denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_styles2009-09-04 02:35 am

Organizing layouts

We've been talking a bit about how the Select Style page should be categorized and laid out as we get more and more styles added (and OMG, I am loving the styles that we've been adding!), so it is time to discuss how we should categorize things.

[personal profile] afuna and I have already been talking about a few options, but I wanted to throw it out to the community at large to see what you guys think first, before we talk about what we've been thinking, to see if anyone has any great ideas that we would have missed!

To that end, a poll:

Poll #1158 Layout choice
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 313

When looking for a design for your journal, how do you expect to be able to browse/select one?

View Answers

By color family
171 (54.6%)

By color contrast
37 (11.8%)

By font size
23 (7.3%)

By base layout
282 (90.1%)

By header image content
66 (21.1%)

By something else (explain in comments!)
15 (4.8%)

Discussions, ideas, pros-and-cons, and other thoughts go in the comments. :)
ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2009-09-04 07:06 am (UTC)(link)
What I would love to have once there are many layouts is some sort of search engine where I can check what options I need/want and then get a list as result.
kerravonsen: Eighth Doctor's legs sticking out from underneath TARDIS console: "tea, tools, Tinkering" (tinkering)

[personal profile] kerravonsen 2009-09-04 07:07 am (UTC)(link)

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zdashamber: painting - a frog wearing a bandanna (Default)

[personal profile] zdashamber 2009-09-04 07:07 am (UTC)(link)
What I'm looking for in a style is simplicity and readability. What I like in readability is a wide area to read posts, where there are in the range of 15-20 words per line, dark text on a light background.

So I look for 2-column or fewer; and then at main background color.
zdashamber: painting - a frog wearing a bandanna (Default)

[personal profile] zdashamber 2009-09-04 07:17 am (UTC)(link)
On the other hand, looks like I can do all that on my own with "Customize style." So... Hm. Yay!

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charmian: a snowy owl (Default)

[personal profile] charmian 2009-09-04 08:38 am (UTC)(link)
For me, the proportions and layout are the most important thing, since adjusting the color by myself is not that much of a problem, and because most layouts have multiple color schemes to choose from. That's why I prefer the old way LJ had layouts before they redesigned it. The thumbnails were great, but I just preferred being able to default to seeing them by layout rather than by color or "theme."

Width is also very important to me. I'd also like a way to be able to find wide layouts and flexible width layouts.
ratcreature: Word. RatCreature nods. (word.)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2009-09-04 11:27 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, width is important for me too. Some don't really work well on my not-so-large laptop monitor.

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koryou: (Default)

[personal profile] koryou 2009-09-04 09:28 am (UTC)(link)
I'd really like to have the different styles all together so I can compare them, because the rest - colors, fonts, header image etc. - I can, and most likely will, change myself. But before I start fiddling around with how the basic layout looks I'll try to find one that goes along with what I want.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 08:01 am (UTC)(link)
A "Base layouts" category has been coded and is currently being reviewed, so it should be coming soon.

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[personal profile] alittlebirdy 2009-09-04 09:31 am (UTC)(link)
When I first go to the select style page, I end up on the "featured" section which is great I guess, but I never know why those ones are featured. They aren't always the nicest ones (on LJ anyway - imo) and they aren't always the newest ones I don't think.

What I would like to see first is a) newly added styles or b) one example of each style that I could then choose to see variations of, or that I can just hit apply theme to customize with css. I guess I kinda like it how it is now on the "All" page but would rather just see one of each style instead of every single different variation of each. Over on LJ browsing the "all" to see each type can take a while with all the "expressive" themes.

When I go to change my style I am either looking for something completely new, and I tend to look at the layout before colours etc, or I am going to customize the css of a specific layout with a style sheet from a layout comm, so I just need to select the right layout - the colours aren't important.

I also like the idea of tags. I wanted tags over at LJ so that I could type "blue" and get all the blue layouts or "bats" and get any layout that has a bat in the design.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 08:04 am (UTC)(link)
A "Base layouts" category has been coded and is currently being reviewed, so it should be coming soon. That will have one example of each style, and you can then click on the name to see all themes with that base layout.

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urlgirl: (Default)

[personal profile] urlgirl 2009-09-04 10:38 am (UTC)(link)
I second the thought, just above, that what I'd expect to see first in the style selector is a set of "most recent" themes.

Beyond that, I'd love it if styles were grouped by layout, then by color (and I count contrast ratio as a sorting/grouping criterium very close to color, so I think those two could be clubbed together).

Other interesting ways to browse: by shade (light, dark, bright colors); thematically (animal, mineral, media) - but really, this last bit isn't useful until you have a critical mass of themes in the system, and it's really something that ought to emerge from the nature of the themes themselves.
urlgirl: (Default)

[personal profile] urlgirl 2009-09-04 10:54 am (UTC)(link)
I just noticed I'm using themes/styles interchangeably, so I thought I'd call that out. I'm not sure yet if the system draws a distinction, but I didn't, above.
queenbarwench: (aurora blue)

[personal profile] queenbarwench 2009-09-04 11:33 am (UTC)(link)
I'd like to be able to browse by layout first, then narrow according to things like colour, font-size and readability.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 06:05 am (UTC)(link)
You can also customise the font-size if that's an issue for you. The page is here - scroll down to fonts.
phoenixsong: Dolly image of female with green shirt layered over light gray shirt/shell; at bottom left reads "Tech chick" (techchick)

[personal profile] phoenixsong 2009-09-04 01:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Agree with the above responses re: tagging. When I moved one LJ account to Wordpress a couple years ago, this was one thing in particular that I liked: being able to say I wanted a two-column, green layout, and had the results presented to me in a nice format. Wish I could screencap it from work, but logging into WP seems to be...problematic on my end.

I think in general I find the current display for any number of styles/layouts to be kind of crowded and small. I would definitely prefer to see the basic layouts as the default "Select Style" page, with a larger thumbnail and more information on what that style offers next to or underneath the style. I understand the need for crediting, but really, I'm not looking for a style based on the name or who made it.
turlough: branches with red leaves against a blue autumn sky ((mcr) bob approves)

[personal profile] turlough 2009-09-04 03:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I would definitely prefer to see the basic layouts as the default "Select Style" page, with a larger thumbnail and more information on what that style offers next to or underneath the style.

I like this idea A LOT!!

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xnera: Photo of my cat sniffing a vase of roses  (Default)

[personal profile] xnera 2009-09-04 01:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Layout is by far the most important thing. I like very simple layouts (been using Punquin Elegant my entire journaling career). It'd be important to me to be able to find such styles easily.

After that, I go by color family. This isn't that much of a worry since colors can be changed, but I am more likely to be try out a style that has colors that are attractive to me, even when I *know* colors can be changed.

edit: Okay, I just went and checked out the Select Style page, and immediately scowled. I really don't like that it lists every single theme available for a particular layout. I know this is done with the intention of presenting the users with a lot of choices, but what happens with me is that they all start to look the same because of all the repeated styles, and thus I feel like there's nearly no choices. Nothing different or unique, just variations on the same old theme.

I don't have any suggestions on how to improve this, though.
Edited 2009-09-04 13:45 (UTC)
starwatcher: Western windmill, clouds in background, trees around base. (Default)

[personal profile] starwatcher 2009-09-04 02:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Perhaps a selection process -- "see all one-column styles", "see all two-column styles", "see all three-column styles". I could immediately rule out 3-column, and compare the others.

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the_shoshanna: the New Yorker-logo monocle guy peers at DW, LJ, IJ icons (inspecting all journals)

[personal profile] the_shoshanna 2009-09-04 01:44 pm (UTC)(link)
This goes under the heading of "other thoughts," but I just posted it as a comment in a friend's journal, responding to someone who had commented that Zesty White "isn't really supported anymore." I answered:
It makes me very sad to hear that Zesty "isn't really supported anymore," because I want text, lots of text, no sidebars that end up leaving huge chunks of empty space, no wacky color choices, no huge boxes around text that mean I can only see a few posts onscreen at a time, and I use Zesty on my own journal and format=light on others constantly.
In fact, I have format=light-ed this very dw-styles post, because the style it's in, as well as having a wide stripe of empty space down the right, has the userpics on the comments overlapping and hiding some of the text of the comments.

As a separate issue, I have no idea what the difference is, if there even is any, between a theme, a style, and a layout. Why is titled "Select Journal Style" when it offers you the chance to "select a theme," and all the buttons are labeled "Apply Theme"? Also, I'd like to be able to customize a theme/style/whatever before switching my journal over to it; currently I have to switch before I can even see what customization options are available. And although the customizations I've set up in Zesty White are thankfully always still there when I inevitably decide the new option is not at all suited to my needs and switch back to Zesty, I remain paranoid that they'll be lost (where are they being stored? Is there a time limit?) and I'll have to reconstruct my custom link texts, my links list, etc.
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)

A few partial answers - not much of a Styles person

[personal profile] yvi 2009-09-04 02:19 pm (UTC)(link)
As far as I know, it's not that Zesty "isn't really supported anymore", it's more that Zesty "isn't really supported yet". That's how I understand it, at least...

And a style/layout is the general way the layout looks - how the boxes look, where userpics are in the layout, whether there's a header image etc. and themes are just different color variations.

There's no time layout on the storage of your layout information.

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av8rmike: (lightbulb)

[personal profile] av8rmike 2009-09-04 01:58 pm (UTC)(link)
No offense intended to [personal profile] janinedog, because I know she put in a hell of a lot of work re-designing the customization pages for LJ, but it's pretty clear from the response that I've seen over the years (and even now) that people really did like the old way better. With the sheer number of themes available on LJ, the "top-down" approach of selecting a layout first, then drilling down to a specific theme seems to make more sense.

But, since we're talking about Dreamwidth here and not LJ, I'm thinking we should add some kind of top-down selection system. As Zvi pointed out to me, having the only list of layouts that exists be squirreled away in the Advanced Customization section isn't optimal, given that we have the power to change it.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)

[personal profile] piranha 2009-09-05 11:30 am (UTC)(link)
*nod*. this has become really clear to me in the last couple of weeks since i now have every existing layout and style in use, and the list is ... basically not useful. as somebody said above, everything blurs together and while they do all look different they all start to look weirdly alike. and i _know_ these styles intimately. i can only imagine how confusing this looks to somebody who doesn't.

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inarticulate: Aisling from The Secret of Kells (zomg!)

[personal profile] inarticulate 2009-09-04 02:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Color is always what I look for first, and having a way to search by that would be awesome.
jadelennox: Senora Sabasa Garcia, by Goya (Default)

[personal profile] jadelennox 2009-09-04 02:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I know I am much less visual and much more pragmatic than a lot of people who play with their styles, but for me by far the most important thing is what the page layout will be. It's a little bit less important in dreamwidth than it was on LiveJournal, because the new style system makes it much easier for every style to be able to include every module, and for that to be configurable by the end-user. But still, the thing I care about most is what the pages will be one laid out.
rainbow: drawing of a pink furred cat person with purple eyes and heart shaped glasses. their name is catastrfy. (Default)

[personal profile] rainbow 2009-09-04 02:52 pm (UTC)(link)
For me layout is key -- I want 2 column, with the smaller stuff on the left. I want to be able to easily change the width of the main column, and I want the user icons on entries to be on the left. I can do some of those with CSS, but it's much easier and less stressful for me (I have neuro issues) to be able to just click a style that works or as clickable options for what I want/need without having to mess about.

Then I look at colours, although I tend to use my own since that way they are the most readable to me.

And I lovelovelove when it's simple to make the font easily readable for me in the shown options.

I do look at headers sometimes, but I rarely find one I like enough to be willing to give up space on my monitor to it *g*
Edited 2009-09-04 14:53 (UTC)
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 06:11 am (UTC)(link)
Columns can also be changed in the wizard - further down that Select Style page, just select two-column left or whatever you want.
darthneko: purple cartoon bunny (Default)

[personal profile] darthneko 2009-09-04 03:44 pm (UTC)(link)
By number of columns. x_x The three column versus two column that I don't always catch right off the bat makes me go O.o at it.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 06:12 am (UTC)(link)
Columns can also be changed in the wizard - further down that Select Style page, just select however many columns you want.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

[personal profile] branchandroot 2009-09-04 03:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Okay, I think it's pretty clear that the first thing we really need to do is publicize more vigorously the capabilities of the S2 layouts. And then, perhaps, reconfigure the Select page to display the tags of each item. I was a little afraid this might happen, especially when I saw how the preview pics are being done. Based on most people's previous LJ experience, the previews imply that the column layout in question is the only one that theme supports, because most people (eg above) don't know yet that a whole bunch of them support all column layouts, and there's no field for indicating that in previews. So suppose someone searches by "two column, sidebar left" and sees the preview of Stepping Stones in there. That's going to be a moment of cognitive dissonance, even for those who know that SS can be set for two-left.

Two pronged approach: tags plus public information blitz. Some how-to posts here, publicized through News might be good, especially for colors and columns (layout and width both).
piranha: red origami crane (Default)

[personal profile] piranha 2009-09-05 11:48 am (UTC)(link)
*nod*. i now try to mix up the previews (if there are several themes), but there will always be that cognitive dissonance when a preview comes up that doesn't match the layout choice the user expected.

maybe in addition to your suggestions some explanatory verbiage on the select style page, and an indication under the previews of tabula rasa offspring that the columns are configurable? that's the page all people will see, while public relation blitzes and how-tos will still miss lots of people.

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lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)

[personal profile] lassarina 2009-09-04 04:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I always want the layout first, and colour options second.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 08:12 am (UTC)(link)
A "Base layouts" category has been coded and is currently being reviewed, so it should be coming soon. You can already click on any layout name to see all the themes for that layout, which helps a little.
florahart: (writing)

[personal profile] florahart 2009-09-04 04:44 pm (UTC)(link)
I lack coffee, so this may be more than a little jumbled, but:

1. it seems to me it ought to be not totally impossible to offer a "sort by" at the top, in the same area where you currently have how many to display. I think I think (and I imagine this really depends on how things are named/tagged/assigned meta-information maybe) it would be possible to offer a few selections such as those you have listed above: sort by color, by (for lack of a less confusing word, see: no coffee) thematic element such as holiday or nature or whatever, by some other general feature. Like how you can sort from a given search at Amazon or a library, to arrange these by author/title/price low to high/genre.

2. Aside from that, I find it a little confounding, in looking at the existing options, that variations on the same thing (e.g., basic boxes) are not only not together, but are displayed differently (the burgundy one has both sidebars on the same side, the denim one has them split). This makes it hard for me to visually realize they're the same option, different page set-up--I understand how to change the display, but this doesn't mean I understand I'm looking at it having been changed right away. Possible easiest solution: make the link that currently says "basic boxes" say "all pre-designed variations of basic boxes;" it's not all that intuitive to me that's where that link is going to go, so I keep forgetting.

3. I would like to know somehow at this point or early on if any particularly specific changes have been made to less-obvious page elements. Things that for me to alter myself I'm going to have to do something other than pick another color or font size--for instance, list items or blockquotes, instead of just indenting, have a background color or a font variant or something. Possibly on the page that has all the versions of a particular base layout, some general notes about what problems its maker was trying to solve, or what desires zie was trying to meet?

4. It's interesting to me that the display of this page currently is all about the 4:3 monitor ratio. Which is fine with me; this is what I primarily use. But some of these layouts probably work a lot better on a widescreen, and it occurs to me that that might be another search-by option. Another might be something like whether it's designed to use images for the edit/notify/tag stuff, or text, or either. Again using basic boxes, I see that all of the examples use images for those things, so I am guessing text is a no? I know that specific thing is probably a really picky thing to sort for; on the other hand, it's probably possible to sort into, like, mostly texty versus mostly imagey. <--very technical language, yes.

florahart: (cheerleading)

[personal profile] florahart 2009-09-04 04:45 pm (UTC)(link)
also, unrelated: as I just hit submit I thought, crap, I bet that could be too long for one comment. OH WAIT IT'S NOT. *\o/*

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rhi: Yellow aspen leaves (fall leaves)

[personal profile] rhi 2009-09-04 05:05 pm (UTC)(link)
When I say by something else, I mean categories. I've gotten used to LJ having holiday/seasonal/theme layouts, so holidays, cities, nature, etc makes it easier for me to find layouts. And thanks, I'm really enjoying the variety of new styles.
instantramen: macaroni penguin eating squid on a stick (tastes like chi--)

[personal profile] instantramen 2009-09-04 08:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I like my layouts dense and dark: smaller fonts, small or no header image, two or three columns, and dark low-contrast colors. I don't know whether there'd be a significant group of users like me who'd want to search by default header size, but I'd definitely like the ability to narrow potential themes by base style, color contrast, and color family (in order of personal preference). I'd also really like to be able to preview changes when I'm customizing my theme instead of having to just save everything and hope for the best.

Font size and the number of columns supported would also be nice but are less important, since I know I can change font size when I'm customizing and I'm not married to any specific number of columns.
sinaienantia: (Default)

[personal profile] sinaienantia 2009-09-09 02:28 am (UTC)(link)
+1 to layout changes preview. This would make it MUCH easier to play around with layout without worrying about breaking it (coming from someone who likes to play with CSS and stuff, but doesn't actually have the technical know-how to dive into it)

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mackiedockie: Wiseguy icon JB by Tes (Default)

[personal profile] mackiedockie 2009-09-05 03:32 am (UTC)(link)
As I spend too much time on computers as it is, readability is a big issue for my old eyes. And it drives me batty to constantly readjust the font size to be able to read posts and comments. It would be nice to be able to set and hold a fonts preference. Common white is also blinding, and it would be awesome to find a way to overlay a less glaring background color when I am reading away from my own Journal.

Or is there a way to already create comfortable reading preferences that stick?
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 06:18 am (UTC)(link)
You can adjust the font size in your own style in the wizard, and you can then apply ?style=mine on the end of anyone else's entry, to see it in your own style. In the settings there is an option to "View comment pages from your Reading Page in your own style", which will append it automatically to links on your Reading Page.

Does that help, or is that not quite what you wanted?

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chaosraven: Chopper (Default)

[personal profile] chaosraven 2009-09-05 04:29 am (UTC)(link)
It'd be nice to sort by author, too.

I'd also like a memory feature for the layout page, ie if I was last looking at my custom layers, the next time I go there I will be looking at my custom layers instead of defaulting to "featured". (If that's even possible.)
chaosraven: Chopper (Default)

[personal profile] chaosraven 2009-09-05 04:44 am (UTC)(link)
Adding to my suggestion: I would like to be able to separate out layouts that are based off each other but have different color schemes. For example: Green and Leaf. There isn't any indication in the titles that they're the same layout but a quick preview will show they are. The colorside layout at least identifies itself in all the color/image iterations.

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susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)

[personal profile] susanreads 2009-09-05 09:08 pm (UTC)(link)
I checked "font size" and "base layout" because those are the most important, but colours are important too. I know I can change the font size, but I like the font-family+size that's default with ColorSide, and it's not described explicitly in the wizard so that I can change another style to match.

What I'd really like to be able to do is to select a page layout (2 columns, sidebar left), a font-family+size (see above) and maybe some other options, then see one example of each base layout with those parameters, so that I can compare them without being distracted by distinctions that aren't fixed to the layout. Preferably with larger thumbnails.

(Other changes I'd like to make to ColorSide: move the user icons to the left, which I can't find in the wizard; reduce the height of the header bar and size of the image a bit; move the user icons up or the comment text down so that they don't overlap.)

Another thing that should be included, though I wouldn't use it myself because my preference is the commonest, is to search themes by text and background colours: black on white, black on other light colour (anti-glare), white on black, yellow on black (high-contrast). Pale text on dark background has me hitting "light style" even quicker than tiny fonts, but for people who need it it's very important, and there are now a few themes like that, but I don't think you can see them all on one page.

It would be nice if customisations in the wizard could be made sticky: module order in particular, and text for people who have custom text, presumably apply to all styles (I also change visited-link colours, but what I change them to would depend on the other colours in the theme).
instantramen: a woman with black hair and white skin pouring water from a kettle (Default)

[personal profile] instantramen 2009-09-08 06:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, ditto on the sticky customizations! I recently switched from Basic Boxes Green to Basic Boxes Eggplant and had to redo all my changes, which was annoying.

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[personal profile] cesy - 2009-09-09 06:20 (UTC) - Expand

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[personal profile] susanreads - 2009-09-09 10:52 (UTC) - Expand
ninetydegrees: Drawing: a girl's face, with a yellow and green stripe over one eye (Default)

[personal profile] ninetydegrees 2009-09-06 04:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I think what I'd like to have are 1) dynamic menus 2) the possibility to use several criteria. Let's say that, as a starting point, I have the option to search by layout or by colors or by readability or by name... I click on "search by layout" and I get one column, 2CL, 2CR, etc. I can click on 'One column' and see all one-column layouts (or multi-choice layouts displayed with the one column setting) or I can narrow down my search further by selecting a color theme (dark, light, red, etc.)
nonniemous: (delusions)

[personal profile] nonniemous 2009-09-08 06:08 pm (UTC)(link)
One thing I would like to see are more light text on dark background options. My eyes are very sensitive to light and it's far easier for me to read online with that setup. I do realize I'm probably in the minority, but it would be sweet to have more selection than what's currently available. (though I give you kudos because you're already far ahead of LJ with what you do offer on this front.)
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2009-09-09 08:20 am (UTC)(link)
[personal profile] zvi has been working hard on creating more colour themes. If you've got time to make a list of which layouts still need a light-on-dark colour theme, that would be a help. Then someone can just follow her instructions and make one. It would be good to have at least one light-on-dark and at least one dark-on-light option for every base layout.

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