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Flatland: The best minimal theme for Sublime Text

The first time I tried Sublime Text, I was completely turned off by the editor’s user interface “chrome”: I hated the glossy gradients, the subtle shadows that gave the tabs that 3D look and the harsh mismatch between the dark editor window and the light sidebar. It all felt a little cheesy.

What I didn’t realize at the time that you could completely change the UI chrome by applying a new theme. (In Sublime-speak, a scheme dictates the colors inside the editing window, including the syntax highlighting and background color. A theme controls the look of other UI elements like tabs and the sidebar.)

I quickly settled on my favorite theme, the lovely Soda by Ian Hill. Soda dials back the shading, shadows and gradients to a minimum and darkens the sidebar:

soda-theme

I coded in bliss.

Moar Minimalist!

Until this week, that is. Now there’s a new reigning champion of minimal Sublime themes: Flatland, published by Pixel Lab.

Flatland picks up where Soda left off, banishing gradients altogether to create a flat, clean UI that looks equally at home on Mac OS X or Windows 8.

flatland

The theme makes intelligent use of color to highlight key bits of UI without pulling your focus away from the code. For example, splashes of color make selected search options buttons stand out, something that both the default Sublime theme and Soda fail to do.

flatland-colors

I also really like the theme’s customization of the command palette. The selected item stands out clearly and the menu somehow feels more solidly anchored.

flatland-command-palette

Installing Flatland

  1. Download the zip file from Github.
  2. Extract the files and copy Theme – Flatland into your packages directory. Mine is at DataPackages.
  3. Add the following settings to your user preferences:
{
    "theme": "Flatland.sublime-theme",
    "color_scheme": "Packages/Theme - Flatland/Flatland.tmTheme"
  }
  1. Restart Sublime. You’ll get really weird artifacts in the UI if you don’t do this.

Sadly, Flatland isn’t available through Package Control yet, but I’m sure it’s coming.

UPDATE: You can now install Flatland via Package Control, but you’ll still need to activate it by setting the theme and color scheme in your user preferences as I outlined above.

9 comments… add one

  • Paito Anderson

    Looks awesome! Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to play nice with ST3.

    Error loading color scheme Packages/Theme – Flatland/Flatland.tmTheme: Unable to open Packages/Theme – Flatland/Flatland.tmTheme

  • joshearl

    There’s some discussion in the project’s GitHub issues that seems to indicate that it should work with ST3. Maybe it’s conflicting with another plugin you have?

    Here’s the discussion: https://github.com/thinkpixellab/flatland/issues/33

    • Pierre Jourdain

      Solved!
      Hi everybody,

      I find a fix.. In ST2: open the file ‘Flatland.sublime-theme’

      you have to change the path : ‘Flatland/Theme – Flatland/’ with ‘Theme – Flatland/Theme – Flatland/’

      By example line 7 you see : ‘”layer0.texture”: “Flatland/Theme – Flatland/tabset-background.png”,
      correct line is “layer0.texture”: “Theme – Flatland/Theme – Flatland/tabset-background.png”,’

      You have a lot of lines like this to change in the file…

      More easy? Change de name of your root theme folder from ‘Theme – Flatland’ to ‘Flatland’ and don’t edit the file ‘Flatland.sublime-theme’”

      Hopes it helps. Work for me with ST2

      Cheers

  • Same problem here and the fix proposed in the dicussion (about lowercase filename) doesn’t fix anything

  • Travis Swicegood just updated the theme to be installable via Package Control yesterday. Woot! Check the readme for instructions: https://github.com/thinkpixellab/flatland

  • Note to all: To install the theme you need to update your Preferences > Settings – User with the following:

    “theme”: “Flatland.sublime-theme”,
    “color_scheme”: “Packages/flatland/Theme – Flatland/Flatland.tmTheme”

  • Nigel Alford

    I got this work in ST2, but only after changing the file names. I’ll be posting this back to github shortly. Great job on the UI update to sublime

  • If you just want a flat version of the default Sublime Text theme, check out Minimal Sublime Text Theme:

    https://github.com/AntoineBoulanger/Minimal-Sublime-Text-Theme

  • sam

    Commenting on this way late:

    There are a lot of things I REALLY like about this theme – the flatness, lol, but also the icons and the fact that, when you change a file, there’s a colored indication that it’s been changed – an orange dot on the tab. Most themes have some indication, but it’s usually too subtle – soda, for example, just changes from a small grey x to a small grey circle – you’d have to look for it to notice it, which isn’t good enough for me. So I like that aspect of it (a very small feature, but important to me).

    The one problem I’m having with this theme is the sidebar highlighting: it’s too damn bright. The sidebar becomes too distracting with that bright blue highlighting the open file. It should be a different shade of grey rather than a bright blue, imo, or at least a very desaturated blue, idk. Too distracting in any case.

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