When we started planning the first truly integrated version of Visual Studio (prior to that Visual Studio was predominantly a collection of tools boxed together) we wanted to help developers get started with the new version. To do this we introduce a common start page for Visual Studio.
The goal of this start page was to provide a location, available when the product first started, for the user to either find out about Visual Studio or to easily get back to what they were working on. We also added some other features to this start page such as the ability to inspect the XML Web Service endpoint you had created and access to community provided online information. Users also had the ability to set their profile from the start page to enable them to shift through key bindings and window layouts. This was because our research at the time showed that over 60% of our customers used multiple Microsoft development tools and each of those had a different binding/layout so we wanted it to be easy for users to make Visual Studio feel comfortable.
Visual Studio.NET 2003
Visual Studio 2013
All of that leads us to where we are today. Visual Studio 2013 RC brings a new look for the start page focused on information that people use. The most popular topics on the Visual Studio 2010 start page were the “What’s new” topics by an order of magnitude over other topics in the Getting Started and tabs. Other tabs had much lower usage but “What’s New” remained a clear leader over other tabs. Customer data also showed that over 30% of our users preferred opening recent projects by going to View-Start Page and then clicking on the MRU over using the File menu commands. Also the number of users who turn the start page off via Tools-Options had now become a small minority of users.
In Visual Studio 2013 we aimed for a cleaner look to the start page that makes the acquisition of information easier. The videos in Premium and Ultimate, for example, use easier to see icons that group related topics. Videos are surfaced through an RSS feed that we can update new videos that could previously only be done as part of a Visual Studio Update. Detailed platform information moved to the platform developer centers where developers were already going for in-depth information. This way you can see the “What’s new” together with all the other supporting platform information and sample code offered at that site.
The next Start Page?
With this start page we have removed the information that isn’t used, made the videos & announcements dynamic and delivered a generally cleaner look. For the next version of Visual Studio we’d like to hear from you about what you’d like on the start page, for example:
· What information would you like us to display (including non-Microsoft sources)?
· If we made it extensible and customizable would you use it? If so, how?
Let us know what you’d like to see (or what you absolutely don’t want to see there) and also please download the RC of Visual Studio 2013 and try out the new start page. You can let us know by creating a suggestion on User Voice (in the IDE category) for the community to vote on or by commenting on this post. If you find a bug please use the Connect site to let us know.
I've not been blogging during the day much, but I saw this and it brought back so many memories...