Released Modus themes 0.9.0

I just published version 0.9.0 of the Modus themes. These are my highly-accessible themes for GNU Emacs. They conform with the WCAG AAA standard for colour contrast accessibility (a minimum contrast ratio of 7:1 between the foreground and background values). You can find the packages on GNU ELPA, MELPA, MELPA stable:

  • modus-operandi-theme (light)
  • modus-vivendi-theme (dark)

Below are the release notes copied verbatim.

* 0.9.0

Modus Operandi and Modus Vivendi version 0.9.0

By Protesilaos Stavrou <> on 2020-06-03

This entry records the changes since version 0.8.0 (2020-04-28).  The
present release contains about 50 commits, covering a month of active

All changes are aligned with the primary objective of this project,
which is conformance with the WCAG AAA accessibility standard for colour
contrast.  This translates to a minimum contrast ratio of 7:1 between a
given combination of foreground and background colours.  The highest
standard of its kind.

All customisation options that are booleans are off ('nil') by default.
The project's policy is to offer such features on an "opt-in" basis,
while always respecting the principle of least surprise.

Refer to the README for further information on the exact names of
symbols and the like.

New customisation options

+ It is now possible to make the faces of Icomplete, Ido, and a few
  other related tools such as 'orderless', use coloured backgrounds to
  style their feedback.  This is the aesthetic already in effect for
  Ivy, Helm, and Selectrum.  The default is more subtle, in that it uses
  just an accented foreground value without any added background.

+ Advanced users can now override both the exact values of colour
  variables, as well as the mapping of properties/variables to faces.
  In practice this means that it is possible to completely change parts
  of the theme (or the entirety of it for that matter).  It also means
  that users can simply access the theme's palette for the sake of
  correctly passing the appropriate value to some bespoke face of

+ An extra increment for scaled headings is now available.  This should
  hold the highest value on the scale.  Such variables only take effect
  when the user opts for the "scaled headings" option.

Overview of changes

+ A set of internal reforms were carried through in order to allow the
  colour palette to be accessed from user configuration files.  This
  required a lot of debugging work to make sure the themes compile
  properly and performance is not affected.

  - The original idea for this redesign was suggested by Len Trigg in
    issue 39:
    Len also provided a real-world implementation of this new option,
    which is included in the project's README.

  - André Alexandre Gomes helped figure out the problems caused by the
    initial design of this feature.  In particular, André identified a
    performance penalty as well as errors pertaining to byte
    compilation.  Everything was eventually resolved.  For more see
    issue 44:

+ Several org-mode faces were reviewed in order to cope well with mixed
  font settings.  This is about use-cases where the main typeface is
  proportionately-spaced, either by default or by some minor mode like
  the built-in 'variable-pitch-mode'.  The intent of configuring those
  faces is to make them always inherit a fixed-pitch (monospace) font
  family, in the interest of preserving the alignment of elements.  The
  idea, suggested code, as well as user feedback were offered by Ben in
  issue 40:

+ Mixed font settings may have some side-effects depending on user
  configurations.  This is unavoidable as we cannot control how users
  define their fonts.  Mark Barton reported one such case, while he was
  able to fix it by making use of the suggested typeface definitions.
  See issue 42:

+ The faces for the 'tab-bar-mode' and 'tab-line-mode' that ship with
  Emacs 27 were written anew.  Same for those of 'centaur-tabs'.  The
  ideas for the redesign as well as the overall aesthetic are Ben's, per
  issue 41:

+ An edge case with Helm's interpretation of colour values for its
  ripgrep interface was reported by Manuel Uberti in issue 49:  It
  essentially had to do with the syntax for the regexp engine as read by
  the underlying 'rg' executable.  Collaboration on that front
  eventually led to fixes in Helm itself, committed by its maintainer.
  Note that the README for the Modus themes already contains information
  on how Helm applies a face to the matches of grep or grep-like
  commands.  Issue 49 confirmed what was already known in that regard
  (i.e. that the "--color=never" command-line option is required to use
  the Helm face, else a colour value from the ANSI colour vector is
  used---both are supported by the themes).

+ The faces for Flycheck, Flymake, and Flyspell that would apply an
  underline effect were completely rewritten to account for relevant
  differences between GUI and TUI Emacs.

  - For GUI Emacs, all affected faces will now just use a colour-coded
    wavy underline.  Empowered by the introduction of dedicated
    linter-related colours in prior commits (for version 0.8.0), we no
    longer have to change the foreground value of the offending text in
    addition to applying the underline effect.  Whereas before the text
    would also get repainted, which was too intrusive in most

  - If support for wavy underlines is not available, we assume the
    presence of a TUI, which generally is relatively more limited in its
    ability to reproduce colours with precision (meaning that the
    dedicated linter colour could be distorted, potentially producing
    inaccessible combinations).  So for those cases we apply a straight
    underline combined with a colour-coded foreground for the affected
    text.  This makes it more intense compared to the GUI equivalent,
    but is the necessary course of action to overcome the constraints
    imposed by the underlying terminal.

+ The palette of Modus Operandi underwent lots of subtle changes to make
  the background value of hl-line-mode more visible while retaining the
  overall style and character of the theme.  In principle, you should
  not be able to tell the difference, unless presented with a careful
  side-by-side comparison.  This is the comprehensive report, including
  a reproducible org-mode document with all the relevant contrast ratios:

+ Fixed `org-hide' to actually "hide" by using the appropriate colour

+ Several other face groups received minor tweaks.

+ The README was improved to better present the available customisation
  options and to cover other topics of interest.

+ Updated the screen shots and their description in the relevant Wiki

Added support for

+ circe
+ el-search
+ eros
+ golden-ratio-scroll-screen
+ highlight-indentation
+ hyperlist
+ indium
+ journalctl-mode
+ minimap
+ nxml-mode
+ vdiff
+ yasnippet