of the suggestion:

        "Usability studies have shown that [...] color help[s] to distinguish visual elements in a UI"

        Notice where Michiel complains about it: Toolbars and Icons. Can I edit those in the Theme Editor? Wait, don't answer, because it doesn't matter. I'm not making my own hundreds of icons for Visual Studio.

        Colors help when scanning over a great many items, help to visually group things, help to make icons more memorable, helps to make icons more obvious in their function, etc.

        So please bring back (more) color.

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