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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    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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      • BryanJ commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        How **** depressing - It is a real mess. ( I could not have made a bigger mess if I tried. )

        I just cannot believe anyone can come up with this mess and try and say they have done research. Please MS you have absolutely no experts left and if you are listening to your own experts then fire them.

        You would have done better if you had done nothing.

        TO SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU, I AM SICK IN THE STOMACH TO SEE THIS MESS AS I HAVE BEEN AN MS FAN SINCE THE 1990's and I am just cannot see this lasting any longer.

        I went to the Apples store for some relief and I saw their amazing screen with fantastic resolutions, fonts and icon. This is where your experts should do research.

        Finally I have spend the last 2 weeks, complaining and trying to fix the stupid mess, instead of getting on with my programming.

        My suggestion is to recall the product and re-imburse me for all the time wasted on trying to make this product useable.

      • Guy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Microsoft please remove from your team all those developers that work for Sauron! The Visual studio 2012 theme is worthy of Chernobog! And please bring forth the light in the next update. I'm switchiing to Eclipse for the IDE. It's only take an hour of work to feel depressed with the new IDE theme.

      • David commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The color theme editor, whilst a welcome improvement, does NOT address the real problem, which is the difficulty of differentiating UI elements from each other - everything just blurs into one big mess, and it's hard to see where one element ends and the other starts.

        We need a "Theme Editor" rather than a "Color Theme Editor" - with a VS2010 theme as one of the available options.

      • Les Arnott commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The VS 2012 UI looks like a perfect example of HOW NOT TO DESIGN A USER interFACE. Microsoft should realize that professional developers care more about efficiency and productivity and less about fashion.

        Take the childish black and white toolbar icons for example. I want to quickly identify and click on such an icon maybe hundreds of times during my working day. I do not want to pause each time, checking which monochrome squiggle I intended to click. Color is an extremely powerful aid to identification.

        The CAPS registry tweak, the color theme add-on and the VSIP icon fix all help to restore an element of sanity. Let's hope Microsoft listens to the requirements of their paying customers.

      • Anna Metcalfe commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Roman I don't see how that's appropriate to the issues raised in this thread.

        BTW if you knew me you'd already know I'm very much one to weigh things up and come to a balanced judgement on both sides of any argument. That doesn't mean I won't call out things when I think they're misguided - but it does mean I have some understanding of the human factors that may have led them to end up that way.

      • Roman commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Anna Metcalfe, I suggest you study and put to use the book called "The Mood Cure" by Julia Ross. It could help you become less dependent on what other people say. You will be more easily able to live according to this principle: "Live and let live".

      • radioman.lt commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        "Because win8 doesn't have "all black&white" icons" ..oh it WILL ;} ..it will ;]
        ...it will be a joke of the age, ha ha

      • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Why everyone is talking about "it is all for consistency with win8"?
        From the start, VS2012 does NOT have consistency with win8!
        Because win8 doesn't have "all black&white" icons.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        There's over 111K downloads of the theme editor. I see the proliferation of Metro to MSDN and Blog content. Buttons and navigation targets the size of my mouse, barely contrasting colors selected for text, confusing layouts...

        How does the primary creator of so many things cool on the web fall so far? The principles responsible for the mess are leaving or being asked to clean out their desks. A person could be forgiven for thinking the desktop has taken the hit it has over ego's and personal agenda.

        And so here we are with the... the... mess.

        Not happy.

      • Axel Charpentier commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I don't understand what led MS to design this UI, consistency with MS UX Guidelines for win8 ?
        Well there is no consistency between users. An Win8 RT on surface user does not expect the same UI the a Software architect or a developer!!

        I am paid to use visual studio a build nice app, VS2012 makes my productivity fall dramatically. I am loosing time (and my company money) searching the right icon… we have lost all our marks and getting them back is a pain with this UI

        It is not a question of taste, it a question of usabaility/accessibility and productivity.
        For the first time in my career and as a head of architecture in my company, I'll not push for upgrading our dev tool …. because of an UI issue….absurde

        And the worth thing is this UI issue is likely to discourage people to use all new cool features of VS2012…

      • Jayson Parkour commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The VS 2012 Color Theme Editor doesn't seem to fix all the terrible icons and their lack of color. This is not a solution.

        This issue still has so many votes, because it is STILL not fixed.

      • exalting commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Gustavo Ganna>Girls have a good taste for visual
        It's very girlish - take all these scary and weird technical buttons, switches, indicators, and throw them away, or at least cover up with lacy doily. What do guys say, they understand it and use it for work? Actually, they just show off and boast!

      • Gustavo Ganna commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @exalting ... naaa I don't think so. Girls have a good taste for visual. This is the end result of letting the COLORBLIND guys at Redmond work on the UI.

        If you don't believe me, look at the Doug Turnure response, you can use the VS 2012 Color Theme Editor ... to change the UI's background color LOL.

        With a reply like that, makes me want to throw my useless led color monitor to the middle of the street, and reconnect my old Commodore 64 ... at least I could enjoy SIXTEEN colors.

      • Gustavo Ganna commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The NEW toolbars looks like Microsoft Visual Basic 1.0 for Windows 3.1 in 1991, that’s more than TWO DECADES AGO. Instead of moving forward you are forcing us to go backwards.

        This FAILED UI experiment it’s an insult to professional programmers who have invest more than 20 years coding.

        Finding the ErrorProvider control now took 2 minutes easily, when we should spec a white cross inside a red circle but no ... now everything is greyscale flat.

        You guys are INSULTING US, and spec that professionals do rewrite their minds and train for a new unnatural visual pattern recognizance in order to ATTEMPT to find something inside VS2012.

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