back to article Leap-day Visual Studio beta provokes 'passionate' response

The early details of Microsoft's latest Visual Studio beta build, notably its changes to the layout and working environment, has provoked a storm of responses just days before its February 29 release. "There's a lot of excitement about this release and a lot of passion about colors, designs, styles and icons. Know that we are …

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The emo version could be Expression Blend's twin.

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FAIL

"Lets make all the entire interface monochrome!"

Good Lord. If ever there was an interface design move that proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the /entire/ team responsible don't have a single clue about interface design to share between them, this is it.

Corel did the same with the latest version of their Photoshop competitor, Paint Shop Pro. Fortunately they listened to user uproar and hastily patched colored toolbar icons back in. One would imagine that MS will also reverse their design choice in response to the inevitable furore about this laughable ineptitude.

The damage, in some sense, is done though. Honestly, what confidence can one have in a team that would make such a mind-bogglingly naive mistake?

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This can work pretty well

IN the case where the content being worked on is itself visual. Take Photoshop Lightroom for instance, which is where I first saw this. I don't want a bright and distracting interface around the photo I'm working on - I want an non-intrusive and almost dull one akin to a photo frame.

Whether it's an approach that belongs in Visual Studio, I'm less sure.

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Go

Monochrome? I like...

Frankly, I quite like the idea of a monochrome IDE; something that gets out of the way of what's actually important when I'm developing - the code. I would suspect that if the use of colour is focused on the code window that the rest of the IDE has the potential to get out of the way as it were.

That said, I hate the use of All Caps for the various panel headings.

It will be interesting to see what it's like to actually use - a static screenshot doesn't really give much in the way of a clue as to what it will feel like when coding in earnest.

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LDS
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They tried already it with Mail, had to return to icons and colors

They already tried the monochrome approach with Windows Mail, and it was so unusable they had to revert to icons and colors. A sensible use of colors *does* convey more informations to user and reduces mistakes. But that's the era of "dumbsizing", the web made graphic appeal of paramount importance instead of well designed UI. Don't worry, Visual Studio 2014 will have color back, and they will tell that's one of the reasons to upgrade...

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Meh

Its not about the code...

Its about color fidelity of images. Its impossible to get visually correct reproduction of an image when the surrounding UI is colorful. Which is why professional photo manipulation software is monochromatic.

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Re: This can work pretty well

Presumably this applies to other apps on the same desktop, then, so you'd be wanting a monochrome system colour scheme. Oh, and an app that honours the system colour scheme.

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Happy

Re: This can work pretty well

"I don't want a bright and distracting interface around the photo I'm working on - I want an non-intrusive and almost dull one akin to a photo frame."

Oh, a bit like the GIMP then, where the toolbox is completely separate and the image window has nothing to distract you apart from some rulers.

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Anonymous Coward

"Its about color fidelity of images."

You may well be correct about visually correct reproduction of images (after all, when we're looking at images on the Web we always have nothing but the image on the screen, right) but we're talking about Visual Studio here mate, not "professional photo manipulation software".

Apologies if my irony detector is out of order.

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Big Brother

Re: Re: This can work pretty well

Or most decent art / photo (even audio) editing packages about a decade before GIMP came along.

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FAIL

Entire MS is absolutely CLUELESS about UI DESIGN. Completely.

Fully agreed, Allicorn.

Seriously, EVERY MICROSOFT UI SUCKS. BIG TIME. All of them a totally inconsistent, CRAZY mixture of clicks, right clicks, tabs, pull-downs which sometime even trigger different buttons etc... and the whole organization of these are TOTALLY AND UTTERLY ILLOGICAL, have nothing to do with actual workflows etc.

A MADNESS, seriously, a crazy free run of incompetency.

This insanity is really shown in all the System Center junk: main dashboard is full of tabs, sections, clicks and pulldowns and tabs and right-clicks and so on...

...but that's nothing because all these actions result in a click-menu-right click-then-it-opens-another-window-then-change-tab-then-pulldown-menu-then-click...

The insanity NEVER STOPS: now they are destroying the Start Menu/Start Button and replacing with this fugly broken PoS Metro junk...

...I swear the world's SHITTIEST UI design team is at Microsoft.

Will this unbelievable incompetency ever stop?

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Re: Allicorn

"the /entire/ team responsible don't have a single clue about interface design"

Whilst I'm not convinced personally, they have published the results of lots of user studies suggesting new users find it easier and existing users get back up to speed quickly. Not sure why existing users should have to get back up to speed though. Then again, it is INCREDIBLY rare that I use toolbar buttons. 99% of stuff is done from keyboard shortcuts and they have put a bit of work into making that easier. The changes around spacing and grouping look good. I love the idea of getting rid of lots of the default tools from the toolbar. The tool and function search look excellent.

The removal of colour immeadiately struck me as something they can bring back for VS2014 so they can say "we listened to lots of your feedback and decided...."

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It was all downhill after VS6 IMO

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VS6

Yes because that one had excellent C++ template support. NOT!

While I agree the original Visual Studio .NET wasn't very good 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010 all bring their share of improvements to the table

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I quite like it...

<tumbleweed>

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FAIL

VB devs gave a passionate response, too

Just as m$ dumped on their years of investment and trust, so it seems history is repeating itself for the shiny new world of HTML5 and JS, so its no wonder those gullible enough to fall for it again are giving "passionate responses": http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/06/13/194254/devs-worried-microsoft-will-dump-net

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Windows

I ain't seen the beta yet, but as VS2010 is basically excellent, you'd need some seriously impressive improvements to get a whole software team, if not the entire office, to upgrade.

Will it be backwards compatible with 2010 projects? If not, then a stunning improvement would be needed else it would wreck the same issues we had with 2005/2008/2010 multiple installs, license management and all that jazz.

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Reasons to jump to VC11

I think the plan Microsoft has is to make an IDE and compiler for WinRT in the first place, then incrementally deliver improvements in its implementation of C++11. If you aren't excited about things such as variadic templates (which I think will be among post-release updates) and don't make plans for Windows 8 ARM tablets then I'm sure VC10 will do just fine.

Even though I'm mostly gcc user, I do use VC occasionally and must admit am quite excited about it :)

Judging by tradition I guess it will by backwards compatible with VC10, although not 100%

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Iirc one of the big features that MS is touting is that for the first time projects will round trip. I.e. you can open a Vs2010 project in 2011 and then reopen in vs 2010.

The point being that they have realised that sometimes it isn't possible to upgrade an entire team all at once.

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Anonymous Coward

Wake me up ...

when they announce the official release date for Visual Studio 2011^H2^H^H^H^H11

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Anonymous Coward

MSVS11 Has bugger-all support for the majority of C++11 features

http://wiki.apache.org/stdcxx/C++0xCompilerSupport

blogs.msdn.com/b/vcblog/archive/2011/09/12/10209291.aspx

MS should get theior finger out and implement the rest of the Standard.

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Re: MSVS11 Has bugger-all support for the majority of C++11 features

I think they are too busy implementing support for WinRT right now. But they did promise post-release updates with more C++11 features!

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WTF?

SSIS

All I want is for SSIS packages to be included. At the moment I have to use VS 2010 for the db project and VC 2008 for the ETL. WTF!!!

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Angel

Wot - no ribbon?

Be thankful for great mercy.

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"...eliminate color except for notification or status change purposes on the page and tools palette."

..........What?

In other IDEs I use, the colours are *essential*, indicating everything from errors/conflicts to versioning status. What made them think this was a good idea?

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FAIL

Mono-nonono

Just had a look at some other screenshots; that mono-chrome is horrible.

"Reduced use of color in VS 11 focuses attention on the content"

I think not...

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Asylum taken over by the inmates

Removed color from the coding environment so that it is easier to do photo editing? There must be hundreds hard-core program UI designers who are pleased by the influence of hard-core program UI designers on Microsoft.

For my self, not so much. I already hate the not-noticable almost monochrome 'back' button on my web browser. Now that I understand it's a concession to web designers, I still hate it.

And what moron decided that IE and Windows had to ape FF, Apple and Adobe and create accurately scaled print-ready fuzzy text (causing variable density) instead of (tradional Microsoft) readable pixel aligned text?

Again, pandering to the designers instead of the users. BLECCH.

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Re: Asylum taken over by the inmates

"And what moron decided that IE and Windows had to ape FF, Apple and Adobe and create accurately scaled print-ready fuzzy text (causing variable density) instead of (tradional Microsoft) readable pixel aligned text?"

Probably someone whose day job consists of preparing content that ought to have the same page layout on screen as it does when printed. For such people, proper WYSIWYG has been a long time coming to Windows. Such people probably also have the retinal 40-inch monitors that seem to be standard issue amongst Microsoft's UI designers.

By contrast, I'm guessing that your day job consists of preparing source code that is rarely (and in most cases never) printed and you are working with a somewhat smaller monitor and would like to see as many perfectly-pixel-aligned lines of text as possible per square-inch of screen estate.

An irony here is that the Metro-encumbered devices that VS2011 is aimed at will hardly ever print anything either, and they all have poxy little screens with exactly your requirement for clear pixel-aligned text rather than "something absolutely fabulous, darling". Perhaps Microsoft's UI team should get off their fat arses and (a) walk over to the offices of almost anyone else in the company who actually uses VS for a living, and (b) take their Metro-encumbered tat with them and try reading some actual content whilst they are en route. With any luck, they will (c) get run over by a bus.

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Stop

What I don't understand is what this whole dot net framework thing does, apart from making my life (as someone who supports friends with these dot net apps) more of a pain than it needs to be. Why does an app written for 3.5 not work with 4 installed?? Why is a framework needed anyway? What is the benefit to it?

</rant> :)

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If you don't understand it why not just tell your friends you haven't got a clue? Do you fix their cars for them too?

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Books

There's this ancient technology they call books, I've heard it's good if you want to learn more on a specific subject. They even sell them online these days.

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FAIL

Software made in, for example, VB 6 didn't need a whole framework installing, just MSVBVM60.dll, so why does software made in any newer Microsoft dev suite need this framework thing? Your oh-so-clever response makes it clear that you neither understand the question nor know the answer..

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Anonymous Coward

Think of the frameworks as the modern day equivalent of the old runtime DLLs then. Without the "DLL Hell" problem.

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@Andrew 59

It's true that VB6 needed MSVBM60.dll, but to take a random example, VB3 needed MSVBM30.dll. In much the same way, C# software targetting the .NET4 framework need the .NET4 framework installed where C# software targetting the .NET2 framework needs the .NET2 framework installed. An no, VB DLLs were not cumulative either - if the "right" DLL was not installed, the program didn't run.

The nice is that these days, we can specify which framework we're writing for regardless of the version of Visual Studio we're using, retrospectively at least. So even if I'm using VS2010 which is natively compiled for .NET4, I can still write code which only requires .NET2

It's the same, except a bit better. You'd know this if you were any bloody use at "supporting" it.

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Colour schemes

Once upon a time, there was such a thing as the user's preferred colour scheme and you couldn't get Logo compliance if you didn't follow it. Except of course that each new version of both Office and Visual Studio would have re-imagined the UI and would get their Logos anyway, presumably because about half of their design violations would show up in the next version of Windows, but only if you marked the EXE as "understanding" that version, thereby making all those who *had* followed the original guidelines look rather lame until they re-released their software (unchanged, except for the "Yes, I've followed the rules in the SDK now stop butchering my UI." flag).

How times (don't) change.

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Megaphone

Alternatives

I do think 2008 is still quite good and I can't see the need for an upgrade.

Also, here is a list of alternatives

* Lazarus. Extremely fast compilation but native output, no G.C. Interuptus. Nice to work with. Cross-platform !

* Delphi. Like Lazarus, but a bit more polished and cost serious money. Just windoze.

* Code::Blocks. Nice C++ IDE. X-platform.

* Qt Creator. Nice IDE. Only Qt as GUI lib. X-platform.

* VisualWorks Smalltalk. When you want to know how efficient programming can really be. Think of changing a method in 2 seconds and running the process meanwhile. X-platform. Expensive.

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Re: Alternatives

You're a little behind the times on Delphi. The IDE is Windows only, but it will generate OS X and iOS native binaries in addition to Win32 these days.

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Joke

Ribbon?

If only the ribbon would make it's way into Visual Studio.

I think that would generate some real passion.

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FAIL

Re: Ribbon?

I concur! Since switching to Office with Ribbons instead of menus, the change in productivity level has been both immediate and immense!

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Change for the sake of change?

I have to wonder.. Because when it comes to layout there really isn't much to discuss when done right. After all; specific window / panel placements should be customizable anyway so that you can expect certain panels and information where /you/ want it, not where it was intended to be.

So with that in mind I can't help think if they removed the colors solely to apply some visual differences to the IDE or perhaps to spark reactions so that they can measure the popularity of the environment....

And quite frankly I don't think having a 'dull' environment would be a problem; the problem will be to recognize the options you have available. When I look at VS C# Express the icons to run or debug the project look very similar. The main difference is the color and a small (white) 'trail' behind the run icon ("start without debugging"). However, if you take away the color differences then it becomes quite hard to keep 'm apart.

Now, for veteran programmers this may be a non-issue because most will know F5 vs. ctrl-F5 after a while. But what about people who just started with this, or if it concerns options you don't use that often ?

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Internal compiler errors

VS2010 is horribly prone to internal compiler errors in C++.

My one wish for this release is that the compiler gives me a warning rather than falling flat on its face.

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Window Decoration

If they are going to mess around with programs having plain grey internals, why does window 7 then insist on sticking a big border around everything with a bright red X close button.

Look at the screenshots in the blog post you can see the different colour border. Do like Chrome and get rid of the border.

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Anonymous Coward

My prayers have been answered!

The dark theme looks fantastic! Finally, a high contrast/low brightness colour scheme that won't torture my eyes! I have major problems with black text on a white background, and ever since switching my OS GUI to do white text on black background, I've stopped getting savage headaches every day - I used to get through about 100 ibuprofen every month trying to control them. But the recent visual studio versions have ignored some or all os settings, making them almost impossible to use unless I switch back to the old style and just accept the headaches. But the new UI looks like just what I've been wanting for ages, its fantastic.

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Have they fixed the actual UI problems?

Like, say, the fact that VS windows raise themselves (alter the window z-order) when they get focus. If you use Windows' default explicit focus mechanism - where you have to click in a window to give it focus, and that raises it anyway - this is fine. If you use the implicit focus mechanism (what Microsoft, in their usual determinedly-wrong fashion, call "X-Mouse"), then VS windows bring themselves to the front when they get focus, even in passing.

That's not just broken, it's mind-bogglingly annoying. The whole point of implicit focus is so that you can type in a window that's not on top - often because you're referring to something that's in the window that *is* on top. What's more, if you move the pointer across a VS window that's not on top and you're not quick enough about it, it'll get focus and raise itself, and then you'll have to fix the window stacking order again.

It also makes some of the VS popups unusable unless you set a delay on the implicit focus change, because they use that idiotic "pin" mechanism, and if they're not pinned (which they aren't when they're first mapped) they close automatically if they lose focus. Which they do immediately, if you're using implicit focus.

Of course, it'd also be nice if VS wasn't hugely bloated, achingly slow, etc. But I'd settle for having the damn windowing fixed.

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Re: Have they fixed the actual UI problems?

Regarding the VS window raising itself. I recently followed the advice here:

http://sinewalker.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/ms-windows-focus-follows-mouse-registry-hacks/

to set up focus follows mouse without auto-raise, and by-and-large, this works fine except for VS. But curiously, it's not *all* VS - it's only when a code window has focus within VS, that the (really annoying) auto-raise occurs. If I open another VS pane, such as Output or Breakpoints or whatever, click there, then move the mouse around, VS behaves correctly as far as focus-follows-mouse is concerned. Almost there, but not quite!

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