A DESIGN WITH ALL-CAPS

A DESIGN WITH ALL-CAPS

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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

Uppercase

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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  • Lets face it, most of the people complaing are developers and have you seen the interfaces they create! I dont think they have a leg to stand on, 99.999% of developers wouldnt know a good interface if it was staring them in the face.

  • Thoughts:

    - Did anyone ever request an all-caps menu before the change?

    - How much active support have you had for the change (as opposed to simple "Meh, it doesn't bother me" passive support)?

    - How active is the opposition in terms of folks who have put in effort to contact you to oppose this change?

    - Is this change in the service of branding or human factors? From what you wrote it sounds like you are changing the primary user interface for a LOT of people that you should be trying to keep happy solely to service the marketing branch of Microsoft. Stop making excuses.

    Finally, you should probably talk to this guy about the whole deal, especially since Microsoft paid for his research:

    www.microsoft.com/.../WordRecognition.aspx

    If a future blog post doesn't indicate that someone has taken the time to discuss the menu bar with him, I'll assume it's all about you guys being pushed around by Marketing instead of caring about developers.

  • Moving the quick launch box to the title bar was a good move, however. Thank you.

    However,

    "As with most style changes, there has been both positive and negative feedback."

    This implies the feedback has been generally balanced either way, which I highly doubt. If you find that you're writing blog entries justifying controversial design decisions, they are probably the wrong decisions.

    It doesn't matter if your two reasons are for doing this are valid in isolation, either, because the overwhelming negative attention this decision has received means that your points aren't relevant. We're not YouTube commenters: we're developers, like you, and it seems the consensus is that your justifications don't stack up against the community's arguments that this is horrible to look at.

    As a developer, I'm appalled when I hear instances of other developers frantically defending their decisions against overwhelming community feedback and user research.

    The apps you compare it to make good use of caps, but they're not development environments. In this context it looks ugly and frankly, I don't want my menu "stand out". I want it to get out of my way until I want to use it.

  • OH GOD THAT'S HORRIBLE AND NOOB-like

  • Haha, the Azure page ...

    First row: WindowsAzure in camel case, then the register button in all caps.

    Second row: All upper case

    Third row: All lower case (which means, that it looks even more ugly for german readers, as its plain wrong.)

    Then some lines in normal spelling,

    followed by a button with all lower case. Again the german spelling is just wrong, as "Sie" meant as polite form of address has to be upper case. Lower case here might even be interpreted as an offense :) (or the inablility to write)

    ... The page goes on with this "every line in a different style" nonsense. This is not style, its UGLY.

  • The Microsoft team has really lost its mind with this new UI. Go have a look at Photoshop or XCode to see how it's done. This is several steps backwards.

  • I don't understand this change! I have to work with VS hurting my eyes ALL DAY.

    Man up and think with the head not the money pocket!

  • First you continue to make Internet Explorer making life hell for web developers, now this!

  • ALL Caps are bad ... mmmmkay?

  • What is this, 1990 DOS Terminal?  Delphi from 1994? All caps look terrible.

  • You UI is bad and you should feel bad

  • THIS DECISION IS CONSISTENT WITH OTHER DESIGN DECISIONS MADE BY MICROSOFT IN THE LAST YEAR.  TELL THE USER WHAT THEY WANT AND THEN TELL US WE'RE STUPID FOR DISAGREEING.  I KNOW I WON'T BE BUYING VS 2012 OR WINDOWS 8 THANKS TO THE TONE-DEAF MICROSOFT RESPONSE TO USER FRUSTRATIONS.  I CAN WORK IN THE ENVIRONMENT I LIKE *NOW* WITHOUT PAYING MORE MONEY TO MICROSOFT.

    Isn't caps lock annoying?

  • I THINK YOU RECEIVED PRETTY UNANIMOUS FEEDBACK THAT ALL CAPS ARE NOT A GOOD DEFAULT.

  • I wish some of the development effort that's gone into Metro-fying the UI and then partially reversing that work had gone into the the native C++ dialog designer.

  • Will you also provide an option for coloured icons better than what you gave us in RC ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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