I started using Emacs in 2008, when I had to work over a terminal. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight - I had problems with word wrap, line numbering, tab indentation, commenting/uncommenting regions. Just basic editor functions. I wondered, how do people use this thing? After a year I had gotten it to where I could use it better, but I never felt very comfortable with it - I usually preferred using SciTE for text editing where possible.

Eventually I gathered so much text that SciTE wasn’t cutting it - it was hard managing all the files in different locations, as they grew to ever larger sizes, and it was difficult moving text between them. So after evaluating some other editors, including Sublime Text, I ended up back at Emacs - mainly because it’s free and open, and programmable. And… after smoothing out the rough edges, I’ve gotten to like it much more.


Welcome to the wiki! 😊 – AlexSchroeder

Thanks 😊

Brian --

Thanks for looking at this and creating the separate pages. I tried to clean things up a bit more. There is still some stuff at ColorThemes that could be factored out to another page or cleaned up or removed. I redirected ColorAndCustomThemes to CustomThemes, where the comparison is now. (I thought that more was said about comparison before, but I guess not.)

CustomThemes need not say as much as the ColorThemes page, since it can point to the extensive custom-themes doc in Emacs (in the manual). I’ve added that link.

As for your question about the history: I don’t know or recall much about it. The author of color-themes.el, XavierMaillard, can probably answer it. This is my guess/recollection:

I don’t think that custom themes “won out”. I doubt that ChongYidong, who added custom themes to GNU Emacs, even considered color themes when he did so. There was already a user “theme” in Emacs, if I’m not mistaken, but it was rudimentary – just holding some variables etc., nothing defining color schemes and such. (But again, I’m no expert on this.)

My guess is that Chong somehow got the idea, perhaps from having heard about the color themes library, that users might want a way to save a color scheme etc. as part of their user information, and they might even want to be able to use multiple such schemes.

But the behavior of what he created is different from that of color themes. It’s unfortunate that there are still some custom theme bugs, or lack of features that color themes have. Otherwise, custom themes could be a complete replacement for color themes, and there would be no more confusion about “themes”.

Again, I’m no expert on either kind of theme, and I have no special knowledge of the history or design. Maybe check with Xavier.

HTH – DrewAdams

Thanks, maybe someday the bugs will get ironed out - I dug up some old discussion threads and added a history section to CustomThemes - it apparently goes all the way back to XEmacs.

At some point I’ll add some more to that page, once I figure out how to customize a theme properly.

Regards, Brian

Excellent. I wasn’t aware of that older history. Thx. – DrewAdams

As for some historical context, here’s what I remember: custom had been ported from XEmacs to Emacs by Per Abrahamsen. custom-theme was added to XEmacs by Jan Vroonhofs. When I learned about it – and before it finally got added to Emacs – I had already written color-theme.el based on ideas and initial implementations by Jonadab the Unsightly One. By the time I worked on custom-theme (and not finishing the job, if I remember correctly) I had lost all interest in color-theme.el and handed it off to Xavier Maillard. Once custom-theme was available, nobody was willing to port all the themes from color-theme.el to custom-themes. I’m sure somebody has done it by now? I ended up just porting Pink Bliss. 😊 I guess you could find more information about the early days in this thread.

Thanks for the explanation, Alex - someday Emacs historians may come across this page. And yes, there is a project to port color-themes to custom-themes - they’ve got about 100 themes and a gallery - Some good ones, though I’m happy enough with ample-flat. But I’ll add it to the ColorThemes page. - Brian