Microsoft reveals more about Visual Studio 11

Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed that it would release the beta version of Visual Studio 11 on February 29th, the same day it also plans to launch Windows 8. Now the company has offered more information about Visual Studio 11 (a code name for the program's final title, which will likely be called Visual Studio 2012 when the final version is released).

In two new posts on the official Visual Studio blog site, Microsoft's Monty Hammontree goes over a number of the new changes and features for the software development program. One of the big changes for Visual Studio 11, as mentioned in the first blog post, is the lack of color in the user interface. The new version will allow users to pick from either a light gray or a darker black color, as seen above.

The UI has also simplified the artwork of the program's icons for Visual Studio 11. Hammontree writes:

While we understand that opinions on this new style of iconography may vary, an icon recognition study conducted with 76 participants, 40 existing and 36 new VS users, showed no negative effect in icon recognition rates for either group due to the glyph style transition.

The first blog post also goes over Quick Launch, which is designed to help developers search through the program's list of commands faster.

The second blog post talks about even more new features such as Hubs, created to help developers work on projects with a single window. There have also been improvements on how a developer previews his or her work in Visual Studio 11 and how they can keep track of previous work via the History feature.

Since the blog was updated a number of people have written comments that have not been favorable to the changes in Visual Studio 11's user interface and color designs. The blog posts have gotten an update message which states:

We hear you. There’s a lot of excitement about this release and a lot of passion about colors, designs, styles and icons. Know that we are listening to all your comments here, across social media and we are working hard to make Visual Studio 11 a fast, powerful and feature-rich product. Keep the comments coming, both good and bad. We are reading them all.

Image via Microsoft

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58 Comments

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Dr_Asik said,
The UI is fine. What matters is performance, reliability, new features in .NET, C#, WPF, C++, etc.

Now that .NET and WPF are central Windows components, they'll probably get more attention.

I still can't believe WPF 4 takes *five* seconds to display 1,5k objects in an ItemsControl. (that's fixed in WPF 4.5...).

ugh I sware the UI dev's at Microsoft have lost it..... VS wise 2002-2008 where fine, colored icons helped visualize types of object EASILY when working in class viewers, object browsers etc... VS2010 the UI people made it more colorful because they wanted to make it look nicer and show off the WPF interface they designed..... come 2012 and boom "colors are too distracting" and "everyone seems to understand this easily" yeah I find it more distracting everything is basically black and white... icons aren't as easy to find quickly when you are looking for a specific object type... this is just going to make it harder to use then easier...

and seriosuly put the darn ribbon in VS, you have so many commands and controls yet you say it was disorganized and hard to find, so we hid them more to show the most commonly used ones... or we could you know make controls dynamically available based on what you are doing? you know... like the ribbon does

neufuse said,
ugh I sware the UI dev's at Microsoft have lost it..... VS wise 2002-2008 where fine, colored icons helped visualize types of object EASILY when working in class viewers, object browsers etc... VS2010 the UI people made it more colorful because they wanted to make it look nicer and show off the WPF interface they designed..... come 2012 and boom "colors are too distracting" and "everyone seems to understand this easily" yeah I find it more distracting everything is basically black and white... icons aren't as easy to find quickly when you are looking for a specific object type... this is just going to make it harder to use then easier...

and seriosuly put the darn ribbon in VS, you have so many commands and controls yet you say it was disorganized and hard to find, so we hid them more to show the most commonly used ones... or we could you know make controls dynamically available based on what you are doing? you know... like the ribbon does

But when developing 'pretty' WPF and WinRT and WP7 applications, you DO NOT want the development tools to be distracting from your project. This is why graphic design and art applications ALWAYS have a minimal UI without 'jazzy/pretty' graphics dancing around what the artist is working on.

I know a lot of programmers don't have backgrounds in graphic design, but maybe it is time they took the time to learn a bit about basic rules of layout and graphics, and why when you paint you want a blank canvas and don't have a colorful psychedelic mask around your drawing.

It is time for 'ugly' Applications to die and be 'rare'. Maybe just the changes to VS will get people to talk about this and get developers to rethink the importance of a bit of graphic design understanding and training.

I'm not saying to go take a supplemental graphic design course at your local university, but there are videos on YouTube and even tutorials from Microsoft and Adobe on the basics that would benefit a lot of developers.

It is like the jokes about Linux applications looking like Windows applications from the 1990s. There is some truth in this, and the reason tends to be their lack of graphic design, so they mimic what they remember, and just don't see that esthetics's do matter in making software easier to use.

thenetavenger said,

But when developing 'pretty' WPF and WinRT and WP7 applications, you DO NOT want the development tools to be distracting from your project.

When developing that kind of stuff I'd used Blend for the UI! Blend is for designers, VS is for programmers. Get the difference!

I have mixed feelings about this. I really liked the look of VS 2010 (pretty much the 1st time I saw it). I do like the idea of VS 11 going monochrome, but I'm not so sure about that screenshot. The expression studio look has always been a mixed bag for me but for the most part, I prefer it to the Adobe Creative Suite look :-/

I don't think the icons look that nice, but they do seem to communicate their purposes well. I'd rather have a colour scheme like Windows 7 (light grey, white and cyan). I must confess at the moment I prefer how OS X has gone about going monochrome.

bgjerlow said,
The interface is way too dark. They should make it light instead

... the article clearly says you got a choice of light and dark themes, plus you'll be able to re-color the thing with a free addon.

Max Norris said,

... the article clearly says you got a choice of light and dark themes, plus you'll be able to re-color the thing with a free addon.

My bad, missed that part of the article

Max Norris said,

... the article clearly says you got a choice of light and dark themes, plus you'll be able to re-color the thing with a free addon.

re-color aka change the monochromattic color, and everything is now blue or red or whatever... VS use to use color to distinguish object types, heck the syntax highlighter in vs2010 was one of the most colorful ones yet in the VS line... now they cut it back to pre-2002 levels... by making it hard to tell what is what by using syntax coloring that is monochromatic basically just different shades... not good on people who have eye sight problems

neufuse said,
by making it hard to tell what is what by using syntax coloring that is monochromatic basically just different shades... not good on people who have eye sight problems

I can understand the issue with monochromatic interfaces, but the editor still has colorized syntax highlighting. The above shot is a little hard to see, the one in the previous news article has a better image of it, it's still colorized. Plus Visual Studio has always been extendable with the VS SDK, no reason to expect otherwise, so you'll still have access to the third party addons that take it even further (CodeRush/ReSharper/etc). Throw on a UI theme editor addon and the GUI itself will be just as colorful (or not) as you want.. probably the only thing you'll have left with the new flat color scheme afterwards is the core dotNET component icons.

neufuse said,

re-color aka change the monochromattic color, and everything is now blue or red or whatever... VS use to use color to distinguish object types, heck the syntax highlighter in vs2010 was one of the most colorful ones yet in the VS line... now they cut it back to pre-2002 levels... by making it hard to tell what is what by using syntax coloring that is monochromatic basically just different shades... not good on people who have eye sight problems

And you think you understand the monochromatic comprehension issue better than the UI researchers at Microsoft that have conducted not only the noted, but hundreds of other usability studies?

Really?

Monochromatic can be highly effective when dealing with 'art' and 'graphics' as it separates the 'tools' and 'development area' from the content. This is why graphic designers do not want 1000 colors and pretty dancing lines around their page when they work, as it 'distracts' from their work and the content.

As development is moving to reach 'richer' applications graphically, it is time that Visual Studio also be treated more like a 'graphical' design application as well.

There are reasons Adobe and other have always kept their tools and UI low key, so that the art and the project would be the focus.

This is also true of 'Expression Blend' developers that are working with 'graphical art' for Applications and WP7 Apps, as they are not just dealing with code, they need to be able to view the project with a graphical 'eye' that the tools do not distract or influence.

Visual Studio is now bringing on Win8 Apps and WP7 Apps directly that are 'rich' graphically, and we don't always want to flip back to Blend or another tool just to get a 'clean' view of the graphical look of the Application.

This is not rocket science, and there are reasons why graphic design applications look 'boring'. Look at Adobe's website, it is 'pretty' and colorful, yet their Apps are plain and 'monochromatic'. Do you really think they are so stupid that they can't 'design' pretty art/icons and graphics for the UI in their Applications?

Seriously, think about it.

thenetavenger said,
...

Look, it's obvious they shouldn't make VS look like WinXP with bright colors everywhere, but dark colors are better than no colors, and they don't distract too much.

thenetavenger said,

...

In other words: VS2012 == focused on designers more than on developers, great idea for an IDE...

I was a huge fan of using a darker theme via expression tools. That being said, not everything could be skinned properly. VS 2012 looks like a must-have upgrade.

Every time they post something like

We hear you. There's a lot of excitement about this release…
you know they ain't gonna change anything…

MFH said,
Every time they post something like you know they ain't gonna change anything…

Yeah, I'm kind of glad. Why invest the time to make a UI colorful to appease a vocal minority when they could be working on features and bugs that ARE important?

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, I'm kind of glad. Why invest the time to make a UI colorful to appease a vocal minority when they could be working on features and bugs that ARE important?

Because programmers don't create icons.

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, I'm kind of glad. Why invest the time to make a UI colorful to appease a vocal minority when they could be working on features and bugs that ARE important?


Like C++11? Oh no, they actually didn't have time for that 'cause of stupid C++/CX...

MFH said,
Every time they post something like you know they ain't gonna change anything…

Good. Because they've poured a lot of money into determining what's best. Believe it or not, they probably *do* truly know better than you.

Skwerl said,
Believe it or not, they probably *do* truly know better than you.

Sure, they know better then me how to use MY PC /s...

SuperKid said,
WTF ARE THEY DOING TO IT, The current UI is perfectly fine LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, it's not.

Why do the least important parts of text on the interface NEED TO STAND OUT THE MOST? The dark theme looks better than the one shown in the previous post though.

bytejammer said,
C++11 builds cannot run on Windows XP
https://connect.microsoft.com/...t-be-used-on-windows-xp-sp3

But if you keep VS2010 installed, you can target that Platform Toolset (v100).

This way you can use the new Visual Studio 11 environment and still build binaries that run on XP. Sadly you cannot use the new C++11 features with the v100 toolset though.

that sucks, my c++ code has to support XP for at least the near (2 years minimum) future

bytejammer said,
Sadly you cannot use the new C++11 features with the v100 toolset though.

You can use a few selected features of C++11 - better than nothing. That said I would value full C++11 support over any of their "improvements" based on some "studies"…

bytejammer said,
C++11 builds cannot run on Windows XP
https://connect.microsoft.com/...t-be-used-on-windows-xp-sp3

But if you keep VS2010 installed, you can target that Platform Toolset (v100).

This way you can use the new Visual Studio 11 environment and still build binaries that run on XP. Sadly you cannot use the new C++11 features with the v100 toolset though.

If you are still targeting XP, why even move to VS 11? What does it 'offer' that can even run on the XP platform?

Stick with VS 2010, like your post says, and if you want to develop for Windows 7 or 8, use Visual Studio 2012. (Code compiled in VS 2010 runs fine on Windows 8.)


I know this seems to confuse people, but there are 'technological' reasons the frameworks of WinRT and specifically the newer API sets do not work on XP, or would not work well.

The same reason IE9 would never have ran well on XP is the same reason that the newer technologies that the frameworks and APIs are based on would not run well on XP.

Vista, 7, & 8 are designed to manage GPU threads at the kernel level, for both graphics and computation that the new frameworks 'depend' on being present.

This is necessary for many things, but the important one being that when one Application that fails to 'yield', or a thread in an Application fails to 'yield', it doesn't lock the GPU and freeze other applications or the UI.

As the GPU is utilized more for computation and GPU assisted acceleration (decoding images, fonts, etc.) it is imperative that the OS has a GPU scheduler. This is why XP and other current OSes like Linux and OS X are falling behind in these areas and are forcing the move to full screen models like iOS which OS X is moving to as well.

In 2012 there is no reason anyone should be running an OS that doesn't have a GPU scheduler, just like it would seem insane if the OS didn't have a CPU thread scheduler. (Think about the transition to preemptive multitasking that NT, Win95, OS X brought to consumers.) This is the same concept, but now with the GPU being seen as a GP-GPU and and essential aspect of computing and the necessity for the OS to manage it.

In 2002, were you worried that you could not compile your Application for NT 3.1? Hardware baseline had changed too much, and the core features offered by the XP APIs in 2002 were just not in NT 3.1 and were not technically possible on NT 3.1.

Again, it has been 10 years since XP, and even in Windows 7 there are tons of features that were not in XP and are not technically possible on XP. However because of the XP tie-in, developers overlook the new cool stuff and stick with the old XP crap that worked even when developing for Windows 7 users.

There is also the dedication to the development technology. We would not rather Microsoft spend 'more time' on Visual Studio to compensate for the OS differences, and would rather keep VS 2010 and have the best VS 2012 possible for the new technologies.

Part of the Vista problem was trying to carry functionality back to XP that was technically out of the realm of what XP was designed to handle. It made a messy .NET 3.0 for XP and kept developers from having the best experience with the newer technologies, and this drove them back to XP based frameworks instead of embracing the Vista era of new technologies. Thus making Vista irrelevant in the massive framework shift it offered, that was rather brilliant.

Developers are still stuck on XP era frameworks, when there is a lot of good things in Vista and Windows 7 that a majority of their targeted users would benefit from that they don't use. If Microsoft is going to nudge developers to the good stuff, now is a good time to do it.

bytejammer said,
C++11 builds cannot run on Windows XP
https://connect.microsoft.com/...t-be-used-on-windows-xp-sp3

But if you keep VS2010 installed, you can target that Platform Toolset (v100).

This way you can use the new Visual Studio 11 environment and still build binaries that run on XP. Sadly you cannot use the new C++11 features with the v100 toolset though.


Well, as I understand it the limit is in the MFC/CRT design. Most of the code in an application shouldn't depend on these? I.e. as long as you have properly separated your user-interface and core code, you'd have no issue using C++11 for the core code while keeping a user-interface based on the C++03?

SPARTdAN said,

Do you use VS?! Ribbon wouldn't be very welcome!

Considering the vast number of commands a toolbars the Ribbon would work perfectly. The only reason it wouldn't be welcome would be the user's opinion of it.

Panda X said,

Considering the vast number of commands a toolbars the Ribbon would work perfectly. The only reason it wouldn't be welcome would be the user's opinion of it.

Yep. I still have no idea what's in most of the menus and toolbars in VS and I've been using it all day every day at my job for five years. =\

i like it very much but i dont know how my eyes are going to feel after working for many hours with dark background and white fonts.

0nyX said,
i like it very much but i dont know how my eyes are going to feel after working for many hours with dark background and white fonts.

You can have black text over (clear) gray too.

0nyX said,
i like it very much but i dont know how my eyes are going to feel after working for many hours with dark background and white fonts.

A lot better than white backgrounds. Those are the most damaging.

0nyX said,
i like it very much but i dont know how my eyes are going to feel after working for many hours with dark background and white fonts.

strange i've been using every version of vs going back to vs 6
and the first thing i do after installing is change to a black background etc
So its easier on my eyes

Would be nice if they had a one click option to set it that way on all windows

DrakeN2k said,
Features are very good, so I will upgrade.
UI is a bit bland for me. but it don't matter too much.

Exactly. I don't understand all this whining... It seems so ridiculous. I use VS every day and so long as it works and does the job, I don't care if the UI is colorful or not...

M_Lyons10 said,

Exactly. I don't understand all this whining... It seems so ridiculous. I use VS every day and so long as it works and does the job, I don't care if the UI is colorful or not...

work with a bright bright red with green text and let me know how that works out LOL..... you will burn the x-mas spirit into your eyeballs LMAO

I really don't like that monochromatic design.
Microsoft, not everything that Apple does is worth mimicking. It's kinda embarrassing TBH.

CM0S said,
I really don't like that monochromatic design.
Microsoft, not everything that Apple does is worth mimicking. It's kinda embarrassing TBH.

Less distractions in the workplace!

CM0S said,
I really don't like that monochromatic design.
Microsoft, not everything that Apple does is worth mimicking. It's kinda embarrassing TBH.

Troll alert!!

CM0S said,
I really don't like that monochromatic design.
Microsoft, not everything that Apple does is worth mimicking. It's kinda embarrassing TBH.

It was actually introduced with some of the Expression tools. For me, the simplification of the UI brings *my* work more into focus. I suspect the intention is to bring this approach to developers as well as designers.

spc1972 said,
It was actually introduced with some of the Expression tools.
True and it always reminded me about Adobe's crap software…

CM0S said,
I really don't like that monochromatic design.
Microsoft, not everything that Apple does is worth mimicking. It's kinda embarrassing TBH.

Completely agree it looks hideous, 95%+ on the MSDN blogs think the same, almost certain color icons will return and it won't look so depressing.

CM0S said,
I really don't like that monochromatic design.
Microsoft, not everything that Apple does is worth mimicking. It's kinda embarrassing TBH.

When did Apple go Monochromatic? I haven't seen they embrace monochromatic since the death of grayscale displays in the late 80s, when they didn't have good color options?

If you want to reference monochromatic, pick a WM from the Unix world, not Apple.

thenetavenger said,

When did Apple go Monochromatic? I haven't seen they embrace monochromatic since the death of grayscale displays in the late 80s, when they didn't have good color options?

If you want to reference monochromatic, pick a WM from the Unix world, not Apple.

Take a look at iTunes 10 vs iTunes 9: http://stayornay.com/tech/wp-c...07/sidebar-lion-snowleo.png

Also, take a look at OS X Lion vs Snow Leopard, I'm sure you'll notice it yourself.

sam232 said,

Troll alert!!

ya your the troll
spare us all the troll spotting bull
get a cookie every time you spot one ?

People should be able to speak their mind

And you wanna see a real troll ill post some examples
your just acting like a brat because you don't like someone elses opinion
grow up