A Guide to Theming in CSS

A Guide to Theming in CSS

In CSS, we can achieve theming by piecing together various CSS variables (props) in a context. You'll learn how to create apps that are theme-aware using CSS variables and JavaScript to enable a better presentation.

This tutorial shows you how to create apps that are theme-aware using CSS variables and JavaScript to enable a better presentation.

Over the years, CSS has evolved to cater to the ever-growing needs and flexibility requirements of modern UI design. The demand for highly customizable applications is rapidly increasing, and with that the need for developers who can create such websites.

Theming is the ability to style various aspects of our website differently depending on a context, while still maintaining visual appeal. It could be as simple as changing colors and backgrounds or font-sizes and icons. In CSS, we can achieve theming by piecing together various CSS variables (props) in a context (e.g, black and white) to enable better presentation of an application.

In this tutorial, we’ll cover how to develop apps that are theme-aware using CSS variables. We’ll also learn how to use CSS variables and JavaScript to customize websites and applications.

CSS Variables

A CSS variable (also called a custom property) is a variable you assign a CSS value to and reuse throughout your application.

In older versions of CSS, it’s common to define different values for CSS properties and apply them repeatedly whereever they are needed. In the example below, the a element is set to black (#000), and although other elements (p) will also need to use the same color value (#000), you need to explicitly type out the color value (#000) every time you want to use it on another element.

a {
  color: #000;
}

p {
  color: #000;
}

With CSS variables, we only need to define the value once and then reference it wherever needed. It is identical to defining a variable in any programming language. In the example below, we declare a variable black at the top level of our CSS document and then reference it wherever it is needed.

:root {
   --black: #000;
}

a {
   color: var(--black);
}

p {
   color: var(--black);
}

N/B: When declaring CSS variables, the syntax is **--**, followed by the name of the variable. To reference it, we call var(--variable-name) on the property we wish to assign it to.

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