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Default palette is unreadable #1260
I've read the article and I'm not convinced.
Why? See the picture.
The colours that were different (and supposed to be different) are almost indistinguishable now.
Note that Teal and Green are "dark" colours, while Blue and Lime are "light" colours.
I especially like that the article states that blue is "very difficult to read" on black, with screenshots (presumably influenced by a weird dark-on-dark vim colour scheme?)
I dare say that the default console palette is now broken. Even Windows 98 (!) palette is more readable.
P.S. I know about colortool, console window properties, shortcut properties, defaults, registry settings etc., thanks. The problem is that users don't know (and don't want to know) and keep filing the same issue - "the colours are suddenly ugly & unreadable" - as they migrate to Windows 10.
Visually, the new palette is composed of optically non-contrast color pairs, which leads to increased operator fatigue and increased control errors. The palette used since Windows XP in this sense is more successful, although it makes sense to increase the number of color gradations available in it to sRGB.
Jun 18, 2019
I'll attempt to summarize and address your feedback, please let me know if I've misrepresented anything!
9/3, 3/9, 10/2, 2/10, 15/7 and 7/15 used to be readable but now are not.
The colour palette was designed using the WCAG AA guidelines to assess the accessibility of the text. You can view the guideline reference and check contrasts using this handy web tool.
In the case of the colour combinations you put above, none of them meet accessibility or readability standards in the 'Windows NT palette' or prior, and this hasn't changed in the new colour palette.
It's harder to distinguish between the colours like dark green and light green (2 and 10) in the new palette
This is very valid feedback! The 'Windows NT palette' is actually the same as a high contrast palette, as its colours are as high value as they can be (e.g: Red is 255,0,0 and dark blue is 0,0,128). The new colour scheme was created partly to address feedback that the dark colours on the black background were unreadable. For example, dark blue on black has been popularly used in the Windows Subsystem for Linux. This new colour scheme improves the contrast of all dark colours on a black background, and makes dark blue and and dark cyan accessible. Additionally, the new scheme lowers the contrast of the 'bright' colours to make the colour scheme easier on the eyes to read for a long period of time. Both of these can affect the indistinguishably of the colours, and is ultimately a balancing act with different users having different preferences.
Ultimately, we need a way to judge whether the new scheme is 'unreadable' or not, and the best judge for this is the WCAG AA guidelines. By these standards, the new palette improves accessibility for 'dark colours' on the black background while maintaining accessibility for the light colours.
Your feedback is helpful for us for looking how we can further improve this scheme! And from your post script I hope that making the settings in easy to manage in the Windows Terminal and Windows Console can go a long way to helping users change the colour scheme to a preferred one.
Hi Craig, thanks for your response!
Quite possibly - I'm not a graphic designer and I can't judge whether or not they meet any standards. The feedback is all about personal perception.
Does that imply that dark blue on black is perfectly readable in Linux?
Let's have a look:
Debian Linux TTY1: Dark Blue: 0 0 170
I believe we have a slightly different situation here:
Conceptually we live in a quite limited Universe with only 16 distinct colours.
Thanks for considering improving it!
I understand that Microsoft has invested time and effort into the new palette and it has its audience, but there are lots of people who were staring daily at those classic colours for decades and learnt to love them (and the same with people coming from Linux).
ColorTool is a good tool, but it's not out-of-the-box and not so user-friendly.
Just to note that I've run into similar issues when looking at a new default colour scheme for gnome-terminal.
There's a lot to think about in the color scheme design - including supporting both light and dark terminal background colors, and the fact that existing applications will often pick their own foreground and background color combinations. You can't optimize contrast for every combination applications have used, but you should try to make common combinations as good as possible.
In particular, I ended up leaving dim and bright blue both as fairly dark colours. The dim blue (navy) over default background has basically never been readable when the background is dark, so most applications avoid that combination. It doesn't need high contrast. Similarly for bright yellow text over default background - it has never been readable on light-background terminals.
But various color combinations - especially yellow and cyan over dim blue - are fairly common. In the classic CGA/VGA palette cyan is very much brighter than blue, making this very readable. The new windows palette loses contrast there.
I used as reference things like the vim default palette (dark/light - as an aside, you really need to add a bg color query terminal escape to the new ms terminal so vim can pick an appropriate palette automatically!) and applications using "midnight commander" style palettes, like mc itself or htop. (Note that these screenshots are from during development - based on them, I decided to switch to a brighter/greener cyan and a brighter dim purple in the final version.)