Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate Gets a Makeover
Microsoft has updated the Visual Studio 11 user interface in response to the backlash the company received from beta testers. Developers found fault with the new Metro styling that appeared without warning in the February preview.
The monochromatic UI changes caught many developers off guard, especially since Visual Studio 2010 had just gotten a facelift based on the IDE's migration to managed code with the use of Windows Presentation Foundation.
Microsoft asked for beta feedback, and developers, who were unhappy with the changes in Visual Studio 11, expressed their disapproval and, in some cases, outrage on blogs (including this one) and Microsoft forums. By mid-March, Jason Zander, the corporate vice president of Visual Studio, indicated in his blog that the Visual Studio 11 beta would not reflect the final look and feel of the IDE.
The UI updates, which will appear in the Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate, according to Microsoft, were highlighted in a Visual Studio blog, authored by Monty Hammontree, director of user experience for the Developer Tools Division, on Tuesday. Microsoft has not announced a release date for the Visual Studio 11 RC, but it's likely to drop around the same time as the next Windows 8 preview, which the company has indicated is slated for the first week of June.
In response to developer feedback, Microsoft is reintroducing some color into the Visual Studio 11 interface, limiting the use of all caps that appeared in tool windows, and offering a lighter theme (less gray). At this point, the VS 2010 theme, which many people have requested, is still not an option.
Developers who responded to Hammontree's post on Tuesday, by and large, expressed approval of the changes (shown in the Visual Studio blog via screenshots) and thanked Microsoft for responding to their feedback. Some Visual Studio developers indicated that the Metro look of Visual Studio 11 is a mistake on Microsoft's part because the IDE is a desktop app for professional developers. Others applauded the Metro styling, and welcomed the immersive direction in which Microsoft is clearly headed.
The use of capitalization in menus still appears to be a sticking point that got some pushback in the comments section. "A considerable improvement over the Beta--good job and thanks for listening!" said Matt Ring. "I would agree with several who disagree with the use of ALL CAPS in the Menu system. It definitely is reminiscent of the mainframe."
Another developer, who called himself Cappy, worried about the use of color in icons which, based on the screenshots, still looks somewhat limited:
"[W]ho will be the holder of the sacred knowledge of what gets colored icons and what does not? What about add-ins? What governs their icon? I think you're asking for a lot of inconsistencies down the road. Just swallow your pride and bring back color to all of the icons. You were wrong, now just accept it."
Express your thoughts on the UI changes in the Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate. Has Microsoft achieved a good balance of Metro styling without hindering usability? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @RichardsKath.
Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/08/2012 at 4:47 PM