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The Icon Journey (visualstudio.com)
104 points by nkjoep 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments

October 5th, 2017 is a day I will always remember. It was the day I became cynical, bitter, and distraught. You may call it an overreaction for me to feel this way simply because of the business practices of a single software company, but let me explain what all of this means to me.

My life was thrown off balance and I never regained my footing after that day, because I lost my ability to respect. An essential part of being human is to feel respect for those who may or may not be deserving of it. But it is equally human to feel painful disillusionment when someone or something you respected turns out to be much less than you thought. But the level of betrayal I felt when Microsoft announced their new VSCode icon tore something from me that I'll never be able to recover. They tore away my ability to respect anything, and they tore away my ability to feel human.

Microsoft was a company I respected, and their employees were people I looked up to. Visual Studio, SQL Server, MS Office were all quality software products that combined user friendliness with powerful features. These programs may have been mass-market-oriented at times, but deep down they were always sophisticated and crafted with a level of detail and skill that won appreciation from power users all across the internet. VSCode was their newest release, and the internet was in unanimous agreement that it was of unparallelled quality. Following it's long awaited release, Microsoft began releasing quality updates that raised the bar ever higher for text editors.

Then 1.17 was announced. This was not just an announcement of an update, it was announcement of Microsoft's suicide. It was an update intended to completely disregard any design principle, and instead shock the entire world with its lunacy. Microsoft had gone off the deep end and raised the middle finger to everybody who stayed loyal to them. They had announced that they didn't care anymore, that they didn't care for their community, and they were going to go out of their way to sabotage everything they had spent years creating.

The pain I felt from this betrayal has destroyed me on an emotional level, and has deprived me of my primary source of entertainment. No longer can I use text editors without remembering the day I ceased mattering to people I devoted myself to. Microsoft had not just destroyed me or their company, they had destroyed the one force of stability in the world: Trust.

This is the greatest form of satire because it's so absurd but so well done that I'm actually doubting if you're serious or not. Well done.

I did not recognize this copypasta. For other confused readers: https://www.reddit.com/r/copypasta/comments/2t4ozr/january_2...

Agreed. I can't believe it even warrants a blog post.

"This is why we can't have nice things."

People shouldn't prefer things. Everything is exactly the same as everything else, and only a fool would think otherwise.

I upgraded today and it took me a few seconds to figure out where to click to open my editor. I have vscode right below sublime and the icon colors became almost identical. It was a mini wtf moment.

One thing I've learned as a developer is that for most users, colors probably matter more than anything else. You can build software that flies to the moon, but if it looks like a terminal shell aka "scary black window" as my wife calls it, it probably won't be a mainstream fav.

    > aka "scary black window" as my wife calls it
Years ago, I had a job with a family-owned company that made educational videos. I was hired to do some rudimentary mucking around with a database. Something to do with FileMaker. I honestly don't remember what.

One day, the head accountant, who was also the owner's wife walked into the room to ask me a question. Busted. I was totally slacking, playing Angband full screen on my Mac. It looked something roughly like this:


She said, "Oh, I can see you're busy working on something complicated." The poor lady didn't even realize it was a game. Thanks, retro ASCII art graphics!

> colors probably matter more than anything else

That's why I hate the current trend of a) removing icons and b) make the remaining icons monochromatic!

Every time I have to open the Android settings app on my phone I am wondering how that decision passed any usability test. Or press the Hamburger menu in mobile Chrome on Android... Every single time I want to search something on a webpage I have to read half the entries. Just give me a blob of unique color to identify the most important functions at a glance without reading!


I use Sublime for quick-and-dirty tasks/editing large files, but VS Code when I'm on a project. With the icons nearly identical I kept accidentally opening the wrong program.

It's such a small, stupid thing but kept impeding my workflow.

The canary version has a green icon, if you feel like it’s worth living dangerously.

Download the canary, extract the icon, then change the shortcut icon

I agree, my mind retained the blue colored icon as vscode so couldnt find it even though it was in front of me.

I'm finding it hard to contribute constructively to the conversation because it seems a little ridiculous from inception. Is this really a problem worthy of an apology, or am I missing the inside joke?

>Changing from orange to blue doesn't address all of the issues, however it is a step forward.

Just what I need the the next time I feel like I'm losing forward momentum.

As someone who's written something like this before, it's impossible to tell. In my personal case, I apologized thousandfold for a "major fuckup" and a disgrace that the newest update of my software represented in my mind.

Now, a few weeks later, turns out my users had statistically doubled, a few "outspoken people" (in fact just a previously-satisfied customer with an obscure technical problem) had hurt my fragile fragile mind.

And oddly enough, sometimes there is someone who really does get hurt very badly because of a small change like an icon. The world is weird, people are weird, software is weird.

My answer to that remains


This submission is likely getting flagged because “who gives a damn about the color of an icon?”, but as the article shows, a lot of people do.

Bikeshedding is alive and well

Weird, in all my decades of project management, I've never come across the term 'bikeshedding' before, but it is the perfect explanation for the syndrome I have seen hundreds of times in the past. Must be a US colloquial term that is not in wide use here in Australia maybe?

Anyhow, thanks for expanding my urban vocabulary dictionary this morning.

e.g. The Law of Triviality:


It was all the rage on Twitter when it changed. They should have just made it a Halloween thing and walked it back next week :)

In fairness to the outcries, I still miss Outlook's Gold icon. More than once have opened Outlook / Word when I meant the other.

Good idea with the Halloween suggestion but that would have made me more upset. I would much prefer something reliable.

It wasn't the color, it's the actual icon. I still don't know what it is. Is that a door opening? The old blue icon was fine.

Good. The orange icon was literally the worst thing to happen since they colored Sonic's arms blue.

To members of the VS Code team: no apology necessary!

A surprisingly interesting article for such a trivial and pointless topic.

It denotes attention to details from their side.

I thought it was weird with so much feedback on the icon until I upgraded. It is kinda strange the whole app (fonts, statusbar,...) is darker and blue, and then the only thing orange is the icon.

Plus, being used to a blue icon means everytime I go to switch applications I have to remind myself what to look for.

Am I the only one who finds the VSCode icon generally ugly as sin? This is most striking on OS X, where it sits in a tray alongside a bunch of other meticulously designed icons.

I agree - the 'tilt' does make it look like the odd stray dog in the pack, but then again, maybe that was the intent of the MS designers in the first place? ;)

I must admit being a little thrown when I upgraded VS Code a week ago and suddenly noticed the very different icon. I immediately thought "Ugh, I like the old icon better". But by the end of the day, I was actually struggling to remember that the old icon actually looked like. I was thinking "I know it was dark blue, but what WAS it actually again???"

Just goes to show that at least in THIS old programmers mind, I rely on colour matching far more than shapes to navigate to important apps that I use...

The old icon was great. Hopefully they just move it back. I love VS Code but this obsessive flat design stuff kills me.

I downloaded the Insiders just to have the green icon. While I have no issues with the icon or the colour directly, I found that it was too similar to Sublime Text which sits next to it on my quick launch. Yes, I could have changed the icon manually, but I'm lazy.

Almost every app icon I use for development on OS X is blue. Xcode, SourceTree, iOS Simulator, Safari, Mail, Messages. Drives me crazy in the CMD-Tab switcher.

I'm just gonna say I liked the orange icon. It is different than the other icons in my task switcher, which on a Mac, are predominantly blue.


I guess I'm one of the few people that prefer the orange icon.

Is there a link to the old icon?

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