ChrisBertrandProgramer

My Blog on computing

Life in Blue, Programming

Programming in blue, a natural color theme for Visual Studio

Get the files from the source code repository

Relax your eyes (and your brain) with natural colors

On most desktop operating systems, the default color theme is black on white, just like a sheet of paper.
It obviously was chosen to be the most readable possible. Unfortunately, that is tiring for the eyes and for the whole visual system (I include the optical nerves and the brain).

When the ambient light is dark, for example at the end of the day or when you work in the obscurity, this high contrast is just unbearable.

Another aspect of the problem is our visual system is adapted to half-tones scenes, not high-contrast scenes. While we can easily distinguish details in a tree or in the grass (don’t forget we are hunters by nature), it is more difficult in the sky.

Unlike a sheet of paper, our screens produce light by themselves. That gives us more possibilities than with a passive/reflective paper, as we can tune the total amount of light.

For all these reasons, the proposed color theme is white on green or blue.
The text is white because this color is much more readable than the black when the background is a half-tone.
I chose blue and green because they are the most relaxing colors. I suspect our visual system is definitively adapted to these tones because they simply are the colors we meet in the nature.
In short, our natural environment is formed by vegetation, sky and ground, not by concrete and glass.

So let’s adapt our programming environment to our deep nature.

The procedure

In Visual Studio, that is quite easy.

First, install the free VS extension “Color Theme Editor”:

Second, download my theme color on GitHub:

Third, apply the theme:

  1. Run VS.
  2. Open menus Tools → Customize Colors.
  3. Click on “Import theme” (that is on the right of the panel).
  4. Click on the theme that has been added to Custom Themes, in order to activate it.

Please help by completing the theme

I set up the color themes at least for my personal usage (mainly C#, XML and XAML). I did not check formats I do not use, such as C++, VB or F#.
Consequently, you may encounter wrong colors in some text formats.

The main reason is the color set of a theme is enormous indeed: about 2700 colors in VS 2017.
I suggested improvements that would reduce the work of a theme creator to about 30 colors. Feel free to discuss or support this proposal:
https://github.com/Microsoft/VS-ColorThemes/issues/45

You can share your modifications by adding a pull request to my GitHub repository.

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