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After Dark

A retro dark theme for Hugo.

Theme screenshot

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
--- Leonardo da Vinci


Head to Hack Cabin for a production example running on AWS with HTTP/2 enabled and read more about the Hack Cabin site architecture.


Derivative works

A number of sites and themes have been created based on After Dark. To view them head to the After Dark wiki.

Getting started

Install Hugo on your machine. Instructions for Homebrew on macOS:

brew install hugo
hugo new site flying-toasters && cd $_

Clone the theme and use it to serve your site:

(cd themes; git clone
hugo serve --theme=after-dark

Copy the custom archetypes to your site:

cp themes/after-dark/archetypes/* archetypes

Include settings in your site's config.toml:

baseurl = "" # Controls base URL
languageCode = "en-US" # Controls html lang attribute
title = "After Dark" # Homepage title and page title suffix
paginate = 5 # Number of posts to show before paginating

# theme = "after-dark" # Uncomment to use as default theme

enableRobotsTXT = true # Suggested, enable robots.txt file
googleAnalytics = "" # Optional, add tracking Id for analytics
disqusShortname = "" # Optional, add Disqus shortname for comments
SectionPagesMenu = "main" # Enable menu system for lazy bloggers
footnoteReturnLinkContents = "" # Provides a nicer footnote return link

  description = "" # Suggested, controls default description meta
  author = "" # Optional, controls author name display on posts
  hide_author = false # Optional, set true to hide author name on posts
  show_menu = false # Optional, set true to enable section menu
  powered_by = true # Optional, set false to disable credits
  images = [] # Suggested, adds default OpenGraph images

Section Menu

Theme uses Section Menu for Lazy Bloggers to produce global site navigation, if enabled.

To customize the menu, update the settings in config.toml like:

    name = "Home"
    weight = 1
    identifier = "home"
    url = "/"
    name = "Posts"
    weight = 2
    identifier = "post"
    url = "/post/"

Or update the menu using front matter from your pages:

menu = "main"
weight = 3

Intelligent Lazyloading

Lazyloading prioritizes when and how images and more are downloaded, making perceived performance faster and reducing page load times for improved SEO. When activated, lazyloading will begin working automatically. No JavaScript configuration is necessary.

What makes it Intelligent? To save unnecessary HTTP requests lazy-loading applies only to page content. If no lazyloaded content is detected on a page when the site is generated, the feature will not be activated and the lazysizes library will not be loaded.

To activate lazyloading, add the lazyload value to the class attribute of your images/iframes in conjunction with a data-src and/or data-srcset attribute:

<!-- non-responsive -->
<img data-src="image.jpg" class="lazyload">
<!-- responsive with automatic sizes calculation -->
  data-srcset="image1.jpg 300w, image2.jpg 600w, image3.jpg 900w"
<!-- iframe example -->
<iframe frameborder="0"

Additional information and examples, including LQIP (Low-Quality Image Placeholders), are available on the lazysizes repository on GitHub.

Related Content

Promote more of your content to your site visitors. By offering your readers more content that's relevant to them you can increase your site's page views, the time spent on your site and reader loyalty.

Related content surfaces content across sections by matching taxonomy tags. If After Dark finds related content it will automatically output a list of links to that content in reverse chronological order below the byline of your post content.

By default After Dark will display up to 7 items by title along with their reading times. You can limit the number of items displayed by setting the following optional parameter in the [params] section of your config.toml file:

related_content_limit = 5

Using OpenGraph

After Dark leverages OpenGraph tags using the undocumented internal template to achieve rich sharing cards for Facebook and other social networks, as shown here:

OpenGraph image with author attribution

Specify author in config.toml and, optionally, override it from your post front matter:

title = "Become a Digital Nomad in Bali: The Lost Guide"
description = "Everything you need to know to become a Digital Nomad in Bali."
author = "After Dark"
date = "2017-02-02T11:57:24+08:00"
publishdate = "2017-01-28T02:31:22+08:00"
images = [

To configure a site-wide OpenGraph images and fallbacks for posts not specifying their own, add the following to your site parameters in config.toml in the [params] section:

images = [
  "" # Default OpenGraph image for site

Test how things are looking during development using a combination of the Facebook Sharing Debugger and ngrok.

Improving SEO and UX

After Dark is built with SEO in mind. Aside from OpenGraph, Schema Structured Data and SEO meta is applied to give robots what they want, automatically, without any user configuration necessary. This helps ensure your After Dark site will rank well in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and prevent crawlers from indexing undesirable content.

Fine-tune your SEO settings using the following available options.

Webmaster verifications

Verify your site with several webmaster tools including Google, Bing, Alexa and Yandex. To allow verification of your site with any or all of these providers simply add the following to your config.toml and fill in their respective values:

  google = "" # Optional, Google verification code
  bing = "" # Optional, Bing verification code
  alexa = "" # Optional, Alexa verification code
  yandex = "" # Optional, Yandex verification code

Note: Claiming your site with Alexa was retired in May 2016. However, Alexa verification has been added as a convenience for existing sites migrating to After Dark.

Custom Meta Descriptions

Well-crafted page titles help catch the human eye on search results pages. And meta descriptions provide a summary of the content and why its relevant for the reader, driving click-throughs.

To add a custom meta description to your pages and posts add description to the front matter:

description = "Everything you need to know to become a Digital Nomad in Bali."

In addition to appearing in search engines, meta descriptions also appear on individual pages and in content summaries in After Dark, adding transparency to how your page will appear in search.

If no custom description is provided After Dark will fallback to the description provided in config.toml. Learn more on how to craft your meta descriptions.

Specifying Publish Dates

Help user agents know when posts were last modified. To do so add publishdate to your page front matter and update date anytime you make an update to a post.

Updates will be made visible to readers by surfacing content higher in your page and post listings, and using using visible callouts on content summaries. For robots, making this change will automatically update Schema Structured Data and Web feeds, as well as the lastmod setting your sitemap.xml file.

You can be specific and use a datetime (with timezone offset) like:

date = "2017-02-02T01:20:56-06:00"
publishdate = "2016-11-21T10:32:33+08:00"

Or less specific and use just the dates:

date = "2017-02-02"
publishdate = "2016-11-21"

Review the W3C website for more information on dates and times for the Web infrastructure.

Using Link Types

For related content split across multiple pages in a sequence After Dark supports use of prev and next settings in your front matter.

Learn more about link types.

Blocking Search Indexing

Just because a page appears in your sitemap.xml does not mean you want it to appear in a SERP. Examples of pages which will appear in your sitemap.xml that you typically do not want indexed by crawlers include error pages, search pages, legal pages, and pages that simply list summaries of other pages.

Though it's possible to block search indexing from a robots.txt file, After Dark makes it possible to block page indexing using Hugo configuration as well. By default the following page types will be blocked:

  • Section Pages (e.g. Post listings)
  • Taxonomy Pages (e.g. Category and Tag listings)
  • Taxonomy Terms Pages (e.g. Pages listing taxonomies)

To customize default blocking configure the noindex_kinds setting in the [params] section of your config.toml. For example, if you want to enable crawling for sections appearing in Section Menu add the following to your configuration file:

  noindex_kinds = [

To block individual pages from being indexed add nofollow to your page's front matter and set the value to true, like:

noindex = true

And, finally, if you're using Hugo v0.18 or better, you can also add an file with the noindex front matter to control indexing for specific section list layouts:

├── content
│   ├── modules
│   │   ├──
│   │   └──
│   └── news
│       ├──
│       └──

To learn more about how crawlers use this feature read block search indexing with meta tags.

Table of Contents

Help users locate and share information on your site. By providing a Table of Contents (TOC), users will spend less time scrolling and are more likely to deep link to specific information.

To automatically generate a TOC for a post based on the page outline, add the following to your post front matter:

toc = true

To hide the TOC set toc = false, or simply remove the setting from the post front matter.

After Dark uses the HTML5 details and summary elements to provide a TOC which does not require use of CSS or JavaScript to function.

When a page is first loaded, the TOC will be collapsed so it does not clutter up the page. Once expanded, selecting an item in the TOC will smooth scroll to that section within the document, highlight the section header and updating the browser's location bar for deep linking and back-button support.

Customizing CSS

To customize CSS without having to tamper with theme files do the following:

  1. Create a critical-custom.css.html in your site's layouts/partials directory.
  2. Add your customizations inside a <style media="screen"></style> element.

Example customization file:

<style media="screen">
  .hack ul li {
    margin: 0;

Your customizations will automatically be added to generated pages, inline in the document HEAD. Thanks to @rsommerard for making the suggestion.

Customizing Markdown Output

Gain more control over markdown conversion to HTML. By modifying the markdown processor settings you can take advantage of Blackfriday features not enabled by default.

To customize conversion output add a [blackfriday] section to your site's config.toml file like so:

  hrefTargetBlank = true
  fractions = false

Overrides to theme markdown processing defaults are available from page front matter as well, giving you control on a page-by-page basis.

See the Hugo docs for additional configuration options.

Creating Shortcodes

Keep your content DRY to improve thematic consistency throughout your site. To help achieve this, Hugo provides Shortcodes. Shortcodes are very powerful, and can be used to achieve functionality not otherwise available in the markdown processor.

To create your own custom shortcodes add a layouts/shortcodes directory to your site and place your shortcodes within. Here's an example shortcode overriding Hugo's built-in figure shortcode to leverage After Dark's Intelligent Lazyloading feature and improve display for use with the theme:

  Similar to the internal shortcode, but with image lazyloading and
  and adjusted caption title and small caption text.
<figure {{ with .Get "class" }}class="{{ . }}"{{ end }}>
  {{ with .Get "link" }}<a href="{{ . }}">{{ end }}
    <img class="lazyload" data-src="{{ .Get "src" }}" {{ if or (.Get "alt") (.Get "caption") }}alt="{{ with .Get "alt"}}{{ . }}{{ else }}{{ .Get "caption" }}{{ end }}"{{ end }} />
  {{ if .Get "link" }}</a>{{ end }}
  {{ if or (or (.Get "title") (.Get "caption")) (.Get "attr")}}
  <figcaption>{{ if isset .Params "title" }}
    <header><b>{{ .Get "title" }}</b></header>{{ end }}
    {{ if or (.Get "caption") (.Get "attr")}}
    <small>{{ .Get "caption" }}
    {{ with .Get "attrlink" }}<a href="{{ . }}"> {{ end }}
      {{ .Get "attr" }}
    {{ if .Get "attrlink"}}</a> {{ end }}
    </small>{{ end }}
  {{ end }}

To use it create a file called figure.html with the above contents in your shortcodes directory and use it like:

{{< figure src="/gear/southeast-asia-carry-on-packing-list/" caption="Southeast Asia Carry-On Packing List: Digital Nomad Edition" >}}

Reference the Hugo docs for additional usage instructions, including caption titles, attribution links and more.

Upgrading hack.css

The specific version of hack.css used is pinned in the package.json dependency manifest. To check for updates do an npm i and run npm run ncu.

If an update is available consider taking the automatic update when prompted, but keep the version of hack.css pinned in your manifest so you don't forget which version you're using.

After the new hack dependency version is pulled down to the node_modules directory, copy the contents of hack.css and dark.css into the critical-vendor.css.html file.

Once the vendor file is updated pop open your favorite dev tools and test the changes by previewing your site on mobile, tablet and desktop at different display resolutions and orientations, making any tweaks necessary to the hack.css style overrides indicated in critical-theme.css.html. And, finally, adjust your Customized CSS if necessary.


Issues have been disabled for this repo. If you feel passionate something needs to be changed please feel free to submit a pull with your suggested changes.


👾 A retro dark theme for Hugo




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