Halfmoon: A Bootstrap Alternative with Dark Mode Built In

I recently launched the first production version of Halfmoon, a front-end framework that I have been building for the last few months. This is a short introductory post about what the framework is, and why I decided to build it.

The elevator pitch

Halfmoon is a front-end framework with a few interesting things going for it:

  • Dark mode built right in: Creating a dark mode version of a site is baked in and a snap.
  • Modular components: A lot of consideration has gone into making modular components — such as forms, navbars, sidebars, dropdowns, toasts, shortcuts, etc. — that can be used anywhere to make layouts, even complex ones like dashboards.
  • JavaScript is optional: Many of the components found in Halfmoon are built to work without JavaScript. However, the framework still comes with a powerful JavaScript library with no extra dependencies.
  • All the CSS classes you need: The class names should be instantly familiar to anyone who has used Bootstrap because that was the inspiration.
  • Cross-browser compatibility: Halfmoon fully supports nearly every browser under the sun, including really old ones like Internet Explorer 11.
  • Easily customizable: Halfmoon uses custom CSS properties for things like colors and layouts, making it extremely easy to customize things to your liking, even without a CSS preprocessor.

In many ways, you can think of Halfmoon as Bootstrap with an integrated dark mode implementation. It uses a lot of Bootstrap’s components with slightly altered markup in many cases.

OK, great, but why this framework?

Whenever a new framework is introduced, the same question is inevitably pops up: Why did you actually build this? The answer is that I freaking love dark modes and themes. Tools that come with both a light and a dark mode (along with a toggle switch) are my favorite because I feel that being able to change a theme on a whim makes me less likely to get bored looking at it for hours. I sometimes read in dim lighting conditions (pray for my eyes), and dark modes are significantly more comfortable in that type of situation. 

Anyway, a few months ago, I wanted to build a simple tool for myself that makes dark mode implementation easy for a dashboard project I was working on. After doing some research, I concluded that I had only two viable options: either pickup a JavaScript-based component library for a front-end framework — like Vuetify for Vue — or shell out some cash for a premium dark theme for Bootstrap (and I did not like the look of the free ones). I did not want to use a component library because I like building simple server-rendered websites using Django. That’s just my cup of tea. Therefore, I built what I needed: a free, good-looking front-end framework that’s along the same lines as Bootstrap, but includes equally good-looking light and dark themes out of the box.

Future plans

I just wanted to share Halfmoon with you to let you know that it exists and is freely available if you happen to be looking for an extensible framework in the same vein as Bootstrap that prioritizes dark mode in the implementation.

And, as you might imagine, I’m still working on Halfmoon. In fact I have plenty of enhancements in mind:

  • More components
  • More customization options (using CSS variables)
  • More examples and templates
  • Better tooling
  • Improved accessibility examples in the docs
  • Vanilla JavaScript implementations of useful components, such as custom multi-select (think Select2, only without jQuery), data tables and form validators, among other things.

In short, the plan is to build a framework that is really useful when it comes to building complex dashboards, but is still great for building any website. The documentation for the framework can be found on the project’s website. The code is all open-source and licensed under MIT. You can also follow the project on GitHub. I’d love for you to check it out, leave feedback, open issues, or even contribute to it.

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