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Dark is the new black

A look at the new and improved Eclipse dark theme

JAX Editorial Team
The Eclipse dark theme

Following a number of cosmetics improvements, the Eclipse dark theme has established itself as a popular choice in the IDE community.

So your IDE still has a bright colour theme? Have you updated to Java 5 already? Are you preparing your COBOL for the Y2K?

Seriously though, dark themes are en vogue at the moment. Never before has the trendy alternative to the classic bright-skinned IDE seen so much popularity on the programming scene. It’s even found traction beyond IT circles – iPhone users are jailbreaking their phone to give it a dark theme, while Macbook users can now officially turn to the dark side in the latest version of OS X Yosemite.

The dark side of Luna

As of Eclipse “Luna” 4.4, users can avail of a dark theme based on Andrea Guarioni’s Moonrise Theme, after Eclipse platform committer Lars Vogel pushed to have it implemented in early 2014.

Anticipating the potential backlash from the community, Eclipse was quick to announce that the new theme is a work in progress. One could be forgiven for assuming that a community approach to a dark theme would result in a rather fragmented design. But following a series of incremental changes to the icon design and overall aesthetic, the Eclipse dark theme has achieved a cohesive look and feel.

SEE ALSO: A review of all changes to Eclipse in 2014

Eclipse platform contributor Simon Scholz recently drew our attention to the gradient colours of the section titlebars, which rendered text nearly invisible (see below). A recent patch has cleared up the CSS responsible for this.

Before:

dark_theme_old_pde

The old dark theme with gradients beneath section headings (Screenshot: Simon Scholz)

After:

dark_theme_new_pde

The new dark theme. (Screenshot: Simon Scholz)

In Eclipse 4.4, users can toggle their preferred Eclipse theme via general -> appearance -> theme. Meanwhile, many aesthetically sensitive developers are able to create their own syntax highlighter colour schemes using Eclipse Color Themes.

NetBeans and IntelliJ IDEA users envious of Eclipse’s dark theme need to use a plugin or an imported JAR theme.

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James
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still looks like shit