Touch-First Dev Tools

One of my first gigs on the Visual Studio design team was creating interactive prototypes to help envision and demonstrate the potential for touch-first developer tools.

With the emergence of touch as a primary input for Windows 8, the reality of easily creating high quality touch-based prototypes was finally within reach. I collaborated with a few other designers and researchers to create three apps:

VS Reader - code review app that displayed code to look and feel more like a magazine

Gesture Library - Visual Studio extension that allowed developers to execute commands by drawing gestures on the screen

The developer could use touch gestures to execute common commands
The gesture language would be simple and branch

Command Center - app that offloaded 80% of the commands in Visual Studio, to be used on a slate as a companion to Visual Studio on the desktop

Sketch of the companion Command Center app open with Visual Studio
Commands were laid out in a touch-optimized grid on a companion tablet

The prototypes were created as Windows 8 apps, using XAML and C#. The other major design goal was to push the status quo towards the direction of providing a "constellation" of fit-to-purpose tools instead of a single, monolithic product.

Overall they were well-received and sparked a lot of conversation within the organization. Much of insights were carried over into the planning efforts for Visual Studio 2012 and beyond.