Design vs. Development
There is a common prejudice against developers not caring about design and aesthetics.
In some companies I’ve even witnessed this sentiment causing fights between the developers and designers.
Therefore I find it fascinating that there are some instances, where most developers truly enjoy stretching their artistic muscles!
Don’t believe me? Ask most developers what theme or font their terminal uses and they’ll happily tell you all about their customization.
But before we get to the design part, let’s talk about the general perception of terminals first.
The irrational fear of terminals
As a developer it is easy to forget that most people don’t actually interact with terminals on a daily basis.
I’d even go so far as to say that most people don’t associate any positive emotions with terminals at all.
For example when I was a teenager, some games had scripts running on installation and I remember thinking that I got hacked when the terminal popped up - some text appeared and the terminal rapidly closed itself again.
Naturally I immediately unplugged the PC and was terrified of turning it back on again.
When I started programming, I was quite annoyed whenever I needed to open up a terminal for things to work properly.
You can say what you want about Windows, but I’m sure many junior devs hated manually interacting with the Windows UI to make stuff work so much, that they started using the terminal just because of that1.
Finally when I started regularly interacting with servers, that often do not even offer you an UI - I had to make my peace with using the terminal2.
Ugly Terminals :(
Having made peace, doesn’t mean that I actually enjoyed using it though.
So as a windows user I grew up with
cmd which is as unstyled as they come.
And to be honest I never really warmed up to it’s more capable silbling, the
Even though some windows sysadmins I know swear on it - it’s just so ugly :x
Can you blame me? I mean just look at this hideous error message display!
The last couple of years I just half-heartedly used the
bash that ships with Git, but I mostly just tried to avoid using any terminal whenever I could.
Trapped in the Windows Dimension
Feeling trapped in Windows as most VR/AR technologies3 did not function properly on Mac or Linux, I just accepted the ugliness of my terminal and I kept telling myself:
“If only I could switch to Linux”
Thanks to WSL I nowadays enjoy being able to game (which sadly still works best on Windows) and hobby code on the same machine, no dual booting required.
That being said, the WSL shortcut generated after installation is just a
wsl command run on your default terminal.
Therefore even though I was using Linux on Windows, my terminal still lacked style.
Windows redemption arc with ‘Windows Terminal’
And now just look at this beauty!
It has tabs! I also configured it with a lovely acrylic background and my current go to color theme: Dracula!
Style… over… Substance?
Even though I’d love to write more about my specific terminal setup - that is not the point of this post.
I feel like software engineers especially, often focus on the pragmatic and function-oriented aspect of things:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
— Abraham Lincoln (software engineer at heart … probably)
And yes - I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, but style does matter!
After spending the last couple days tinkering with my terminal design, it brings me joy every time I open it up!
Believe me when I say that I am now actively looking for opportunities to use my precious shell every chance I get. Making me a more well rounded and productive developer.
And I ❤ every second of it.
So feel free to quote me on this :
Give me six hours to implement an important bugfix and I will spend the first four styling my shell4.
— Andre Wruszczak