Fresh Eyes

I am still on the plane. With all the frustrating moments I have had on this flight I think it is time for me to just relax and do some stuff that I would probably get yelled at for doing at work.

No, not that.

Stay focused. I'm talking about revitalizing my work environment by designing a new Delphi IDE color scheme. Color schemes bring new life into an otherwise visually dull programming experience. For two years and nine months I have been using the default color scheme for my Delphi IDE. I am bored with it. I need something fresh. I need something that gives me a feeling of creativity. I look at my IDE more than I look at myself. Sometimes more than I look at my wife. It's time for a change.

I have never been a fan of white backgrounds. It hurts my eyes to look at it for an extended period of time. I have my brightness on my monitor down to about ten percent but I still squint at the brightness sometimes. I know that I need something dark but not the easy fall back to black background and lime green foreground to let everyone know that I used to write code in BASIC. I need something modern and inspiring.


John Nelson has been working with a nice style for Visual Studio that he found from someone else on the web. John and I have been working together on a project in Visual Studio outside of the office so I have had quite a bit of exposure to his IDE style. Before I left for the trip I asked John to send me a screenshot of a good sampling of his IDE styling. On the plane, I have been using the Delphi highlighting options to make it look similar to John's but still have a few original colors to set it apart as being my own.

If you want to change your color options you do not have too many ways of doing it. Delphi does not have a fancy style importer/exporter that you can pass around styles with. You have the configuration in Tools > Options > Editor Options > Colors. From there you can define an impressive amount of symbol highlighting. The configuration, however, is lacking in its ability to be a user friendly experience. I am using custom colors for nearly all of my highlighting. This requires me to go into the custom color dialog and type in the RGB values (I also found a RAD Studio bug on this form). I have chosen all of my background colors to be the same shade of gray/black. That's great, but I'm still going to need to enter in those RGB values every single time because the IDE does not keep my custom colors even when I tell it to save the color. RAD Studio has no consideration for my time. Lucky for RAD Studio, I still have three hours on my flight.

Once I was happy with my color scheme and it makes me want to write code I saved the changes and starting playing around with it. I really like it! Usually I do not like anything other than the default color scheme because I feel like I cannot even read the words on the page but I have chosen colors that are very dull, but yet they stand out from each other.

The next step is to figure out where this information is stored for RAD Studio so that I can export it from my laptop and magically import it on my desktop. I look in the obvious places like Program Files, My Documents, and Application Data. Nothing; why are they making this so hard? After digging for quite some time I thought, no, they wouldn't put it in the registry would they? That would make me sad. A few moments later I found this path:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Borland\BDS\5.0\Editor\Highlighting

I'm sad. This plane flight has nothing but bad news. Anyway, I found the location of the code styling. Now I can test this:

  1. Open "regedit" using the run dialog.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Borland\BDS\5.0\Editor\Highlighting
  3. Backup the Highlight entry by right clicking the highlight folder and clicking Export.
  4. Delete the Highlight entry in the registry.
  5. Run the .reg registry entry that has your new color scheme.

This is just a simple way to see that the registry created the tree properly. Now I can go into Delphi and see that it still looks great. I now have a poor man's import/export for my new, fancy IDE styling.

I recommend changing your style every once in a while. The more I think about how I was afraid to create this style on work time the more I think of how silly I was for being afraid of doing it. It comes down to doing my job better. A better work environment will help me be productive. It is really no different than cleaning off my desk at the end of the day so that I am productive the next day. Changing my color scheme is much like one of my steps from the Step It Up post that talks about improving productivity.

"Looking at the problem with fresh eyes can clear up that issue that's been bugging you all day."

A new color scheme gives you your fresh eyes.