I guess this is quickly becoming the place where I talk about all the little small things that bother me. In this episode, I look at color schemes, specifically, schemes for presenting text.
I spend most of my time at work working with some sort of text terminal. I’ve spent a good portion of my time wondering what the best possible terminal color scheme should be. People seem to stick to their terminal color schemes like religiously. I’m more of the approach that I want to use something that is the easiest for my eyes.
For the longest time, for me, that meant I used simple black on white. It seemed easier to me than reading white on black. And most web pages you see are some form of dark color on a lighter color background. Most terminals only come with those two schemes as the default option. Changing them to another scheme that still looks nice still requires a lot of work.
When I googled around for actual research data on the what schemes actually affect eye strain and readability, it seems there are a few common conclusions 1) Too much contrast causes eyestrain, as well as too little. 2) On some displays, dark on light is easier to read than light on dark. It seems to not so bad on LCD’s. I think this is partially a resolution issue. 3) Light on dark seems less stressful to the eyes because of the light-emitting nature of the a computer display. This one was more anecdotal than based on any study.
It’s hard to draw any parallels to real life. Do you prefer reading black text printed on paper? or do you prefer white chalk on a dark chalkboard?
The trick is to find something asthetically pleasing that tries to account for all these guidelines. So to experiment, I’ve set the keyboards page to use a slightly different color scheme, which I’m also using for my terminal at work. It’s a not so dark backgorund (#404040), with off-white (#d0d0d0) text. It seems pretty good so far, although, in the terminal’s case, you also have to adjust the colors of the ANSI color codes so that they are legible as well. I’ll post the complete Xterm color scheme at some point.

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