IntelliJ IDEA 15 EAP: Help us Test the Adjustments for Color Deficiency

Earlier we mentioned that we’re working to make our IDE more friendly for people with color blindness.

In the latest IntelliJ IDEA 15 EAP build, we’ve  changed the appearance settings, so now when enabling the Adjust for color deficiency option you have to choose the form of color blindness:

color-deficiency

To ensure that our adjustments work well, we’d like to ask you to share your feedback with us.

Currently, we support only the red-green color deficiency. If this is what you have, you’ll greatly help us if by downloading the latest IntelliJ IDEA 15 EAP build, enabling the corresponding option in Settings → Appearance and behaviour → Appearance → Adjust for color deficiency, and sharing how it works for you.

Among other bugfixes and enhancements in the new build you’ll also find support for Freemarker 2.3.23.

You’re welcome to share your feedback any way you prefer: here in comments, in our EAP discussion forum or issue tracker.

Develop with Pleasure!

About Andrey Cheptsov

Part-time dreamer. JVM/JavaScript geek. IntelliJIDEA Marketing Manager at JetBrains.
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22 Responses to IntelliJ IDEA 15 EAP: Help us Test the Adjustments for Color Deficiency

  1. BTW, there are sunglasses which can significantly improve color perception for color-blind people. It also boosts color saturation for people with normal vision.

    Those EnChroma glasses work by cutting out the ambiguous part of the spectrum, where the sensitivity of the red and green cones overlap. Probably, this effect can be simulated with the software, too.

    How does this setting work?
    Can you, at least, point to the implementation? :-) I only see DefaultColorSchemesManager.xml, where some values are hard-coded.

    • David Leppik says:

      Not going to work with a computer display, since the red/green/blue pixels almost certainly aren’t the frequencies blocked by EnChroma–and if they were, the sunglasses would just block all the red, green, or blue.

      I’m red/green colorblind, and it’s nearly impossible to explain exactly what I can and can’t see. Color perception has surprisingly little to do with frequencies of light and a lot to do with context. For example, a red apple on a sunny day at noon reflects much different frequencies of light than the same apple at sunset, but our eyes correct for the ambient light. Since all people are regularly in color-reduced situations, our brains don’t bother to tell us how much interpolation and error-correction is going on. We see what we expect to see. For example, most people think the sky is blue, even though a blue sky has at least as much purple. And the “pure” green of a green traffic light is a turquoise designed to be distinguishable by color blind people like me.

  2. Alex says:

    That’s a great news!
    First thing: the project explorer colors for version-controlled files are still red-green (red – unversioned; green – added to version control, but not commited) which is causing some confusion to color-blind people.

  3. Olga Berdnikova says:

    In this week’s EAP, the Darcula colorblind editor scheme shows incorrect colors for reasons we don’t know yet (the hex color codes in the scheme xml are all correct but the colors are rendered incorrectly in the editor). We are working to fix this.
    The Default (light) colorblind scheme shows correct colors.

    • David Moles says:

      Is this a separate scheme? (In which case I’m not seeing it, in build 143.116.4.) Or is it applied on top of the defined scheme when you select “adjust for color deficiency”? I can’t see any difference in the editor (I have mild deuteranopia), but maybe I’m not looking at the right file types.

      • Olga Berdnikova says:

        Hello, David!
        The “Adjust for color deficiency” option changes the “Default” and “Darcula” schemes. It does not change the custom schemes you might have.
        The main differences are described in this draft document.

  4. Brian says:

    I believe I suffer from red deficiency (Protanopia?) and I appreciate the efforts to address this audience. Over the years, I’ve learned to gather information from context other than color cues. Therefore, it’s hard for me to know what I’ve been missing out on by not using color cues. For example, I don’t necessarily need to know that some text is green as long as it looks different than the text around it. This is where reds, particularly deep reds, among black text are a problem for me because the red just doesn’t stand out. Also, I read once that some people with red deficiencies can have greens overloaded. That, combined with low sensitivity to red, can make it difficult to differentiate green and yellow. For example #00FF00 and #FFFF00 look virtually identical to me, yet #FF0000 and #00FF00 are very clearly different. Another way to think about it is that brightness is actually very important to me for notice differences between colors.

    Could you provide some examples of colors that have been changed to help differentiation for color-blind people? Without knowing that, I’m afraid I’ll just continue to ignore color cues and rely on other context as I’ve always done, meaning that I won’t be able to help you understand whether or not these changes help. :) Thanks.

  5. Alonzo says:

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  6. David Leppik says:

    I don’t normally spring for EAPs, but I’ll try this one. One issue: I’m not sure if I have deuteranopia, protanopia, deuteranomaly, or protanomaly. I took a color blindness test on EnChroma’s website several years ago, which said I have deuteranomoly. But since all the free resources are online, they depend the quality and calibration of the monitor–which, of course, I calibrated!

    Point being, I actually know a thing or two about color vision, and I’m confused. It will be the exceptional user who knows what to make of the two options in your pull-down menu!

  7. David Leppik says:

    Just tried it out. The only difference I could see was that it turns Java string constants went from reddish to blueish, and only with the default “Colors & Fonts” scheme. (I customized my scheme years ago, mainly because of my color blindness.)

    I’m using Default, not Darkula. I chose my most colorful files (it helps that this EAP’s code formatter isn’t finding my scala.* or org.jetbrains.annotations.*) but I don’t know what I’m supposed to be seeing. I’m using an IPS display.

    My recommendations:

    1. You need to be explicit about what UI elements are being changed; we can’t see what we’re missing, so we don’t know what’s broken, when it’s fixed, or what UI elements we’re supposed to be able to differentiate! What’s more, we aren’t likely to know what kind of color blindness we have, or how it’s affected by display quality, color calibration, or glare.

    2. The color corrections for fonts really need to be explicit “Colors & Fonts” schemes. As it stands, my custom scheme seems to disable the color corrections, and it’s not clear what would happen if I were to tinker with a corrected default scheme. Or if I then shared my scheme with someone with a different setting.

    3. The best way to correct for color vision is to not make color the only differentiator. IntelliJ 14 did a great job with this by making the “No errors” icon a check rather than a green square. (Thank you!) With fonts you’re a lot more limited, especially when you’re already using bold, italics, bold italics, and every possibly kind of underline. The most important thing is what’s already done in other versions: make good use of the non-color differentiators and use ambiguous colors for less important distinctions.

    4. Don’t make us choose between protanopia and deuteranopia; their exact symptoms are contextual. You might as well have “crappy monitor” or “red t-shirt glare” color correction. Both of which, BTW, regularly cause color blindness in normal-sighted people– the exact symptoms of which depend of the brand of crappy monitor, the exact color of the t-shirt, ambient light, etc.

    5. Do provide immediate and explicit visual feedback (e.g. code samples) the way you do for code style selection.

    • olga.berdnikova says:

      Hello, David!

      Thank you for the detailed recommendations, they are very helpful. We are currently deciding internally what we can improve and how.

      The only difference I could see was that it turns Java string constants went from reddish to blueish, and only with the default “Colors & Fonts” scheme.
      Described main changes in a very early draft help article (though, changes for the test runner progress will be available only in the next week’s EAP). I would be very grateful if you could take a quick look and tell what you think about the changes.

      The color corrections for fonts really need to be explicit “Colors & Fonts” schemes. As it stands, my custom scheme seems to disable the color corrections, and it’s not clear what would happen if I were to tinker with a corrected default scheme.
      If you turn “Adjust for color deficiency” on and copy the default scheme, the adjusted colors will be copied. It can be then edited as any other copied scheme, its colors will not depend on the “Adjust for color deficiency” option.

      Or if I then shared my scheme with someone with a different setting.
      They will get the color codes you had on your machine. The “Adjust for color deficiency” option affects only the Default and Darcula schemes.

  8. Are you also working on accessibility improvement for IntelliJ Platform?
    Like a better VoiceOver compatibility.

  9. Jay says:

    This is the best feature to date… I have always wished there was support for my deuteranopia-it’s not like I choose to have it. <3 JetBrains

  10. Piotr says:

    I cannot see dropdown in 15.0.1.
    I see checkbox ‘Adjust colors for red-green vision deficiency) but there is no choice between protanopia and deuteranopia.
    Is it intentional?

    • olga.berdnikova says:

      Hello, Piotr!
      This is intentional: visible colors for protanopia and deuteranopia are almost the same, so adjusted colors were selected to suit them both. The dropdown was added cause we planned to tune the colors for different deficiencies based on feedback, but we got no feedback indicating that the schemes should be made different, so we removed the dropdown for now.

  11. Piotr says:

    I cannot see dropdown in 15.0.1.
    I see checkbox ‘Adjust colors for red-green vision deficiency) but there is no choice between protanopia and deuteranopia. Is it intentional?

  12. Daniel says:

    Looking at a code coverage report in the adjusted IntelliJ theme in 15.0.1, fully covered lines appear gray to me, while uncovered lines appear indistinguishable between red and green for me.

    The adjusted color scheme meets its goal of making covered/uncovered code easy to distinguish. However my mind reverses the intended meanings by mapping gray->uncovered and guessing that the other color is green/covered.

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