Last updated May 30, 2023

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Design tokens and theming

This feature specifically involves using Atlassian Design tokens for developing Forge apps, and it is meant only for Jira. It is not applicable to Confluence.

When developing Forge apps, incorporating Atlassian's design tokens can be highly beneficial. To familiarize yourself with design tokens, refer to the Atlassian Design System documentation. This describes the naming conventions used, as well as the advantages they offer.

In addition to enabling features like dark theme and improved accessibility, design tokens make it easy for you to design and build apps that match the parent Atlassian product, such as Jira — and do it once.

Colors in your app will mirror and react to the active theme of the parent product to appear closely integrated and provide a consistent, familiar experience for customers. But not only that, as the Atlassian Design System is continually improved upon and colors iterated on, you’ll easily benefit from them too.

Design tokens enabled features are automatically enabled in Forge UI kit apps. For Forge Custom UI, you can enable the opt-in theming API by using design tokens by following the steps below.

Opt-in theming API

The opt-in API allows you to test and iterate on your experience, while only enabling it for customers when the migration is complete, and you’re ready to ship to your customers.

Activate theming

To activate theming in your Forge Custom UI app, call view.theme.enable() function.

This will fetch the current active theme from the host environment (example, Jira) and apply it in your app. It will also reactively apply theme changes that occur in the host environment so that your app and the host are always in sync.

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import { view } from "@forge/bridge";

view.theme.enable();

Using design tokens

Verify that design tokens are enabled by inspecting the HTML of your application whilst shown in Jira.

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<html data-theme="dark:dark light:light" data-color-mode="dark">
  <head>
    <style data-theme="dark">
      /* Dark theme CSS */
    </style>
  </head>
  <body>
    <!-- Your app here -->
  </body>
</html>

Pay special attention to the data-color-mode="dark" attribute, and also note the data-theme="dark:dark light:light" attribute. These reflect the current theme state of the parent product (Jira). They also match CSS selectors within the theme files so the appropriate CSS variables can be activated in response to theme changes.

  • data-color-mode="dark" represents the color “mode” of the theme, with possible values today being lightdark or auto. This attribute tells your application what “type” of theme is active on the page, so that images and theme overrides may be applied consistently.
  • data-theme="dark:dark light:light" represents the active theme(s), but this is internal behavior and should not be read or modified in any way, since the names and shape of this attribute may change at any time as we add more themes.
  • For example, if an additional theme high-contrast-light is introduced, the color mode will still be light, telling your application that it should respect a “light” color scheme and render light image variants accordingly. Hence please only rely on data-color-mode as above.

Update colors to design tokens

All that is left is to use tokens in place of colors throughout your application.

To view, search and filter through the available design tokens, visit the “All design tokens” section on atlassian.design. This page includes a “Token picker” tool which, through a series of questions, will help you find the right token for your use case.

For examples of how design tokens can be used in components, and common pairings of background and text colors, view the design token examples.

Design tokens are CSS custom properties so for vanilla CSS, Sass and Less, we recommend accessing design tokens in the following way:

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.example {
  background: var(--ds-surface-raised);
}

For CSS-in-JS, we strongly recommend you install @atlaskit/tokens as a dependency and use the tokens() function, which provides additional type safety.

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import { token } from "@atlaskit/tokens";

const example = {
  color: token("color.background.selected.bold"),
};

Custom color schemes

If your application uses colors that correspond to your unique brand, it is still possible to theme your app by querying the html[data-color-mode] attribute and styling your applications with your own tokens.

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html[data-color-mode="light"] {
  --my-custom-background-token: white;
  --my-custom-text-token: black;  
}

html[data-color-mode="dark"] {
  --my-custom-background-token: black;
  --my-custom-text-token: white;
}

If you have an existing dark mode implementation this attribute can be used to turn it on or off to match the parent application.

This may cause color discrepancies between your app and the parent product, so it’s recommended to use it sparingly.

Staying up to date

Our design tokens are designed to evolve over time, moving through a lifecycle of activedeprecated, and deleted, eventually being fully removed from the theme (no longer functional). Tokens will be marked as deprecated in a minor version, soft-deleted (functional but will raise errors) in the following minor, and deleted in the next major release of the tokens library. All breaking changes to APIs and design tokens will be communicated well in advance, with clear cut-off dates for deprecations.

To simplify the migration and to simplify continuous adoption, we recommend you install and configure the following linters:

These linters will warn and error for deprecated and deleted tokens respectively. They also have built-in auto-fixers that allow you to update your entire app to the latest tokens automatically via eslint --fix and stylelint "**/*.css" --fix.

For the full design tokens reference, please refer to the Design Tokens documentation on atlassian.design.

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