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A tool to produce color schemes for multiple editors (and other tools) from a single description.
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csc: Color Scheme Compiler

csc allows you to create a single color theme which works in several text editors and syntax highlighting tools, e.g., Emacs and Vim.


Compiling csc requires OCaml version 3.12 or newer.

To compile, run "make".

To install into /usr/bin, run "make install". To install into another location, add the argument PREFIX=, as in

make PREFIX=~/bin/ install


csc [options] themeFile.css

The following options control which output backend is used. The Emacs backend is the default.

  • -emacs: Output an Emacs 24 color theme to themeFile-theme.el.
  • -color-theme-el: Output a color-theme.el color theme to color-theme-themeFile.el.
  • -vim: Output a Vim color theme to themeFile.vim.
  • -css: Output a CSS file to themeFile.css.

The -o option can be used to specify the name of an output file.

Input File Format

The input syntax is a small subset of CSS, with the added ability to use variable definitions.

The elements that may be syntax highlighted, like keywords, constants, and strings, are known as "faces".

An input CSS file consists of a series of face definitions, each of which contains a number of attributes. The following is an example definition for the "keyword" face:

keyword {
    color       : blue;
    font-weight : bold;

The above definition states that keywords should be colored blue and typeset in bold.

Multiple selectors can be used on a single definition to define the attributes of several faces simultaneously, as in

builtin, keyword {
    color       : blue;
    font-weight : bold;

The above definition states that both builtin operators and keywords should be colored blue and typeset in bold.

You can define "pseudofaces" whose attributes define values you would like to use repeatedly in face definitions. For example, you can define a face for holding color values:

def colors {
    dark-gray   : #4a4a4a;
    medium-gray : #858585;

You can then reference the values in the colors pseudoface when defining attributes of other faces:

builtin, keyword {
    color       : colors.medium-gray;
    font-weight : bold;


See the examples/ directory for example color themes.

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