Metroline: A VS2010 Color Scheme

This is my first color scheme specifically created for Visual Studio 2010; I’m not likely to port it back to VS2005/2008 but I’m sure it would be possible if someone cared enough about it.

I started this color scheme on VS2008 but never completed it. When the Visual Studio 2010 betas started coming out, I imported it there and started tweaking it though a lot of revisions here and there as I used it. It’s been pretty much what I’ve been using for all my VS2010 development.


Metroline - Code


Metroline - XML

Download the most up to date .vssettings file for Metroline.

Distant Shores – A Visual Studio Color Scheme

I created this color scheme a while ago but had not posted it yet. Distant Shores is a low-contrast color scheme with a dark background.

I've been using it for a while now and it's fairly usable (particularly on a bright screen); though it is a bit different than most of my other themes. It's (loosely) based on the Stormy Seashore color palette, with a few additions for contrast and provide basic coloring to user types in C#.


Distant Shores - Code


Distant Shores - Xml

As usual in most of my schemes, this one is using Damien Guard's Envy Code R VS font.

Visual Studio 2005 version.

Visual Studio 2008 version.

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Port VS2005 Color Schemes to VS2008

Visual Studio 2008 (Orcas) handles some of the Font and Colors settings differently from VS2005. While Orcas can import .vssettings files generated its predecessor, there are a couple of problems:

  1. Custom colors for User Types and C# @"" strings don't get imported. This is because the name of the settings in the exported files changed between versions. For example, the setting for Delegates was named "User Types (Delegates)", but it is now called "User Types(Delegates)" (notice the missing space!).
  2. Visual Studio 2008 introduces a whole new set of settings for XAML. This seems like a pretty needless thing to me, because all but three of the new XAML settings have direct counterparts in the XML color settings (only those dealings with XAML markup extensions are really new).

As I had spent quite a bit of time creating the several Visual Studio 2005 Color Schemes that I've made available here, I had no desire to spent a lot of time porting them and fixing the problems mentioned above.

Instead, I spent half an hour creating a simple XSLT that you can run on a .vssettings file exported by VS2005 and generate a new one with the above problems fixed. For the XAML settings, the XSLT will copy the corresponding XML options and for the three new settings (XAML Markup Extension Class, XAML Markup Extension Parameter Name, and XAML Markup Extension Parameter Value) it gives them "reasonable" values from other options.

Download PortVSSettings.xslt.

Update: To run the XSLT without writing any code, you can open it up in Visual Studio and use the XML -> Debug XSLT option. Then, choose your .vssettings file as the input and you're done! (thanks to Brad Wilson for reminding me about it!)

Note: The template will only likely work with fairly complete customizations. This is because of the way the Visual Studio Import/Exports Settings tool works: It won't export any color options that have the "default" color.

Because of this, if have customized Visual Studio but some of the colors the XSLT looks for are missing because you left in the default value, it will not do the trick.

VS2008 Color Schemes

Now that Visual Studio 2008 has been released and I've installed RTM, I spend a little bit of time porting all my different Visual Studio 2005 Color Schemes so that they work correctly with 2008 (importing the original VS2005 .vssettings files worked, but didn't quite import schemes completely).

I've now added to each color scheme post a new download link to the 2008 version of the scheme. Here's the complete list:

Desert Nights: A VS2005 Color Scheme

This is my latest Visual Studio 2005 Color Scheme: Desert Nights. This one features a dark background that isn't quite black (it has a slight hint towards brownish/greenish), and colors that stand from the background but without being too bright (most of them, at least).


Desert Nights - Code


Desert Nights - Xml

I've been using this one for the past three or four weeks and I'm liking it quite a bit so far, and it is certainly different from the ones I've made before. Download.

Update: Download Visual Studio 2008 version here.

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Color Schemes in SQL 2005 Management Studio

As many of you know, I spend time every now and then coming up with new color schemes for Visual Studio 2005. It's fun, and having a good color scheme can make all the difference in the world to your eyes when spending long times in front of your screen writing code.

I use dark backgrounds, so it was always painful to switch to SQL Server 2005 Management Studio to write SQL code, because I had not configured a custom color scheme there. I also didn't want to have to spend more time doing so, particularly since Management Studio has no Import/Export Settings wizard.

Enter VSColorsToSql

This is a simple utility I wrote last night that will port your current VS2005 Fonts And Colors Settings (just for the code editor, mind you) to Management Studio. It's nothing fancy, so all it does is copy some registry settings around. Here's my current scheme:


It does make some assumptions and and a few changes: Turns out the SQL and XML editors in VS use different settings than the corresponding ones in Management Studio! Hopefully, the mappings I selected will give you something usable as well.

Just to be on the safe side, you can export your existing Management Studio settings by backing up this registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\90\

You can download the code from here.

kick it on

Ragnarok – A VS2005 Color Scheme

Here's a color scheme for VS2005 I had created a few months ago but had not published before (I think). Ragnarok is another high-contrast scheme with a dark background, with two variants:

Ragnarok Grey - download for VS2005 | download for VS2008


Ragnarok Blue - download| download for VS2008


Both are using Consolas, 15pt, but feel free to change them (they would definitely look good with Damien Guard's Envy Code R using the italics-as-bold variant). I personally think the blue version looks better, and it is actually quite usable.

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Nightingale – A VS2005 Color Scheme

Here's another Color Scheme for Visual Studio 2005. This one has a dark (almost black) background, but high contrast, playful colors for the most common uses:


It's also my most complete color scheme yet, as it includes very usable configurations not only for the usual (Code, XML, HTML and CSS) but also for things like XSLT/XSD and MDX (and works very nicely for SQL, as well).


This time, I'm using Damien Guard's Envy Code R Preview 6 for my font, which I've found extremely usable and very nice. It has very distinctive features, and contrary to what I expected from Damien's comments about it being mostly oriented to use at small font sizes, I found it very good at 15pt. And I love his "Visual Studio" special version (which I'm using for this color scheme) that presents "bold" fonts using italics instead! The only thing that I do think could be better is the '#' symbol, which, I think, seems too small.

Download Enjoy!

Update: Download the Visual Studio 2008 version here.

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Visual Studio Moria Alternate

This is yet another dark color scheme for Visual Studio 2005. This one is based (loosely) on the excellent Moria color scheme created by Georg Dahn that I use for Vim.

There are obviously a lot of differences, as Vim's syntax highlighting is a bit more flexible (and a bit more limited in other manners) than Visual Studio's, but it's not bad overall and I've been pretty happy with it. some difference, though, are intentional, like a slightly darker background color or line numbers.

Here's a screenshot of looking at XML in VS:


Here's a screenshot of looking at code:


The scheme as is is saved using Deja Vu Sans Mono as the font; feel free to replace it with your favourite programming font. Get the settings file here.

Update: Download the Visual Studio 2008 version here.

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