Dark theme in Netbeans 7 or 8

The Solution to Dark theme in Netbeans 7 or 8 is


Darcula

UPDATE 2016-02: NetBeans 8 now has a Darcula plugin, better and more complete than the alternatives discussed in old version of this Answer.

The attractive and productive Darcula theme in JetBrains IntelliJ is now available in NetBeans 8.0 & 8.1!

The Real Thing

This plugin provides the real Darcula, not an imitation.

Konstantin Bulenkov of the JetBrains company open-sourced the Darcula look-and-feel originally built for the IntelliJ IDE. This NetBeans plugin discussed here wraps that original implementation, adapting it to NetBeans. So we see close fidelity to the original Darcula. [By the way, there are many other reasons beyond Darcula to use IntelliJ – both IntelliJ and NetBeans are truly excellent and amazing products.]

This NetBeans plugin is itself open-source as well.

Installation

Comes in two parts:

  • A plugin
  • A Fonts & Colors profile

Plugin

The plugin Darcula LAF for NetBeans is easily available through the usual directory within NetBeans.

Choose Tools > Plugins. On the Available Plugins tab, scroll or search for "Darcula LAF for NetBeans". As per usual, check the checkbox and click the Install button. Restart NetBeans.

enter image description here

Profile

  1. In NetBeans > Preferences > Fonts & Colors (tab) > Profile (popup menu), choose the new Darcula item.
  2. Click the Apply button.

I suggest also hitting Duplicate in case you ever make any modifications (discussed below).

enter image description here

Fix overly-bright background colors

You may find the background color of lines of code may be too bright such as lines marked with a breakpoint, or the currently executing line in the debugger. These are categories listed on the Annotations tab of the Fonts & Colors tab.

Of course you can change the background color of each Category manually but that is tedious.

Workaround: Click the Restore button found to the right of the Profile name. Double-check to make sure you have Darcula as the selected Profile of course. Then click the Apply and OK buttons at the bottom.

enter image description here

Font

You may want to change the font in the method editor. I most highly recommend the commercial font for programmers, PragmataPro. For a free-of-cost and open-source font, the best is Hack. Hack was built on the very successful DejaVu font which in turn was built on Bitstream Vera.

To change the font, add these steps to the above to duplicate the profile as a backup before making your modification:

  1. Click the Duplicate button.
  2. Save the duplicate with a different name such as appending your name.
    Example: “Darcula - Juliette”.
  3. Click the Apply button.

While in that same Fonts & Colors tab, select Default in the Category list and hit the button to choose a font.

You might also want to change the font seen in the Output and the Terminal panes. From that Fonts & Colors tab, switch to the sibling tab Miscellaneous. Then see both the Output tab and the Terminal tab.

Experience So Far

While still new I am reserving final judgement on Darcula. So far, so good. Already the makers have had a few updates fixing a few glitches, so that is good to see. This seems to be a very thorough product. As a plugin this affects the entire user interface of NetBeans; that can be very tricky to get right.

There was a similar plugin product predating Darcula: the “Dark Look And Feel Themes” plugin. While I was grateful to use that for a while, I am much happier with Darcula. That other one was more clunky and I had to spend much time tweaking colors of “Norway Today” to work together. Also, that plugin was not savvy with Mac OS X menus so the main Mac menu bar was nearly empty while NetBeans’ own menu bar was embedded within the window. The Darcula plugin has no such problem; the Mac menu bar appears normally.


The rest of this Answer is left intact for history, and for alternatives if Darcula proves problematic.


NetBeans 8 – Dark Editor

At least in NetBeans 8.0, two dark profiles are now built-in. Profile names:

  • Norway Today
  • City Lights

The profiles affect only the code editing pane, not the entire NetBeans user-interface. That should mean much less risk of side-effects and bugs than a plugin.

Norway Today

screen shot of NetBeans editor using the dark profile 'Norway Today'

City Lights

screen shot of NetBeans editor using the dark profile 'City Lights'

Tip: You can alter the font in either theme, while preserving the other aspects. Perhaps Menlo on a Mac, or its parent DejaVu. Or my fav, the commercial font Pragmata.

Unfortunately, neither theme suits my eyes. They do not begin to compare to the excellent Darcula theme in JetBrains IntelliJ.

Choose Profile in Font Settings

On a Mac, the menu path is Netbeans > Preferences > Fonts & Colors (tab) > Profile (popup menu).

On other host operating systems, the menu path may be Tools > Options > Fonts & Colors. Not sure, but it was so in previous versions.

screen shot of picking either of the built-in dark themes in NetBeans 8 Prefences > Fonts & Colors > Profile pop-up menu

~ Answered on 2014-08-09 23:17:29


Most Viewed Questions: