How I Spent 5 Days In Dark Theme, And Lived To Tell About It
Around BizStream, I’m one of the older developers, and while that means I’m smarter wiser than everyone else, it also typically means I’m set in some of my ways with how I go about doing things. One of those things is the fact that I still use the basic, default Light Theme that Microsoft automatically sets for you during the install of Visual Studio. The young BizStream whippersnappers here love to make fun of me, amazed I haven’t immediately moved over to using something they call “Dark Theme”, and questioning my legitimacy as a developer as a result.

It’s all nonsense -- absurd balderdash, as I call it, but I decided to show them that I can do anything they can do, and so for a 5-day work week, I would give this fancy, newfangled “Dark Theme” a try … without them knowing so they couldn’t make fun of me if I couldn’t make it the whole week and had to switch back. What follows describes my sometimes frightening journey into this “alternative” world of visual options in Visual Studio. 

Dark Theme / Light Theme 

Day One

It’s done, easy enough… Though, I had to figure out where changing themes was done in Visual Studio -- turns out it was on the very first options tab you see when looking at Visual Studio options: this took me 45 minutes to figure out. Also, for all of the snot nosed brats at BizStream who make fun of me for using Light Theme -- the joke is on them. I was actually using the “Blue” theme by default, which didn’t seem all that different than Light when I tested it out. At this age, though, it’s possible that I may need prescription glasses, so I don’t know if I just missed the differences.

Anyway, I’m now staring at a dark version of my favorite IDE, and … I don’t like it. My screen, and life, seem dimmer now. The colors are weird. Change has happened, and … I don’t like it. Every time I move from Visual Studio to another, brighter window, my eyes have to adjust, and … I don’t like it.

Color choices for this theme are foreign to me; everything looks awful and … I don’t like it. I’m having trouble locating portions of code I know exist on a page somewhere, but are not the right color. This will surely cause my utilization numbers to plummet.

Day Two

Outside, the sun on the snow has created a blinding scene of white powder. Inside on my screen, though, Dark Theme has created a lightless landscape of, well, dark. I am certain it is somehow changing my screen brightness, even though the logical side of my brain says it can’t possibly do that … Can it? (Note to self: Google to see if Visual Studio has the power to change my laptop screen brightness nowadays. This is what happens when you start changing things! Nothing good ever comes from it!)

My brain hasn’t yet adapted to the new color scheme while I code. Why are there so many blends of greens in this Dark Theme? They all mix together and discerning the variants, and what they stand for, is difficult. They are also just kind of ugly, but I’m not judging … (Yes, I am.)

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t like this Dark Theme? The other devs say it’s easier on the eyes, but these kids never even had to look at a monochrome green screen before -- What do they even know?

Speaking of kids, one of the interns almost caught me using Dark Theme. I think his name is Sam (or Stan or Spam or something … I don’t know). I think I was able to successfully change the subject with him by mentioning something about Pokemon. He’s about 12 years old [Editor’s Note: We don’t actually hire 12-year-olds. Parents, please don’t call asking for jobs for your children.], so I think he’s into that kind of thing and got distracted. Close call!

Day Three

I’m starting to get used to it… but I still don’t like the greens. The pretty blues are standing out a little nicer on the dark background, but I’m not ready to admit I like this yet. It’s not the way Microsoft released it by default. It can’t be good … can it?

(Note: That Sean, Sam -- whatever his name is -- noticed me using Dark Theme again … I don’t want him making a thing of this, I don’t need these kid developers thinking they were right! I must remember to break something on a project and blame him for it to get him in trouble in order to cover my tracks … )

Day Four

Today I happen to be working in MVC Razor views, and the dark background and grey code highlight colors are jarring. As I think about it, though, I can no longer remember what it looked like in Light Theme after 3 days of using Dark Theme… So if I can’t remember Light Theme anymore, what does that mean?

What it doesn’t mean is that those darn kids were right about Dark Theme being better than Light Theme. It just means I can work in anything, anywhere, any color! (Note: Consider spinning this article into a grandiose, inspirational piece on my ageless ability to adapt to whatever the circumstance … )

But really: Dark Theme Razor colors are very bad.

Later in the day, I ran into an issue where Visual Studio was refusing to start a debugging session, giving me an unhelpful “Access Denied” error, so I took a screenshot of it to ask my coworkers if they’d ever seen the problem I was having -- and none of them even noticed I was using Dark Theme in the screenshot! How unobservant of them! In any case, I restarted Visual Studio and the issue went away, so I’m only 63% sure Dark Theme was the culprit of this random, completely unrelated issue!

Day Five

Star Wars Rogue One came out today, and we nerds shut everything down to go see that, so this experience became a four-day experience instead of five. I’m not changing the title of the blog -- click bait is all the rage these days, and I wasn’t surprised at all by #7 in “What the cast from Saved By The Bell looks like now, #7 will surprise you!”, so you probably aren’t missing out on anything by me only having worked in Dark Theme for 4 days instead of 5.

Conclusion

So, 4 days in Dark Theme, and I think it’s safe to say, it was the worst week of my professional development career, and I’ll be going back to Light Theme. (That’s what I need the developers in the office to think, at least ... ) [Editor’s Note: No one cares as much about what theme Budd’s using as he does.] [Budd’s Note Back To Editor: Tell that to the people who made 1,402 remarks about it this year alone. It’s evidently a big deal. Also, stop interrupting my blog, or you and Stan will both be discredited!]

Between you and I, dear reader, I’ll admit, it wasn’t too bad. Once I got used to not instantly knowing what the colors meant, I quickly moved beyond it and adjusted. I don’t know if I’ll stick with it or not, but at least no one can say I don’t know what I’m missing or that I didn’t give it a shot!

Now about that thing where everyone in the office makes fun of me for preferring and using Internet Explorer over Chrome...
 

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Photo of the author, Budd Wright

About the author

Budd has been writing code since the early days of BASIC programming and loves organized, well-structured code. Besides being an accomplished 18-year veteran of the web development industry, would you believe that Budd is also a professional MMA fighter? If not, work with him for 20 minutes, and he’s likely to work it into conversation. He’s also a grandfather, but given his hobbies, we don’t give him a hard time about that (but we don’t have an issue saying that he’s older than he looks).

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