Alternate color schemes changes in WordPress 5.3.1

WordPress 5.3 added some noteworthy CSS changes to WordPress Admin. These changes also impacted alternate color schemes, especially concerning secondary buttons.

Indeed, secondary button borders unexpectedly inherited their scheme’s primary color, which resulted in arguable visual aspect and poor readability for most color schemes.

“Blue” alternate color scheme in WordPress 5.3
“Coffee” alternate color scheme in WordPress 5.3
“Midnight” alternate color scheme in WordPress 5.3

A bug also occurred on :active state, where the background color of the button was quite the same than the text color.

On the right: secondary button with :active state on “Blue” color scheme in WordPress 5.3
On the right: secondary button with :active state on “Midnight” color scheme in WordPress 5.3

WordPress 5.3.1 will fix these issues by unifying WP-Admin secondary buttons for all alternate color schemes.

Secondary button styles will be the same for all bundled alternate color schemes. This change also fixes the :active state CSS issue.

Please note this change also introduces some hardcoded colors for both gray borders and texts. Plugin authors who provide specific support for alternate color schemes can use these new hardcoded colors.

New secondary button CSS/Sass styles in WP 5.3.1:

.button {
	border-color: #7e8993;
	color: #32373c;
}

.button:hover {
	border-color: darken( #7e8993, 5% );
	color: darken( #32373c, 5% );
}

.button:focus {
	border-color: #7e8993;
	color: darken( #32373c, 5% );
	box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px #32373c;
}

See /wp-admin/css/colors/_admin.scss.

New CSS styles for secondary buttons in alternate color schemes:

Secondary buttons in WordPress 5.3.1
“Midnight” alternate color scheme in WP 5.3.1
“Coffee” alternate color scheme in WP 5.3.1

For reference, see the related Trac tickets: #48585 and #48598.

#5-3-1, #accessibility, #core-css, #dev-notes

Twenty Twenty: animated scroll changes in WordPress 5.3.1

In WordPress 5.3, Twenty Twenty new bundled theme added smooth scroll animations to anchor links. These animations were handled by native JavaScript and it caused several issues, mentioned in the following Trac tickets and GitHub issues:

  • #48763 – Twenty Twenty: SmoothScroll is broken
  • #48551 – Twenty Twenty: Replace JS-based smooth scroll with CSS
  • #48866 – TwentyTwenty: Paginated comments don’t work
  • GitHub issue 476 – Consider removing JS-based smooth scroll

Additionally to the multiple issues listed in the above tickets, JavaScript-based scroll animations add a bunch of relatively complex JS code, override natural anchor behavior and may interfere with how specific user agents handle in-page scrolling.

In WordPress 5.3.1, the current smooth scroll JavaScript implementation will be replaced with “scroll-behavior” CSS property.

This change fixes the issues encountered with the current JavaScript implementation, and also includes an accessibility enhancement by using prefers-reduced-motion: reduce media query property for users that have opted in to reduced motion in their browser settings.

For further explanation on this media query, see Mozilla Developer Network documentation.

Browsers that don’t support scroll-behavior CSS property will fallback to default HTML anchor behavior. For reference, see full browsers support for this CSS property on MDN.

New CSS scroll animation implementation in Twenty Twenty:

html {
    scroll-behavior: smooth;
}
@media (prefers-reduced-motion: reduce) {
    html {
        scroll-behavior: auto;
    }
}

Developers are able to remove scroll-behavior effect on specific elements by using a class CSS selector, as follows:

.disable-smooth-scrolling {
    scroll-behavior: auto;
}

For reference, see the related changeset in 5.3.1 branch.

#5-3-1, #accessibility, #bundled-theme, #core-css, #dev-notes, #twentytwenty

Noteworthy Admin CSS changes in WordPress 5.3

WordPress 5.3 will introduce a number of CSS changes in WordPress admin. While the necessity to improve wp-admin accessibility was previously raised in several Trac tickets, Gutenberg’s recent interface improvements made it necessary to improve the whole interface as well.

Background: in April 2019, WP-Campus conducted an accessibility audit of the new editor interface, made by an independent contractor, Tenon LLC. This audit raised issues in the editor but also in the media modal, which uses wp-admin styles. Fixing these issues on Gutenberg and on the media modal but not in the whole wp-admin interface would have been very inconsistent.

Some tickets were milestoned to the 5.3 release cycle to start backporting Gutenberg accessibility improvements to the whole admin interface. These first tickets aim to improve:

  • Color contrasts on form fields and buttons
  • Focus styles on form fields and buttons
  • Content behavior on text zoom

Backporting some of Gutenberg’s styles to fix these issues introduced some visual issues with the interface elements hierarchy. Therefore, Design and Accessibility teams worked on the overall visual hierarchy:

  • darker tables and metaboxes borders were introduced for a better hierarchy between interface elements

Note for plugin authors and WordPress developers

These changes are only CSS changes, and not structural changes, so the HTML markup is exactly the same as before, with the same class attributes on each element.

In short, your styles should align with these changes if interface elements are not overridden by custom CSS. If you are overriding WordPress Admin CSS on form elements, you should test your plugins or your custom developments against WordPress 5.3 RC 1.

If you are a plugin author, there are different use cases:

  • Plugins that are using default Admin CSS styles should work just like before.
  • Plugins that are using custom Admin CSS styles by overriding default Admin CSS should be checked against 5.3.
  • Plugins that are using fully customized Admin CSS styles should not be concerned by those changes.

In general, plugin authors and WordPress developers are encouraged to:

  • remove any fixed heights: flexible heights are the WordPress recommended standard (and one of the main goals of the Admin CSS changes).
  • remove any custom top and bottom padding values.
  • remove any custom line-height values.
  • update their CSS code to override new focus/hover buttons colors if they use custom colors on this type of element.

In the next section of this dev note, you’ll find some noteworthy CSS changes coming in WordPress 5.3.

Main things that are changing in 5.3:

  • Forms fields: 
    • text inputs
    • textareas
    • selects
    • checkboxes
    • radiobuttons
    • both primary and secondary buttons
    • colorpickers
  • Tables, notifications and metaboxes

Known issues

Available for testing in WordPress 5.3 RC 1, these changes have been tested in various use cases and no breakage situation was identified during the tests. Please check the report for full information about the testing panel.

This is a work in progress, just like anything in WordPress Core. These usability improvements were implemented during summer 2019 then tested and iterated on September and October. After 5.3 is released, the idea is to iterate on wp-admin design to make it fully consistent with the editor interface, and to provide a great and accessible editorial experience for websites administrators. The next minor releases will fix small issues with 5.3 changes and the next majors will improve the consistency of user experiences between Gutenberg and WordPress administration.

Changes related to form fields

Text inputs

Legacy CSS code:

/* Legacy styles */
input[type=text] {
    border: 1px solid #ddd;
    box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.07);
    background-color: #fff;
    color: #32373c;
    outline: 0;
    transition: 50ms border-color ease-in-out;
}
input[type=text]:focus {
    border-color: #5b9dd9;
    box-shadow: 0 0 2px rgba(30,140,190,.8);
    outline: 2px solid transparent;
}
Legacy input style
Legacy focused input style

New CSS code:

/* New styles */
input[type=text] {
    padding: 0 8px;
    line-height: 2;
    min-height: 30px;
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 transparent;
    border-radius: 4px;
    border: 1px solid #7e8993;
    background-color: #fff;
    color: #32373c;
}
input[type=text]:focus {
    border-color: #007cba;
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px #007cba;
    outline: 2px solid transparent;
}
New input style
New focused input style

Textareas

Legacy CSS code:

/* Legacy styles */
textarea {
    border: 1px solid #ddd;
    box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.07);
    background-color: #fff;
    color: #32373c;
    outline: 0;
    transition: 50ms border-color ease-in-out;
}
textarea:focus {
    border-color: #5b9dd9;
    box-shadow: 0 0 2px rgba(30,140,190,.8);
    outline: 2px solid transparent;
}
Legacy textarea style
Legacy focused textarea style

New CSS code:

/* New styles */
textarea {
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 transparent;
    border-radius: 4px;
    border: 1px solid #7e8993;
    background-color: #fff;
    color: #32373c;
}
textarea:focus {
    border-color: #007cba;
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px #007cba;
    outline: 2px solid transparent;
}
New textarea style
New focused textarea style

Selects

Legacy CSS code:

/* Legacy styles */
select {
    padding: 2px;
    line-height: 28px;
    height: 28px;
    vertical-align: middle;
    border: 1px solid #ddd;
    box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.07);
    background-color: #fff;
    color: #32373c;
    outline: 0;
    transition: 50ms border-color ease-in-out;
}
select:focus {
    border-color: #5b9dd9;
    box-shadow: 0 0 2px rgba(30,140,190,.8);
    outline: 2px solid transparent;    
}
Legacy select style
Legacy focused select style

New CSS code:

select {
    font-size: 14px;
    line-height: 1.28571428;
    color: #32373c;
    border: 1px solid #7e8993;
    border-radius: 3px;
    box-shadow: none;
    padding: 4px 24px 4px 8px;
    min-height: 30px;
    max-width: 25rem;
    vertical-align: middle;
    -webkit-appearance: none;
    background: #fff url(data:image/svg+xml;charset=US-ASCII,<svg image>) no-repeat right 5px top 55%;
    background-size: 16px 16px;
    cursor: pointer;
}
select:focus {
    border-color: #007cba;
    color: #016087;
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px #007cba;
}
New select style
New focused select style

Radiobuttons

Legacy CSS code:

/* Legacy styles */
input[type=radio] {
    border: 1px solid #b4b9be;
    border-radius: 50%;
    background: #fff;
    color: #555;
    clear: none;
    cursor: pointer;
    display: inline-block;
    line-height: 0;
    height: 16px;
    margin: -4px 4px 0 0;
    outline: 0;
    padding: 0!important;
    text-align: center;
    vertical-align: middle;
    width: 16px;
    min-width: 16px;
    -webkit-appearance: none;
    box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.1);
    transition: .05s border-color ease-in-out;
}
input[type=radio]:checked:before {
    content: "\2022";
    text-indent: -9999px;
    border-radius: 50px;
    font-size: 24px;
    width: 6px;
    height: 6px;
    margin: 4px;
    line-height: 16px;
    background-color: #1e8cbe;
}
Legacy radio buttons styles

New CSS code:

/* New styles */
input[type=radio] {
	border: 1px solid #7e8993;
	border-radius: 50%;
	line-height: .71428571;
	background: #fff;
	color: #555;
	clear: none;
	cursor: pointer;
	display: inline-block;
	height: 1rem;
	margin: -.25rem .25rem 0 0;
	outline: 0;
	padding: 0 !important;
	text-align: center;
	vertical-align: middle;
	width: 1rem;
	min-width: 1rem;
	-webkit-appearance: none;
	box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.1);
	transition: .05s border-color ease-in-out;
}
input[type=radio]:checked::before {
	content: "";
	border-radius: 50%;
	width: .5rem;
	height: .5rem;
	margin: .1875rem;
	background-color: #1e8cbe;
	line-height: 1.14285714;
}
New radio buttons styles

Checkboxes

Legacy CSS code:

/* Legacy styles */
input[type=checkbox] {
	border: 1px solid #b4b9be;
	background: #fff;
	color: #555;
	clear: none;
	cursor: pointer;
	display: inline-block;
	line-height: 0;
	height: 16px;
	margin: -4px 4px 0 0;
	outline: 0;
	padding: 0!important;
	text-align: center;
	vertical-align: middle;
	width: 16px;
	min-width: 16px;
	-webkit-appearance: none;
	box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.1);
	transition: .05s border-color ease-in-out;
}
input[type=checkbox]:checked:before {
	content: "\f147";
	margin: -3px 0 0 -4px;
	color: #1e8cbe;
}
input[type=checkbox]:focus {
	border-color: #5b9dd9;
	box-shadow: 0 0 2px rgba(30,140,190,.8);
	outline: 2px solid transparent;
}
Legacy checkbox styles
Legacy focused checkbox style

New CSS code:

/* New styles */
input[type=checkbox], input[type=radio] {
	border: 1px solid #7e8993;
	border-radius: 4px;
	background: #fff;
	color: #555;
	clear: none;
	cursor: pointer;
	display: inline-block;
	line-height: 0;
	height: 1rem;
	margin: -.25rem .25rem 0 0;
	outline: 0;
	padding: 0!important;
	text-align: center;
	vertical-align: middle;
	width: 1rem;
	min-width: 1rem;
	-webkit-appearance: none;
	box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.1);
	transition: .05s border-color ease-in-out;
}
input[type=checkbox]:checked::before {
	content: url(data:image/svg+xml;utf8,<svg image>);
	margin: -.1875rem 0 0 -.25rem;
	height: 1.3125rem;
	width: 1.3125rem;
}
input[type=checkbox]:focus {
	border-color: #007cba;
	box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px #007cba;
	outline: 2px solid transparent;
}
New checkbox style
New focused checkbox style

Buttons

Legacy CSS code:

/* 
 * Legacy styles for buttons
 */

/* General */
.wp-core-ui .button, .wp-core-ui .button-primary, .wp-core-ui .button-secondary {
	display: inline-block;
	text-decoration: none;
	font-size: 13px;
	line-height: 26px;
	height: 28px;
	margin: 0;
	padding: 0 10px 1px;
	cursor: pointer;
	border-width: 1px;
	border-style: solid;
	-webkit-appearance: none;
	border-radius: 3px;
	white-space: nowrap;
	box-sizing: border-box;
}

/* Primary buttons styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-primary {
	background: #0085ba;
	border-color: #0073aa #006799 #006799;
	box-shadow: 0 1px 0 #006799;
	color: #fff;
	text-decoration: none;
	text-shadow: 0 -1px 1px #006799, 1px 0 1px #006799, 0 1px 1px #006799, -1px 0 1px #006799;
}
/* Primary buttons :hover styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-primary.focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary.hover, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:hover {
	background: #008ec2;
	border-color: #006799;
	color: #fff;
}
/* Primary buttons :focus styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-primary.focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:focus {
	box-shadow: 0 1px 0 #0073aa, 0 0 2px 1px #33b3db;
}

/* Secondary buttons styles */
.wp-core-ui .button, .wp-core-ui .button-secondary {
	color: #555;
	border-color: #ccc;
	background: #f7f7f7;
	box-shadow: 0 1px 0 #ccc;
	vertical-align: top;
}
/* Secondary buttons :hover styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-secondary:focus, .wp-core-ui .button-secondary:hover, .wp-core-ui .button.focus, .wp-core-ui .button.hover, .wp-core-ui .button:focus, .wp-core-ui .button:hover {
	background: #fafafa;
	border-color: #999;
	color: #23282d;
}

/* Secondary buttons :focus styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-secondary:focus, .wp-core-ui .button.focus, .wp-core-ui .button:focus {
	border-color: #5b9dd9;
	box-shadow: 0 0 3px rgba(0,115,170,.8);
}
Legacy style for primary button
Legacy style for focused primary button
Legacy style for secondary button
Legacy style for focused secondary button

New CSS code:

/* 
 * New styles for buttons
 */

/* General */
.wp-core-ui .button, .wp-core-ui .button-primary, .wp-core-ui .button-secondary {
	display: inline-block;
	text-decoration: none;
	font-size: 13px;
	line-height: 2.15384615;
	min-height: 30px;
	margin: 0;
	padding: 0 10px;
	cursor: pointer;
	border-width: 1px;
	border-style: solid;
	-webkit-appearance: none;
	border-radius: 3px;
	white-space: nowrap;
	box-sizing: border-box;
}

/* Primary buttons styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-primary {
	background: #007cba;
	border-color: #007cba;
	color: #fff;
	text-decoration: none;
	text-shadow: none;
}
/* Primary buttons :hover styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-primary.focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary.hover, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:hover {
	background: #0071a1;
	border-color: #0071a1;
	color: #fff;
}
/* Primary buttons :focus styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-primary.focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary.hover, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:focus, .wp-core-ui .button-primary:hover {
	background: #0071a1;
	border-color: #0071a1;
	color: #fff;
}

/* Secondary buttons styles */
.wp-core-ui .button, .wp-core-ui .button-secondary {
	color: #0071a1;
	border-color: #0071a1;
	background: #f3f5f6;
	vertical-align: top;
}
/* Secondary buttons :hover styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-secondary:hover, .wp-core-ui .button.hover, .wp-core-ui .button:hover {
	background: #f1f1f1;
	border-color: #016087;
	color: #016087;
}
/* Secondary buttons :focus styles */
.wp-core-ui .button-secondary:focus, .wp-core-ui .button.focus, .wp-core-ui .button:focus {
	background: #f3f5f6;
	border-color: #007cba;
	color: #016087;
	box-shadow: 0 0 0 1px #007cba;
	outline: 2px solid transparent;
	outline-offset: 0;
}
New style for primary button
New style for focused primary button
New style for secondary button
Legacy style for focused secondary button

Darker borders on tables, notices, metaboxes and other similar elements

These changes introduce better contrast for borders for the following user interface elements:

  • Tables
  • Screen Options and Help
  • Admin notices
  • Welcome panel
  • Meta boxes (post boxes on classic editor or in edit attachment screens)
  • Cards
  • Health Check accordions and headings
  • Theme and Plugin upload forms

Legacy CSS code:

Depending on the related element, several CSS declarations were used.

border: 1px solid #e5e5e5;
border: 1px solid #e1e1e1;
border: 1px solid #eee;
border: 1px solid #ddd;
border: 1px solid #e2e4e7;
Legacy card with light grey border
Legacy table with light grey border
Legacy Screen options panel with light grey border
Legacy notice with light grey border

New CSS code:

All those CSS declaration are replaced with a unique color:

border: 1px solid #ccd0d4;
New card with darker border
New table with darker border
Legacy Screen options panel with darker border
New notice with darker border

Related Trac tickets

  • #47153: Field boundaries have insufficient color contrast
  • #34904: The design of the focus outline on buttons/elements could be improved
  • #47477: Content overflows and is cut off at 200% text enlarge
  • #47498: Revise checkbox/radio button css for better compatibility with text zoom
  • #48101: Use darker table + card borders across WP-Admin

#5-3, #accessibility, #dev-notes

Report: WP 5.3 Admin CSS changes tested against top 20 plugins

In September 2019, the WordPress Accessibility team tested WP 5.3 Admin CSS changes against the Top 20 plugins on WordPress.org, to evaluate possible breakage on plugins admin screens and to iterate on the related changes.

This week, those tests were reproduced against 5.3-beta3-46471. This post is a report illustrated with screenshots of relevant admin screens for each plugin.

The idea was to test Admin CSS changes against various use cases to see what could happen and to fix as many found bugs as possible. Of course, not every use cases are covered in 20 plugins, but the Accessibility team assumes it will provide a general view on the robustness of the changes coming in WP 5.3.

A dev note will quickly follow this post, to communicate on all the CSS changes coming in WP 5.3 admin screens to plugin authors and WordPress developers.

To sum up, some plugins which use custom CSS that override WordPress Admin default CSS rules on form controls may have few minor visual glitches. Most notably: the input fields can be taller than before WP 5.3. There’s no breakage as the input fields are fully operable, but plugin authors and WordPress developers are encouraged to:

  • remove any fixed heights: flexible heights are the WordPress recommended standard (and one of the main goals of the Admin CSS changes)
  • remove any custom top and bottom padding values
  • remove any custom line-height values

For each plugin, screenshot are provided. You can click them to see the full media file.

Contact Form 7

This plugin uses default core admin styles. No breakage found.

Yoast

This plugin uses both custom styles and default core admin styles. No breakage found. One input and one button are too close to each other in the search appearance page. Looks to be due to incorrect use of margins.

Akismet

This plugin uses both custom styles and default core admin styles. No breakage found.

Classic Editor

This plugin uses default core admin styles. No breakage found.

Jetpack

This plugin uses custom styles. No change found on the screens audited. Further exploration could be needed on specific admin screens. Edit: Jetpack team is already working on some small CSS changes in a dedicated pull request. Worth a read to see how plugins could handle Admin CSS changes.

WooCommerce

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. Two misaligned labels were found in the installation screen. Some inputs have large vertical paddings/heights. No breakage found.

Note: WooCommerce team already worked on Admin CSS changes in a dedicated pull request. An interesting read to see how plugins could handle Admin CSS changes.

WordPress Importer

This plugin uses default admin styles. No breakage found.

Really Simple SSL

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

Elementor Page Builder

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. Small misalignment in one (screenshot 6) of the dozen pages of settings, due to fixed margins. Pretty minor though. No breakage found.

Wordfence Security

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

Duplicate Post

This plugin uses default admin styles. No breakage found.

TinyMCE Advanced

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

All in One SEO Pack

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

WP Forms

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin uses default admin styles. No breakage found.

Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress

This plugin uses custom admin styles. No breakage found but the test couldn’t handle each screen of the plugin due to the some issues with plugin’s configuration on local installs.

All-in-One WP Migration

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

UpdraftPlus Backup

This plugin uses both custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.

WP Super Cache

This plugin uses default admin styles. No breakage found.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

This plugin mixes custom and default admin styles. No breakage found.


Please note this report is only including Top 20 plugins from WordPress.org, but the changes were also tested on various others plugins, such as WP-Rocket, Advanced Custom Fields, Polylang… and dozens of plugins with less active installations.

#5-3, #accessibility, #testing