We’ve upgraded the UI in Visual Studio 2022

Emily

In Visual Studio 2022, our team made a series of targeted investments to upgrade the Visual Studio user interface. We’re committed to spending time on the things that have meaningful impact to your product experience, so we grounded our work in real problems and suggestions surfaced by you and made sure to work with you every step of the way to ensure we got it right. The resulting refresh, we’re proud to say, supports improved wayfinding and visual cohesion, more intuitive and legible (yet still familiar!) iconography, improved accessibility, and the start of some customization options that let you make Visual Studio your own.

Visual Studio 2022 is clearly modern, and clearly Microsoft

From a basic wayfinding perspective, distinguishing updates to the look and feel and packaging of a new product make it easier for you to know when you’re using the new product versus other versions you may have running at the same time. From the product icon in menus, to marketing stories about the new release, to the splash and welcome screen, to the UI (theming and iconography) itself, establishing a recognizable style and theme for our 2022 product helps you make sure you’re working in the right place.

How we design that recognizable visual language matters, and we’ve taken advantage of opportunities to align more closely to the Microsoft brand, especially the signature Microsoft Fluent look and feel. Making this subtle but important shift showcases Visual Studio in its position as the best-in-class tool for developers and makes sure customers can feel confident and secure that this release has the power of Microsoft behind it.

 

Intuitive yet familiar iconography supporting improved efficiency and flow

We hear customers say they find our product user interface overwhelming, complex – even daunting. Yet, we’re keenly aware that even seemingly small changes in iconography can have a significant impact on the day-to-day flow for existing users. So, we started by asking developers like you simple questions: What works about these icons today? What could be better? No matter how much experience they had with Visual Studio, we got the same comments over and over:

  • Change is OK as long as it doesn’t alter meaning.
  • Meaningful and consistent color usage makes it easier to recognize and understand.
  • Sharp contrast and a recognizable silhouette are essential for legibility.

We turned what you care about into principles and, ultimately, acceptance criteria for our work: consistency, legibility, and familiarity.

 

Image 2019 Option02 2019

Image 2022 Option02 2022

Left: Consistency Middle: Legibility Right: Familiarity
Placing the pen / “edit” modifier in a predictable place, lower right

Choosing between “filled” and “open” styles

 

Using color to align and clarify real-world reference points

Leveraging what we know about contrast and accessibility to make each element recognizable to all audiences

Keeping symbols that have a long tradition of meaning, like the package

Preserving color where color is key to findability

 

 

Applying these principles and some functional considerations around consistent placement of modifiers and overlays, aligning and simplifying colors to limit, say, 10 blues to one, and we started testing the new icon set in internal builds.

Image old vs new icons example 1 215 2 2 Left: Visual Studio 2019.  Right: Visual Studio 2022.

 

After more than a year collaborating with customers to optimize the new icons for developers’ needs, and a month of shipping Visual Studio 2022 Preview 2 with the new icons on by default, we’re pleased with the response. In addition to helping us find and fix hundreds of little bugs, you’ve also given crucial feedback that aided us in identifying and addressing a couple of larger opportunities to optimize the icons for specific audiences. And the positive comments and feedback you shared with us gave us confidence that the icon refresh is landing just where we’d hoped – as something that feels modern, legible, and intuitive.

“They’re very sleek and work incredibly well with dark themes. Also easier to differentiate items with file nesting.”

“[B]etter contrast with the background makes it easier to identify what the icon is.”

 

An updated dark theme that’s easy on the eyes, plus new more accessible font options in editor

In Preview 4, existing dark theme users saw subtle but important updates to their existing theme. We’ve updated the dark theme with improved accessibility, better alignment with Microsoft design language, and more consistent color alignment. Over the last year, we’ve seen data that shows the dark theme has replaced light theme as the most popular, and we’ve also seen a growing trend toward dark theme in developer experiences within Microsoft and across the industry. So, what did we update and why?

 

Color contrast ratio adjustment

We hold ourselves to high standards for accessibility, so we’re adjusting overall color contrast to make the new dark theme accessible for more people. When an element is being focused on, the component gets a border with increased color contrast, so users can quickly tell the state has changed. The separation between layers and sections is more obvious so that the UI hierarchy is clear.

Image showing comparison between Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio 2022 dark theme menu item focus state.Left: Visual Studio 2019. Right: Visual Studio 2022

 

New accent color

On hearing feedback from you that the current highlight color gives a glaring spotlight effect in a mostly dark theme environment, we decided to make the accent color less intense, and to use it more sparingly, to reduce distraction and eyestrain. The new accent color now matches our latest product visual identity, which also helps users quickly find the right window when they are navigating among multiple tools such as Visual Studio Code or older versions of Visual Studio.

Image showing comparison between Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio 2022 dark theme accent color usage.Left: Visual Studio 2019. Right: Visual Studio 2022

 

Freedom to choose the theme that’s right for you

We think most of you will benefit from the improvements to contrast, accent color, and accessibility in the new dark theme. We understand that some of you may prefer to stick with what’s familiar, so we’ve made the Visual Studio 2019 dark theme available for download as an extension. In addition, there are a wide range of custom themes on the Visual Studio marketplace – so it’s easy to choose the theme that makes Visual Studio work best for you.

 

More accessibility and flexibility in editor fonts

In Visual Studio 2022 we added Cascadia Code and introduced Cascadia Mono as a default font. Cascadia is a new, modern, monospaced font family that provides better flexibility for command-line applications and text editor experiences. Cascadia Mono, which you may recognize from the new Terminal, was designed for optimal legibility and accessibility. Cascadia Code is also included in 2022 as an option for developers who use programming “ligatures” – glyphs automatically created by combining characters that many developers find more readable.

Background pattern Description automatically generated with low confidence

 

Pulling it all together

All these changes seen together give Visual Studio 2022 a distinctly updated feel that demonstrates our commitment to accessibility and continuous improvement, in close collaboration with you. The result is a modern Visual Studio that’s clearly Microsoft.

 

We want to know what you think

Download Visual Studio 2022 Preview to see the refreshed UI. Let us know if you have any feedback on specific aspects of the icon or theme updates on Developer Community or let us know if something’s broken by submitting a ticket through our Report a Problem dialog.

87 comments

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  • Jeff Jones

    First, let me say I do appreciate the continuous improvements the VS team and C# team makes with each release. Just because they are icons and background colors, or syntactic sugar to reduce C# coding, does not minimize how important these things are in keeping the product current.

    Second, I am disappointed that in the context of “rapid application development” (RAD), that VS 2022 is still primitive in some ways compared to Visual Basic 6 and earlier (and no, I gave up VB a long time ago – C# is my primary language and has been since the early 2000s). The RAD benefit of having UI designers at least as useful as the WinForms designer (which goes way back before .NET existed) is missing for other than WinForms. Where is the equivalent designer for Xamarin/MAUI and Blazor? Why do we have better designers in Power Apps than we do in VS 2022?

    Why can’t MS hire people of the caliber of Alan Cooper and his team that created the RAD environment that so many others tried to copy? A RAD for the UI (whether WinForms, WPF, Xamarin/MAUI, or Blazor) would put Visual Studio back far in front of its competitors. RAD reduces the UI development time significantly, while improving quality. I realize most of those involved in VS 2022 were either not alive or were just kids when Alan Cooper and his team popularized and monetized RAD development, but we have lost that functionality in Visual Studio, and we need to get it back.

    • Daniel Smith

      It’s too late for the VS2022 release, but for VS next, I hope one of the goals/themes is to “bring back the visual in Visual Studio”.

      • Andrei Asayonak

        This comment is right on the money 🙂 I guess the new generation of designers never used older versions of the products they design, so they dont know what we are talking about – the power of visual studio that made us very productive.

    • Andrew Witte

      Its not. If you load up VS 2008, its crazy fast even on old hardware & older .NET runtimes.
      I really hope MS switches VS to .NET Core at some point.

  • Jón Arason

    Now that VS runs on mac, any chance for linux support as well?

    • Andrew Witte

      Whats sad and kinda pisses me off is it kinda was with MonoDevelop for Linux developed in parody with macOS.
      Since MS bought Xamarin, they dropped Linux support & now the only IDE option on Linux is Rider (a Java based IDE LMAO).
      Don’t get me wrong, Rider is cool but “MS Loves Linux” mantra was always BS. The constant lack of foresight with VS, C#, etc drives me nuts with this company. Innovation has gone out the window.

      • Shiraz Adam

        The MS loves linux is just a lie and a marketing phrase to make money. MS does not care or love linux but they only state that since it was affecting Azure adoption from consumers/businesses. The other actions they do such as contribute towards linux or be part of their forum is part of their marketing ‘to show’ that they have love for linux.

        At the end of the day, if linux stops making them money, MS will not hesitate to drop it. However, if they want more people using Azure then they need linux.

  • Greg Sohl

    Wait, Visual Studio has toolbar buttons? Do people use those? (Pressing Alt+S to submit this comment)

  • Huy Bùi

    can you add a setting feature can transparent background Visual Studio (increase or decrease transparent or opacity) but not decrease opacity text or icon ,please 🥺 🥺 🥺 🥺

  • Leandro Tassinari

    just need to make an equal for the sql server. The lower window, the grid, remains blank.

    • Dante GagneMicrosoft employee

      Thanks for the feedback. We’ve noticed that many people are enjoying the new Cascadia fonts and many folks are going back to Consolas. One of the strong pushes for the Cascadia fonts is readability for folks with visual disabilities (Character Dysmorphia and Dyslexia to name a few), and we’re really interested in hearing from folks who find Cascadia easier (or harder) to read.

      Of course, folks always have the ability to choose the font they prefer.

      • Michael Taylor

        Personally I tried Cascadia, realized it was a brand new font that added nothing that [FiraCode](https://github.com/tonsky/FiraCode) didn’t already have and switched back. Why is it necessary to create yet another font when there are already fonts available that do exactly what you want? The Not Developed Here syndrome seems popular at MS.

        I’m glad some folks like Cascadia but I already have a font that has been thoroughly tested for years against my codebase and I’m not switching when it adds 0 value. Also FiraCode has far more font style variants to choose from.

      • Steve Higgin

        The thing is I have been using Cascadia font for ages in VS2019, downloading it from the GitHub repo. Now VS2022 has made using Cascadia unusable, the font is now too bold to look at properly. I can get it almost back to normal in VS2022 by using Cascadia Light but this then changes it in VS2019 as well, and then that looks awful. I am all for catering for people with disabilities but maybe it should have been an option. The font in VS2019 and VS2022 should display exactly the same way.

  • Pratyush Sethi

    When ever i open my vscode, it start consuming my ram like, i open my task manager and it consumes my whole 32 gb ram and then after 5 to 10 mins it flushes all the memory back to 4 to 5 gb. But in between if do any other task it will hang and my laptop crashes.

  • SuperCocoLoco .

    The most meaningful impact to our product experience is the bad ugly mess and caotic UI design of the unuseable New Project Dialog and the replace of the configurable Start Page with the static modal Start Window.

    And yes, this bad things are clearly Microsoft and, unfortunately, clearly modern. But not fast & fluid.

  • Mark Rennison

    For the love of God why?! Every time you mess with the UI in Visual Studio I have to learn how to use it again and it’s always worse than the previous version! Just leave it alone!