Base16 provides carefully chosen syntax highlighting and a default set of sixteen colors suitable for a wide range of applications. Base16 is not a single theme but a set of guildelines along with an example PHP implementation of a builder, example template repositories for Vim and editors that use the Textmate syntax files, and a collection of scheme repositories including the standard base16 color theme “default”. To download a compiled copy of all the schemes and templates, see the main repository at Github.

Download Pre-built Templates

Styling Guidelines

Version 0.2

Base16 aims to group similar language constructs with a single color, e.g. float, ints and doubles would belong to the same colour group. The colors chosen for the default theme were chosen to be easily separatable but scheme designer should pick whatever colours they desire e.g. base0B (green by defualt) could be replaced with red. However, there are general guidelines below that stipulate what base0B should be used to highlight when designing templates for editors.

Since describing syntax highlighting can be tricky, please see base16-vim and base16-textmate for reference. Though it should be noted that each editor will have some descrepancies due the fact that editors generally have different syntax highlighting engines.

Colors base00 to base07 are typically variations of a shade and run from darkest to lighest. These colors are used for foreground and background, status bars, line highlighting and such. Colors base08 to base0F are typically individual colors used for types, operators, names and variables. In order to create a dark theme colors base00 to base07 should span from dark to light. For a light theme these colours should span from light to dark.

Builder Guidelines

Version 0.8.1

A base16 builder is an application that can build syntax highlighting definition files for text editors by using base16 scheme files which contain a collection of colours and base16 template files which contain syntax highlighting rules. A builder uses Git as the mechanism to download and keep uptodate syntax files and template files.

File Structure


The first job a just-installed builder has is to populate a list of scheme sources and template sources. It does this by parsing the /sources.yaml file and using Git to clone the repositories defined within to /sources. Next a builder will parse the downloaded /sources/schemes/list.yaml and use Git to clone the defined repositories to /schemes. Finally a builder will parse the downloaded /sources/templates/list.yaml and use Git to clone the defined repositories to /templates. This task is performed by the builder update command which can be used to update sources, schemes and teamplates.

When building themes by running builder without any arguments, a base16 builder should first clear out any old output then iterate through all the scheme files in /schemes and for each scheme should iterate through all the template files in /templates producing themes that will be output to the template directories specified in /templates/template_name/template/config.yaml. The theme filename should look like base16-[slug][extension]. Where the slug is taken from the scheme file name made lowercase with spaces replaced with dashes and extension is taken from /template/config.yaml.

Template Variables

A builder should provide the following variables to a template file:

Code Structure

There is no outline for a recommended code structure that a base16 theme builder should follow but a design goal should be to keep the application as simple as possible providing only the functionality desibed in this document. If you feel you have a great idea for additional functionality please raise an issue in the base16 repository.


Mustache was chosen as the templating language due to its simplicity and widespread adoption across languages. Yaml was chosen to describe scheme and configuration files for the same reasons.