Mathworks: it's time for a dark theme.

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This is not a question, but a point of discussion for the entire community. I am aware that every 1/2 months this theme comes out, but until this is not fixed it is totally necessary that this comes, indeed, out. And I said "fix" because Mathworks has to understand that a dark theme is not only a visual/aesthetic matter, it is a substantial part of the game. Most of the OS, GUIs, programs are actually in dark mode, and a vast majority of the users makes indeed use of a global dark mode. How much one does like it is personal, but the benefits to power savings and eye health is instead a fact. Mathworks being ignoring this for years is nothing but ridiculous. Of course it is not an easy task, but every minute of committment for it is worthy. And nope, Schemer is not helpful because it does not provide a real fix to this question.
I feel free to suggest something similar to the Spyder's dark theme, which came out like 2 years ago if I remember correctly.
Of course, my point is not being disrespectful (I am instead very respectful to the huge efforts of Mathworks for making this wonderful program run). But, form a user's point of view, the fact that not a single word has so far come out from Mathworks about a dark theme (meaning that for sure we will not see it in a timing of months) requires us to put a strong pressure on this.
Mathworks, please: it's time for a dark theme.
  9 Comments
Rik
Rik on 5 Jul 2022
While setting up default colors is indeed a bit involved for the casual user, getting 90% of the way there by using Matlab Schemer takes very little time and very little skill. Otherwise it is as simple as opening the settings dialog and picking colors you like.

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Accepted Answer

Michelle Hirsch
Michelle Hirsch on 1 Apr 2022
Edited: Michelle Hirsch on 2 Nov 2022
Edit October 27, 2022: No need to email me to try out the new desktop with dark mode. Sign up here with your email address associated with your MathWorks account and our team will send you directions for enabling it with R2022b:
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Hey, it's Michelle Hirsch here. I'm the head of product management for MATLAB. The fancy title means I'm the one you can yell at or poke with a stick, because it's my job to make sure we are doing the best we can to meet your needs with MATLAB.
I'm sorry we've been so quiet on dark mode. I want to let you all know it's not for lack of focus on it. We've been well aware of escalating demand over the past many years from so many of you. This demand really ticked up when Mac and Windows integrated dark themes at the OS level. It is taking much longer for us to enable our full product stack than I had hoped.
There are a bunch of pieces to get in place (editor, graphics, apps, icons, desktop, ...) and you are seeing incremental signs of our progress along the way. One small step was control over Live Editor background color in 22a. Dark mode support in MATLAB Online in 22a represents a major step forward (from a technology perspective) with the desktop framework and icons in place.
We currently use two different technologies to build the MATLAB Online desktop and the desktop MATLAB desktop (how many times can I say desktop!), which is why the work we did for MATLAB Online isn't helping desktop MATLAB users yet. We are working furiosuly to move everything over to the technology used in MATLAB Online. Once we do, we'll get proper dark theme support in desktop MATLAB. This is a massive project with the potential to change aspects of how you use MATLAB, so we are proceeding carefully with lots of what we call "user acceptance testing" to make sure we are building something you all will love. We plan to make previews of this technology available to more and more users as we have increasing confidence that you'll love it. I can't put a firm release date on when this will be ready for every MATLAB user. We set release targets internally, but we only release software when it meets our quality and user acceptance standards.
I hope you'll accept my apology for our silence and for the insufficient progress. I'm trying to give you a "peek behind the curtain", not to make excuses. I know we are not meeting your expectations. I want to leave you with the confidence that a whole bunch of us at MathWorks are doing everything we can to get proper dark mode support in your hands as soon as we can.
I'd love your help if you are interested and willing. We will be looking pretty soon for users who would like to test out early versions of the new MATLAB desktop based on the MATLAB Online version. If you are interested, the easiest way is probably to send me an email. You can go through my MATLAB Central profile, or just email me directly at mhirsch at mathworks dot com. We are also looking for guidance from users on how dark mode should behave in MATLAB. It's not as obvious as you might think, especially when you consider plots and apps. One simple example: if you are just working interactively, you probably expect your plots to all have a dark background and appropriately light line colors. But if you are programmatically creating and exporting a bunch of plots, you probably want them to have "normal" light background and colors. We need to get our default behaviors right and give you the ability to override them if you want somethihng different. Feel free to share opinions here or drop me a line.
  14 Comments
Image Analyst
Image Analyst on 3 Dec 2022 at 19:27
@Adrian Jose Wix Torres, sorry that you get headaches when looking at white screens. I just told MATLAB not to use system colors in my preferences and it looks like this now:
I haven't played around with it so I don't know if you can also turn the tabs and tool ribbon black. But even if not, maybe this will reduce your headaches.

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More Answers (6)

Steven Lord
Steven Lord on 14 Mar 2022
As of release R2022a you can select a dark or light theme in MATLAB Online. See the Release Notes for more information.
Note: the documentation states "Themes are not supported in installed versions of MATLAB."
  11 Comments
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 11 Jun 2022
I think any claim that a "vast majority" wants something is a claim that requires evidence (and not just strongly held assertions.)

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Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 24 Mar 2022
I disagree with the premises expressed. I use my computer and phone many hours per day, but dark mode is hard on my eyes, making my eyes work harder against astigmatism.
I don't know if there is anyone left still using a CRT display. LCD do not use more power for brighter colors.
In my opinion, Dark Theme is much more a fad preference than a "need". But...
  • sure, some people do in fact prefer it; and
  • people do frequently buy based on fads; and
  • lack of dark theme is being used as an excuse by anti-MATLAB people, so take away the excuse to reduce their leverage.
  10 Comments
Andrew Janke
Andrew Janke on 24 Oct 2022
> but when it comes to code editors, I would agree that the vast majority of users prefer dark themes.
I would agree that the vast majority of code editor users who like to talk online about light theme/dark theme support do prefer dark theme. But I dunno if that generalizes to "the vast majority of users". If you like light theme, which is the default, why would you spend your time going online and talking about dark theme support?

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Matt J
Matt J on 14 Mar 2022
Edited: Matt J on 14 Mar 2022
Is a dark theme different from just setting the color preferences to black background and white text?
  2 Comments
Matt J
Matt J on 14 Mar 2022
It seems like a small difference. At the very least, the concerns of energy and eye health should be mostly addressed with a black background.

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Jan
Jan on 14 Mar 2022
A dark theme saves power on OLED screens only. I assume, that most computers run Matlab with LCD screens, which do not profit from a dark mode. So the saving of energy is no hard argument.
I'm using a dark mode of Windws and let Scott C. Lowe's Schemer define dark colors for the command window and editor. My figures for diagrams and GUIs are controlled by a self-developped tool to manage colors, so the background and colormap can be chosen freely for all of my applications. This works since Matlab 6.5 reliably.
I do not have the need for any further tools to modify the darkness of Matlab. There are some light boxes e.g. in Matlab's preferences, but I do not use them in the daily work, so this does not bother me.
  16 Comments
Rik
Rik on 16 Oct 2022
You don't have to look into a white screen. Matlab Schemer already allows you to turn most of the screen dark. So you already have a solution that gets you most of the way. It doesn't work on the documentation, but you can use your system browser, which you can customize as well.
I'm not denying some people need a darker screen for medical reasons, but saying a true dark mode is required is simply an exageration. Unless even a white menu bar already causes you migraines, in which case you have my sympathies.

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Rana Hamza
Rana Hamza on 30 Apr 2022
It depends on you to change the theme as you can do it in setting.
because in light theme eyes can gambling

John Kelly
John Kelly on 1 Nov 2022
Edited: John Kelly on 1 Nov 2022
We (MathWorks) have removed the previous information in this Answer, origianlly posted by @Nicolai Lamp, because the instructions were about how to access the JSD software, which is still in beta stages, on our public site. If anyone wants more information about how to try out the JavaScript Desktop beta software, we'd love to engage with you directly. Please refer to @Michelle Hirsch's response below for information about how to participate in the beta.
Or you can sign up here and the team will reach out to you:
  4 Comments
Nicolai Lamp
Nicolai Lamp on 1 Nov 2022
Moved: John Kelly on 1 Nov 2022
@Michelle Hirsch Thanks for the mention of the beta program, I didn't know that was an option. I just stumbled upon the flag somewhere online and thought it might be worth it to pass it on.

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