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Background color for your editor

Since Joel's moved into his new office, there's been discussion of the best office environment and lighting.  What about the best background color to use when editing your code?

I've been using the default white, but I'm wondering if there's another color that would be easiest or better for your eyes.

Wade Winningham
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I use white on my CRT and black on my LCD.  I'm not expert, but that seemed the easiest on my eyes. 

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I remember reading something about how the blue frequencies of light are the easiest on the eyes.

Is this true?

Control Freak
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Green is the easiest color on your eyes...

says this site.

http://www.websitenotes.com/2003/0929.html

then i think blue is next

Control Freak
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

When I first started computing it was amber on black. Very very clear compare to the color VGA and CGA monitors of the day. Once I had my hand on commercial unix workstations I fell in love with white (or gold, which is somewhat bright yellow) on black consoles using fixed width Lucida console 9point fonts (there are a few other very delicious typefaces for coding, but I can't recall their names). The pumpkin theme is pretty cool once Windows 98 came around, and eventually everyone got used to courier new fixed width black on white even though you'll never get them to admit it.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

If there's anything to add it would be that some of us really really miss the days when there's nothing but text on your screen (but without taking away the benefits of a mouse) and we miss the days when what's running in memory is actually doing something useful, if you run Linux now days to code you might want to check out some minimal windows managers that can help you achieve this. I used to configure FVWM to give me console, emacs, and netscape, su and logout (right click anywhere) and a 4 pixel border around windows (without title bar) being the only thing you see on the screen besides a background picture. There are actually new window managers that can fit windows into seamless frames (so you never waste any space, even if you have space to waste) too, check those out too. On windows I try to find tabbed windowed versions of software I use a lot (IE, Explorer, EditPlus).

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Speaking of tabbed windows.  I think firebird's tabbed browsing is pretty cool, once you get your bookmarks set up correctly...

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

From a usability perspective, I believe the best for on-screen reading is black text on a light gray background. There is sufficient contrast, but not so much glare (and eye-strain) as comes from reading black on white.

Christo Fogelberg
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I've been using a blue background ever since Turbo Pascal... old habits die hard I guess.

Greg Hurlman (www.squaretwo.net)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I really like the WinXP (or NT) command prompt. I just setup a shortcut to the program in my start menu with the colors, buffer and more importantly full screen enabled. When I spend a lot of time using telnet, I go full screen and all is well with the world.

m
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Slightly less black so there isn't a glare. Almost dark dirt colored.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Can't comment on the best colour for editor panes (black text on white seems to work just fine for me), but I do know the best typeface to use:

Andale Mono

You used to be able to download this true type face from the MS web site (and it was included with IE too I think), but they stopped distributing it some time ago for some reason. You can still find it in various places though.

It's a fixed width type face and it definitely beats Courier or any of its variants any day.

Burninator
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

+1 for Andale Mono. It rocks.

You can find it in the FONTSUB.CAB file in the IE 5.x distribution. You can probably also find places online to buy it if you weren't lucky / anal enough to keep the IE 5.x upgrade files hanging around. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"Green is the easiest color on your eyes..."

I'm not sure exactly why they'd say that.  Blue is the color your eyes have the least sensitivity to.  That's the reason why the designers of NTSC chose to give the red and green signals more bandwidth than the signal for blue.  That said, I'd say black and white is probably the best for text display because it delivers the most contrast.

Matt Latourette
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

http://unc.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/corefonts/andale32.exe

Anonymous Coward
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

FWIW, the eye perceives the greatest contrast between black and yellow. (Check out the colors of the really important road signs...)

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Brief used white text on dark blue, at least the way I configured it.  Borland/Turbo C/C++ used yellow text on a dark blue background, ditto.

Like someone else mentioned, these all feel good to my peepers probably since I've been staring at those combinations for years.

The stark white background that so many sites (like this one) and documents use these days require sunglasses most of the time.  On the other hand, all that gear makes you look pretty cool at 10am in the office I think.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I love the dark blue color scheme made famous by Borland Turbo C++

    http://www.zeusedit.com/lookmain.png

Jussi (www.zeusedit.com)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I like Monaco, which Andale is a shabby knock off of.

What's with Andale being san-serif except for the letter g? That's just absurd.

Monacoan
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

-1 for the Andale Mono font.

Is neat, but it's very hard to tell uppercase from lowercase.

Not an issue if you only do VB.NET, but we are talking here about tools for real programmers, aren't we?  =)

Another C# developer
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Hint: google for 'Monaco.ttf'

Another C# developer
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I prefer Lucida Console for program code, and Georgia for text pages such as JoS. And the color's black on white which is optimal for a no-flicker LCD screen in a well-lit room.

Chris Nahr
Thursday, October 23, 2003

green-on-black for xterms/command windows/code editors, black on white for word processors (using CRT monitor).  The different schemes seem to help me stay focused longer, not to mention helping keep track of a cluttered desktop.

van pelt
Thursday, October 23, 2003

White on blue does it for me. A throwback to the basic editor on the Archi, I know.

Mr Jack
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I do most development on the console of my laptop -- the text-mode 25x80 white on black screen...

I can focus on it without my glasses, it's not too bright to use in a dark room at night, it's fast...

Katie Lucas
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I use an off-white yellowish color #FAF8ED. I find it to be much easier on the eyes since it doesn't "glow" as much as white. All the usual colors used for syntax highlighting (black, blue, green, dark-gray) still show with good contrast.

igor
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I use VS.NET and VS6.0.  Am I not able to configure my background color or fonts?  I can't find anywhere where I can edit them. :(

shiggins
Thursday, October 23, 2003

For Visual Studio, Tools|Options is what you need. Look for the 'Format' tab (VC6) or section (Dot Net).

Noone has recommended FixedSys yet! Outside its native habitat of <insert programming editor of choice> it looks well ugly, but its fat verticals and decent inter-line spacing make it great for editing program code. Oh, and it has a line through the 0 too, though it's the wrong way round :)

Tom
Thursday, October 23, 2003

If you want a monospace font for programming, go here:

http://www.tobias-jung.de/seekingprofont/

ProFont is the best programming font I've seen, because it's very legible at small point sizes, so you can get a TON on a screen.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Thanks Tom

shiggins
Thursday, October 23, 2003

The new displays on the Space Shuttle will be dark navy blue background with light gray for most of the text.  Apparently, this is currently the scheme of choice for the aerospace industry.  Take a look as you walk past the cockpit of a new plane next time you fly.

The old displays were classic green-screens.

Personally, in Textpad I use "barely-green" with black text.  Kinda looks like engineering paper.

cheeto
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I prefer white or bright colours on a black background.

Sure a white background is like reading off paper... but when you go to a movie theatre - do they turn the lights out or all the way up?... what about the stars in the sky??

anony127
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I'm always open to new ideas, so I decided to try the other type faces mentioned in this thread that I hadn't seen before (Monaco and I think someone mentioned ProFont too).

My verdict: Andale Mono still wins hands-down for me, although I agree that Monaco is very a nice type face.

I was intrigued by the idea of different screen colours reducing eye strain, and did a quick google for more info, and found this interesting article:

http://www.oregoneyecenter.com/CVS.htm

Burninator
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Does anybody know the name of the code font used by the new oreilly books?

And whether it's available for windows?

Mac
Sunday, October 26, 2003

BTW, the vt100 font (at size 11) bundled with SecureCRT is nice for coding too.

It's the same used on Linux (fixed 9x15 I think)

Mac
Sunday, October 26, 2003

There's various color theme for vim available at www.vim.org that you can download.

There's also a sample script that you can use to change the color theme using a bound key so you can change it whenever the phase of the moon changes...

The same goes for emacs (color-themes.el).

And those default color themes that come with visual slickedit really suck...

Mac
Sunday, October 26, 2003

So that font was called "TheSans Mono Condensed"

http://letters.oreilly.com/lpt/a/3595

Does anyone know where to find it?

Mac
Sunday, October 26, 2003

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