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Dharmen Shah for ITNEXT

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Custom Theme for Angular Material Components Series: Part 2 โ€” Understand Theme

Updated version of this article is present at:

Understand Theme of Angular Material and its different Components. ๐Ÿ˜Ž


This is the second part of the series. In part one, we created an Angular Project with Material Modules. We also created a Custom Theme and couple of helper modules (CustomMaterialModule and SharedModule).

In this part, we will understand Material Theming by taking a deep look into Angular Materialโ€™s repo.

Let's start...

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Understand Material Theming (a deep look into Angular Materialโ€™s repo)

Letโ€™s take a look at related stylesheets (css/scss) on Angular Materialโ€™s Github repo. If you open the github repo, you would see below structure:

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Folders of

I will guide you through some important folders, which are directly related to Material Theme. But before that, I would like to remind you that in our applicationโ€™s styles.scss and theme.scss files, we have these very important lines:

// src/style.scss
// LINE 3
@import '~@angular/material/theming';
// LINE 9
@include mat-core();

// src/theme.scss
// LINE 11
$theming-material-components-theme: mat-light-theme($theming-material-components-primary, $theming-material-components-accent, $theming-material-components-warn);

// src/style.scss
// LINE 20
@include angular-material-theme($theming-material-components-theme);
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Just keep in mind above lines, we are going to relate them with some of files from Angular Material repo's src/material folder, you can keep that folder opened up in new tab or window, so that it would be easy for you to understand.

โ„น๏ธ Tip: Look for the ๐Ÿ’ก, โ›ณ, โ˜๏ธ, ๐Ÿ‘ˆ, ๐Ÿ‘‰ in the article, that will help you relate.

๐Ÿ“ src/material

In this folder, you can see they have made folders for each Material Component and few other (core, testing, schematics, etc.).

๐Ÿ“ src/material/<component-name>

For each component, there is a separate folder. And in each component they have a theme file. Theme fileโ€™s naming pattern is : _<component-name>-theme.scss. So, for MatToolbar , itโ€™s _toolbar-theme.scss and full path of the same is: src/material/toolbar/_toolbar-theme.scss. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Now you know, how to find a theme file for any component ๐Ÿ‘ˆ.

The other way to find componentsโ€™ themes is through ๐Ÿ’ก File Finder. Once you have opened the repo, click on Find File button, which is on the right side of breadcrumbs.

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You can simply enter filename in the pattern of: _<component-name>-theme.scss and you will directly see the related file.

โ„น๏ธ Note that, each component has a theme file. We will see later on, how that is included in our application.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core

This has core library code for other @angular/material components. Other Material Components means, simply the components which you canโ€™t see directly at, but they are crucial.

Letโ€™s dive in core folder.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/_core.scss

Let's (spend couple of minutes to) take a look at file:

To summarize, below is what's happening in this file:

  1. All of the CDK related styles are ๐Ÿ” imported (Lines 1โ€“3)
  2. Other helper styles are imported (check-boxes, elevation, ripples, typography, etc.) (Lines 6โ€“11)
  3. A mixin called ๐Ÿ’ก mat-core is created (Lines 14โ€“20). As the comment says, this renders all of the core styles that are not theme-dependent, like ripple effects, CDK behaviors, etc. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Now you know from where are you including mat-core in applicationโ€™s styles.scss ๐Ÿ‘ˆ.
  4. A mixin called ๐Ÿ’ก mat-core-theme is created (Lines 23โ€“55). As per comments, this renders all of the core styles that depend on the theme, like color combination of ripples, color combination of elevations, etc. But wait ๐Ÿค”, we didnโ€™t call this in our styles.scss, so where itโ€™s called? Let me reveal the โ›ณ suspense later on.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/style

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The style folder contains some common styling files. File names should give you a basic idea what it does. Going into detail of each file is beyond scope of this article.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/theming

This folder contains all the styles related to theming. Letโ€™s go into it.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/theming/prebuilt

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As you can see, it contains all ๐Ÿ’ก prebuilt themes. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Now you know, if you use any of prebuilt theme, from where itโ€™s coming ๐Ÿ‘ˆ.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/theming/_all-theme.scss

If you open the file and see, it has imported ๐Ÿ’ก all the Material Component Themes in it, plus ๐Ÿ’ก mat-core-theme from src/material/core/_core.scss. And all the mixins are included in a new ๐Ÿ’ก mixin called angular-material-theme.

Does angular-material-theme sound familiar ๐Ÿค”? Yes, youโ€™re right, ๐Ÿ‘‰ we have included it in our styles.scss file๐Ÿ‘ˆ . Now everything is becoming more clear, right? (Don't say no...๐Ÿ˜œ)

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/theming/_palette.scss

As the name suggests, it has all the Material System Colors. But where these colors are used? Next file is the answer to that.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/theming/_theming.scss

If you open the file and see, first thing what it does is ๐Ÿ’ก @import 'palette'.

And it uses those palette colors in below ๐Ÿ’ก five functions:

@function mat-contrast($palette, $hue);

@function mat-palette($base-palette, $default: 500, $lighter: 100, $darker: 700);

@function mat-color($palette, $hue: default, $opacity: null);

@function mat-light-theme($primary, $accent, $warn: mat-palette($mat-red));

@function mat-dark-theme($primary, $accent, $warn: mat-palette($mat-red));
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If you are thinking ๐Ÿค”, are those the same โ˜๏ธ functions which we used in our theme.scss file? Then I must say you have a ๐Ÿง  strong memory power and youโ€™re โœ”๏ธ right! ๐Ÿ‘‰ So now we know, from where our theme functions are coming ๐Ÿ‘ˆ.

๐Ÿ“ src/material/core/typography

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The content and structure is all most similar to src/material/core/theming. It would be now clear to you how it works.

One thing I would like to mention, ๐Ÿ’ก a mixin angular-material-typography of src/material/core/typography/_all-typography.scss is the main mixin responsible for typography related stuffs in Material Theme. ๐Ÿ‘‰ And this same mixin is imported in src/material/core/_core.scss ๐Ÿ‘ˆ.

Great! We are done with inspecting and finding related stylesheets. If you've read upto this, I have 3 claps for you: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

But, you would still have one โ“ question in mind. In our styles.scss file we are only importing one single file @import '~@angular/material/theming'; So, ๐Ÿค” how other files are getting loaded?

๐Ÿ’ก When Angular Material Team ๐Ÿ“ฆ packages and โซ publishes the Angular Material Package (@angular/material), they combine all the theming, typography, styles and core styles into one single file called *_theming.scss*, so that we donโ€™t have to import multiple files.

๐Ÿ’ก You can check the same by opening the file. In your project folder open this : **node_modules\@angular\material_theming.scss* . The first comment/line in the file says ๐Ÿ‘‰ : "Import all the theming functionality".*

๐Ÿ’ก Pre-built theme files are not included in main *_theming.scss*. The reason behind that is but obvious, if you want to create your custom theme, you wouldnโ€™t want pre-built theme files load into your application. And if you want to include any of pre-built themes, we ๐Ÿ” import the respective theme file.

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I know ๐Ÿ˜„ you must be feeling sleepy as itโ€™s still difficult to remember how theming works, as there are lot of things included. I will try to explain again by an info-graphic:

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If you are not able to view it properly, see it [here](

Thank you,

for reading this article. In the next part, we will learn MatToolbar's theme and apply the same to MatSidenav and MatDialog. We will also create a separate theme for MatSnackbar and will use them as notifications.

Next part is also published:

And yes, always believe in your self.

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Photo by alex bracken on Unsplash


Cover image: Photo by Moose

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