BlueForest - A dark color scheme for IntelliJ IDEA

Posted by Mathias in [misc]

15 Jun 2011

Up until last November I had been working exclusively with bright editor backgrounds for all my development work. Mostly because the IDEs I used always came with a dark-on-bright default color scheme and I didn’t bother fiddling around with color settings, especially since modern syntax-highlightings makes appealing color schemes much more complex to create.
Then however, at the beginning of the last northern hemisphere winter, I got a new monitor that was brighter than all the other ones I had before. Even though it gave me lots of highly appreciated additional screen space I did find that working on a bright IDE background in a largely dark room for hours on end was somewhat more unpleasant than before. My eyes felt like they were tiring faster and I had the impression I was squinting more.
Since all twiddling with the screen brightness and contrast settings left me unsatisfied I had a go at creating a dark color scheme for my current IDE of choice, IntelliJ IDEA. All existing ones I could find either didn’t please me aesthetically or did not come with proper syntax highlighting for Scala.

This is what Scala source looks like in IDEA with the BlueForest scheme:


Over the last 7 months I continuously tweaked the scheme and added missing settings while more and more co-workers adopted it. It now contains matching color settings for these languages/file types:

  • Java
  • XML
  • HTML
  • RegExp
  • Bash (the BashSupport plugin)
  • CSS
  • Properties
  • JavaScript
  • Markdown (the idea-markdown plugin)
  • Scala
  • Haml
  • Yaml
  • Erb
  • Ruby

The color scheme lives on github, so it should be easy for you to add more languages and/or apply fixes and tweaks and let these changes flow back to me (if you’d like).


PS: If you are interested in some more or less scientific background on the question whether dark-on-bright or bright-on-dark color schemes are better for extended screen working you might want to check out this stackoverflow question.

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