Now that VS 2012 RC is available I think it is time to reevaluate VS 2012 and see where it stands.
The biggest complaint most people threw at the Beta was the dullness of the colors. MS heard and backtracked on the coloring a little. While not fully completed by the RC, VS2012 now has color again. It is still a gray or black IDE but common icons have colors, the icons can be more easily understand and the overall coloring is starting to make sense. Of course you’ll still be able to change your theme but I think out of the box the light and dark themes are going to be OK to use. MS also changed the status bar color for certain operations. I’m not sure yet if this is good or bad but it is intriguing. The only remaining issue in the UI, in my opinion, is the horrible all caps menus. Still cannot understand this one but fortunately MS understands and has provided a way to get rid of it. Unfortunately there is no option in the Options dialog to turn off all caps yet (hopefully there will be) but for now you can change a registry entry. We’ll see if they add the option for the final release. Here’s a link to the fix: http://www.richard-banks.org/2012/06/how-to-prevent-visual-studio-2012-all.html. To make it easier on myself I’m also posting the registry entry that needs to be set.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0\General -> SuppressUppercaseConversion = 1 (DWORD)
Another big area of complaint in the Beta was Team Explorer. TE broke everything up into different views (work items, pending changes, etc). While this sounds good the issue comes in that in order to check something in you often need to associate the changes with a work item. The problem is that to get to the list of work items you have to either memorize the item ID or switch to the Work Item view, run the query and then switch back to Pending Changes view. This was slow. Fortunately MS has modified the Pending Changes view to allow you to access your favorite queries. While not perfect, this at least gives us a more efficient method for associating work items with changes. We’ll see if any more changes make it into the final release.
Customizing the installation of VS has also been added in for the RC. Unfortunately the options you’re given are pretty lame. Evidently MS believes everybody wants to develop managed and native code, use all the tools in VS and some tools that aren’t even produced by them. The list of options you can turn off are limited to things like SharePoint and some C++ libraries. In my experience developers are either going to write all native code or their going to write all managed code. Certainly there are folks who do it all but the majority do one or the other. Therefore not being able to toggle managed/native languages during installation seems bad. Additionally I, personally, find a lot of the tools that ship with VS to be useless so I’d like to eliminate them as well (especially since they have their own entries in Programs & Features) but alas I can’t. I can understand some components (like SqlLocalDB) that VS requires to run but most of the components don’t fit this category. Installation size of VS is becoming more of an issue every release. I was really hoping they would pear it down for this release. Oh well.
Overall I am satisfied with the performance and memory usage of VS. I have 2 or 3 instances of it open at a time and memory isn’t out of hand nor is performance slow. The RC also seems to be really stable provided you stick with the installed components. Extensions continue to have problems with VS2012 (even MS’es own like NuGet) and some newly release tools (like EntityFramework) really don’t play well with VS2012 at all. I expect all these issues to be resolved by release time so overall I’m looking forward to VS2012 and what it will have to offer.