Dark Mode WordPress Plugin Up for Adoption

Daniel James is putting his Dark Mode plugin up for adoption.

“I’m stepping back from plugin development (and WordPress contributions) and would like to see someone passionate about it pick it up,” James said.

Dark Mode has 2,000 active installations and is the most popular among a handful of dark or “night mode” plugins in the official directory. In August 2018, James submitted a merge proposal for including Dark Mode in core, but it was shot down the same day it was published. Gary Pendergast said the proposal “seemed premature” and noted that the project was lacking several merge criteria outlined on the Handbook page for feature plugins. He cited a lack of weekly chats, no kickoff and update posts, and no testing from the Flow team, among other concerns.

“I decided recently that because of the direction WordPress is going in with the move towards React with Gutenberg that I should probably focus my efforts elsewhere,” James said.

“That’s mostly to do with the merge proposal getting rejected fairly quickly without any helpful next steps on how to improve it. Plus, with how rapidly Gutenberg is being developed, I’d have to pretty much work in tandem with the Gutenberg team to ensure the Dark Mode plugin styled the UI correctly. That’s spare time I just don’t have.

“I feel like WordPress leadership is another reason. It’s really difficult (I think/feel) to get something like Dark Mode pushed through. It’s very much near the bottom of the priority list, which I get, but sucks a bit when you’re volunteering in spare time of course.” James said the plugin currently requires a few hours per week in support and maintenance.

The popularity of dark modes for applications has taken off after macOS Mojave introduced a dark mode, and has also been spurred on by the news that Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup will be produced with OLED screens. Many popular applications, such as YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Google Maps already have a dark mode that either works automatically based on light conditions or can be manually enabled. Chrome also recently added a dark browsing mode for Mac users. Fans of dark mode claim it is easier on the eyes and conserves battery.

Users who tend to gravitate towards dark mode are still a small subset, but the feature is gaining momentum. A dark mode may one day come to WordPress core but it doesn’t seem likely in the near future. Daniel James’ Dark Mode plugin isn’t ready for core, since it doesn’t support the new editor, but he said he hopes the new owner will find the time to take it where it needs to go.

“I’m happy to transfer the plugin to someone else to continue it, as long as they’re well known/respected,” James said. “I won’t just be giving it away for security reasons. It would be great for it to be included in core one day, but at the very least it would be nice for someone who really likes it to just continue it.”

20 Comments


  1. I think also, it should be mentioned that dark mode is something that can be accomplished on the browser side as well.

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  2. First of all: big thanks to Daniel and highest respect, for the work he did with the “Dark Mode” plugin. It is excellent. And actually it would have more than deserved to be included in WordPress Core.

    But it was and is just not wanted. (Totally sad, really!)

    The way Daniel was handled is shameful. So the commitment of a WordPress contributor is destroyed. Mind you, he invested it all in his spare time. There was no company that paid him and gave him time off, as is the case with the “5 for the Future” propaganda.

    No, it was a free, independent commitment.

    Now he’s hanging it up.

    One less again. Another one who throws in the towel.

    It’s so sad. So embarrassing.

    And let’s be honest: if something was wanted so far, a way was always found, even off the beaten track, isn’t it true? But if you don’t want something, then an armada of rules will be held up and the whole thing will be stalled in less than a day.

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    1. With all due respect, so he gave some time of his own for free to give back to the Community. So? He chose to do that.
      I think we should all give some time to WordPress. After all, we are all making money on our WordPress based websites.

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      1. Yes, he chose to do that.
        And he invested a lot of time.

        I doubt that those “decision makers” really installed the plugin and tried it out themselves before they gave their “no”. I followed the plugin closely since it was released on .org and also the process of Daniel making it a “feature plugin”.

        It’s the whole process how it was handled, that gets me in anger. And I guess this is one of the main reasons he is abandoning it, and he was already stating that above.

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      2. Every company’s dream is a group of people who will work for free to grow their product. WP is a company product. If you do not see that, well, that leaves me speechless.

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  3. Dark mode is something that we need, but maybe it should be simpler. I haven’t looked at the plugin yet, but I probably should.

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    1. I haven’t either Otto but as with all things WP, it is just css skinning.
      I have long had to mod WP admin panel for ADA so when I am in it I don’t get false positives. I do that by modding the CSS to the admin panel, should in theory be same simple fix.

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    2. Really, Otto?

      You haven’t tried the plugin yet, but already know “but maybe it should be simpler”…

      Can’t believe this…!

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  4. I like the idea of the plugin. It’s really useful for developers, who look at the WordPress dashboard all day.

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  5. I prefer the dark mode to be on my browser, which in fact it does have it on my browser.

    Both Firefox and Chrome have extensions/add-ons. I am not sure about Edge, IE or other browsers.

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    1. I doubt that a browser-based solution will be any good for the WP Admin. This might be inverted styles and in almost all cases these look ugly.

      A real native solution like the Dark Mode plugin is always better in my opinion. It will also allow other plugins to opt-in to support this for their own admin screens – and they have the chance to customize stuff.

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  6. Dark mode is one of the most popular features around today, plus it brings added benefits of lower battery usage and lower carbon footprint. The idea that those benefits and wants seem lost on a decision-maker in core is not at all surprising.

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  7. Dark Mode becomes popular even on Windows 10 where it’s available. And I use more and more applications offering a dark mode.

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  8. I’m a fan of dark mode. Much easier on the eyes. I hope someone responsible adopts Dark Mode.

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  9. I am a fan of Dark Mode as well. It’s much easier on my eyes. I am not sure why there is all the hate against it. It’s not like WordPress doesn’t have admin color scheme’s already baked in. Who here has honestly made use of Ectoplasm or Sunrise? I think a Dark Mode would see much more adoption as it’s just easier to work with especially when trying to write at night.

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  10. It’s lovely to see people support the plugin and are happy with how far it’s come. I’ve selected a new owner for the plugin and I hope to see the plugin developed further into the future.

    It’s been great fun to make something like a Dark Mode for WordPress and I would like to see it in core at some point although there’s plenty of work to be done to get it working well with Gutenberg as lots of things have changed since the last update.

    Hopefully the new author has some big plans in the way of updates!

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    1. Daniel has kindly agreed to me taking over active development of Dark Mode. I believe in this plugin so didn’t want to see it waste away.

      It will be interesting to see how it develops over time. Right now the plugin GitHub repo has been taken out of archive and is now accepting pull requests and issue submissions.

      https://github.com/dgwyer/Dark-Mode

      A project such as this can only really thrive with support from the development community. It’s really too big for any one person alone so please consider contributing in any way you can. In particular CSS/accessibility gurus welcome.

      If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to reach out to me here, via the GitHub repo, or on Twitter (@dgwyer) etc. I’d love to gauge current interest in this project and see how people would like to see it evolve.

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  11. How does this differ from the other Admin theming / skinning plugins? If it’s just a change of CSS somewhere then yes – it could easily be a built-in option.

    Gary

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