Feedback Opportunity: Command Complexity in Visual Studio

Feedback Opportunity: Command Complexity in Visual Studio

  • Comments 28

By Sam Zaiss

Update: We're happy to set anyone up with the new reduced toolbar set, whether you are in the US or not. Unfortunately the rule about the Microsoft gratuity is strict, but if you're willing, we'd still love to get your feedback. Please send mail to if you're interested.

Update 2: Thanks everyone for your interest! The formal survey is now full, and the gratuities have all been claimed. However, we're still happy to share the reduced toolbars with any interested customer. Please contact if you're interested in checking it out; we can still accept your feedback via email!!

One thing that we hear about is how daunting Visual Studio can be for newcomers, and customers have told us that the abundance of commands in VS definitely plays a role in that perception. As we work on the next release of Visual Studio, my core focus has been to find ways we can get our command complexity under control without taking away any of the functionality that our customers depend on.

Improving the state of the VS toolbars is one area that we’re taking on for vNext. Today, it’s entirely possible to end up with 2-3 completely full rows of toolbars:

Not only does this take away space from your code, but toolbars that show/hide for specific files can also cause your document tabs to vertically shift when switching from one file to another. We know we can do better! Keeping the toolbars confined to a single row is a goal for our next release.

We have a good start on this work, but now we need your feedback! If you’re currently using Visual Studio 2010 (with or without SP1) for 20+ hours a week, we’d like to set you up with a single row of toolbars, and get your feedback on the reduction choices we’ve made. Here’s what would be involved:

  1. We’d send you a settings file that, when imported, will reduce your toolbars down to one row. It won’t remove any functionality from VS, nor will it do anything besides rearrange your toolbars. The change can be easily undone at any time.
  2. Work as you normally would for a week. If you run into any issues with the reduced toolbars, make a note of them.
  3. At the end of the week, fill out a survey to let us know what you think. As a thank you, the first 150 people to participate will receive a Microsoft Gratuity*, which entitles you to one free piece of Microsoft software or XBox 360 game!

* Due to regulations around Microsoft Gratuities, we can unfortunately only accept participants who have a US Social Security Number or Tax ID number. [Update] However, we are more than happy to set any interested customer up with the settings file and accept their feedback. Please feel free to send mail and we'll get you set up!

If you’re interested in participating, please send mail to and we’ll get you set up!

Sam Zaiss
UX Researcher, Visual Studio IDE Platform & Editor

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  • Excellent! I think this is a great effort. Please do streamline VS toolbars as streamlined as possible :D.

    But unfortunately I can't participate as I live outside US :(

  • Very good, hope you get a lot of feedback. I'm also outside US and also running with all toolbars closed to minimized clutter, maximize space and focus on code.

  • If you find a way to build the ribbon in VS it. but only if you can do it right

  • Oh and remove all the "other toolbars" e.g. the solution explorer has it's own and each TFS window and the test run window

  • As Benjamin say, try to learn from the MS office team to see how they succeeded in the doing the Ribbon major shift back in 2007.

  • Please don't make a ribbon. I just want a menu and user-definable shortcuts. I turn of all toolbars. Only when I need to switch deployment target phone or emulator i am forced to use it.

  • I personally use keyboard shortcuts for everything and only 4 buttons from the toolbars (save, save all, Start Debugging, Stop Debugging).

    AutoCAD's latest versions have come around to using a RibbonBar and it works great.

  • I personally use keyboard shortcuts for everything and only 4 buttons from the toolbars (save, save all, Start Debugging, Stop Debugging).

    AutoCAD's latest versions have come around to using a RibbonBar and it works great.

  • Damn... just sent the email, only to read the restriction of US residents after clicking send :(

  • I find that I rarely even use the toolbar at all. What I do use though is mostly the drop down for changing between debug mode and release mode and maybe the stop button when debugging. Contextualized options are often a better.

  • Here's a much better experiment:  Remove all your toolbars for one week.   I - and anyone I've been able to convince to try this - have found that you end up knowing the shortcut keys much better and liking Visual Studio a lot more.  None of us have gone back to having any toolbars enabled.    For an added kick, put in the "Hide Main Menu" extension.

    Not only are the toolbars a distraction that keeps you from learning the hot keys you would constantly use, but they are also a visual distraction that draws your focus to the tool you are using, rather than the stuff you are using it to produce.

  • Please please please DON'T switch to the ribbon. Takes up way too much space, way too complicated to find what you're looking for, and it would be a *** to make it work with third-party add-ons.

  • I used the toolbar only for switching project build configurations but now I've moved even that to the menu bar. With the "Search in IDE" feature in VS vNext the importance of the toolbar could be low even for newcomers.

  • I took a tip from Scott Hanselman and turned off ALL toolbars. I also installed an addin that removes the file menu (only reappearing when alt is hit). I really like not having anything! The features I commonly use, I've now taught my self the hotkey.

  • I've always used VS with all toolbar items in one row anyway. Just Standard, some personal macros, Source Control, then Build. But to be honest I don't even use half the default buttons, and I only add "navigate forward/backward" to a default installation. The only thing I really need up there is the configuration selector and quick find box, and occasionally the undo/redo stack.

    If you're looking at toolbar usage, you could fix something that broke in VS2010: in earlier versions, if there wasn't enough window space to fit all buttons, clicking the arrow at the end of the bar would show you all missing items (from all toolbars.) Now with VS2010, clicking the arrow for a contracted toolbar only shows you the items missing from that bar. So if you've ended up with a set of toolbars contracted down to nothing, you end up clicking through all the different arrows to find the item you want.

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