Dark modes with CSS

With the introduction of dark mode in macOS, Safari Technology Preview 68 has released a new feature called prefers-color-scheme which lets us detect whether the user has dark mode enabled with a media query.

That’s right. If this becomes a little bit more supported in other browsers, then we might potentially soon have a way to toggle on night modes with a few lines of CSS!

Recently Mark Otto described how we can start using prefers-color-scheme today in order to create themes that dynamically adjust to the new user setting. And the neat thing about this post is that Mark sort of frames it as an accessibility issue and shows how he uses it on his own website to adjust images so that they’re not too bright for the user:

@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) { img { opacity: .75; transition: opacity .5s ease-in-out; } img:hover { opacity: 1; }
}

In the code above, Mark detects whether the user has dark mode enabled with the media query and then makes the images darker so that they match a dark background. This reminds me of an excellent post by Marcin Wichary where he explores a similar technique and goes one step further by adding all sorts of filters to make sure they have a much higher contrast.

Andy Clarke also wrote up some thoughts about how to take this fancy new CSS feature and how we might apply a dark theme across our website. He describes how to pick colors so our light/dark themes are consistent in terms of branding and how we might want to use a lighter font-weight for darker backgrounds. He writes:

Designing for dark mode shouldn’t stop with choosing darker colours. You should also consider altering typography styles to maintain readability for people who use dark mode. Light text against dark backgrounds appears higher in contrast than when the same colours are used in reverse, so to make your dark mode designs easier to read you’ll need to add more white/dark space to your text.

If your fonts offer a lighter weight, using that for your dark mode design will open up the letterforms and make them appear further apart…

What was that? It sure sounded like the joyous applause of typography nerds and designers everywhere!

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How to create a logo that responds to its own aspect ratio

One of the cool things about <svg> is that it’s literally its own document, so @media queries in CSS inside the SVG are based on its viewport rather than the HTML document that likely contains it.

This unique feature has let people play around for years. Tim Kadlec experimented with SVG formats and which ones respect the media queries most reliably. Sara Soueidan experimented with that a bunch more. Jake Archibald embedded a canvas inside and tested cross-browser compatibility that way. Estelle Weyl used that ability to do responsive images before responsive images.

Another thing that has really tripped people’s triggers is using that local media query stuff to make responsive logos. Most famously Joe Harrison’s site, but Tyler Sticka, Jeremy Frank, and Chris Austin all had a go as well.

Nils Binder has the latest take. Nils take is especially clever in how it uses <symbol>s referencing other <symbol>s for extra efficiency and min-aspect-ratio media queries rather than magic number widths.

For the record, we still very much need container queries for HTML elements. I get that it’s hard, but the difficulty of implementation and usefulness are different things. I much prefer interesting modern solutions over trying to be talked out of it.

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