Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Pimp My IDE

I just updated my Programming Fonts entry. It now includes a much larger code sample in each font, and a few new fonts including the "gee, did I really just pay $100 for a single font" Pragmata. Be sure to check it out.

It's a shame that there's no CSS Zen Garden for IDE coloring and layout. I occasionally find amazing color schemes, such as this one from Leon Breedt's blog:


White on black color schemes can be hard on the eyes, but this one has less contrast. It's more of a white on brown, with soothing related palette choices for keywords and strings. I'd actually consider using it. If only there was a site where I could browse more great looking IDE layouts like this one...

Well, we may not have that, but I'd like to see what IDE layouts you guys (and gals) are using -- if they are significantly different than the VS.NET default, naturally. Post URLs to screenshots in the comments. I'm mostly interested in the code editing panel, but feel free to show whatever you think is worth showing in the screenshot. Here's mine:


With the screenshot, include a description of the rationale behind your decisions. Here are mine:

  • Because my research on code colorization showed very definitively that 100% contrast schemes are harder to read, I changed my background from white to 248, 248, 248.
  • I'm a big fan of RGB (red, green, blue) color schemes. Keywords are bright blue by default in the IDE; I modify that to the slightly darker Navy, and use Magenta for identifiers, and leave the comments at their default green.
  • If I wasn't using the Pragmata font, I would be using Proggy or Lucida Typewriter. See my programming font roundup for more.
  • I like using a background color for strings so spaces and other "non-characters" are easier to see.
  • I prefer a much brighter highlight for selected code than the boring old white-on-navy default.
  • I recently started highlighting numbers as well as strings. The jury is still out on this, but numbers tend to be significant in code (eg, Magic Numbers). It's been helpful so far.

But enough about me. Go ahead-- Pimp Your IDE! Post a link to a screenshot in the comments along with some explanation!

Written by Jeff Atwood

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