Friday, October 19

Aesthetics in code: Screens from programmers

Bill Brown says "Has anyone noticed that Andale Mono (8pt) in the Flex Builder 2 Beta is not as small as it is in the Dreamweaver or Flash 8 IDEs? Does anyone know why or how to fix it? I need my code density!"

For a profession usually not associated with the visual, coders treat their editing typefaces seriously. Legibility and monospaced fonts are highly prized, but in the end personal choice and background play a part: "oldskool" Courier users, mac fans swearing by Andale Mono, and less pedantic users trying new faces like Microsoft's Consolas. Forums posts get heated, "Everytime I see Courier as a source editing font I get skin rash".

Syntax highlighting, a feature used to colour different types of commands to make skimming code easier, has taken on a more personal touch. TextMates theme page, where users can submit their own colouring schemes, lists dozens of choices. From "Dawn", to "Overcast", "Spectacular" to "GlitterBomb". "Argonaut" by David Lee even comes complete with mantra: "No code poet should be without their paper nautilus".

Shown are screens from CSS/PHP programmer Mike Harding, with more screens from Luke Duncalfe next week. Like to share your setup? Email screenshots to luke dot munn at gmail dot com.

Update: As promised, here's a screen from programmer Luke Duncalfe, showing a suitably busy collection of windows, from Ruby on Rails in the foreground to some XML rendered terminal style - white text on black background - and Javascript being debugged in the background (as with most images on, click for larger version).

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