MSDN Library Views – Why do away with Classic?

Since a few days ago, we’re being informed that MSDN is going to discontinue the “classic view” and support only the “lightweight view” for its library. This promises to be a disaster, and you have to wonder what kind of data the Powers That Be are looking at to make this kind of decision. If you want to protest, post here.

I’ve been confronted with the “lightweight view” every time I use a link that points to the Office developer pages. I dislike it so intensly that I immediately go to the address bar and delete the “/Office” part of the link so that it will take me to the classical view, where I can work reasonably.

Almost everyone who develops using Microsoft software uses the MSDN Library to research new topics and look up information. For years, we’ve had what’s now termed the “classic view”, consisting of a Table of Contents down the left and the information page on the right. The division between the two is freely adjustable so that you can see more or less of either pane.

This view provides the best way to research and find information by scrolling through the Table of Contents. You can click the + / – signs to show levels without changing the page on the right.

The font color is black, providing a good reading contrast, as opposed to grey in the new view. The font size is such that a large amount of information is visible on the screen, making it easy to take in a large volume of information, view screen shots and code in their entirety and compare entries in the Table of Contents list.

There are also “breadcrumbs” across the top of the article so that you know what section of the library it’s saved in, even if the TOC is not shown, or is not visible in its entirety. These “breadcrumbs” are dropdown lists that allow you to quickly navigate to another part of topic, or even the library.

In addition, in the Classic view we had the option to add “Community Content” which allowed us to correct and extend the information in the articles. This functionality has already been turned off…

First, Microsoft took away books, then on-board Help with TOC and Indexes. Now we won’t even have the benefit of a useful interface on-line. Why? Is the Metro design really that necessary and compelling? Certainly not for me!


Compare classic (above) with lightweight:


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