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David Wickes
David Wickes

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Dark Side vs Light Side

Tell me, - do you use a dark background in your editor and terminal, or a light background? And now tell me - why?

(Maybe it's neither. Maybe you're like the frontend dev who sits two desks in front of me at work and it's a BRIGHT RED background in his terminal. All the time. Every day. It hurts my eyes from 10 meters away. What a hero.)

Top comments (34)

steveblue profile image
Stephen Belovarich

Dark mode, except where glare is a problem.

Here’s my take. We’ve been using light themes all this time for all the wrong reasons. Early on it was most likely to make the transition from print to computer screen more palpable for consumers. Early computer screens were dark mode all the time, but the consumer wasn’t used to this. In order for computers to supplant print they had to use familiar tropes.

There is something fundamentally wrong with light themes. Screens emit light whereas paper reflects light. Paper is white because light bounces off of it, making the negative space created by the text pop and stand out. Screens emit light so the inverse should be true. White text on a dark background with should be easier on the eyes.

There are some people who don’t think so, but why do we turn down the brightness on our monitors or use night mode utilities if light themes aren’t a strain on the eyes?

Im all for dark themes and really like there are now utilities to style websites based on the users already set preference. There will always be users who prefer one over the other, so cater to both!

nepeckman profile image

White text on a dark background with should be easier on the eyes.


gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

Aha - finally someone starts quoting some science 😂

antonrich profile image

Thank you for sharing. I just tried to switch to light theme. I really do have to concentrate harder with the light theme on (have tried the winter is coming light version in vscode).

antonrich profile image

I have decided to give it another try. I installed another light theme and so far it's good. I also changed my dark theme in firefox. It took some period to adjust but I'm pleased.

hryggrbyr profile image
Thomas Rigby

Mostly dark. I occasionally switch to a light theme if I'm working on a bright sunny day. I try to "night mode" as much as possible - partly for readability, partly for battery saving, partly because I'm a big goth 😎

antonrich profile image
Anton • Edited

I use dark, because I've noticed that when I use light I have to concentrate a bit more on the screen.

Steve Belovarich has a good point:
"Screens emit light whereas paper reflects light. Paper is white because light bounces off of it, making the negative space created by the text pop and stand out. Screens emit light so the inverse should be true."

steve profile image
Steve Zhou

wrong steve

antonrich profile image

I just don't know how to refer to a person if he has a space in his name.

laurieontech profile image

Dark, too much white fatigues my eyes.
Plus, fun color contrasts pop more for me on dark mode!

juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

I love dark mode a lot, like a lot although I'm from the Light Side. I usually just use it on my editor, the terminal, GitHub and now, here in I think I got the mood couple of years back when I used to spend a lot of time tinkering around on a Kali Linux doing all sorts of things when it was late and the night was all around.....

quii profile image
Chris James

Light mode because you told me science said that was the correct one.

I'm way too trusting though.

brunorodrigues profile image
Bruno Rodrigues • Edited

It actually depends on how much natural (or artificial) light I have around me, the darker it gets, the darker my editor goes...

EDIT: I'm always toggling between Solarized scheme, gotta love how the colors match perfectly!

gualtierofr profile image
Gualtiero Frigerio

At office I only use light background as glare is really annoying on my iMac if I set a black background.
At home on my Macbook I sometimes set dark mode at night, I don't work completely in the dark even if I turn on the light I don't have glare.
I'm using dark mode on Twitter and it works, as long as there are no bright pictures in my feed. That's the problem with dark mode, it works while everything is mostly dark but if you open an app not supporting dark mode it gets really annoying.

mkbaldwin profile image

I always tend to use a light background in my editors/IDEs. For some reason a dark background with very light text hurts my eyes if I look at it very long. That being said my terminal windows always have a black background, but I tend to set them to a pale blue text color so the contrast isn't too extreme.

lagerenas profile image

I've convinced most of my office to have the background color change automatically based on the environment they are working in. Red for prod, yellow for verification and green for devel. Just like a stop light. Personally, I use pastel shades but have seen a few fluorescent screens.

itr13 profile image
Mikael Klages

I use dark mode because I'm used to it and like the aesthetic. On websites I use a plugin that automatically invert the brightness if the website doesn't have a dark mode.

I'm considering swapping to a color or theme to use everywhere instead, since that sounds fun.

subsr97 profile image
Subramanian 😎 • Edited

I'll just leave this one here.
Light IDE Theme

yashints profile image
Yaser Adel Mehraban

Dark, since I usually use dark mode for the editor as well, it will be difficult to use a light mode just for terminal.
If I am using a terminal alone, I still tend to use a dark mode unless I have to customise a lot. Then I stick with defaults

benotero profile image
Ben Otero

Always dark, unless working outside in bright sunlight.

ruthmoog profile image

Dark in my editor cos I haven't figured out how to change the theme; different colours in the terminal so I can tell the windows apart easily. (I prefer pastel shades of green/blue)