"Syntax" Theme Terminology


Continuing the discussion from Styling the find and replace result “flash”:

@benogle, how do you and the rest of the Atom team feel about renaming syntax themes to something else? Syntax themes by necessity style more than just the language syntax elements, such as typically:

  • Line numbers
  • Wrap guide
  • Find and replace highlight
  • Diff highlights
  • Cursor
  • etc

It is expedient to style these items in the syntax theme in order to ensure that the colors used match. Because of this, I was thinking that we should use the term “editor theme” but that may be problematic since that is the name of the application as a whole.



You’re right, they do deal with more than strictly syntax.

I’m not super opposed to it. How do we deprecate the naming? Do we get everyone to move their packages from *-syntax to *-text-editor or something?

If we were to do this, the name would need to be super clear. Text editor theme? I agree that there is naming overload concerns.

I rather like the syntax naming, other than the fact that folks forget to style the non syntax parts. I feel like it is obvious what part of the editor the theme applies to.

After reading that thread earlier, I’ve been noodling on how to make creating a syntax theme easier and more clear. What if there were something like the styleguide for syntax themes? It could show comprehensive examples for several languages (maybe all those that you have installed?), with all the features you mentioned. Basically: “here are all the possibilities, make sure it handles them all”.


I think a style guide, adding templates to the Package Generator for UI and syntax themes or both would be very helpful. I like a lot how the Solarized Light syntax theme is organized, with separate files for different UI elements and languages. Even if someone would write a guide, blog post or whatever that simply annotates that theme Literate Programming style … that would be a huge help.

Since we don’t currently enforce the -syntax convention, unless we’re planning on enforcing the new standard … I don’t think we would need to do anything beyond changing the string in the UI and on the website where we refer to them.


You bring up some good points, it was pretty confusing early on, I thought there was a 3rd dimension of syntax theming or something. Did it always say “Syntax Theme” there in settings or did it used to say just ‘Theme’ (and ‘UI’) at one point?

Anyway, If I had to pick just 2 names, I guess I would have gone with

‘Menu Theme’ or more likely ‘Navigation Theme’ for UI and just ‘Text Theme’ for Syntax Theme.

Just my two cents!