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Feature unannouncement: dark mode 😕

We just pushed a change that will affect a small set of users who have enabled Dark Mode: in particular, Dark Mode’s going away.

Alas, we couldn’t find a nice middle that would confer the eye-saving benefits of editing on a dark background, but not place new requirements on notebook authors - like the need to design dark charts. We want Observable to be flexible and feel like a well-honed tool, but sometimes those things are in conflict - so in this case we want to devote time to making the default color scheme great instead of being split.

So - I hope folks understand the rationale behind this call. We’ll keep the dark mode setting around in the database, so that perhaps once we hire some élite designers, it will make a comeback.


@tom You could take inspiration from successful dark mode addition to Excalidraw. https://github.com/excalidraw/excalidraw/pull/2006

We used a filter trick that might simplify your chart problem (although I’m sure it is not a perfect solution).

Thanks for sharing your work xixixao. I don’t think we have any plans to work on this, but I’ll send it to the design team regardless as it’s interesting to see what you did.

I agree that offering dark mode would be a huge pain for notebook authors. However, I got curious about what can be achieved with user styles, so here’s an SVG filter that inverts luminosity while preserving hue:

The notebook also includes an example of applying the filter to an embedded notebook.


Why not just keep the feature and let the user decide? :thinking:

Because the “user” quite generally can be anyone browsing the site. This places a burden on notebook authors to design graphics that look nice in in multiple stylistic environments or to generate multiple images depending on the dark mode value. You can still design graphics that look nice wherever you choose to embed them.

Maybe dark mode is not a thing to young people, but to older people (I’m quite old now :smiley: ) it’s a must. Staring at the glaring white background color of the screen all day is a torture for older people, if you’re over 50, then I think you’ll probably agree with me, if you’re not, then congratulations, you’re still a young person. :confetti_ball:

It would be very kind of the designers of Observable to give the elder the chance to choose which mode he or she wants. Besides, young people don’t have anything to lose, the “normal” light mode is always there, isn’t it?

@lochiwei I’m afraid you may be missing the point. It’s a question of having to officially support this feature. You can’t just drop in a dark mode and call it a day, and like @mcmcclur mentioned, it also puts additional burden on notebook authors.

Dark mode was removed for a reason, and that reason hasn’t gone away. If this is such a serious issue for you, I recommend to check out your operating system’s accessibility features.

I’ve already turned on the dark mode of my browser on my mac for a long time, I just have no such luxury on my iPad Safari.

I’d like to mention my point again, it would be very kind of the Observable team to take into consideration (to support dark mode, again, officially) for the elders’ humble needs. Thanks.