Visual Studio 11 Theme Update

Microsoft announced an update to the Visual Studio user interface (UI) for the Visual Studio 11 release candidate (RC).  In the Visual Studio 11 beta, Microsoft showed an updated UI to help developers be more productive by reducing complexity, simplifying common tasks, and enhancing overall usability. These changes enable developers to minimize distractions in their development environment and focus on what is most important, the code.  We have incorporated feedback from the developer community during the beta cycle into these UI updates. This update will be available in future product milestones, including the RC of Visual Studio 11.

The UI feedback in Visual Studio 11 beta from developers  focused on three key areas:

  • General grayness or lack of “energy” in the light theme
  • Application of Metro styling to titles, scrollbars, and window chrome
  • Negative impact on usability from the lack of icon color.

Based on the beta feedback and the evolving Microsoft design norms, we have made the following changes to the RC:

Thoughtfully adding “energy” to the developer experience

  • Lighten the gray used in the VS11 light theme and window chrome to improve both the energy level and readability.
  • Colorize the status bar to add visual interest and functional value for communicating various IDE state changes.
  • Bolder use of accent colors to provide greater contrast.

Applying Metro styling in a more a balanced way

  • All caps titling will only be used for top level menu titles and will more closely follow evolving Microsoft conventions
  • RC has its own window chrome to give it a more polished feel.  These changes with the toolbar enhancements provide three more visible lines for code.

Addressed icon usability concerns

  • Color has been added back to common action types (e.g. create/new, add/remove) to provide greater distinction to common action icons.
  • Within the solution explorer color is used to differentiate between icons.  By selectively adding colors developers can quickly scan/differentiate between items.
  • To promote familiarity and differentiation between items in Intellisense we have added colored icons

For more details, please visit to Visual Studio blog.

Comments (4)

  1. TejasJ says:

    Finally some good news 🙂 Thanks….

  2. Gareth J says:

    Thank you so much for adding color to the icons. That's the exact suggestion I was hoping to make. I love working with Visual Studio, but the beta IDE is really frustrating. IDEs should be displayed in a way that improves readability and usability. Having the IDE be in black and white, with menu titles in all caps, looks really unprofessional and is very hard to work with. I've so glad you've changed it. Can you possibly upload the RC version to Dreamspark?

  3. Gareth J says:

    I'm so glad you've changed it.*

    When can we expect the finished product?

  4. Visual Studio 2012 RC (Release Candidate) is available until the finished product is released. You can get it from…/downloads

Skip to main content