Microsoft Updating UI in Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate

Based on feedback from Visual Studio 11 beta users, Microsoft is tweaking the user interface for the upcoming release candidate of VS11.

Microsoft announced that it will provide updates to the user interface in the upcoming release candidate of Visual Studio 11.

The upgrades include new applications of color to the development environment that many beta users complained was too dark and depressing, among other things. Microsoft released the beta of Visual Studio 11 in February.

In a May 8 blog post, Monty Hammontree, director of user experience for Microsoft Developer Tools Division, said:

"€œFor beta there has been a lot of feedback on the overall grayness of the experience. We heard your call for greater vitality in the user experience and have taken steps to both lighten and brighten the experience through the use of bolder theme accents and lighter background colors.€œThere are three main aspects of the design where we have increased the €˜energy€™ level of the Visual Studio 11 themes. The first is to lighten the grays used in the Visual Studio 11 light theme and window chrome to improve both the energy level and readability of the experience.€"

Hammontree said based on the feedback from the beta Microsoft set out to focus on three main themes:

  • An overall desire for more visual €œenergy€ and contrast
  • Calls for a more balanced application of Metro styling
  • A desire for greater icon clarity and differentiation through the use of color

Meanwhile, in a separate post, Jason Zander, Microsoft€™s Visual Studio vice president, said, €œAfter announcing the Visual Studio 11 Beta developer experience, we received considerable feedback on the UI. I want to thank you for all the comments you provided on this topic, and for taking the time to evaluate the beta release. At this point in the product cycle, we€™ve been reviewing all of the beta feedback, and working on product updates for RC. Today we€™re excited to share what these updates will look like for the UI.€

Microsoft also colorized the Status Bar to show IDE state changes such as when the IDE is in debug mode, Hammontree said. Limiting the use of all caps in certain areas was also a focus.

€œThe feedback relating to the fit of Metro style elements in the new experience has fallen into three main buckets,€ Hammontree said. €œThe use of all caps for tool window titling is an area where we€™ve heard your concerns. In line with our overall design principles for the release we€™ve made lightweight changes that give structure and emphasis to screen areas like tool window title bars, auto-hidden tabs, tab groups, and separators that doesn€™t require uppercasing the titles.€

Microsoft has removed all caps for tool window titles, auto-hidden tabs and tab group members, he added.

Moreover, €œFrom Visual Studio 11 Beta we heard a lot of concern about the removal of color from icons negatively affecting product usability, specifically where color icons helped quickly distinguish between similar items,€ Hammontree said. €œWe have addressed this concern by systematically adding color back to select commands, IntelliSense, and Solution hierarchy icons.€

Microsoft did not provide a time frame for when the release candidate of VS11 will be available. However, Hammontree said the company is looking forward to hearing what developers think of the UI changes in the RC.