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Microsoft Tunes Up Visual Studio 11

Microsoft has been doing its best to convince the developer community that its recent work with Visual Studio 11 will result in a tool that offers more coding space for more compelling content creation. As such, the company released an embargoed press statement today detailing a number of changes planned for the Visual Studio 11 release candidate that have emerged since the product first appeared at beta stage.

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The company says that developer feedback from the beta centered around requests for more "visual energy and contrast," as well as calls for a more balanced application of Metro styling. There was also a desire for greater icon clarity and differentiation through the use of color, as the beta was apparently criticized for its "overall grayness" and lack of readability.

A newly colorized Status Bar adds what Microsoft now hopes will be extra visual interest and functional value by communicating various IDE state changes such as when the IDE is in debug mode. 

There has also been feedback relating to the fit of Metro style elements, which has resulted in the dropping of ALL CAPS for tool window titling; a stylistic change that (arguably) some will like and others will not feel makes any improvement whatsoever. Microsoft describes these updates as "lightweight changes that give structure and emphasis" to screen areas like tool window title bars, auto-hidden tabs, tab groups and separators that don't require uppercasing the titles.

According to Microsoft, "Another area of requested change relating to user interface controls/chrome has been for us to improve the overall sense of Metro styling within the themes by drawing our own window chrome. By drawing our own window chrome we have succeeded in both making more efficient use of space and in increasing the overall sense of Metro styling. The custom chrome and line work changes we've made together with reducing the number of default toolbars and toolbar icons combine to give you three extra visible lines of code in the editor compared to Visual Studio 10."

If Microsoft wins over developers with these changes, then the Metro theme may gain a stronger foothold outside of the Redmond faithful. The overwhelming majority of these updates are focused on look and feel rather than form and function per se, not that that is a bad thing in this formative stage.

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