But there's an interesting side effect of having a theme repository with over 200 applications: app discovery! Whether it's learning about interesting projects (BetterDiscord, MatterMost, Obsidian) or blasts from the past (I hadn't thought about BBEdit in a long time! And does anyone remember Brackets?), it's kind of a cool spot to find and remember things.
Good work and thank you to everyone who has worked on these themes, I use them every day for a lot of apps :)
Sadly I've deleted the Github repo, but amazingly Brackets still had a copy of the plugin in their S3 bucket.
Similarly, oh-my-zsh's plugins are a great place to find out about "the most popular CLI tool you've never heard of."
Although that would take a lot of work to figure out the compatibilities, if somebody would do that well enough so that other people can configure input output configs for that, I bet that program could become very popular among developers.
I have a few thoughts on why this is such a popular theme:
1. Decentralized Contributors: every theme is maintained by a different person. There's no single point of failure when it comes to software maintainability.
2. Centralized Discoverability: most themes are scattered and disorganized. The cool thing about Dracula is that you can find everything in one place.
3. Transparency: on the website, you can see the number of views for each theme, who are the people behind them, how much sales were made. Everything is open, and that creates trust.
4. Constraints: Dracula is only available in dark mode, despite having TONS of requests to have a light theme as well. People complain about constraints (think of Twitter's 140 character limit), but constraints make good products.
5. Consistency: not only in terms of colors, but in terms of effort. The first Dracula theme was created in 2013, and the project has kept evolving since then.
6. Portability: developers want an environment that feels uniform. There's a real cost associated with context switch, so having a theme available for 227 apps across Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS is very important.
7. Branding: why make something boring when you can make it fun? The name, the logo, the icons, the visual aesthetics - it
8. Personal: the origin story described on the About page is extremely personal. For years I was afraid of making it public on the internet. Now I know that when you make yourself vulnerable, people feel connected.
I think all your points are completely, well, on... point. However, the last 2 are really the meat of what I think others can learn from when trying to replicate the success this has seen. They are also, imo, the hardest. Branding takes time, effort and skill which not everyone has. You can recruit help for this, but that requires buy in. Making it personal can achieve this, but as you said, it can necessitate vulnerability which is a bridge most of us just can't quite bring ourselves to cross.
Thank you for your efforts and for adding to the discussion here. I for one really appreciate it.
I have actually tried to like the theme at some point, just because the appeal of having similar color schemes in multiple environments was there, but many times noticed the color theme is just not for me. So I can understand also the psychological effect having this kind of branding and the social effect that can have also.
Thanks for sharing your insight, being a startup founder I can relate to many of these points.
This is pretty much how I first found Dracula. I was looking to make my VSCode editor more fun and someone linked https://computecuter.com which included Dracula in the example themes.
My reading: There’s a clear identity – visually and in how it’s framed. Also a clear social signal (“this is what developers like you use!” plus a social status feel). One central site. The social attention mechanics: I see this, I get the sense that others have seen it or will see it. Doesn’t feel eccentric. Crafted to give a feeling of a common substrate. Slightly indie take on a clean and colorful look with a cartoon character that has mild stylistic tension in a very common art style – it’s palatable. It’s reassuring and tells a story. The PRO messaging also seems to successfully indicate that “because this costs money it’s worth something”. And while it’s all very programmer-normcore it’s also slightly unusual in all these respects and this induces curiosity.
It’s easy to install too.
There's definitely an appeal for me in this. I flip between VSCode, Rider and Visual Studio on both Windows and Mac these days, and having the theme/layout consistent across all the applications definitely helps ease the transitions (along with trying to keep bindings for various operations the same across the board).
> if somebody would do that well enough so that other people can configure input output configs for that, I bet that program could become very popular among developers.
Honest question, how much would you pay for it? Would you pay $60? Bearing in mind that in theory this would let you use any theme of your choice on your editor of choice.
> Hey! You're coming from Romania where this could be too expensive. I believe in Purchasing Parity Power, and I want to make this affordable. If you need it, use the code ROPRO for an extra 52% off the regular price.
And then automatically generate the theme files for all these apps - now that would be simply amazing!
At least for me, since I maintain my own personal VSCode/IntelliJ theme
I added support for the GtkSourceView XML format to my personal editor (which uses Rouge for syntax highlighting, so my loader can work for anything that uses Rouge), and so I could test Dracula just by searching for "gedit" which uses GtkSourceView, and I wish more apps would coalesce around common theming formats... The proliferation of different configuration methods for theming is quite pointless.
At least, if people wish to use a custom format it'd certainly be good if they provided converters for a couple of the popular formats.
I only wish popular themes didn't feel like they had to use every primary color for the text. I wish we took the popular themes and made them even more opinionated, fewer colors with greater emphasis. At the end of the day most themes nowadays are just different shades of all rainbow text over your choice of a light or dark background. Dark or light... It reminds me of that theory about how early humans, before having words for different colors, only had light and dark to describe things.
Does anyone have any recommendations for opinionated color schemes with limited palettes with emphasis on particular colors instead of just dark/light?
You can read up more on its "manifesto" here. Variants to cover the rest besides the light theme on VS Code are at the bottom of the page.
The older I get, thr harder dark themes are for my eyes to parse.
This is a wonderful light theme with limited distractions.
Black text on white background (or the reverse, if you’re a philistine.)
Select a color for comments.
Select a color for strings.
Anything more, and the display looks like someone threw a bag of Skittles at the screen.
But yeah, modern semantic coloring (args/members/vars/globals/upvalues/…) looks like a catastrophic oil spill.
I feel these themes strike a very nice balance in color contrasts and finally provide me with a light theme I can also use, although being a dark theme user for who knows how many years, the github light theme just works really nicely.
They also have two variations of both themes, which is nice, for changing around when one or the other starts to feel boring or unreadable.
Might be an effect of macOS's auto-color-temp adjusting. On a monitor that's set so it's like staring into the sun (how most other monitors feel, once you're used to that feature) maybe it's easier to read.
and Groovy Lambda for Code, similar to Gruvbox (because it supports more syntax elements)
But I agree it’s much more aesthetically pleasing over Dracula.
bite taking -> note taking sry :)
I've been using the dark one for a while and while it's not quite as aesthetically pleasing as themes like Dracula, Nord and Solarized, it more than makes up for it with legibility and clarity.
I have those issues and with dark themes (or just in the night when I’m tired) my eye’s lens tend to open so widely that my vision becomes blurred because the focus point of my eyes is now behind my glasses.
If you support contact lenses, it’s an issue they can effectively fix because the focus point can never be behind your correction lens.
So I think I have wasted enough of my life on trying very hard to be cool to claim the credentials to say:
What is truly not cool is people whose status and social signaling revolves around “dArK tHeMeS aRe CoOl” and turn their little noses up at people getting f…ing work done. Which is cool.
On the internet some start up guys were bragging about rejecting a candidate because he wore a collared shirt to the interview. That it showed he would never "get it".
Currently I’m using the light version of light owl theme. Still experimenting to see it I can find better ones. I am fond of yellowish backgrounds though, like the one here at HN or the one present in ACME.
I have a harder time reading the text I'm typing here on the white background when taking off my glasses, than in my dark IDE.
For this reason I prefer not-pitch-black dark themes. E.g monokai is a bit brighter background and is thus more comfy.
I really couldn't use Github's dark theme when it was first released because everything looked blurry. Their new "high contrast" dark theme is a great improvement.
I've started creating my own (only for Geany so far) because there just aren't many like that.
It was originally made for vim, but there are ports to other tools.
Dracula creator here!
Feel free to ask me anything, I'll try to respond every single comment.
Love the philosophy behind the theme.
How hard do you think it'd be to automate theme previewing & distribution? What would the challenges be? Why is this problem not solved yet?
I'm no designer, but in my understanding a theme is a set of colors that's the result of a research on contrasts and aesthetics (I love how pedagogic Ethan is on its Solarized website: https://ethanschoonover.com/solarized )
By theme distribution, I mean making the theme available for a set of platforms and applications, as it is the case for Dracula, to tackle to problem of context-switching as you neatly describe it. Wouldn't it be theorically possible for a tool to generate themes for all the apps / platforms based on a standard theme description? (Imagine the theme-generator descriptor slowly becoming an actual standard adopted by apps & websites...)
By theme previewing, I mean generating (svg-based or sth?) previews of what every target app / platform looks like with that theme, to make testing easier for designers. It must be expensive to test so many themes, so previewing would be key for this tool. The accuracy of previews might be somehow tested by the test suite by screenshoting the themes in VMs.
Congrats on the nice work!
That aside, I really want to express my gratitude for your decision to consider Purchasing Power Parity. I do well by the standards of my country+age, but turning that salary into USD is incredibly difficult and that's necessary to buy anything more than the bare necessities like housing+food. So in my case, it makes a difference. I plan to purchase soon.
I wish there were light themes which are consistent across apps. The only ones I've usually found consistent are Atom One Light. I usually stick to light themes because it is more comfortable on the eyes, provided your environment is also well lit. I find this easier to do than staying with dark environments and stepping away from the PC to be blinded by light. This and lower brightness helps.
Adding to the above, light themes are usually the default provided by most apps (except discord in my experience) which makes it easier for me to get up and running with any app / system rather than trying to get a dark mode theme to work for the app (if they provide one). I honestly want to spend my time better than going down that rabbit hole of "the ideal dark system". On top of that there's the question of whether the theme is maintained consistently and whether it is supported or abandoned.
As far as light mode themes go that ones pretty good
vim.cmd [[hi Normal guibg=#111111]]
vim.cmd [[hi EndOfBuffer guibg=#111111]]
vim.cmd [[hi StatusLine guifg=#ccdc90]]
vim.cmd [[hi link TSLiteral TSString]]
vim.cmd [[hi TSField guifg=#c4b89b]]
vim.cmd [[hi TSTag gui=italic]]
vim.cmd [[hi TSTagDelimiter guifg=#859289]]
vim.cmd [[hi TSInclude guifg=#d699b6]]
vim.cmd [[hi link TSInclude Purple]]
vim.cmd [[hi link mkdWikiLink TSURI]]
vim.cmd [[hi link mkdWikiLinkStart Blue]]
vim.cmd [[hi link mkdWikiLinkEnd Blue]]
Been using it for over a year; IMO it’s a pretty readable theme that’s easy on the eyes.
Edit: I feel these are just two extremes with most folks not caring at all.
>Hey! You're coming from [Country] where this could be too expensive.
>I believe in Purchasing Parity Power, and I want to make this affordable.
>If you need it, use the code [code] for an extra 63% off the regular price.
I was viewing from Colombia.
Yeah it's pretty cool that somebody could market a color scheme.
Pure white on a pure black background is horrible, but off-whites on a darker background looks nice and doesn't strain my eyes like a canvas of white does.
Yeah, when I do use light themes, I mute them similarly. And I have the brightness on my screens turned down a bit, and the blue channel trimmed down a smidge.
All the lights in my house are at 2200K, so I definitely have a preference towards warmer light.
My theory is that it's like cilantro (some people think it tastes like soap) or like pineapple on pizza (which is objectively wrong, about this there can be no debate). I just can't stand bright light.
I'm sure a sizeable chunk of dark theme users do just like to pretend they're administering The Matrix or something. But not all of us :)
Hmm, sounds like you need glasses, why don't wear them? Too hung up on looking cool?
I can understand though that someone might not want to bother with glasses if the problem is easily fixed by using a light theme.
Contacts aren’t an option because my astigmatism is strong enough that a rotation of 2 degrees throws them off.
But separately from eyesight issues I thought there was some evidence to suggest that aesthetic preferences aside, dark lettering on lighter backgrounds was still easier to read.
I have read about that research but I don't think we can conclude from it that dark backgrounds are a fad. They have other advantages (e.g. matching the dark room I work in) and besides, most dark themes are not pure white on black, but something less contrasting.
I don't think the research would conclude that dark backgrounds are a fad necessarily. The reason I'm attracted to themes with darker backgrounds is that they are generally better for getting a set of text colours with roughly equal levels of legibility - whereas lighter backgrounded themes often have two or three colours which are really hard to see. The flip side is that darker colours + astigmatism seem to lead to reduced breadth of vision.
Dracula is purple.
Speaking of which, I remember coming across a tool on Github(?) that allowed generating color themes for multiple applications and editors at once from a single set of colors (maybe even directly from the dominant colors of an image, like gvcci). Does anyone happen to know that project?
There are almost zero 3rd party themes, paid or not, that are thoughtfully designed. It takes an odd combination of understanding the language a bit, understanding the utility of colour and contrast, and then also aesthetics - and then a lot of energy devoted to tweaking it just perfectly.
I run dark on my Mac, but use Xcode with a modified default light theme (off-white page background, with high-contrast monospace sans-serif text). Same with BBEdit (my general-purpose text editor). I use a translucent dark for Terminal, though. I don’t spend much time in CLI.
For whatever reason, it allows me my greatest productivity. I don’t really care why. I’m constantly coding, so it’s important for me to be comfortable. I’ve tried dark page backgrounds, a few times, and never became comfortable with them.
I’m not particularly interested in impressing anyone, or being perceived as “cool.” That ship has sailed. I am definitely “uncool.”
But I get a lot of stuff done, fairly well, and quite quickly.
People like to ensure that I'm aware I'm "behind the times." I'm even occasionally referred to as a "boomer." I don't think I'm up on the lingo the kids use, these days, but something tells me that it doesn't have anything to do with submarines.
I've basically stopped going to things like meetups, because of that behavior. I won't go where I'm not wanted. Same reason I stopped looking for work.
To be fair, I'm pretty sure that older eyes have a lot to do with my preference for lighter backgrounds.
I'll just leave it at that ...
> Hey! You're coming from Turkey where this could be too expensive.
> I believe in Purchasing Parity Power, and I want to make this affordable.
> If you need it, use the code TRPRO for an extra 64% off the regular price.
I love you <3
Adding Purchasing Parity Power was a matter of principle to me.
The thing is that the development of the ui seems to have died pretty much and there hasn't been any updates for months. It requires you to use npm to use the ui and if you don't use React (which I don't) you may only use it by using the classes directly.
I had higher hopes for the ui and that the development would have been more active since they charge you a pretty large fee for it.
Why not just accurately say what it is?
Did someone also have this problem here?
My config is here, might be of help.
I use default VS Code theme with background changed to pure black and some other colors made brighter.
I always wondered how a different approach would change the way we write code.
Like, deemphasizin clutter code like braces, and emphasizing information like comments.
I’m currently using Ayu Light in Sublime with BB Manual Mono Pro TX.