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Author Topic: Source code colors: Contrast / Readability / Ergonomics  (Read 17360 times)
Gothi[c]
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« on: February 09, 2006, 06:08:34 PM »

Why is it that most IDE's have a default white background with black text?

Personally it really hurts my eyes. Especially on CRT monitors. The white of a computer monitor is not like say a white paper, it is light. So especially for those of us who are coding over 8 hours a day, which is better for our eyes?
Personally I use a soft green on a black background because green is one of the colors humans perceive best. Green on black provides high contrast. I use soft green so the contrast isn't too high. Seems to work best for me. I hear yellow on blue is best for bright-lit rooms / daylight.  But black on white is overkill contrast and really bad on the eyes.

Here is an interesting page about this topic:

http://www.writer2001.com/colwebcontrast.htm
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Rover
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2006, 11:10:31 PM »

I agree.  I think the black on white was originally designed to mimic paper and make us all more comfortable with PC's.  Plus Mainframes and Terminals used Green on Black, so we *must* look different from them.

Personally, anytime I'm using an editor, terminal or anything for very long, I look to change it to ....
Green on Black.  Looks best, easiest to see and doggon.. I like it.  Thmbsup

I used to work with a guy who always used Yellow on Blue... yuck!  Cry
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jroad
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2006, 12:00:44 AM »

I remember back in the days of Turbo Pascal, the default scheme was yellow on blue and I really got used to it.  It was hard moving to the default black on white in Windows.  I guess I have adapted to it, but maybe I will start experimenting again with darker backgrounds when I can.
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Rover
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2006, 12:11:36 AM »

I remember back in the days of Turbo Pascal, the default scheme was yellow on blue and I really got used to it. 
2 quick notes:
1. I changed the color scheme in TP to Green on black.
2. I LOVED Turbo Pascal  Kiss Kiss
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Gothi[c]
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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2006, 12:13:53 AM »

My color scheme in Turbo Pascal was usually green on blue due to excessive ASM usage cheesy
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2006, 12:17:55 AM »

the white on green on that page looks surprisingly readable, i wouldn't have guessed that.  might have to give that a try, though i have long used black on white.

[ps. another turbo pascal/c fan here; borland's turbo language tools were amazing when they came out for the pc - they must have raised a generation of programmers.  i can still see those manuals in my memoy clearly.  i want to thank my dad for getting us those tools.]
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2006, 05:03:14 AM »

Thanks for that page! The black on soft green at the end of the page is the one that fits me best, i don't know why, but it's the one the provies me with more readability.
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VSiAQ
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« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2006, 06:58:17 AM »

I like Turbo Pascal scheme. Yellow text on blue background. Though I change it a bit. To Free Pascal's scheme. cheesy
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housetier
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2006, 04:37:00 AM »

I have found orange on black to be quite readable. It's not a bright orange, something that stands out without contrasting too much. My screenshots would look different from what I see, because the LCD of my laptop is very old.  XChat and my terminals are orange on black. When programming, I use gvim for which there are many many color schemes available. There, I go with the darker ones that were designed for night use (my room never sees sunlight).

I change my gvim colors ever few months; whenever there is a new color scheme out I give it a try. I don't have much trouble adjusting to new schemes, but they have to be "good". I prefer color schemes that choose different variations of one tone, that are monochrome so to say.

Attached I have a screenshot of the inkpot color scheme and the new baycomb color scheme; both are gvim color schemes of course.


* baycomb.png (24.64 KB, 702x386 - viewed 814 times.)

* inkpot.png (24.83 KB, 699x389 - viewed 868 times.)
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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2006, 09:11:10 AM »

that first screenshot is so damn dark, dont know how you could read that.
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housetier
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2006, 10:00:51 AM »

I like dark Grin

But it's also "quiet"; that is, there aren't many different colored used. In German colors can be loud and quiet, even excited. Baycomb is still being fine-tuned by its author, but so far I found it usable.

There are too many color schemes available for vim. I believe other programmer's editors will have a wide variety of such schemes as well; I know emacs does.
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VSiAQ
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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2006, 07:09:13 AM »

I agree with mouser. The first one is too dark for my eyes to read. The second one is much better, though its line number is still hard to read.
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brotherS
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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2006, 07:17:16 AM »

I'm sometimes using black on a green background... I don't like black backgrounds and besides that I read something about those being bad for your eyes in the long run.
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allen
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« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2006, 08:30:42 AM »

There are a few schemes I switch among, depending on my mood, this is the most common one though--
« Last Edit: February 20, 2006, 08:37:54 AM by allen » Logged
housetier
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2006, 11:30:13 AM »

more, more, more!

Ok, ok! By popular request I created some more screenshots of the color schemes I have right now. Note that these are not alle the schemes that are available, these are just the ones I happened to have installed.


Attached here are:
* anotherdark
* baycombG, a variation of baycomb above
* blue
* darkblue
* default
* delek
* desertedocean




* anotherdark.png (26.51 KB, 582x389 - viewed 656 times.)

* baycombG.png (25.55 KB, 582x389 - viewed 730 times.)

* blue.png (25.45 KB, 582x389 - viewed 722 times.)

* darkblue.png (25.68 KB, 582x389 - viewed 642 times.)

* default.png (27 KB, 582x389 - viewed 756 times.)

* delek.png (27.2 KB, 582x389 - viewed 700 times.)

* desertedocean.png (24.62 KB, 582x389 - viewed 672 times.)
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housetier
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2006, 11:37:08 AM »

even more, even more, even more!

And the saga continues. This time we have:
* desert
* elflord
* evening
* koehler
* morning
* murphy
* pablo
* peachpuff
* ron

Yes this time we have nine attachments because I couldn't make my browser delete the contents of the last input field...



* desert.png (26.52 KB, 582x389 - viewed 667 times.)

* elflord.png (24.51 KB, 582x389 - viewed 690 times.)

* evening.png (26.32 KB, 582x389 - viewed 697 times.)

* koehler.png (25.85 KB, 582x389 - viewed 685 times.)

* morning.png (26.12 KB, 582x389 - viewed 729 times.)

* murphy.png (25.09 KB, 582x389 - viewed 649 times.)

* pablo.png (25.56 KB, 582x389 - viewed 693 times.)

* peachpuff.png (26.88 KB, 582x389 - viewed 673 times.)

* ron.png (24.07 KB, 582x389 - viewed 679 times.)
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housetier
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« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2006, 11:40:23 AM »

enough already, we get the point!

In the last of today's episode of "post an image" I proudly present:
* shine
* sift
* slate
* torte
* watermark
* zellner


* shine.png (26.19 KB, 582x389 - viewed 687 times.)

* sift.png (25.14 KB, 582x389 - viewed 633 times.)

* slate.png (26.28 KB, 582x389 - viewed 645 times.)

* torte.png (24.73 KB, 582x389 - viewed 669 times.)

* watermark.png (26.4 KB, 582x389 - viewed 672 times.)

* zellner.png (26.55 KB, 582x389 - viewed 679 times.)
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mouser
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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2006, 11:50:05 AM »

nice!  it really is useful to have some sample color schemes to look at in order to make a decision about which one looks best.

that blue one sure gives me flashbacks to the days of turboc and turbopascal.

maybe we need a script that gradually changes your color scheme based on time of day, from light to dark - that would be cool smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2006, 11:51:08 AM »

slate looks nice, but i still find black on white the easiest to read.
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housetier
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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2006, 11:58:26 AM »

maybe we need a script that gradually changes your color scheme based on time of day, from light to dark - that would be cool smiley

In vim this is possible of course (of course!), since you can control a vim instance remotely. So one could write a little script that determines the color scheme based on time and then sends a remote command to a running vim instance, telling it to switch to the given color scheme.

And while we are talking about how great opensource software is: those screenshots I created with The Gimp ;-) However, I'd love to see samples of such color schemes in other editors too. I know I am the self-proclaimed opensource zealot but I'd like to widen my horizon...
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allen
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« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2006, 08:58:00 PM »

slate looks nice, but i still find black on white the easiest to read.

Black on white is okay if you're used to it, but it's hard to go back after reversing the contrast for a while.  After spending some time in my text editor, hitting the black on white of the Internet makes me feel a bit sun-blinded Wink
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housetier
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« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2006, 09:50:57 AM »

Stop This Madness!

Well I couldn't resist and randomly downloaded a few more definitions of color schemes. This page is getting rather heavy, traffic-wise...

This time I bore you with:

* delphi
* yeller
* zenburn
* slateBW, note the change on the status line



* delphi.png (26.03 KB, 582x389 - viewed 638 times.)

* yeller.png (25.18 KB, 582x389 - viewed 703 times.)

* zenburn.png (25.26 KB, 582x389 - viewed 655 times.)

* slateBW.png (25.47 KB, 582x389 - viewed 629 times.)
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Gothi[c]
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« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2007, 12:24:47 AM »

I remembered this old thread when I ran across this page:

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~ma...chemeTest/index-html.html

source code coloring example'o'rama

smiley
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f0dder
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« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2007, 08:19:42 AM »

Good old Turbo Pascal - I started my venturing into programming with TP6. Borland had the greatest IDEs back then, the integrated help was outstanding, and TP6's ability to "compile & link to RAM" was _perfect_ when working on a dead-slow 286 with an even slower harddrive smiley (and yeah, I had a damn lot of green-on-blue as well, you sorta needed that to get acceptable speeds back then).

I'm still stuck with a black-on-white scheme (with additional syntax highlighting - I wouldn't live without that today!), it works well enough and I don't get eyestrain. Been meaning to try out something else, but it just takes too long to fiddle with (Notepad++ doesn't come with schemes to choose from). Green-on-black has always seemed very harsh to me.

In VIM I use the 'desert' scheme, which is pretty nice... but VIM is never going to be my main editor, I'm afraid. It's slightly (and I do mean slightly, but enough to notice) heavier than Notepad++, and I don't really do stuff faster in it. Great when I'm stuck on linux, though.
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« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2008, 02:22:52 PM »

I was wondering: Should I put this here or in urlwolf's thread?. Anyway, Scott Hanselman briefly discuss a few more themes for your IDE, specifically for Visual Studio. Just in case housetier flood of options is not enough Grin
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