Re: difference between ef-themes and modus-themes for Emacs?
I added the following to the manual of the
ef-themes. It is a
modified version of my reply to a question posted by Saša Janiška on
the mailing list:
The main difference between the two projects is that the
modus-themes are much more strict with maintaining the highest
standard for contrast (I won’t delve into the technicalities, though
the manual of the
modus-themes does elaborate on the minutiae).
ef-themes do not have such a commitment: they are
legible, but might go a bit below the desired target in certain cases.
For the user who has already narrowed their search to the Modus and Ef themes, the criterion should be the eye test. If any of those items looks good/usable, then that is what matters. A bit of experimentation provides greater insight than tomes on theoretical nuances—no value in overthinking it.
ef-themes and the
modus-themes, I provide a broad
range of options for users who need varying degrees of legibility.
modus-themes are the ones with the highest contrast.
I have always maintained the view that (i) there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for accessibility due to innate differences in colour perception between individuals as well as hardware capabilities, and (ii) no theme can handle accessibility on its own, as one needs to consider typography as well as environmental factors.
[ For my preferred typography, check Iosevka Comfy: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/iosevka-comfy-pictures. ]
Technically, the very high contrast of the
modus-themes demands that
they are not—and can never be—as colourful as the
Their colours are less saturated. In terms of presentation, this
means that the
modus-themes may appear more minimalist (or “clean”)
once one gets used to their level of contrast. In general: do not
trust initial impressions and give the themes a fair chance (if one is
used to low contrast settings, the
modus-themes feel hard to get
used to, though this is natural as the eye adapts accordingly).
ef-themes are more colourful, which can make them more/less
pleasant to work with, depending on one’s subjectivity. Within the
ef-themes, there is considerable diversity, as each of the 20 items
has its own character, expressed as a unique colour palette and colour
mapping. No two themes are alike. For example, for light themes
ef-summer gives the user a completely different vibe than
ef-frost, while for dark themes
ef-cherie each have
their unique charm.
I cannot possibly say which the “best” is. This is a subjective evaluation. For me personally, both projects are technically excellent in terms of conforming with their stated ends. Aesthetically, I like them all, which is why I develop/maintain them. I am not prioritising one over the others.
Note that I am emphasising legibility, though this should not discount the meticulous work that goes into thematic consistency. I do not write about this topic because it does not really matter to the average user. Consistency is not something that should actively be calling for one’s attention, though it is “there” for those who wish to pay attention. In short: I am not picking random colours and implementing them on a whimsy. Theme development is not easy.
- Package name (GNU ELPA):
modus-themes(also built into Emacs >= 28)
- Official manual: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/modus-themes
- Change log: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/modus-themes-changelog
- Colour palette: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/modus-themes-colors
- Sample pictures: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/modus-themes-pictures
- Git repo on SourceHut: https://git.sr.ht/~protesilaos/modus-themes
- Mailing list: https://lists.sr.ht/~protesilaos/modus-themes
- Backronym: My Old Display Unexpectedly Sharpened … themes
Ef (εὖ) themes
- Package name (GNU ELPA):
- Official manual: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/ef-themes
- Change log: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/ef-themes-changelog
- Sample pictures: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/ef-themes-pictures
- Git repo on SourceHut: https://git.sr.ht/~protesilaos/ef-themes
- Mailing list: https://lists.sr.ht/~protesilaos/ef-themes
- Backronym: Extremely Fatigued of Themes Having Exaggerated Markings, Embellishments, and Sparkles.