‘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:
💡 This article was written for IDE 11.2.1, and later IDE version have included many of the settings mentioned here 🙂 and comes with much better dark theme support.
‘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.
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 the NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1, I can select the MCUXpresso Dark Theme, then restart Eclipse:
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:
Change the text foreground to a brighter color:
There is still the non-black folding area:
To tweak the ‘Code Folding‘ area:
- Disable the setting ‘Enable folding when opening a new editor’:
- 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):
- With this, the folding area is dark too:
Inactive code (preprocessor, etc) might not have enough contrast. You can tweak it here:
To make Write Occurrences more visible, use the following setting:
Debug call Annotations
There is a color setting for the Debug Call Stack annotation: they mark in the Editor view the calling locations:
For me the Git settings were too dark. Below are the places to tweak it:
To affect the colors of the build console output, use the settings below:
To make the build warnings really standing out:
In addition to this, ‘invert’ the terminal colors: to make them black:
The comments were too much hiding for me. So here is the setting to tweak them:
Memory Peripherals View
Every time something changes in the Registers view, it gets highlighted with a yellow color:
To change that, there is a setting for it here:
With this a ‘softer’ color can be used:
“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 🙂