The horror! The horror!

Jeff "Coding Horror" Atwood has many nice things to say about my blog and one not so nice thing. Thanks Jeff! Much appreciated. And thanks for the links. (Jeff did not link to my most popular post ever, but he's probably not an eleven year old girl.)

A number of people have noted over the years that I am a big fan of purple and navy Lucida. Not only is my blog written in purple Lucida, but so are almost all my internal emails. I usually write my annual review in purple Lucida as well. Jeff plaintively asks "why?" and this deserves a response, however weak.

I went back through my archive and found that I started always writing in purple Lucida some time between May and October of 1999; I am unable to locate the exact email where it began. Emails before this time tend to be written in blue Arial. Now, that was a long time ago and was an intensely difficult time for me both personally and professionally, so my memory of that period is somewhat fuzzy. My suspicion though is that I got into one of those interminable and intractable email arguments about some arcane technical issue where people were marking up each other's text with comments and criticisms and corrections, changing colours all over the place to mark out who was saying what. When too many people were all trying to use blue Arial, I suspect that I just said to heck with it and picked purple, a colour no one else was using.

I liked the way it looked, and I've stuck with it ever since. It makes it particularly easy to identify an email from me. As a guy who is known around here for writing a lot of emails (and you have to write a LOT of emails to be known for that at Microsoft!) it's nice to be immediately recognizable. A number of other prolix Microsofties do the same thing; long-time colleague Michael Kaplan writes his internal emails in teal Comic Sans, which is certainly, uh, distinctive.

So, sorry Jeff, you're stuck with it. Newer blog articles here use CSS to make the body text and coding samples purple and navy, respectively; older articles that were pasted in from Word have FONT tags all over the place but I have been gradually going through bit by bit and cleaning them up.  If you read this in a newsreader, you'll likely get whatever the default is in your newsreader.  Or, there are a variety of browser configuration settings that you can use to make the purple go away.

Comments (6)
  1. Bjoern Graf says:

    Hail to the Purple Lucida!

    Seriously, I do not see the claimed assault of this combination (the contrast is ok and so is the font size and line height), there are far worse sites – e.g. the font size of this very edit box is an assulting insult to my old eyes =]

  2. James McKay says:

    I think we could live with purple lucida, though you do need to increase the line height a bit and add more white space between blog entries and paragraphs. You also need to increase the size of your post titles to make them stand out: they’re way too small. I’d also suggest indenting your code snippets and possibly putting a border round them.

  3. Bud says:

    Purple text is not as bad as light gray text, very small fonts, serif fonts, or other low-readibility combinations.

    Web sites using serif fonts with low contrast text make for hard reading and reduced usability.

    For some sites, I need to hit CTRL-A to make them more visible and do not spend much time there.

    Maybe the designers think making their sites hard to use provides some advantage ….

  4. mike says:

    Jeff does like to "advise" people a lot about how they should blog, including layout, appearance, frequency, content, and language. This is his thing, and we love him for it. He is a human factor.

    I am somewhat surprised, and ironically so since I am in a position to implement this in my own blog, that more blogs do not allow the user, as opposed to the author, to select appearance preferences. At least browsers these days seem to allow you to zoom the page whether the author intended that or not. This has become more important to me in the last few years, hmm, wonder why.

  5. Welcome to the eighteenth issue of Community Convergence. I’m Charlie Calvert, the C# Community PM, and

  6. Jeff Atwood says:

    > Jeff did not link to my most popular post ever, but he’s probably not an eleven year old girl

    Perhaps not physically, but emotionally.. I don’t want to talk about it.

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