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Software engineers come into this world as blank slates–empty vessels to be filled with facts, yes, but mainly opinions. Opinions are the carbohydrates of programming: they have little nutritional value but occupy space, leaving you with a remarkable feeling of (false) satiety.

Senior engineers can’t wait to tell you why one decision is worse than another. It is one of the great perks of being a senior engineer, after all. And while there are countless of these religious battles to discredit, we turn our eyes now to the dazzling domain of text editor color schemes.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single engineer in possession of a good text editor must be in want of a color scheme. However little known the feelings or views of such an engineer may be on his first entering a Slack channel, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding teams, that they are considered as the rightful property of some one or other of the neighboring programmers.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

The Power of Fashion

A respectable color scheme is like a fine pair of shoes. They should be comfortable, versatile, and high-quality. Don’t settle for Solarized–it’s the Converse of color schemes, which means you think you’re hip when everyone already owns either a Dark or Light pair.

A color scheme proclaims, to the office and those who have the good fortune to pair with you, that you are Serious About Programming. A well-fitted color scheme tells other engineers, “I am so effective at writing code that I can spend my precious time optimizing color combinations to fit my personality and life choices.”

Let me be frank: an engineer without a color scheme is an engineer who will never be respected. What would Iron Man be without his trademark red and gold suit? Still Tony Stark, but an unbranded, unimpressive, and uncapitalized iron man.

If you don’t have a unique color scheme, you might as well not be an engineer.

Finding a Color Scheme That Incites Jealousy

Your color scheme is your coding personality codified. Wear it brazenly and without apology.

The ideal color scheme should be noticed by your manager and other developers. It should make them stop behind you with their Philz coffees, stricken with envy at your clearly superior setup. Dumbfounded, they’ll lose their focus and spill the hot caffeine on the floor.

Don’t stop hunting for a color scheme until you hear the rewarding splatter of “Silken Splendor” on the floor behind you. You will be tempted to turn around, but remember that you are Orpheus and a backwards glance will destroy your reputation as a nonchalant engineer.

Measure the quality of your color scheme by how much time other developers waste trying to find it online. You know they won’t find it because you made sure to delve into some of the more remote corners of the internet. Cackle with glee as they scour the 11th page of Google search results for a word they don’t even know how to spell.

Ideal Conversation Involving Your Color Scheme

“What theme is that?” asks a Curious Observer.

“Oh, just a little something I whipped up over the weekend while soaking up rays on the roof my SOMA co-op,” you reply, unwrapping a “Roasted Corn & Poblano” rice cube.

“You didn’t download it?!” Curious Observer exclaims, incredulous.

“Well, it’s inspired by the ‘09 Jaunty but I tweaked the gutter so it’s really more in line with Carboniferous now.” Popping the nutritious rice cube into your mouth, you crack your knuckles and type out a macro on your Das Keyboard 5Q; it lights up to match your color scheme.

Curious Observer shuffles her feet and asks, “Can you send me a link to that?”


A Selection of Envy-Inspiring Color Schemes That Will Make Others Want to Be You

Because it’s so difficult to find a unique color scheme, we’ve decided to help you out by collecting the best, brightest, and boldest and listing them right here in this blog post.



As I mentioned earlier, you’re a fool if you use Solarized. You didn’t research this at all, did you? Do you really want to use a color scheme designed by a failed Buddhist monk? How about one designed by a successful Buddhist monk?

Lunarized is rendered in midnight blue and twilight purple, for those moments when you get woken up at 3:30am by PagerDuty and need to stay calm.



This is the big, half-orc brother of Monokai. Dug out from mud, this scheme allows you to enjoy the sense of being hunted at every keystroke. Saruman the White variation also available.

The Day Before The Day After Tomorrow


Tomorrow is a fine collection of themes, but I don’t think Chris Kempson was looking quite far enough into the future. The Day Before The Day After Tomorrow uses exactly the same colors as Tomorrow but takes longer to say, so you know it’s better.

Bob Ross

“Hello, and welcome to ‘The Joy of Coding’. If this is your first time with us, let me extend a personal invitation to drag out your laptop and code along with us this evening, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Tell you what, let’s start out today and run all the colors across the screen, and I think we’ll just do a happy little code sample today. We have our editor covered with a little bit of liquid white, just enough to make the editor wet. And with that, we’ll take off and have a super time.”


Stealth Mode


Tired of coworkers stealing your work? Put your code in stealth mode and frustrate your enemies! Comes in Canadian Blizzard or Mariana Trench (pictured).



This color scheme is actually real but is being renamed to the much more boring Vivid Syntax, which feels like a cop out. I mean, that’s like calling the next MacBook “Sleek Aluminum”.

It’s strange, though: a color scheme which “sports a subtle, deep purple base with vivid candy-like colors” doesn’t sound like something a person would be apathetic about, so maybe the name change is for the best.