Tweaking MCUXpresso IDE Black Theme

‘Dark’ or ‘Black’ themes are on vogue: some love it, some do not care. The good thing is that we all have a choice. Things are getting improved on the host OS (Windows/Linux) side, but the challenge is still on the application side, but things are getting better. This is true for the Eclipse based IDEs too, with the NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1 just recently released: it comes with improved Dark Theme support:

Tweaked MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

Tweaked MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

‘Dark’ in the Host OS

For a ‘dark’ experience: first make sure the host OS is set to ‘dark’ too, because the applications running can use that default color theme and change according of the host OS.

Windows Dark Theme

Windows Dark Theme

But that very much depends on what UI/Graphics library is used for the applications. The same applies for eclipse: some UI elements like scroll bars might not pick up the host OS settings, and it is not possible to change that in the application. This is the case for the Eclipse version in MCUXpresso IDE (scroll bars in some views are still not ‘black’), but this will be fixed if using the next Eclipse version (I works with stock Eclipse 2020-06).

Things are getting better with Eclipse. Eclipse adopted on the ‘dark’ theme rather late, plus there are so many plugins and UI elements which were not dealing with colors or themes well in the past, or themes were even breaking Eclipse with strange errors especially if mixing plugin versions. This is why I’m a bit cautious for example with the Darkest Dark Theme which is great otherwise. An easy route is to use what is installed with Eclipse.

Using ‘Dark’

Using the NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1, I can select the MCUXpresso Dark Theme, then restart Eclipse:

MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

This gives overall a good experience. But still some items are not as dark as desirable. The good thing is that with Eclipse nearly everything can be tweaked. So here are little tweaks to get it ‘darker’….

Text Editors and Line Numbers

To tweak the line numbers and background, use the setting below:

line number background

line number background

Change the text foreground to a brighter color:

text foreground color

text foreground color

Editor Folding

There is still the non-black folding area:

folding area

folding area

To tweak the ‘Code Folding‘ area:

  1. Disable the setting ‘Enable folding when opening a new editor’:
    Disable Folding when Enabling a new Editor

      Disable Folding when enabling a new Editor
  2. If I want the Editor folding: Right-Click on the left side of the editor and enable folding for it (or use the keyboard shortcut for it):

    Enable Folding

      Enable Folding
  3. With this, the folding area is dark too:

    dark folding area

      Dark folding area

Inactive Code

Inactive code (preprocessor, etc) might not have enough contrast. You can tweak it here:

Inactive Code Highlight

Inactive Code Highlight

Write Occurrences

To make Write Occurrences more visible, use the following setting:

WriteOccurences

Write Occurrences

Debug call Annotations

There is a color setting for the Debug Call Stack annotation: they mark in the Editor view the calling locations:

Debug Call Stack

Debug Call Stack

Git

For me the Git settings were too dark. Below are the places to tweak it:

git settings

git settings

Changed git color setting

Changed git color setting

git colors changed from black to olive

git colors changed from black to olive

Build Console

To affect the colors of the build console output, use the settings below:

Build Console Output Color

Build Console Output Color: background

To make the build warnings really standing out:

build warnings

build warnings

In addition to this, ‘invert’ the terminal colors: to make them black:

Invert Terminal Colors

Invert Terminal Colors

Source Comments

The comments were too much hiding for me. So here is the setting to tweak them:

single_multiline_comments

single and multi-line comments

Disassembly View

Disassembly View Colors

Disassembly View Colors

Memory Peripherals View

read-only Peripherals

read-only Peripherals

Summary

“Dark is coming” or is already here. As for Eclipse, it is catching up compared to other IDEs. The thing is that depending on the Eclipse version or host OS used the experience is not perfect, but getting close.

Happy Darkening 🙂

4 thoughts on “Tweaking MCUXpresso IDE Black Theme

  1. Pingback: Dark or Light: What is your Preference? | MCU on Eclipse

  2. Pingback: Installing Darkest Theme with MCUXpresso IDE 10.2 | MCU on Eclipse

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