Vim Color Schemes: A Call for Designers

Sometimes I’m knee deep in technology and I come across a situation where my eyes are insulted by a deluge of terrible design. Once it was in finding this website. Most recently, it was in browsing color schemes for Vim, a command line based text editor.

For background, Vim lets you create and edit text files in a command line, and “color schemes” exist to highlight the words you’re typing with different colors. If you are a developer, it makes sense, but to non-developers, it’s the equivalent of highlighting your sentences so all the nouns are one color, verbs are another color, punctuation another color, (and so on…). The overall effect makes the the code easier to understand. And let me tell you… every little bit helps.

Anyways, there are tons of options for color schemes but this is what you find when you browse them.

See the full listing at

Seriously? I mean, I get that the project is open source, which has the side effect of inviting in the unfinished whims of the hobbyists everywhere but this is just absurd. Just look at the blue one in the top right. It’s hard for me to believe that there are people out there who make these designs and aren’t too embarrassed to publicly contribute them. I look at these and think that all it would take is for a designer to come in and pop out three or four polished designs in a weekend and just clean up shop. Such a contribution would quickly bubble to the top, since everybody wants a better experience. Right?

To be fair, with a bit of digging, I did find a couple (like Wombat and IR Black) that weren’t too bad.

I’m starting to realize that some developer circles turn a blind eye to design. Almost as if the ability to do visual design was below them. Or maybe they feel like it isn’t the kind of skill that you can study and develop in yourself… that it’s something you must be born with. My message to people with these kind of attitudes is that you are only hurting yourselves. Sure, it may not be wise to aspire to be an expert in everything, but a putting a little effort into learning design principles can go a long way.