Dev Build Documentation Color Schemes

The highlighting of source code and prose in Sublime Text is controlled by a color scheme. A color scheme assigns colors and font styles to scopes, which are assigned to the text by the syntax. The rest of the look of the user interface is controlled by the theme. The theme controls such elements as buttons select lists, the sidebar and tabs.

Sublime Text color schemes are implemented using .sublime-color-scheme files, containing JSON. Sublime Text also supports a subset of features using the TextMate .tmTheme format.

Example

The following is an example of the format of a .sublime-color-scheme file. A complete color scheme will have many more rules to cover the standard scope names.

{
    "name": "Example Color Scheme",
    "globals":
    {
        "background": "rgb(34, 34, 34)",
        "foreground": "#EEEEEE",
        "caret": "white"
    },
    "rules":
    [
        {
            "name": "Comment",
            "scope": "comment",
            "foreground": "#888888"
        },
        {
            "name": "String",
            "scope": "string",
            "foreground": "hsla(50, 100%, 50%, 1)",
        },
        {
            "name": "Number",
            "scope": "constant.numeric",
            "foreground": "#7F00FF",
            "font_style": "italic",
        }
    ]
}

Colors

Colors in color schemes may be specified using one of seven formats:

  • Hex RGB: A # followed by six hex characters, with the first two specifying the red channel, second tow the green channel and the final two the blue channel. Red is written as #FF0000. An abbreviated form is available when each of the three pairs use the same value for both characters. Red is written as #F00.
  • Hex RGBA: Same as Hex RGBA, but with an extra pair of hex characters at the end to specify the alpha channel. Red with 67% opacity is written as #FF0000AA. The abbreviated form would be #F00A.
  • RGB functional notation: A function named rgb that accepts three integers in the range 0 to 255. The first integer specifies the red channel, the second the green channel and the third the blue channel. Red is written as rgb(255, 0, 0).
  • RGBA functional notation: Identical to the RGB function format, except the name of the function is rgba and a fourth parameter is added accepting a value from 0.0 to 1.0 specifying the alpha channel. Red with 50% opacity is written as rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.5).
  • HSL functional notation: A function named hsl that accepts three values. The first is an integer in the range 0 to 360 specifying the hue. The second is a percentage specifying the saturation. The third is a percentage specifying the lightness. Red is written as hsl(0, 100%, 100%).
  • HSLA functional notation: Identical to the HSL function format, except the name of the function is hsla and a fourth parameter is added accepting a value from 0.0 to 1.0 specifying the alpha channel. Red with 50% opacity is written as hsla(0, 100%, 100%, 0.5).
  • Named: CSS color names. Please note that while some share names with X11 named colors used in .tmTheme files, the actual colors tend to differ.

Additionally, colors may be specified as a variable, and then referenced via the syntax var(example_var_name). Variable references are particularly useful when combined with the minihtml color() mod function and the supported blend(), blenda(), alpha(), saturation() and lightness() adjusters.

  • blend() adjuster: Blends a color into the base. To blend equal parts grey and a base color referenced via variable, in RGB space: color(var(base_green) blend(#888 50%)). If colors should be blended in HSL space, use the following form: color(var(base_green) blend(#888 50% hsl)). The resulting alpha value is always the alpha channel of the base color.
  • blenda() adjuster: Functions the same way as the blend() adjuster, but blends the alpha channel of the two colors instead of just using the alpha channel from the base. An example of the blending a partially transparent grey into a green: color(var(base_green) blenda(#8888 50% hsl))
  • alpha() adjuster: Changes the alpha channel of the base color to the value specified, from 0.0 to 1.0. Setting the alpha channel to 90%: color(var(base_green) alpha(0.9)). A shorthand name of a() is also available for this adjuster.
  • saturation() adjuster: Changes the saturation channel of the base color, in the HSL color space, to the value specified, from 0% to 100%. Setting the saturation to 90%: color(var(base_green) saturation(0.9)). Increasing the saturation by 10%: color(var(base_green) s(+ 10%)). A shorthand name of s() is also available for this adjuster.
  • lightness() adjuster: Changes the lightness channel of the base color, in the HSL color space, to the value specified, from 0% to 100%. Setting the lightness to 90%: color(var(base_green) lightness(0.9)). Decreasing the lightness by 10%: color(var(base_green) l(- 10%)). A shorthand name of l() is also available for this adjuster.

Variables

Reusable color definitions may be created in the variables key. The names may be any string utilizing the characters a-z, A-Z, 0-9, _ and -. The values may be any valid color format.

Variables may be referenced in the global settings and rules, via the syntax var(example_var_name). The following example shows basic variable usage:

{
    "name": "Example Color Scheme",
    "variables":
    {
        "green": "hsla(153, 80%, 40%, 1)",
        "black": "#111",
        "white": "rgb(242, 242, 242)"
    },
    "globals":
    {
        "background": "var(black)",
        "foreground": "var(white)",
        "caret": "color(var(white) alpha(0.8))"
    },
    "rules":
    [
        {
            "name": "Comment",
            "scope": "comment",
            "foreground": "color(var(black) blend(#fff 50%))"
        },
        {
            "name": "String",
            "scope": "string",
            "foreground": "var(green)",
        },
        {
            "name": "Number",
            "scope": "constant.numeric",
            "foreground": "#7F00FF",
            "font_style": "italic",
        }
    ]
}

Global Settings

The following global settings go in the object with the globals key.

background
The default background color
foreground
The default color for text
caret
The color of the caret
line_highlight
The background color of the line containing the caret. Only used when the highlight_line setting is enabled.

Accents

misspelling
The color to use for the squiggly underline drawn under misspelled words.
fold_marker
The color to use for the marker that indicates content has been folded.
minimap_border
The color of the border drawn around the viewport area of the minimap when the setting draw_minimap_border is enabled. Note that the viewport is normally only visible on hover, unless the always_show_minimap_viewport setting is enabled.
accent
A color made available for use by the theme. The Default theme uses this to highlight modified tabs when the highlight_modified_tabs setting is enabled.

CSS

CSS is applied to minihtml content created via the popups and phantoms functionality that is exposed through the API. Supported CSS properties are discussed in the minihtml CSS reference.

Plugins that use minihtml are encouraged to set a unique id attribute on the <body> tag of generated HTML to allow color schemes to override default plugin styles.

popup_css
CSS passed to popups.
phantom_css
CSS passed to phantoms. If not specified, uses popup_css.

Gutter

gutter
The background color of the gutter
gutter_foreground
The color of line numbers in the gutter

Selection

selection
The background color of selected text
selection_foreground
A color that will override the scope-based text color of the selection
selection_border
The color for the border of the selection
selection_border_width
The width of the selection border, from 0 to 4.
inactive_selection
The background color of a selection in a view that is not currently focused
inactive_selection_foreground
A color that will override the scope-based text color of the selection in a view that is not currently focused
selection_corner_style
The style of corners to use on selections. Options include: round (the default), cut or square.
selection_corner_radius
The radius to use when the selection_corner_style is round or cut.

Find

highlight
The border color for "other" matches when the Highlight matches option is selected in the Find panel. Also used to highlight matches in Find in Files results.
find_highlight
The background color of text matched by the Find panel
find_highlight_foreground
A color that will override the scope-based text color of text matched by the Find panel

Guides

Guides are controlled globally by the draw_indent_guides setting.

guide
The color used to draw indent guides. Only used if the option "draw_normal" is present in the setting indent_guide_options.
active_guide
The color used to draw the indent guides for the indentation levels containing the caret. Only used if the option "draw_active" is present in the setting indent_guide_options.
stack_guide
The color used to draw the indent guides for the parent indentation levels of the indentation level containing the caret. Only used if the option "draw_active" is present in the setting indent_guide_options.

Brackets

Bracket matching is controlled globally by the match_brackets setting.

brackets_options

How brackets are highlighted when the caret is next to one. Accepts a space-separated list from the following:

  • underline
  • stippled_underline
  • squiggly_underline
  • foreground
  • bold
  • italic
brackets_foreground
The color to use when drawing the style specified by brackets_options.
bracket_contents_options

How brackets are highlighted when the caret is positioned in between a pair of brackets. Accepts a space-separated list from the following:

  • underline
  • stippled_underline
  • squiggly_underline
  • foreground
bracket_contents_foreground
The color to use when drawing the style specified by brackets_contents_options.

Tags

Tag matching is controlled globally by the match_tags setting.

tags_options

How tags are highlighted when the caret is inside of one. Accepts a space-separated list from the following:

  • underline
  • stippled_underline
  • squiggly_underline
  • foreground
tags_foreground
The color to use when drawing the style specified by tags_options.

Shadows

shadow
The color of the shadow used to show when a text area can be horizontally scrolled
shadow_width
The width of the shadow in device-independent pixels

Scope Rules

Color schemes interact with the text in a file via scopes. Scopes are set to code or prose tokens via the syntax. Scopes are dotted strings, specified from least-to-most specific. For example, the if keyword in PHP could be specified via the scope name keyword.control.php.

Matching

Color schemes apply colors and font styles to the scopes by matching the dotted labels, starting with the first. Prefix matching is the standard way to have a color scheme apply to multiple syntaxes. Instead of matching keyword.control.php, most color schemes will instead assign a color to keyword. Matching the first one or two labels in a scope is most common. Including the final label, the syntax name, is uncommon unless a syntax-specific override is desired.

Naming

Author of syntaxes can assign whatever scopes they want to a given token. This combined with the fact that there are hundreds of community-maintained syntaxes means that is can be hard to know what scopes to target. The official Scope Naming guidelines were established to help syntax and color scheme authors use a common set, for better interoperability. The Usage in Color Schemes section provides a baseline set of scopes that color scheme authors should strive to handle.

Style Rules

Each scope style rule consists of an object containing a scope key, along with one or more of the following optional keys:

  • name – the (arbitrary) name for the scope rule
  • foreground – the text color
  • background – the background color
  • foreground_adjust – adjustment to the foreground color, only valid with background
  • selection_foreground – the text color when selected
  • font_style – zero or more of bold, italic, separated by spaces

The foreground_adjust key accepts a space-separated list of adjusters that are supported by the minihtml color() mod function. It is only supported when the background key is also specified, and thus allows modifying all foregrounds used in combination with the background, without having to create different rules for every permutation.

Hashed Syntax Highlighting

The foreground key supports a special mode called Hashed Syntax Highlighting, where each token matching the scope specified will receive a unique color from one, or more, gradients. Some editors refer to this style of highlighting as "Semantic Highlighting".

To use Hashed Syntax Highlighting, the foreground key must have a value that is a list of two or more colors. Sublime Text will create 256 different colors that are linear interpolations (lerp) between the colors provided. The interpolation is done in HSL space.

As Sublime Text highlights the tokens in a file, it will create a hashed value of the token, and use that to pick one of the 256 linear interpolations. Every instance of a given token will use the same color. For instance, each instance of first_name would have the same color, but every instance of name would have a different color.

For Hashed Syntax Highlighting to be most obvious, the hue difference between the start and end points should be as far apart as possible. Here is an example of using blues, purples and pinks for variable names:

{
    "scope": "source - punctuation - keyword",
    "foreground": ["hsl(200, 60%, 70%)", "hsl(330, 60%, 70%)"]
}

Examples

The following scope style rule will color all strings as green:

{
    "name": "Strings",
    "scope": "string",
    "foreground": "#00FF00"
}

To style all numbers as bold, italic red, use:

{
    "name": "Numbers",
    "scope": "constant.numeric",
    "foreground": "#FF0000",
    "font_style": "bold italic"
}

Customization

Color schemes based on the .sublime-color-scheme format are specified by filename only, not a package-based file path. This allows users to customize a color scheme by overriding variables or globals, and adding rules.

To create a user-specific customization of a color scheme, create a new file with the same filename as the color scheme, but save it in the Packages/User/ directory.

For example, to customize the default Monokai color scheme, create a file named Packages/User/Monokai.sublime-color-scheme. The following settings will change the background color to be a fully-desaturated grey, the yellow to be more vibrant, and will add a new rule change Python docstrings to be colored the same as strings.

{
    "variables":
    {
        "yellow": "hsl(54, 100%, 50%)",
    },
    "globals":
    {
        "background": "hsl(70, 0%, 15%)",
    },
    "rules":
    [
        {
            "name": "Python docstrings",
            "scope": "comment.block.documentation.python",
            "foreground": "var(yellow)"
        },
    ]
}

The contents of the variables and globals objects are merged, with the user's copy overwriting keys with the same name. For the rules list, the user's rules are appended.

Appendix: CSS Colors

aliceblue
antiquewhite
aqua
aquamarine
azure
beige
bisque
black
blanchedalmond
blue
blueviolet
brown
burlywood
cadetblue
chartreuse
chocolate
coral
cornflowerblue
cornsilk
crimson
cyan
darkblue
darkcyan
darkgoldenrod
darkgray
darkgreen
darkgrey
darkkhaki
darkmagenta
darkolivegreen
darkorange
darkorchid
darkred
darksalmon
darkseagreen
darkslateblue
darkslategray
darkslategrey
darkturquoise
darkviolet
deeppink
deepskyblue
dimgray
dimgrey
dodgerblue
firebrick
floralwhite
forestgreen
fuchsia
gainsboro
ghostwhite
gold
goldenrod
gray
green
greenyellow
grey
honeydew
hotpink
indianred
indigo
ivory
khaki
lavender
lavenderblush
lawngreen
lemonchiffon
lightblue
lightcoral
lightcyan
lightgoldenrodyellow
lightgray
lightgreen
lightgrey
lightpink
lightsalmon
lightseagreen
lightskyblue
lightslategray
lightslategrey
lightsteelblue
lightyellow
lime
limegreen
linen
magenta
maroon
mediumaquamarine
mediumblue
mediumorchid
mediumpurple
mediumseagreen
mediumslateblue
mediumspringgreen
mediumturquoise
mediumvioletred
midnightblue
mintcream
mistyrose
moccasin
navajowhite
navy
oldlace
olive
olivedrab
orange
orangered
orchid
palegoldenrod
palegreen
paleturquoise
palevioletred
papayawhip
peachpuff
peru
pink
plum
powderblue
purple
rebeccapurple
red
rosybrown
royalblue
saddlebrown
salmon
sandybrown
seagreen
seashell
sienna
silver
skyblue
slateblue
slategray
slategrey
snow
springgreen
steelblue
tan
teal
thistle
tomato
turquoise
violet
wheat
white
whitesmoke
yellow
yellowgreen

Changelog

Build 3179

  • Added the saturation() and lightness() adjusters
  • Added the foreground_adjust key for style rules