Your Visual Studio, Your Colors

Your Visual Studio, Your Colors

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Since releasing Visual Studio 2012 we have continued on our investment in the user experience space to enable you to work more efficiently and to make the Visual Studio experience engaging and productive. One of the design principles we are following is the enablement of choice and personal customization in the product, and as part of developing the new Light and Dark themes in Visual Studio we invested in broadly extending the theme-able surface area of Visual Studio. Building on this work, I’m happy to announce that we now have available a Visual Studio 2012 Color Theme Editor extension! This extension provides you with seven new color themes to choose from as well as the ability to easily create new custom themes.

We released an early version of this extension two months ago and received great feedback, which we incorporated into this final release. One new capability we added to this final version is an easy interface for quickly finding a particular color you want to change, as well as seeing the impact of the change in a small UI snippet:

Theme Editor Editing

As noted above, the extension includes seven new sample themes to choose from or use as starting points for further customization. We’ve heard requests for a color scheme closer to Visual Studio 2010, so we have included a Blue theme that matches the 2010 color scheme as one of the choices.

Theme Editor Blue Theme

We’d love to hear your feedback on this new extension. Please share your feedback with us on the extension’s page on the gallery.

As you read this post, those of you that are fans of the Visual Studio 2010 icon collection may be asking, “what about the icons?” We currently have no plans to offer the old-style icons for Visual Studio 2012. The Visual Studio 2012 icon designs are directionally aligned with the style used across a broad range of new Microsoft products. We believe this design consistency is important, and we expect the icon styles to become familiar and comfortable over time.

We do, however, continue to look for feedback on specific new icons that lack clarity of concept or that create inefficiency in a task or flow by being difficult to distinguish. If you have such icon specific feedback, please use Connect and share it with us.


The Visual Studio Team

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  • How does this affect color schemes that are non-standard BEFORE you install the extension?  Does it allow you to save the current before applying changes?

  • If you've installed an extension that provides a full theme (one that shows up in Tools\Options\Environment\General in the "Color themes" list), this extension will leave those themes unmodified.  They should appear to be the same as the Light and Dark themes to this extension.

    If you're talking about customized colors (in Tools\Options\Environment\Fonts and Colors), those get backed up per theme.  Say, for example, you customize the Keyword color on the Light theme and then change to the Dark theme.  Your custom Keyword color is backed up (associated with the Light theme) and then the Dark theme Keyword color is applied.  If you switch back to the Light theme, your custom Keyword color is remembered.  In that regard, your color customizations are saved by default.

    If you want to apply those customized colors to a new theme (say, copying from Light to Blue), you'll need to export them and import them while the new theme is the active theme.  You can do this from Tools\Import and Export Settings, choosing Options\Environment\Fonts and Colors when exporting.

  • Here's a strange one:  I installed this and picked a theme. Following that I could no longer Rebuild a complex solution in VS2012.  (Error message:  MSB3061:  Unable to delete file...... .xml)  Restarted PC, no good.  Removed this tool and all is good again. -- However, the theme looked nice.  :)

  • Thankyou :)

    Can you please consider adding the ability to select some different icons for solution explorer too?  Only specific ones need changing to make things a bit clearer but it's user preference so the choice would be awesome.

  • We need this extension available to Express !!!

  • They may be my colors, but they are still your capitals on the menu bar.

  • (didn't seem to go through the first time)

    One hot, one cold. Will you cut the crap already? Do we really have to start a "war" for every single tiny change?

    I commend you for finally letting us change the colors, but the problem is still there. The problem is that you put your ego ahead of the community. You think you know better and are willing to piss off thousands of people rather than admit your design is inadequate. This game of cat and mouse, while entertaining to some, will cause far more harm for the ecosystem in the long run. It makes it all about us versus you, Microsoft.

    Please stop!! You're hurting your brand and your image. Put your egos aside and let's build something together. Otherwise, only those willing to fight you will stick around. It gets tiring; please stop...

  • Maybe this will help some of you:

  • @Tristan doubt you are going to have any luck there...

  • @Jeremy: If you're talking about themes created with previous versions of the extensions, those are not affected when upgrading. The new version of the extension recognizes and uses them just fine.

  • This is a product for software developers, not for end-users, so the whole argument of "design consistency" with other products, that the developers don't use, fails. I don't want an IDE that looks like Win8 or Windows Phone where, maybe, that kind of monocrome icon design makes sense for some users.

    Just let every developer change the icons (sure with a max size limit) and be done with it.

  • "This is a product for software developers, not for end-users, so the whole argument of "design consistency" with other products, that the developers don't use, fails. I don't want an IDE that looks like Win8 or Windows Phone where, maybe, that kind of monocrome icon design makes sense for some users."

    Absolutely.  As Eric Lippert wrote very recently: "Foolish Consistency is Foolish".

  • I am so disgusted already.  Will you people just give us the option to make it look like VS2010 already? DAMN, you are hard headed. It aint that freaking hard to understand.  

  • Office 2013 has color icons in the ribbon. Windows 8 File Explorer has color icons for folders and file types. Skydrive  (web, metro and wp7) has color icons for file types.

    And yet, Source Explorer in VS 2012 only has gray icons for everything.

    If anything, VS 2012 is the only one that is not "aligned" with the new Microsoft products. Please demonstrate another example of a Microsoft product with this supposed "design consistency"?

  • I don't understand this concept of first releasing a faulty user-interface, and then releasing a tool so each user can try to patch it up by them selves.  New user involvement program invented by Microsoft, make sure to run down by the patent office so nobody else steals this amazing idea.

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