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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      • DerpDerp commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I've been loyal to Microsoft for years. This is the final straw. Goodbye Microsoft. In a perfect world, you would have stopped at the most stable version of XP then disappeared. Instead, I have stopped at 7 and now I shall disappear... from MS's sight at least.
        Better hope I don't innovate for your competition.

      • stevesteve commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Color theme editor is unusable in Express Editions.
        I'm still grateful these are free but why the grit-your-teeth, God-awful color/design?
        Other free IDE's don't punish me for using them....

      • exaltingexalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Is this new style (especially icons) for monochrome paper-printing, with skimp of ink?
        In a 21st century with paperless technologies?
        MS preparing to zombie apocalypse and all-out technological degradation?

      • Dave BlackDave Black commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The nice thing about opinion is that it is neither true nor false; it is what it is

      • JoelJoel commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        What makes it shouting down is implying that the complaints are completely meritless and that we are stupid for having an opinion that differs.

        It's possible that you're also being shouted down, but I don't think you're stupid for having an opinion that's different from mine. It's the way you're communicating rather than the content of what you're saying. It's rife with sarcasm and trivialization of the complaints that - while they might seem trivial to you - aren't factually trivial.

      • gerdigerdi commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Joel . I am sorry that i disagree with you . All these extras as @ITmage points out are all discernible with keyboard shortcuts if you bother to learn them, that is what is bugging me the most. Not only is there a keyboard shortcut for most tasks ( Let me point out that using keyboard shortcuts reduces the need to look around the IDE for icons at all ) but you can create your own You even know that you can create shortcuts for common tasks. "CHOICE. Give us an OPTION" the extension is there . That is whole power in this IDE. **** you can create a whole completely new version of VS through the isolated shell, yet there are only 2 issues on this forum regarding the shell.

        That is whole point of a toolbox is to make it your own. You want colorful icons with lol cats learn a bit of mef and just do it. As for "Quit shouting down anyone that disagrees with you." . The last comment was not directed at anyone and i could easily say the same about everyone disagreeing with me. You disagreeing with me ... why you shouting me down? God forbid we learn anything new through debate.

        What i am saying is the design is very well thought through of far beyond the appearance. The design is in the code that builds this IDE. But everyone wants everything they think they need at the convenience of a drive through.

      • ITMAGEITMAGE commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Joel: I agree with you completely. The editor window is only a portion of what we do. For those who think color/3-d icons are unimportant, try developing a project with a solution consisting of a couple of dozen projects and thousands of nested files within. Now go and quickly pick out the file you're looking for when there are no clearly discernible icons/colors. Or perhaps try drilling down into the architecture explorer which is also washed out with windows running into one another (no clear border). These two examples demonstrate just portion of where the problem lies. However set all that aside for a moment, and consider those of us with vision problems such as floaters. These are spots and lines in the vision path which are sometimes quite prominent. So when one looks at a flat surface, or a surface w/o contrast/color (like a blue sky, white wall) these things are all over. Same happens when there is a lack of contrast and color on the screen - the floaters are everywhere. Same happens with grey text and light blue hyperlinks - no contrast. Very annoying. Or consider people with chronic dry eyes who may have trouble focusing on something when all the objects are pale, and colors washed out. Now consider people with both of these issues and maybe you will begin to realize the problem. Try wearing a pair of glasses with spots all over them, and this doesn't even compare in depth with some people who have extreme cases of floaters. This is a real issue many of us face each and every day. It totally sucks and makes you feel like a sack of beaten potatoes left out in the sun. VS2008 and 2010 were fine and worked well for us, but VS2012 makes programming a **** on earth for those with these vision issues. So if you like VS2012 as it is, then that's fine and more power to you. However consider those of us who truly have difficulty with it (whatever that difficulty may be). All anyone here is asking for, is what Microsoft has always been about: CHOICE. Give us an OPTION. This is a real accessibility issue and I think perhaps we need to raise it to Microsoft as one. If they won't listen to reason, maybe they will listen to accessibility complaints.

      • JoelJoel commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @gerdi, turns out that a lot of what you do in an INTEGRATED Development Environment isn't coding. If you just care about the code, how about you go use Notepad and leave out the Intellisense, the Solution Explorer, the debugger, the compiler, and all the other wonderful features of the IDE? Those are all parts of the IDE that when combined are used way more than the code window is.

        The entire point of the IDE is that it lays these extremely common tasks out in a way that's intuitive and easy to work with and the Visual Studio interface, as it stands, is neither of those things. Quit shouting down anyone that disagrees with you.

      • gerdigerdi commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        cant wait till microsoft redesigns VS2012 to look like a playpen with big colorful letters in all the colors of the rainbow and little help boxes on every hover with big animated icons of little kittens teaching everybody how to use the IDE. God forbid they rebrand the IDE so that the main design focus is centered on the actual code editor , where pretty much all the work gets done. Who the **** do they think they are taking away the roundy icons confusing the complete **** out everyone . IT IS SO HARD TO DEVELOP AND WRITE CODE NOW >>> I DONT KNOW WHERE THE COLORFUL ICONS ARE!!!!!

      • JoelJoel commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I've been using VS2012 almost exclusively for 6 months with the color addon to make it VS2010-style blue and menu titles in normal (sane) case. I still do not like the UI.

        I've gotten used to the icons (in the sense that they don't bother me) but in the rare event when I go back to VS2010, it's shockingly clear how much the icons hinder the usability of the UI. Virtually all of my searching through the solution explorer takes 3 or 4 times as long simply because all the icons have two tones.

        The Team Explorer is easily the worst part of the entire package. I have to use it at my job (I happily use TortoiseSVN at home) and I still cannot believe anyone thought, in any reality, that UI would be a good idea. It's just wrong. They should reboot to the old UI layout and never ever talk about this dark time in the TFS UI.

        Other than those things, my only complaints with the UI after 6 months of using it day in and day out are that I wish there was more definition and separation to interface elements - sort of like VS2010. These help immensely for my brain. When all I see is a giant mass of a small number of colors, I can't logically partition anything and it just hurts usability all around. Nothing stands out so everything must be processed.

        I'm a lot less upset about the UI after all this time, but I'm by no means happy about it. It has not grown on me. I have not gotten used to it; it's still in my way whenever I go to do anything that isn't writing code.

        I feel like if the UI had been left alone in terms style for this release, it would've been the best Visual Studio release ever. Now it's just massive technical improvements that have been difficult to enjoy for me because what I interact with was not designed well for the purposes of development. For the record, this is pretty much the same sentiment I had at the beginning except now it's been validated by many, MANY hours of usage.

      • Dan AustinDan Austin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        So as PM, that means Doug Turnure must be the guy to tar and feather, yes?

        VS 2012 is great. Just needs a service pack with a MAKE IT LOOK LIKE ******* 2010 AND STOP ANNOYING ME WITH IDIOTIC DESIGN IDEAS button. MSDN looks lame now, Windows 8 sucks, touch laptop IS a stupid idea due to Gorilla Arm syndrome. You don't have to be Steve Jobs to figure this stuff out, guys. The one area MS really kicked *** at was dev tools, but it seems the company is completely bent on self-immolation.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Why Microsoft like to change the good things(guys) and use the bad things(guys)?

      • Rick C. HodginRick C. Hodgin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @brian you write "...User interface is so important to the success of a program..." Absolutely correct. There are some truly astounding compute and manipulation abilities out there in many FLOSS applications, most of which never got off the ground to any degree because they were wrapped in the hideous Linux-based X graphics system, which often required users to choose between library X, Y or Z, all of which were hideous compared to other solutions.

        In modern machines, the UI makes the application. Other problems have been solved. Data retrieval is no longer an issue with even FLOSS SQL engines. Data storage is no longer a problem with huge hard drives. Same for RAM or OS resources. The only thing that's left is making the thing beautiful, and this is what will differentiate products as much if not more than raw abilities.

        Win8, VS2012, fascism, monopolistically forced upon us, we have no choice if we want to maintain our Win32/64 apps beyond Win7 end-of-life. But make no mistake, it is hideous what being done to all of us.

        VS2012 is just the part I can't understand because end-users will NEVER see it. Only developers. Why do this to Windows developers? Microsoft's true bread-and-butter!

      • Rick C. HodginRick C. Hodgin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @radioman.It, you write "@Tom it's very ON topic, but remember this is ... world is ruled by fascism.. what else do you expect ;D soon there will be dark ages.. and you can write code on the stones ;}"

        I didn't realize there were other people out there who realized this is the way of things! I recommend a few eye-openers: Noam Chomsky Hegemony Or Survival (book/audio book), South of the Border (Netflix), The Untold History of the United States (********, Youtube).

      • gerdigerdi commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        rchutch : complains about someone's insults by insulting him. *facepalm*

        As for people not using windows 8 . who can blame them, it is such a vast difference from windows 7. God forbid they learn how to swipe with a mouse , i mean seriously that is some high level brain functionality.

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