Monday, September 26, 2016

Switch any site to a dark/light scheme

I am a very light sensitive person. Shine a light in my eyes and you limit my productivity immensely. Not to mention it makes me irritable. Therefore I often have the desire to turn cheerful black on white sites to a dark theme, where the colors are reversed. I am sure other people have the same problem so I thought of building a browser extension to enable a switching button between the two.

The first problem is that I need to interrogate all the elements in a page, including the ones that will be created later. The second is that even so I would have problems determining the dominant color of images. But there is something I can use which makes all of this unnecessary: using the invert CSS filter! Since I already use a browser extension that injects my own styles in any site - it's called Stylish and I highly recommend it - all I have to do is apply a filter on the entire site, right?

Wrong! The problem is that when you invert an entire site, all images on the site get inverted, too. That also includes videos and Flash objects. The worst offenders here are the elements that sport a background image that is declared via CSS, since you can't create a CSS selector for them. I am going to present my partial solution and maybe you can help me find a more elegant or more complete one. Here is a general dark theme stylesheet, without the elements that have a background image declared via CSS (it does include those with a background image declared inline, though):
html,img, video, object, [style*=url] {
    -webkit-filter:invert(100%) !important;
    filter:invert(100%) !important;

body {

What it does is invert the entire page (html), then reinvert video, img, and object elements, as well as those with "url" in the style attribute. In Chrome, at least, there seems to be a bug in the sense that the backgrounds of the direct child elements are not inverted, which means body, as the first child, needs to have the background set to black specifically. The hack to invert elements with "url" in style is pretty ugly, too.

What I think of a solution is this:
  • inject Javascript to enumerate all elements present and future using document.createTreeWalker and Mutation Observers, check if they have a background image and if so, add a class to them
  • inject the CSS above with an additional rule for the class for the elements with background image

However, this doesn't completely solve the problem. One of the major issues is the inverted colors sometimes look dumb. For example a red background turns cyan, white text on light gray background turns black test on dark gray background, which makes it hard to read. I've tried various other filters, like hue-rotate or contrast, but it doesn't really help. Detecting individual color patterns doesn't really work, as the filter attribute affects an element and all of its children. The CSS above only works because the images are inverted again when the entire page has been inverted.

The good news is that most of the time you may use the CSS above as a template, then add various rules (manually) to fix small issues with colors of backgrounds. Even if I don't package this in an extension, you have the power to create your own themes for various sites. Never again will you be subjects to the tyranny of the happy bright shiny people!

Update: if you have read this incredulously, thinking that I am preaching dark themes on a light themed blog, think again. If you go to Menu in the top-left corner you get the option to switch to a dark theme.