Monthly Archives: July 2015

MS Visual Studio Customization – Colors & UI

So I’m using Visual Studio 2012 as my weapon of choice because it still seems to be the best selection for a C++ IDE on Windows.

But I’m not a huge fan of the interface.  I know they’ve worked on it, and it’s definitely come a long way.  But it’s so… BUSY.  When you’re writing code you want as few distractions as possible.  For a person with ADHD like myself, more shiny icons = more distractions.

Here’s what I’ve done to make the interface a little more minimalist:

  • Removed all toolbars
  • Removed all “View Menu” items shown and made sure only Toolbox, Solution Explorer, Properties, Command Window, Output are shown on the far right side of the screen and are set to auto-hide.
  • Installed VSVim – A plugin for MSVS that offers a VIM-like functionality and UI
  • Installed TextSharp to enable control of font aliasing & ClearType options
  • Installed Visual Studio Color Theme Editor so I could modify the color scheme, which is a bit bright for my tastes.  Switched to the “Dark” color theme
  • Installed Source Code Pro font, using Medium thickness

And here’s what we ended up with:

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Reading – Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice 3rd Ed.

So I’m apparently not so great at this frequent post thing.  We’ll work on that.

I’ve been reading (amongst various fiction books) Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice 3rd Ed. by Hughes, Van Dam, McGuire, Sklar, Foley, Feiner and Akeley (  I’m really enjoying this book.

What I like about the book thus far:

– Teaches you from the ground up.  Just a bit of working knowledge of C# / markup languages has been needed thus far (aside from WPF mentioned below).  Some physics knowledge is useful also, but not critical.

– Explained very succinctly.  Example:  the authors differentiate between the definition of “specular” in different places, showing you how they can mean different things in graphics.

– The breadth of the book is fantastic.  They go into a decent amount of detail not just about “how to draw pictures on screen” but also about things to take into account when designing UX/UI.

What I didn’t like thus far:

– It feels like I’ve spent a good amount of time (possibly almost as much time as I’ve spent reading) getting acquainted with WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation).  Many of the book’s examples are done using this framework.  It’s essentially (at a very base level) a rapid prototyping tool for user interfaces that has 2d and 3d drawing capabilities.  Not too keen on this, because I know I won’t be using WPF outside this book.

– The examples / labs external to the book are hard to tie to the book.  For example, the very first time they talk about WPF is in chapter 2.  And it’s not “OK, now we are going to set up the framework for our WPF application” or “Please go download this lab and follow these instructions” it’s “..for our first simple XAML example, let’s just create a standalone canvas” and then you see the code snippet and it’s kind of like… What?  Where do I put this?

Anyways… onward!