Why are developer tools orange?

The Secret Geek Leon Bambrick wonders why developer tools are orange. Coincidence? Worldwide conspiracy?

Comments (17)
  1. Tom says:

    I’m not as impressed about his discovery of Orange tools as I am of his guide to Windows 7 Compatibility.


  2. Mark (The other Mark) says:

    I’m going to guess backwards compatibility, introduced by a shim to get Developer Tools for SimCi… I mean, Product X’s Developer Tools to work on Windows 95.

  3. NUXI says:

    Maybe cause construction barrels are orange.

  4. Dan says:

    Visual Studio Express has green/blue/yellow icons.  I feel left out. :(

  5. porter says:

    NMAKE : fatal error U1073: don’t know how to make ‘orange’


  6. dave says:

    The DECsystem-20 had orange cabs.

    ’nuff said, I think.

  7. Someone You Know says:

    Eclipse is generally purplish.

  8. Chriso says:

    Maybe they are orange to remember developers to eat more fruits like oranges, because they are tasty and good for their health? :-D

  9. Eric says:

    …or because that’s the color of your skin if you become malnourished from sitting at your computer all day eating Doritos?

  10. lb says:

    Thanks for linking to me Mr Chen. I’m a big fan of your writing and your thoughts.

  11. Worf says:

    @Eric: No, it’s because it’s the color of a developer’s fingers, keyboard, mouse, phone, etc. Because developers consume huge quantities of cheetos.

  12. Morten says:

    Creepy. 14 of 18 of my dev tools have orange-ish icons, all the way from hex editors to servers of different ilks. Good observation.

  13. Aaargh! says:

    I’m seing more of a blueish-purple trend (Xcode,Eclipse)

  14. Aamir says:

    @Worf: Cheetos.. ummmmmmmmmmmmm… I love them.

  15. LionsPhil says:

    Probably because a lot of meatspace construction stuff is bright yellow/orange for visibility (safety) reasons, and because that range of hues tends to get use to mean "caution". It’s a fairly sensible parallel.

  16. Timothy Fries says:

    What a terrible example set:

    Visual Studio’s icon is Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green — the Windows icon colors.  No orange.

    Firefox has an orange fox, but then Firefox isn’t a developer tool, it’s a web browser. (Yes yes, I read his snarky disclaimer.  If he’d put any effort into his post, he’d have posted the Firebug icon instead which is quite orange.)

    MS SQL Studio’s icon has a hammer whose handle is orange. It’s so small it’s barely visible.

    Codesmith icon is probably the only good example out of the four given.

  17. John says:

    I can play this game of recognizing coincidental color patterns too.

    Developer tools are red.

    Visual Studio: Red is the most prominent color in the mix (front and center, nothing overlapping it)

    Altova XMLSpy: Red icon.

    Fortress: Big red dot in the center, and plenty of red throughout the web application.

    SQL Server Management Studio: Not its icon, but definitely prominent in the twisty pattern on the splash screen.

    Filezilla: Red icon.

    Or are developer tools blue?

    Internet Explorer 8. (it comes with developer tools, and if Firefox gets to count…..)

    Expression Blend: The closest Expression product to a developer tool and the one with blue in its icon.

    Typemock Isolator: Blue is the most prominent color.

    Paint.NET: Plenty of blue in the icon. (Yes, I use this often in web development/design work)

    Humans recognize patterns and as skilled developers we’re likely well above average at it. There’s really no surprise here, especially factoring in how loosely you define a developer tool, which subset of tools you select and how much of a color is there (as Timothy pointed out, the orange in SSMS is a small amount)

    Fun diversion of a post, but nothing generalizes here.

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