Colorless wp-admin?

Sometimes you get an idea in your head and you just need to follow through. With all the talk about revisiting wp-admin color schemes, I wondered… could I remove all the colors from all the stylesheets? What would that look like?

I already had a tool parsing out stylesheets to count colors, so I went to repurpose that. I ended up creating a postcss plugin that, when run on a CSS file, removes any declaration with a color value. The exception to this are border* & outline, which are split up into their longhand values first, to try to preserve as much structure as possible.

The end result:

The WordPress Dashboard, using browser default colors.
The WordPress Dashboard, using browser default colors.

Everything has a transparent background, showing the white browser background. The text is all black, except for blue & purple links. Widgets still have their outlines, so it ends up looking more like a high-def wireframe than a real website.

Again, everything’s using browser defaults. You can see what’s meant to be the current menu item ◀ is just a big black square, since it uses mix of transparent + color borders to create that effect. The plugin modal is almost okay— it’s an iframe, so it gets a default-white background, and the modal script injects the black overlay. This view really showed me how much color plays into how I scan a notice. Regardless, it holds up surprisingly well.

But when we try to open the media library, things are wonky. With no background color, the Attachment Details modal is unusable. So maybe a reset by way of removing all colors isn’t a great idea, sometimes the colors are “structural”.

Admin bar on the front end of the site

I almost like this transparent admin bar. It’s inheriting the theme styles, which is why the links are black here. The lack of background color does make it hard to read, though.

If you want to try this out on your own CSS, here’s the plugin I wrote. You can run it directly by adding it to postcss.config.js like so, then running postcss however you usually do (I used postcss-cli for this).

// postcss.config.js
module.exports = {
	plugins: [
		require( './remove-colors.js' )(),

Download remove-colors.js directly

const postcss = require( 'postcss' );
const getColors = require( 'get-css-colors' );
/* A size is any number, optionally with a unit. */
const isSize = ( value ) => /^\d+\s?([a-zA-Z]+)?$/.test( value.trim() );
/* If the value has a color in it, getColors will return an array. */
const isColor = ( value ) => null !== getColors( value );
/* A line style is from a set of values */
const isLineStyle = ( value ) =>
1 !==
'auto', // Technically only allowed on outline.
].indexOf( value );
function explodeProp( decl ) {
switch ( decl.prop ) {
case 'border':
case 'border-top':
case 'border-right':
case 'border-bottom':
case 'border-left':
case 'outline':
const values = decl.value.split( ' ' );
values.forEach( ( value ) => {
if ( isLineStyle( value ) ) {
postcss.decl( { prop: decl.prop + '-style', value } )
} else if (
isSize( value ) ||
1 !== [ 'thin', 'medium', 'thick' ].indexOf( value )
) {
postcss.decl( { prop: decl.prop + '-width', value } )
} else if ( isColor( value ) ) {
postcss.decl( { prop: decl.prop + '-color', value } )
} );
module.exports = postcss.plugin( 'remove-colors', function() {
return function( root ) {
root.walkRules( ( rule ) => {
// Explode out the border/outline props.
rule.walkDecls( ( decl ) => {
explodeProp( decl );
} );
// Remove any declarations that have color.
rule.walkDecls( ( decl ) => {
const hasColors = getColors( decl.value );
// grayscale isn't actually a color, it's used in antialiasing.
if ( 'grayscale' === decl.value ) {
if ( Array.isArray( hasColors ) ) {
let value = decl.value.slice();
hasColors.forEach( ( color ) => {
value = value.replace( color, '' );
} );
} );
} );
// Remove all empty rule blocks.
root.walkRules( ( rule ) => {
if ( rule.nodes && 0 === rule.nodes.length ) {
} );
// Remove all empty @rule blocks.
root.walkAtRules( ( rule ) => {
if ( rule.nodes && 0 === rule.nodes.length ) {
} );
} );
view raw remove-colors.js hosted with ❤ by GitHub

New Admin Color Schemes

Happy WordPress 5.4 day!

While working on the about page for 5.4, I realized I really liked those colors, and the page would probably look pretty cool with a matching admin color scheme. So I got to work updating Admin Color Schemes (all the way from WP 4.4 😱), updated the build process, and got to work on creating the color scheme.

Most color schemes only set 2-3 custom colors, and the rest are inherited or calculated from there. This works well for simple schemes, but you can also set other colors for finer control. Since I wanted to stick to the bright blues from the about page, I needed that finer control. I had to customize the “bubble” color (when you have comments or updates), since the default put white on a very light blue. I also don’t think the light blue & white have enough contrast in submenus, so I added an underline on hover.

Once I finished the 5.4-inspired theme, I couldn’t make an update with only one theme — so I also made one inspired by 5.3’s release art, Kirk. You can see screenshots of both here:

While working on Adderley, I had tried using the light blue as a base, before realizing it wasn’t exactly the feel I wanted — but it had promise as a light color scheme. After some tweaking and customization, High Contrast Blue was born ✨

High Contrast Blue

This color scheme should pass WCAG 2.1 level AAA for color contrast, (though it doesn’t apply to the editor, so it won’t make your whole admin AAA). Light color schemes need more customization, but I like how this one turned out.

Get these three new color schemes by updating or installing Admin Color Schemes!

Also, happy trans day of visibility! Transgender Pride Flag

The words we use in #a11y

A few days ago, I started this thread on twitter…

reading this report on disability & AI, and I’d highly recommend at least the first few pages to anyone working in tech– raises some great questions, then goes into definitions around disability and technology that might challenge how you think…

Here’s the report I’m talking about: Disability, Bias, and AI [PDF]

In particular, the definition of “Assistive Technology” made me think- it helped solidify something I’ve been thinking about but unable to articulate. The basic definition is “assistive technology is shorthand for technology that assists disabled people.” [1]

Continue reading “The words we use in #a11y”

Nifty Code #3: Document Outline

When I started the recipe block, I knew that I wanted to allow control over the section heading levels. I felt it wouldn’t be possible to assume fixed heading levels – should the Recipe Title be an h2, and the “ingredients” heading be h3? What if the post title is the recipe title, and the Recipe Title block is deleted?

First, I solved this by copying down the HeadingToolbar component. This let me use the same heading options that the heading block uses. Unfortunately, these would always show in the block’s toolbar, regardless of whether you’re editing the title or the list content.

Editing the ingredients section. My cursor is in the list, but it still looks like I can change the heading level of this text.
Continue reading “Nifty Code #3: Document Outline”