Visual Studio Toolbox: Simplification of the Visual Studio 11 Development Environment

Play Visual Studio Toolbox: Simplification of the Visual Studio 11 Development Environment


In this episode, Sam Zaiss and Dan Dole of the Visual Studio User Experience team join us to talk about simplification and reduction in the Visual Studio 11 development environment. They show how much easier it is to navigate both within code and within the IDE, and also that the complexity of the IDE has been reduced. Here's a quick episode guide:

  • Searching in the Solution Explorer [03:50]
  • Using the Preview Tab [05:00]
  • Viewing the classes contained in code files and the class members while in the Solution Explorer [12:00]
  • Viewing the relationships between classes while in the Solution Explorer [12:45]
  • Using multiple Solution Explorers at the same time [13:00]
  • Navigation history [15:30]
  • Viewing the relationships between methods while in the Solution Explorer [19:00]
  • Using Quick Launch to find and execute commands [22:30]




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The Discussion

  • User profile image

    Bring back the color icons! Its difficult to differentiate anything with gray/black icons!

  • User profile image

    Bring back the color icons! Its difficult to differentiate anything with gray/black icons!

    agree! This sucks completely. Hopefully I can select a VS2008 theme (icons + colors).

  • User profile image
    I can see colors as well

    if (Reduction == boring_and_depresive && Simplification == ugly)

  • User profile image

    What everyone who is complaing does not understand is the MS has a responsibility too all kinds of programmers - I am sure color blind programmers will be extremely happy with the changes!

  • User profile image
    Scott Mac Leod

    You've "jumped the shark". Just unbelievable.

  • User profile image

    What everyone who is complaing does not understand is the MS has a responsibility too all kinds of programmers - I am sure color blind programmers will be extremely happy with the changes!

    Wrong.  Just because I can't differentiate certain colours very well, doesn't mean they are useless.  Not happy about it at all.  It's not just the colours removed ... most of the icons have changed in appeareance and have no more 3D texture and definition.

  • User profile image
    Yel Ayo

    I love the new features but the new "improved" theme has to go. Not only is it depressing but the lack of colors and lines makes it harder to select things.

    This isn't a case of change resistance. Almost no one complained with the change from VS2008 to VS2010 yet I haven't met a single developer who doesn't think the VS11 UI isn't ugly, depressing, and counter productive.

  • User profile image

    I agree ... I do like the new navigation and searching functionality. The Preview window is very useful. But, at the risk of beating a dead horse, I have to say that the grayscale minimalist icons are not useful.

  • User profile image

    We value all of your feedback. Beyond filing a Connect bug, there are two channels that we are monitoring regularly to improve the product. Any feedback, both positive or negative, is welcome on the Visual Studio blog or on Visual Studio Uservoice. Thanks!

  • User profile image

    First, ditto on the obscurification via gray buttons.

    And, on the plus side:

    1. The temporarily open preview tabs will help me reduce "tab clutter".

    2. Including powertools natively is great no-brainer...especially Solution Explorer.

    3. VS now being single-instance/multiple-context is useful (yes, I've opened 3 copies of VS at once).

    In the too-soon-to-tell category, debug navigation in the solution explorer could be more intuitive as long as it's really as flexible as I imagine it to be.

    Overall, I like the emphasis on "keyboard centric" vs "mouse centric" use of VS tooling. 


  • User profile image

    Why is VS not Metro style?

  • User profile image

    Colors, REMOVE CAPS, etc ... I think you heard all the complaints by now over and over.
    I'm only curious what you will do with this feedback.

  • User profile image
    Pritesh Ostwal

    I liked the search and history navigation . These are definitely going to improve productivity.

    Is there any enhancement to preview the properties without getting to Properties window.

    All gray look is just dull, plus large size capital names are not really adding much value here.

  • User profile image

    @Pritesh Ostwal:Preview properties without going to the Properties window? What would you want that to look like? How would it work?

  • User profile image

    "I'm only curious what you will do with this feedback"

    My guess is that they'll spin it so it doesn't look like such a flop. They'll probably say something like "We never intended this to be the final look of the application, we put it out there to get your feedback."

  • User profile image
    Steve Wortham

    I actually don't mind the monochrome look.  But some of the text areas and lists are a little too gray.  It makes them look disabled.  For example, the solution explorer and all of the debugging windows should be white since they tend to have a lot of text in them that you'll interact with.

    And I do agree about the all caps issue.  It's purely an aesthetic thing but the headers of all the windows/tabs being all caps does look funny, especially in that font.

  • User profile image
    Sergey Vlasov


    You asked about browser like favorites at 16:50. The Favorite Documents extension gives you this functionality (free, developed by me).

  • User profile image
    Tore Aurstad

    There are positive and negative things about Visual Studio 11 in my humble opinion. First off, I like the inclusion of Visual Studio Productivity Toolkit in the next release of Visual Studio. I use this productivity toolkit already today, with Visual Studio 2010. In addition, I like the smart toolbar a lot in Visual Studio Productivity Toolkit.
    On the other hand, the user interface looks just too dull and little inspiring. The color scheme is too gray and colorless, buttons are styled in a way that looks very 2D and flat, which makes it hard for the eye to identify them at first hand. Caps locked labels looks a bit screaming and unnatural, in addition the tabstrip panes are also looking very flat and 2D. More experienced users want to access a lot more functionality than this. Continue the good work, I hope you will make Visual Studio 11 look a lot like Visual Studio 2010 and keep the functional new parts, but avoid this monochrome gray look and feel. Most developers just want to navigate the code, if buttons looks a bit 3D and there are more colors on the screen I think it will actually aid the user in his or her daily work. At least make it possible to select a more familiar theme easily!

  • User profile image

    I've been using VS11 beta since it came out and, although my initial reaction to the new theme was to recoil, I've gotten used to it after a day or two. I wouldn't say it's better than 2010 but it's good enough. I do think that icons are more difficult to recognize, but I make a point of minimizing mouse usage anyways. There's also a consistency problem when you have extensions and they provide colorful icon, but I guess that's unavoidable.

    So yeah, I don't understand why the change was made, but it's okay and I'm not complaining. I think that the various IDE improvements outweight the minor discomfort caused by the theme change.

  • User profile image
    David T

    I love Solution Navigator. However, don't forget about the Javascript Parser VS2010 extension! That tool enabled me to easily dig into tons of OTHER people's cryptic Javascript code. The code was humanly minified to reduce page size. This capability needs to be integrated into Solution Explorer just like Solution Navigator Power Tools extension. The productivity will be amazing! Also, the ability to Mark (star/color/flag) a method is really great too!

  • User profile image

    - I thought Ribbon was coming to this version of VS, Is it not a good idea?! It has found its way to Windows Explorer, why not VS?

    - I'd really like to see an "Organize References > Remove Unused References" feature exactly like the one we have for the Usings!

    - I wish there was a much better/straightforward theme support. I like to change all colors in the VS (both fonts & Colors and the VS chrome) to a dark, expression-like one but still there are some inconsistencies.

    - This new UI sucks! Its utterly ugly. Metro is an idea suitable for tablets and still very immature. I don't get it why you people are sacrificing everything for it? Metro needs a lot of work. Why would you try and transform a 100% desktop app like VS to an ugly 2D app?! :|

  • User profile image

    - Now that you have transformed the UI to a 2D one, why are the scroll bars still 3D?! This is really awful! They don't go with the rest of the design. They must be much much more subtle than they are right now. I'd say get rid of them altogether! Take a look at iOS!

    - Wouldn't it be nice to offer an alternative way of saving/loading solution files to/from a big, single file like Office?

  • User profile image

    - While VS 2010's icon was one of the all-time best looking icons, IMHO, VS 11's icon is simple the most horrible! Hope it sticks only to the beta version!

  • User profile image

    I don't need those colors, seriously. But it's too gray and too many shades of it. There's also still too much clutter, you should go even more the typography path.

  • User profile image

    I am happy to see changes but don't like to use it anymore. I thing it's good then you use Window classic's color as w98.

    I thing PS have same scheme but they are better then you.Do you have take a look that how PS have good UI in itself.

    in VS11 biggest problem is found a icon you need.Their is no text or thing to find right things.


  • User profile image

    Hey where's the famous Ribbon in place of the toolbar?!?!? It's a desktop app after all. At least you'd be more consistent rather than this half-donkeyed thing that some fools think is in a metro style. I'm sure the decision makers on this are all just saying "people just don't like change" but c'mon really? This is metro? You should be ashamed.

  • User profile image


    One thing I can't check now because I'm on a computer without VS11 is if the Enhanced Scrollbar from the productivity tools was integrated. That would be a welcome option (seeing as someone commented about the toolbars).

    To sum up, great work with the new features. VS keeps getting better and better, BUT THE ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE IS THE CAPS.

  • User profile image

    Don't waste your time complaining. Microsoft isn't going to fix anything. Just like it took them 4 years to fix the blurry text in WPF. They are ignorant and always will be. People have posted on connect about the issue of how horribly ugly vs 11 is and it got marked as "deferred". In essence, Microsoft wasted a bunch of time and money on the interface and they like it, so it's not going to get fixed. Metro is such crap anyway. NO SEPARATION OF CONTENT. Typography is not enough. Everything just runs together. Good UI design is combination of BOTH aesthetics and usability. Visual Studio 11 has neither and certainly not aesthetics.

  • User profile image

    @Levi, you clearly are a troll. If you don't like Metro, VS, WPF and any MS product, then wdh you are doing on Channel 9? Lemme guess.. Whining?

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