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Let’s talk about the all-caps menus.

When we shared the RC design preview with you, we expected the uppercase menu would generate mixed feedback and emotions. We had seen similar reactions from early adopters and from our own internal users prior to posting about it. Rest assured that we’ve heard you, and we’ve been thinking through what should be done here. Using uppercase for the menus was not an arbitrary decision, and I think it will help the discussion to frame why we made this change.

We’ve chosen to use uppercase styling in the top menu for two main reasons: 1) to keep Visual Studio consistent with the direction of other Microsoft user experiences, and 2) to provide added structure to the top menu bar area.

On the first point, the use of uppercase text is becoming a strong signature element of styling for navigation and headings in Microsoft user interfaces. You can see it in the Azure Portal, in Zune, and in the latest Bing search results update.

On the second point, we explored designs with and without uppercase styling. In the end we determined it to be a very effective way of providing structure and emphasis to the top menu area in Visual Studio 2012.

Standard Case


Based on early feedback on this application of uppercase styling, we made two modifications to our design. First, we tuned the typography of the menu to better adjust to uppercase text, including increased spacing between menu items from 14px to 20px to make menu items stand out better. Secondly, we moved Quick Launch to the title bar to make more room on the menu bar, especially for cases where a user has installed add-ins that add their own top-level menus.

As with most style changes, there has been both positive and negative feedback. We realize that some of you will continue to dislike this change, and you’ve been very direct in expressing your opinions on this subject.  Our view remains that this is the right design for the Visual Studio user interface for the reasons I mentioned above. That said, we will enable you to customize the casing, and we are exploring options for how to expose that choice. We will post again once we’ve settled on a final approach to be available in RTM.

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  • ... is the most ridiculous yet!

  • First off, why would you want to add *EMPHASIS* to menus when the design philosophy stated for the new look of VS was it didn't distract from the content we are creating?

    Second, the examples provided of Bing, Azure portal and Zune are complete mismatches.

    Bing doesn't add top level menus in ALL CAPS, quite the opposite: they are all in proper case. What you see in Bing is all caps used for pane titles. This difference is very important. Bing was more like the first beta of VS 11, not the latest bits. Also note the use of all caps is only about four or five items over the entire screen. VS top level menu is **SEVENTEEN** distinct items!!

    Zune uses lower case at top level (quickplay, collection, marketplace), and all caps at the individual pane level, again not totalling more than 5 distinct items on any pane.

    Azure portal on the web does use ALL CAPS for the top level menu, but it is only six items and uses a LOT of white space around and between them.

    From a visual design perspective the examples given show use of white space, and clarity, whereas the VS 11 menu is cramped and way too busy. You cannot relate fourteen items to designs of five items, especially when the five item designs use copious whitespace, whilst VS menu does not.

    It's great we will be able to change this, but sad so much effort is being wasted on a design implementation that really adds no value to VS, contradicts both its own design philosophy and those of windows guidelines.




  • me personally i don't like the new design at all. The light theme is too pale and the regions of the UI aren't separated clearly for me. The Beta design was better than the RC design, but the old VS 2010 design was much better. So it plays no role for me if the menu is all capitalized or not.

  • +1 for getting out and finally saying something. That's a small improvement at least.

    However, I truely cannot believe you are sticking to your guns. I can't accept you solicited 1800+ opinions - and then ignored them! - when the customers message could not be simpler and your task could not be easier!! I want to know:

    First, what does that say to customers about their future relationship with you? Expect more of the same?

    Second, there's something seriously wrong with Microsoft if you are saying corporate guided drivel can usurp clear and focused customer feedback and that of your own internal developers. That's what you are telling me!

    Thirdly, why the wait before telling us? Logically, it makes no sense. If a) you waited to be sure the message was clear, why are you still going ahead with plans that by default are against the customers message? or b) if you were always going to ignore your customers, come what may, why didn't you tell everyone on day one, and save 1800+ people the effort of typing, wearing out their caps-lock key, and getting angry?!

    What kind of logic is that? So, sure, "let's frame the discussion" about that. But it doesn't look good either way, does it?

    But is everyone writing in soley about a stupid uppercase menu? If they are, I hope they let it go as their focus must be as bad as Microsofts. Isn't this more about Microsoft continuing to ignore customers and its crazy communication? The arrogance is truely breathtaking, as is the number of other customer unfriendly choices Microsoft has forced upon us, such as:

    - the dropping of VS11 express desktop

    - the random story of xp support

    - the late, undated arrival of full C++ language support, despite many non standard inclusions arriving first.

    - the random, bad, and unwanted UI changes like the CAPS menu and color changes.

    All of these things have angered customers and they all point to one thing: Microsoft isn't customer focused, and it just wants to kill the desktop in its current form and leave anyone in that space behind to rot, and that MS doen't care about that. The only option is pay, move to WinRT and use the Store.

    The introduction of new technology is a change agent. It can either usher in new technology or usher out old companies and their employees.

    So this is the cross-roads is it not? Not a stupid menu. It's simply, accept Microsofts bad deal and bad attitudes, for ever more, or get off the bus?

    Why should developers pay to go through more upheaval to support *Microsofts* new WinRT platform and when Microsofts attitude is so bad and it just keeps proving it is no longer a safe business partner, but a liability and a bringer of change for change sake whose intransigence is nothing but a constant irritant and when it no longer views developers as partners but entities to be milked harder. Get off the bus.

    I'd rather reward the companies that care about my priorities and don't push me around. It's clearly time to leave this sorry company behind and use other tools and eventually, platforms. Let their WinRT, their phones, clouds and store aspirations wither. Boycot this product and give Microsoft a lesson about customer service.

    I hope this blog becomes another 1000+ monster too. But then what?

    Those people who DO plan to upgrade and DO approve of Microsofts attitude/plans, please write in and show Microsoft your support. I want to see if the views expressed above are shared, or just a vocal minority, or if this is all about a stupid menu... If it's the latter, people you need to get better work stories!!

  • It's not a chat! So they don't scream.

    Keep the caps! I'm already used to them and realize they are a good thing.

  • LOL at the explanation:

    1. We did all caps because we do things this way at Microsoft.

    2. We did all caps because we discussed and decided that this is the way to do it.

    I don't even care all that much about caps (there are plenty of much worse things that have to be fixed to make VS11 even worth considering for me), but the explanation in the post is simply pathetic. Roll on, Microsoft.

  • Stop moaning, people! You already won this one!


  • Give me more.  Only harder.  Faster.  More CAPS!  MORE!  CAPS!

  • Wow. You're comparing the menu links in the Azure portal with a native desktop application? Zune I haven't used.

    Maybe you should add ALL CAPS to the Windows 8 File Explorer, MS Paint and other integrated applications. For consistency I mean. Or maybe you're using different design guidelines?

    Luckily there's a register tweak to remove the dumb ALL CAPS. The first thing I run after installing VS 2012. Run this in a PowerShell prompt: Set-ItemProperty -Path HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0\General -Name SuppressUppercaseConversion -Type DWord -Value 1

  • Indeed, ALL CAPS in ANY user-interface element is just a bad idea, adding nothing to the usability - a software application menu is NOT a restaurant menu, and is NOT a book cover.

    Making all caps the default just shows that you ignore your clients, that are software developers.

  • I think this is a bad move, having all upper case means that words are harder to recognize on a quick glance. Reseachers in the automotive industry wanted to make the road signs all caps first but after some test it was found that people would recognize the city name almost twice as fast if it was properly capitalized instead of all caps.


  • Hi guys, just to let you know, there already is an extension which allows you to change casing: vscommands.squaredinfinity.com/features

    You can get it from vsgallery: visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/a83505c6-77b3-44a6-b53b-73d77cba84c8

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