Serendipity Styx Blog

Light or dark mode what is the difference

N° 2021/9

Light or dark mode, what is the difference and what is your preference?

The more you look on devices, the more you are affected by shining or flashing lightning, hurting your eyes, reducing the battery wastage, having burn affects, show too many blue pixel lights not good for your eyesight, etc.

This is why developers like dark modes.
It helps reducing the noise of light your eyes has to blend out.

So we have a populating ambition to create dark modes on apps, by webpages and by browsers, all over.

Therefore we need to clear some things out, since we have too many players:

  1. At first it started with very single webpages and apps giving a dark mode or dark theme to enable or to live with.
    The first case is good, since you decide which you prefer. And in some cases, like developed for the pure theme with upcoming Serendipity Styx 3.7, you can easily switch it by a button where it makes sense to you. It even has a condition if your browser prefers-color-scheme: dark, so it knows where to go when you first arrive without a selected set.
  2. Then it dropped over to systems, like android for example, which allowed to set a dark or light mode preference. The more that came into play, the more the system and other developers thought of generally turning everything dark.
    But this is shaky, since a machine or program - even with good algorithms - cannot really decide what looks good or not, or suits you best. Down to the bottom they just turn light into the opposite dark color and vice versa. That only works good as simple as that on pages which are designed as simple as that!

    So we have apps and the system.
  3. At last the Browsers started to take over and made the confusion complete.
    Browsers have themes. These can be light or dark and influence the whole frame behaviour of your magic monocle.
    Then they have modes, which allow to overwrite certain colors of webpages, eg. for link colors.
    And they can depend on light themes forcing dark pages, light themes not doings such stuff, dark themes with dark forced pages and dark themes with untouched webpage colors.

But wait! Didn't you say there are system dark modes too? Right! Browsers have to take this conditions into too.

With Firefox 95, which just arrived in the public, you will see this affect. Sudden pages return dark without being explicitly set to, depending on settings you might have taken in your system, browser or application before.
Firefox for example has a "ui.systemUsesDarkTheme" configurable config variable, which is set by your theme choice. The new, beside theme setting and color overwrites, is:

? about:config
? see “layout.css.prefers-color-scheme.content-override
    0 = dark (users may want a light system style, but dark websites)
    1 = light (users may want a dark system style, but light websites)
    2 = system
    3 = browser theme (default original setting = 3)

This check and set can help to restore behaviour you have been used to.

Really! Didn't I say this before? I like dark modes! 😀

Serendipity Styx 3.7-beta1 release

N° 2021/8 - The Serendipity Styx 3.7-beta1 release php8.1


Regnet es an Nikolaus, wird der Winter streng, ein Graus.

Trockener St. Nikolaus, milder Winter rund ums Haus.

Styx 3.7-beta1 applies

  • Add AV1 Image File (AVIF) format option for PHP 8.1 plus release
  • Fixes for AVIF file generations
  • Update the CKEditor asset for security
  • Improved the Styx backend dark mode
  • Remove outdated Serendipity Series 1 Rich-Text-Editor checkups for plugins
  • Fix [ b46, b5blog, boot, dude, psg, pure ] theme for Rich Text Editor contactform textarea
  • Added [ pure ] theme frontend dark mode implementation
  • Improve WebP with ImageMagick by reducing the quality by dimension range filesizes
  • Fix and improve images API maintenance image tasker

Check out the ChangeLog for details, or even read the commit history for more. See download

Serendipity Styx AV1 Image File support

N° 2021/7 - PHP 8.1 & Serendipity Styx AV1 Image File support php8.1

The AV1 Image File format

Serendipity Styx AV1 Image File format groundwork

As already stated when developing the Styx 3.0 Series for WebP there was another image format on the horizon.

This is the AV1 Image File or AVIF format, which offers extreme compression by visually no image quality change compared to the traditional formats like JPEG, PNG, and GIF, and even the relatively new WebP format.

A royalty-free, cross-platform format for media delivery, given support from all big players (Alliance for Open Media), so it is likely to get adopted much faster than the WebP format, which took almost ten years from launch before being supported in Firefox.

AV1 Image File support in browsers and apps

Chrome 85+ and Firefox up from 93+ already support the AVIF format by default. The latest status for browsers supporting AVIF can be found here: [« Can I use »]. Sadly the Safari browser and Apple OS environments are behind, while Android should already work.

AVIF image format delivery

As you know already by working with Styx WebP Variations, uploaded files in standard image formats are additionally stored as new format Variations. So AVIF is yet another Variation stored in the MediaLibrary .v/ directories.

The Styx OUTPUT toolset checks the image AVIF Variation compared with the WebP Variation and always delivers the smaller in filesize. If it is enclosed by the picture element container, the sourceset (srcset) order will always be AVIF first, then WebP and for last as the <img..> element the origin file expression.
In case the WebP srcset image expression is smaller in filesize than the AVIF one, the AVIF srcset is suppressed. This ensures that always the smallest in size is delivered.
Sending this prepared HTML markup to the client, the users browser and environment decides which image it is able to load and to display.


While most of the things about AVIF are VERY promising and it is likely to become the standard for media delivery in the future, there are some shortcomings that we should be aware of before migrating to AVIF.

The ABSOLUTE MAJOR BOTTLENECK is the encoding performance of AVIF images, which can be VERY SLOW compared to JPEG or WebP images. While the majority of user devices should have no problem decoding AVIF images for display, it can at times take over a minute or two to encode an image to AVIF.

The time and resources required for encoding benefits some images with impressive extreme compression ratios. I had all over from ~30 up to extreme 96,6 percent of image compression ratios without loss.

As the format evolves, the encoding performance is likely to improve in future.


Encoding support starts with PHP 8.1 by GD library with release at the end of November 2021 and with ImageMagick up from 7.0.25+ versions.

Uploading files already in WebP or AVIF format was even possible before, but resizes, read out and other actions do need support at least from some PHP build-in methods. There still is work to do, like for getimagesize(), which does not work for AVIF image sizes yet in PHP 8.1 out of the box (see LIMITATIONS).

We have to strongly remind you - when testing - to not upload more than one image at time (!) to not crash your given server resources.
The time of encoding is depending on the origins file size. Sizes under 1 MB won't matter as much as when using images with several Megabytes.

PHP GD and ImageMagick encoding compression are slightly different and their results often surprising comparing all formats. See an example result:

A series of 4 images, concurrently encoded with either ImageMagick (IM) vs PHP GD. Generally image encoding time and results - apart from size - can depend on usage of high dynamic range, lossless or lossy compression, color planes, profiles, wide color gamut, chroma sub-sampling and bit depths of 8, 10, or 12. This is where the differences gain and of course in the images motive type.
Therefore all we need to know is: The new AVIF is the better format.


If you want to get known to AVIF without touching your current blog system, there are third-party service providers like ImageKit with extensive image processing networks to provide decent AVIF encoding performance in real-time for your images. Or using the fascinating tool and conversion privacy of [« »] which uses Rav1e, Rust and WASM to convert your images clientside.

Styx 3.6 has not yet enabled AVIF support by default. It just states to be groundwork ready for extreme testers and other Developers.

For daring testers I push out a Serendipity Styx 3.7-beta1 soon which will be able to enable AVIF variations per option (temporarily). Keep in mind, that we maybe will NOT be able to just use AVIF variations per Styx default, and as long the requirements are given, for some more years, since performance and other issues like the ones already mentioned were not proofed over several years (as they were for WebP which had much more time landing in mainstream).

That said, enable in « Configuration » - « Image Conversion Settings » - « Enable use of AVIF Variations? ».

Also see some interesting external comparison pages (out of others) for the new format: [« everything you need to know »] and [« 2020 avif has landed »].


This base implementation is known to fail with certain Variation builds, in special with ImageMagick conversions while developing. So any Variation files with 0 bytes, or AVIF images with 252 bytes (0.25 KB) or 3389 bytes (3.4 KB) or 34165 bytes (34 KB) are considered broken and conditionally excluded from usage. Time will tell if this needs a review for different file systems or just were rare issues on my machine while experimental development only.
If you see outlined files with webp or avif extension not being displayed by link or by picture container, please file an issue with extended information.

For having discovered certain issues with bigger image sizes, there is a 14MB upload limitation set which avoids running AVIF variation conversions.

Some of the encountered failures I found while development (at least the 0 bytes ones with GD and the 252 bytes with ImageMagick) were connected to some images of certain .jpeg files for the most, while others (jpeg/jpg) did succeed without problems. There seems to be something included to those images which breaks with an "error/heic.c/IsHeifSuccess/135" error, that seems to be a missing something using libde265 for reading and x265 for writing in HEIC.

As you see this is still a process and is further on bound to HEIC/AVIF support compiles on different servers. If you discover failures, don't throw with tables and just note them to be one of those issues which will hopefully get ironed out over time.


PLEASE NOTE, that ALL current PHP versions - including the just now released PHP 8.1 - are not able to thumbsize an image by readable image sizes, when you have an AVIF image format.
The PHP 8.1 standard image format conversions in current Styx 3.6 and 3.7-beta1 state are only able to do so, since they take the same values as the WebP expression as a "stolen" value copy. This is a current Styx PHP workaround and upload limitation as long this is not implemented to PHP without having to use additional libraries.

Some Developers already have stiched together a promising libavifinfo C-file that still needs some final thoughts and reviews but is near to come included to PHP, so we probably will get readable support for AVIF payload containers hidden inside the AVIF file. If this is going to be added to PHP 8.1 is a question and may as well find its way very much later to PHP 8.2 next year.

This also implies to Styx image scaling and rotate actions. So if an AVIF image file or image AVIF Variation file exists - and/or is known broken by filesize image scaling/rotating is prohibited for all formats as long this PHP implementation loss is a matter. Rotate won't throw a message in this case.

Serendipity Styx 3.6.4 release

N° 2021/6 - The Serendipity Styx 3.6.4 release php8.1

Heading to upcoming PHP 8.1

Styx 3.6.4 applies

  • Add AV1 Image File (AVIF) format for upcoming PHP 8.1 release at the the end of November (More about this in an extra post soon)
  • Fixes for next PHP 8.1
  • Backported PHP 8.1 mysqli exception behaviour, which resulted in some extra work for Styx 3.6.x releases.
  • Updated the Bootstrap and CKEditor assets
  • Improved backend handlers, sidebar section blocks, etc.
  • Improve various description constants
  • Fix [ default-php ] theme for several issues
  • Fixed an amount of old bugs and regression losses
  • Improved some password related permissions
  • Improve dark theme
  • Fixed themes (check out new dates)

Check out the ChangeLog for details, or even read the commit history for more. See download

Serendipity Styx 3.5.0 release

N° 2021/5 - The Serendipity Styx 3.5.0 release php8

Its not the length of changelog descriptions that makes the value or the headline ;-) As announced by rumors very early, the main feature of Styx 3.5 is the DARK MODE, beside all additional improving fixes.

Styx 3.5.0 applies

  • Extend some more picture WebP variation container backend usage
  • Updated the Bootstrap and CKEditor assets
  • Improved backend handlers, like adding back buttons, or action buttons for certain rare cases, etc.
  • Finally removed old Smarty backward compatibility mode wrapper and configuration sets
  • Improve backend entry preview array for empty categories and certain themes
  • Improve fetching image meta data for EXIF data readable file format checks
  • Added some missing lang constants
  • Removed a last occurrence of Serendipity Series 0/1 API workarounds
  • Fixed an amount of old bugs and regression losses
  • Improved and fixed user handling and permissives
  • Fixed themes (check out new dates)
  • Fixed a faulty interpretation with using theme required fields and contactforms, ending up being more strict.
  • Finally added the DARK MODE, playing well with all sort of difficulties. Improves clarity and contrast as well as the styx backend theme in general.

Check out the ChangeLog for details, or even read the commit history for more. See download

What next?