Many colors of the spectra have poor contrast with white when used in an emmisive light context, like your screen. Yellow on white is illegible because it lacks contrast. The range of distinguishable, saturated colors is much larger on a black background, and you can comfortably add a second palette of less-saturated (dimmed) colors without sacrificing legibility. Your range of choices on light backgrounds is far more limiting.
For situations where there are a large number of potential "highlights" which must be distinguishable, it makes sense to have access to a larger palette of color options.
In my experience dark backgrounds with light text are more tiring on the eyes in long coding sessions. Text gets blurrier quicker than when using a lighter background. I came to this conclusion after years of using dark backgrounds, and having switched to light backgrounds.
Personally, I think the question should not be 'white background or black background', because IMO a light gray or blue background is even better. Borland was on to something with their C++ and Pascal IDE's ;-)
I completely disagree; my eyes tire looking at a light screen much more quickly. Sometimes I'll invert the colors late at night just to make things easier to read.
(Come to think of it, thanks for reminding me that I need to figure out how to get xcalib working with my external monitor, not just the laptop screen...)
Perhaps you need to get glasses. I've never had text go blurry on me, regardless of the colour theme or duration.
I rue the day the browser default background colour changed from being light grey to white.
Been using it for >1yr and so far so good, more soothing to look at. You?
I like both themes, but have been sticking to the dark one because of display issues on my laptop.
Squarespace also made this an option in their new CSS editor, which is awesome.
Hope it is fixed soon, want to try it out.
I remember making the switch from black on white. I was working a contract job with ungodly hours and my eyes were pretty much always red and irritated. I started to notice certain colors on the screen were particularly irritating so I started to fiddle with the color scheme and eventually ended up with the light on black scheme.
It was astonishing how much it helped my eyes.
At first i thought it was just Ubuntu not liking my graphic card, but as soon as i removed it everything went back to nomral.
At the very least, thanks to that link a year ago about how google would save electricity for the world by adopting a black background, I know that I'm saving the environment!
Sadly not, at least not with flat panels. Google responded to the "blackle" think on their blog - http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/is-black-new-green.ht...
I'd be interested to see figures for modern monitors.
Maybe it's just me but I also find black on white more legible at low brightness display settings as well.
I use a slightly customized iPlastic in TextMate.
I am a green-on-black kind of guy, having to do with my VT terminal nostalgia, and I care enough to tell you that. But, I would be surprised if the color-caring folk are a representative sample of all color-preference folk.
To activate, go Xcode >> Preferences >> Fonts and Colors and pick midnight.
Needless to say I still use a dark background in my editor.
Pure white on pure black is too contrasty.
Having about the same amount of blue in the foreground and background keeps chromatic aberration, which is worst in the blue range, from being noticeable.
At home its default Eclipse theme (light) but that's mostly because of pure laziness. This thread has been a good reminder to change that after my reformat this holiday :)
Font: inconsolata of course.
Terminal: white on black
I tried to go black on white all the way a while ago, because it is annoying to switch between eclipse + websites and the terminal.
It seems however that the default gnome-terminal palette and most programs are optimized for white on black. With a lot of effort I found an acceptable 256-color scheme for terminal vim, but I gave up and reverted when the output "ack" became unreadable.
Found it here (also has lots of other great fonts):
I personally enjoy a black-on-white color scheme, but if I were in a dark room I'm sure I would find it very fatiguing on my eyes.
For terminals at one job, I had red backgrounds for production, yellow for test, and blue for development. It kept me from being super stupid.
But lately I surprisingly often turn to yellow on blue (TP-like), without syntax highlighting…
On OSX10.4 at least I use the accessibility switch for this - sadly the anti aliasing looks worse with a dark background.
I still use a "wheat" on black for night-time reading on my iphone...
It's annoying going through each app setting them up individually.
Each to their own.
with some customizations.
I find the perfect colors largely depend on monitor and environment though.