Solarized — A Balanced Color Scheme for Text Editors

Col­ors schemes for text edi­tors is just like the favorite edi­tor itself a con­tro­ver­sial­ly dis­cussed and often very per­son­al mat­ter. Speak­ing about col­ors often the per­son­al taste is the main rea­son for a cus­tom col­or scheme or why a spe­cial scheme was cho­sen. How­ev­er the rela­tion between dif­fer­ent col­ors has been stud­ied by artists for a very long time. Col­or the­o­ry with things like the tri­ad, tetrad or com­ple­men­tary col­ors which was all relat­ed to the col­or cir­cle has been the foun­da­tion design­ers worked on a dai­ly basis.

Now these prin­ci­ples have been applied to col­or schemes in text edi­tors. The arrange­ment of col­ors is called Solar­ized and can be found on the pro­jec­t’s home­page. Besides the col­or scheme itself, which is avail­able for a wide range of edi­tors, start­ing from VIM, Emacs to Net­beans, Xcode, SubEthaEd­it or text­mate, the author Ethan Schoonover also explains the prin­ci­ples of why the col­ors were cho­sen that way. The scheme is avail­able in two vari­ants: one for a light back­ground and one for a black background.

What I like about this scheme is how the a good con­trast between fore­ground and back­ground is giv­en with­out over­do­ing it. You can cre­ate the largest con­trast by using a white text col­or on a black back­ground. This how­ev­er would tire your eyes very quick­ly, as the con­trast is too high. Solar­ized in the dark back­ground vari­ant is using a dark grey as a back­ground col­or and a very light grey as the text col­or. What I also like is that if syn­tax high­light­ing is acti­vat­ed com­ment blocks are shad­ed in a dark­er ver­sion of the text col­or to make your code more promi­nent which is great in heav­i­ly com­ment­ed files.

So if you are look­ing for a new col­or scheme for your favorite edi­tor or IDE, check out Solar­ized.


Chemist, Programmer, Mac and iPhone enthusiast. Likes coding in Python, Objective-C and other languages.

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