Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Colorization Required

Black and white works fine when I'm reading newspapers. But when I'm reading computer languages of any kind-- from Perl to SQL, from C# to Regular Expressions, from HTML to XML -- I can't bear to read them in black and white any more.

Consider this Infocard XML as you'd see it in a basic Notepad style text editor, perhaps with a little line numbering:

Infocard XML

It's just a slew of angle bracket noise that makes my brain hurt. But if view the same file in an editor that can colorize the XML..

Colorized Infocard XML

.. all of a sudden we can clearly see what's going on.

Plain old Notepad is perfectly adequate for reading text files. But if you're reading code or markup of any kind, Notepad doesn't work very well. We need colorization to truly understand what we're looking at.

Why is that? Are we just spoiled?

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: