Emacs: ef-themes version 1.0.0

The ef-themes is a collection of light and dark themes for GNU Emacs whose goal is to provide colourful (“pretty”) yet legible options for users who want something with a bit more flair than the modus-themes (also designed by me).

Below are the release notes.

This is the first major release of the ef-themes. The project is in a stable state. I continue to make refinements to it, especially for the sort of details that are hard to spot.

Try the two new themes

The ef-kassio and ef-symbiosis provide yet more stylistic variation to an already wide collection:

  • ef-kassio is a light theme that harmoniously combines blue and red hues in an overall design that feels earthly and measured. Its name is a cryptic reference to a place in Greece.

  • ef-symbiosis is a dark theme that balances contrasting cool and warm hues. Deep and lighter browns blend with vivid greens and neutral blues. The name of the theme is a reference to the coexistence of hues that could belong to two separate themes, yet feel natural in tandem.

Picture of all the themes: https://protesilaos.com/emacs/ef-themes-pictures.

Commands to switch between only dark or light themes

The ef-themes-select-dark and ef-themes-select-light provide minibuffer completion that limits the candidates to the respective subset. This makes it easier for users to discover another theme they may like.

Helpful completion annotations

All Ef commands that use minibuffer completion now produce annotations that describe in a few words what each theme is about. For example, ef-deuteranopia-dark is presented as a “Legible dark theme, optimized for red-green color deficiency”.

Palette overrides

All variables that allow the user to override named colours and semantic colour mappings are now declared as user options. Concretely, these can now be discovered from the Custom interface.

Palette overrides are not new to this version, though they are henceforth considered stable for widespread use. Consult the manual for how to make use of them and how to preview the entries of any given theme palette.

To ensure consistency, some symbols in the palette have been renamed. For example, graph colours follow the pattern bg-graph-red-0 instead of red-graph-0-bg. Same for intensely coloured backgrounds, which are now named like bg-red-intense rather than bg-red.

Improved graph colours

All themes have a refined palette subset for graph-related purposes. These are encountered, for example, in the org-habit consistency graph. The differences are subtle, yet important in context to improve the usability of the given interfaces.

Improved graph colours for deuteranopia, tritanopia

I also recalibrated the graph-related colours for the deuteranopia- and tritanopia- optimized themes. This is related to the above, but I am writing it separately as it has its own requirements.

The default design of org-habit expects a colour coding of red, yellow, green, blue. This cannot work for users with either red-green or blue-yellow colour deficiency. The relevant Ef themes have long accounted for this requirement, though they now are even better at it.

Support for new faces and changes to existing ones

  • Newly supported packages are: jinx, rst-mode, vundo, vterm. Consult the manual for the full list of supported packages. Some packages are implicitly covered, because they have reasonable defaults, such as my sxhkdrc-mode.

  • The built-in menu, scroll-bar, and tool-bar faces are now covered. These only come into effect in certain scenaria, such as an Emacs build done with the Lucid toolkit or a text session that involves usage of the menu bar.

  • The built-in flymake linter has several new faces in Emacs 29 and Emacs 30, which are now fully supported by the themes and styled in the interest of harmony (flymake is available from GNU ELPA for those who want to benefit from the latest features in older versions of Emacs).

  • The built-in proced has several new faces. All are supported, adding optional extra colour to those buffers without overdoing it.

  • Org mode has a new org-agenda-calendar-daterange face. It is covered and there also are semantic colour mappings for date ranges.

  • Clickable buttons, such as in Custom buffers, are now shown with a three-dimensional effect. The flat style creates ambiguity between the button and the text fields. This happens, for example, with M-x customize-variable for org-capture-templates which has lots of button and text field combinations. The added sense of depth helps with the usability of these buttons because it makes them unambiguous.

  • All relevant faces correspond to the semantic colour mappings for prose-code and prose-verbatim (useful for palette overrides).