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Issue 16.3 ('XDC 2018')
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Give yourself to the Dark Side

Using Dark Interfaces

Issue: 16.3 (May/June 2018)
Author: Sam Rowlands
Author Bio: Sam is a pixelMancer and codeWeaver at Ohanaware.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 26,373
Starting Page Number: 40
Article Number: 16304
Resource File(s):

Download Icon project16304.zip Updated: 2018-05-09 11:00:14

Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

Dark interfaces were all the rage back in the 1970s (albeit because there wasn't much choice), and there've been several revivals after that, but most have been crushed by the light side.

MacOS 10.10 Yosemite for all its failings and frustrations (that's a long topic for another day) added support for a native "dark mode" for apps. I'm not going to cover the basics on how to make a dark interface here, as I feel that's already been done. What I am going to cover is how to create what I think are compelling dark interface elements.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing"

So putting aside the obvious dark side references, there are several reasons as to why I've spent considerable time trying to build "Dark Themed" interfaces and not just using the dark UI elements that Apple gives us when we enable the dark mode.

Half-baked. While the default Dark Vibrance mode from Apple takes care of almost everything (see Figure 1), it feels like half the job. Sure, it makes your interface dark, but it makes it so dark that it becomes dull and uninspiring, not to mention that the colors vary between controls (ever so slightly, but enough to notice when trying to create custom controls).

It's inconsistent. So says the armchair director. For a good example of a "Dark" interface from Apple, take a look at the "Edit" mode in Apple's Photos (we'll save criticism of that application for another day). When you enter the edit mode, the interface goes dark (Ooh!), but it doesn't use the standard controls (see Figure 2). In fact, everything about the Photos dark mode is custom. The Dark mode Apple offer us, is very pale and weak compared to the custom interface that they use. Which has lead to many 3rd party applications using custom interfaces.

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