Visual Studio 11 Beta Won't Reflect Final Look and Feel
If you have questions about the Visual Studio 11 beta, Jason Zander, the Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of Visual Studio, posted a blog this week that addresses frequently asked questions, and serves as a helpful cheat sheet on what's supported and what isn't.
Bring Back Color
Patrick Smacchia, a commenter on the blog, asked Zander a question that is on many developers' minds, based on the sheer number of people who have voiced their dismay at some of the unexpected UI changes in the Visual Studio 11 beta:
The community [is] clearly concerned about the greyish icons, maybe we could add the question:
Is there a chance that the VS team takes account of the thousands of negative [comments] and feedback concerning greyish icons, and switches back to VS pre-11 colorful icons?
@Patrick - we have definitely heard the feedback. As mentioned above, the beta is about getting feedback and will not reflect the final look and feel.
The beta does "not reflect the final look and feel." If that's true, developers have reason to be hopeful that their collective voices have been heard and could result in positive changes. However, if history is any guide, once a monster product like Visual Studio has reached the beta stage, any changes have been relatively minor -- outside of features not ready for primetime dropping out.
Reaction to the "new developer experience" has been dominated by naysayers, who either hate it or complain that Microsoft has just gone way too far with its changes. The Add some color to Visual Studio 11 beta suggestion on the visualstudio.uservoice.forum has drawn more than 3,500 votes; and many of these people are enraged.
The lack of color icons and lines, in particular, makes coding in Visual Studio 11 depressing for some people, and challenging for others, who say it's harder to navigate in the IDE. Developers who commented on my recent blog, "Visual Studio 11 Gets a New Look," echoed those sentiments:
I just looked at the VS11 screenshots. Typical of Microsoft's do-it-our-way happy talk they claim their new monochromatic UI is wildly popular with developers even as the blog comments aren't. This is the ribbon bar fiasco revisited…
[T]he UI is just horrid. I find it immensely difficult to pick out an icon, delineate borders etc. Colors GREATLY help me to locate what I need quickly, and the contrast is much needed (at least for me). The new icons and look just utterly stink. The overall look/feel is dreary and depressing, like being deprived of sunlight. What is up with Microsoft?! They think (I guess because of some lame research) that people want this on their desktop? That they want all this minimalism? Maybe sometime but not bloody everywhere! This whole metro thing started out nicely but is now getting waaaay out of control….
The Coca-Cola Company has introduced some changes over the years that got customers riled up, and then quickly backtracked. New Coke bombed. A color change to the cans of Classic Coke from red, to a white polar bear theme over the holidays, got the thumbs down. Now the company, along with other manufacturers of caramel-colored soft drinks, is facing the possibility of carcinogen warning on its product label and must tinker with the formula. I better stock up now.
Lately, when consumers revolt en masse, companies react--and fast. Netflix, Bank of America and a laundry list of other companies either misjudged their base, or were forced to abandon strategies because customers left in droves and opted for competitors' services.
Is complex software any different? Many .NET developers, whose livelihoods depend on Microsoft, could opt to stay on Visual Studio 2010. Microsoft is trying to cast a wider net, but it may have to make some concessions with the Visual Studio 11 interface to keep its base moving forward, especially with the arrival of Windows 8 Metro-style development, which requires Visual Studio 11 (Express or higher versions).
Express your thoughts on the new developer experience in Visual Studio 11. Are you more productive, getting acclimated to the changes or completely turned off by the reductions in the interface and limited use of color? Do you think Microsoft can re-introduce color (perhaps as an option) or modify parts of the interface before the final release? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Kathleen Richards on 03/13/2012 at 6:54 PM