From the moment it became available, I have been a user of dark mode on all my Apple devices. I enabled it manually in software that was not yet aware of the system setting and on websites. It just came naturally to me. It looks kinda cool and has a “pro” feeling to it, as many applications aimed at creative professionals have applied a dark color scheme to their UI for a long time.
I defaulted to dark themes, color schemes and settings. I optimized my terminal shell and most of the software I use for the Nord color scheme, which I still feel is excellent. My main complaint would be that all colors are rather soft, lacking contrast. At the time of writing, it’s the color scheme I use for this website.
At one point in the last week, all the unified Nord goodness suddenly felt bleak to me. It still looked great but felt wrong.
Which lead me to a quest for different Vim themes and working back from there to research its adaption for different applications. Actually “research” is too strong of a word, as that would imply some sort of method to follow. I just tried stuff and found out what looked and felt right.
Anyway, no point in having to create all themes for all software by myself. Doing this is a chore and doesn’t spark joy or satisfaction for me. After comparing a whole lot of them, I settled on Gruvbox. The colors have a 70s feel to them — in an organic, pleasant way.
As a side-effect, I found it somewhat surprising that the majority of color schemes are quite dark. In fact, there is an abundance of dark themes and very few light ones, especially when you consider the usable ones that don’t feature bright white backgrounds and bubblegum colors. Many themes for software I use have an implementation of Gruvbox available. More often than not, it consists only of the dark variant.
After trying out the light color variant of Gruvbox, I was surprised at how usable I found it to be. It lead me to switch to system-wide light mode on all my devices, one after the other. My monitor brightness now hovers around 30%, while I needed 70%+ while working with all dark windows. The readability of text in particular is way better with dark color on a light surface. What a shocker, I know. It’s just centuries of print books guiding the way.
The initial feeling of unfamiliarity faded within a couple of days. Now the creme-colored background of the Gruvbox theme looks pleasing to me. But for the life of me, I cannot figure out why my shell now reminds me so much of the Amiga terminal. It actually looks nothing like it, judging from screenshots of different AmigaOS versions. It’s weird, my feeling swears it has seen a similar color setup in a terminal for extended periods before.
I’m now a happy user of the Gruvbox theme all over my shell environment. I have even managed to massage tmux into looking understated with it. The result is based on an existing theme for 256-color terminals and very much work-in-progress. Still, if you’re interested, see the bottom of my tmux configuration.