Developers have a thing for dark mode. When it comes to productivity, we purposefully dim and change the color scheme of our IDEs and code editors from the standard stark white to an inverted contrast. We do this, in part, to save our eyes from the glaring screen and decrease the potential strain.
But not all dark themes are made equal. There’s more to it than just inverting the color scheme from white to black. The way functions, classes, modules, and parts of your code get highlighted can also determine your overall productivity over time. The right color scheme can help you quickly scan and pick up anomalies in your code.
What are Visual Studio 2019 Themes?
Themes are switchable skins that let you configure the color scheme and font for your Visual Studio editor. The marketplace currently has over 5000 themes available and covers both Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio Code, each created to visually optimize how code is displayed. This is done through pre-configurations of how functions, modules, classes, and parts of code are colored.
Quick tutorial – how to install a Visual Studio theme
The perk of using Visual Studio 2019 over Visual Studio Code is that you can sync your settings across devices, in addition to having tools that directly integrate with Azure services. This means that your theme configuration gets to go with you, even if you’re not on your usual work machine.
The easiest way to install a Visual Studio theme is to navigate over to the Extensions option in the menu bar and select Manage Extensions.
The next step is to select Visual Studio Marketplace under Online on the left panel.
Once done, search for the theme you want and select it in the search results.
After you’ve downloaded your theme, close VS2019 down and it will begin installing the theme and create a prompt that looks something like this:
After you’ve done this, open up Visual Studio 2019 again and navigate over to your Options panel located under the Tools tab. Select Color Theme option and select the theme you want to apply.
That’s basically it for installing and switching between themes in Visual Studio. Without further ado, let’s get into reviewing the top VS Code themes.
With Visual Studio Code being one of the most popular code editors on the market, Visual Studio 2019 gets the perks of a shared marketplace and community size. When it comes to themes, there is an abundance of them available. But which one should you choose? Here is a list of the top 11 Visual Studio themes that other developers are using.
Top 11 Visual Studio themes
1. One Dark Pro
Beyond the standard Visual Studio dark mode, One Dark Pro ranks as one of the most installed themes for Visual Studio.
Created by binaryify, it has been downloaded over 91k times and ports Atom’s original iconic One Dark theme over for Visual Studio 2019.
A special feature of One Dark Pro is that the highlighting syntax supports markdown preview – which can come in handy for writing documentation. Markdown is not for everyone and being able to differentiate the different stylings can make life easier.
2. Midnight Spruce Pine
Midnight Spruce Pine is a dark theme that merges the best parts of Tim Macharia’s Pine Gap Dark theme and VS Code Ayu Mirage. It runs on a yellow highlight for methods and a blue theme for variables, functions, and classes. This makes it easy to follow and scan code based on hierarchy and its scoped locations.
3. Atom One Dark Theme
4. Goodnight Theme
Goodnight theme is a dark theme for Visual Studio that’s optimized for C#, JSON, XML, and Razor. Methods are highlighted in yellow while arrays are in nicely contrasted aqua green. The most important value in Goodnight Theme are variables, where the contrast between the dark background is at its maximum through white highlighting.
5. Midnight Deep
Midnight Deep is a VS2019 theme for developers that love their dark themes with the maximum contrast effect. The solid black background ensures that this is possible and makes a fantastic theme for low-light situations. If you’re the kind of developer that loves to work through the night or sit under a lot of artificial light, Midnight Deep might just be the Visual Studio theme for you.
6. Night Owl
Night Owl is a nifty little dark theme that’s more than just inverting the colors. The creator of Night Owl made sure to include people with colorblindness and those working in low-light environments into the color scheme consideration.
7. Monokai Night
Monokai Night is a color palette that’s chosen for its functionality and aesthetics. It was originally created in 2006 by Wimer Hazenberg and was adopted as the original theme for Sublime Text.
If you’re a Sublime Text user, then Monokai Night brings familiarity to Visual Studio.
8. Voyager Theme
Released in 2020 and inspired by Jetbrains, the Voyager theme embraces text highlighting against a dark background with orange, green, light yellow, and white palettes. The contrast against the off-black background increases based on the importance of type in the code. For example, comments are readable but not jumping out at us unless we go searching for them. However, classes have maximum contrast for easy scannability and tracking.
9. Pine Gap Dark
MonokaiVS theme merges two popular themes together to form one epic theme. One Monokai takes the best bits from One Dark theme and color principles from Monokai to visually optimize the code output on Visual Studio.
11. Midnight Lights
If black isn’t your kind of color scheme, Midnight Lights hits the dark mode mood with something a little different. The deep dark blue background gives off the nighttime vibe. It also gives an ambiance glow through its various shades of blue for classes and functions whilst highlighting with maximum contrast for new methods and variables.
When it comes to coding, dark mode is more than just dark mode. It is the thing that makes our code visually easier to track and trace, in addition to making it visually appealing.
Most dark themes follow the same format – highest contrast for the most important pieces of information. Based on the theme creator’s preferences, it can mean the difference between a function and class vs variables and arrays as the highlighted element.