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Introducing the Theme Switcher addon

September 2023 Storybook update

Joe Vaughan
Last updated:

Today, we’re thrilled to introduce Storybook’s first dedicated Theme Switcher addon: @storybook/addon-themes!

Read on to learn how the addon works, plus all our latest news from the last month.

Our most on-theme addon yet

One of Storybook’s superpowers is that it lets you document every variation of your UI components and pages within a single interface, so you can test how your UI displays and performs under different conditions, states, and themes.

For testing UI variants across multiple themes, you could create different stories for each themed component. However, that repetition grows unwieldy to maintain in any growing codebase.

Historically, the way to solve this is by creating your own theme switcher within Storybook. We've shared tutorials for doing this in the past.

The new Theme Switcher addon (@storybook/addon-themes) takes this one step further, to give you a custom theme switcher straight out the box. The addon lets you switch between different themes inside your stories, without having to write stories for each different themed component.

Try it now

To get started with the Theme Switcher addon, head to your Storybook project and run npm i -D @storybook/addon-themes.

Then, head to your main.js or main.ts file. If the file contains an addons array, add @storybook/addon-themes into it. If the file doesn't have an addons array, copy and paste the example below.

Then, declare your themes with one of the decorators provided by @storybook/addon-themes. If you’re using a theme provider component, use withThemeFromJSXProvider. If you’re switching themes with a CSS class, use withThemeByClassName. Lastly, if you’d prefer switching themes through data attributes, use withThemeByDataAttribute.

// .storybook/preview.ts
import { withThemeByClassName } from '@storybook/addon-themes';

export default {
  decorators: [
      themes: {
        light: 'light-theme',
        dark: 'dark-theme',
      defaultTheme: 'light',

Wait, wasn’t this part of Storybook’s styling addon? 🧐

Historically, yes!

However, we realized that the styling addon ended up doing way too much. Alongside letting you switch story themes, the styling addon configured styling in Webpack projects and contained autoconfig scripts. Very few projects required all of those functions.

So, we recently @storybook/addon-styling into three new lightweight packages, which can be installed per your project’s specific needs. These new packages are:

  • @storybook/addon-themes (as already mentioned!)
  • @storybook/addon-styling-webpack: Use this to configure Storybook for styling tools in your Webpack Storybook.
  • @storybook/auto-config: This is an npx-able script that will read your project and configure @storybook/addon-styling-webpack and/or @storybook/addon-themes for you. Try it by running npx @storybook/auto-config styling or npx @storybook/auto-config themes!

At the same time, we’ll be deprecating the Styling addon. To learn more, head to the Styling addon migration guide, or contact our maintainers in the Storybook Discord.

Add command in Storybook CLI

As a bonus, you can now also use Storybook CLI's add command to install and register an addon!

For addons that have a post-install script (like @storybook/addon-styling-webpack and @storybook/addon-themes), it runs the autoconfig scripts automatically. Get started by using npx storybook@latest add @storybook/addon-styling-webpack.

Other updates

Visual Test addon – beta soon 👀

We’ve made some great progress on Visual Test addon, which lets you run Chromatic’s automated visual tests inside Storybook. The addon entered private alpha at the start of September. Since then, we’ve completed work on its core visual testing workflow.

Now, our team of six maintainers are focusing on improving the addon’s onboarding experience. We’re also refining the addon’s performance to ensure it only takes snapshots of stories that have changed.

Visual Tests addon is heading to private beta at the end of this month. If you’re already signed up to our early access list, we look forward to sharing the addon with you soon!

Update, April 2024: Visual Tests addon is now available as part of Storybook 8! Learn more about Visual Tests addon.

London, Toronto, and Paris meetups

A major highlight from September was that we held our first-ever Storybook meetup in the UK! Over 100 devs were joined by speakers from Figma, Storybook, and Immediate Media to explore the theme of dev-design handoffs. It was a fantastic night and brilliant to meet so many members of our community!

A selfie at our London event – a crowd of people looking happy and gesturing to the camera!

Next up: we have two events coming in October and November!

🇨🇦 Toronto, October 24th: Join us for an evening social with speakers from Rangle, Wealthsimple, and Chromatic, exploring the topic of UI testing. RSVP 👉

🇫🇷 Paris, November 7th: Our first France meetup! Cohosted with the Design System team at Back Market, the night will explore the theme of design system tooling and automation. There'll be presentations by leading design system engineers and Storybook maintainers. RSVP 👉

Storybook 7.4 and 7.5 alpha

Within the last month, we shipped Storybook 7.4 and entered the alpha for Storybook 7.5. Both are packed full of fixes and improvements made by our maintainers and our community. Thank you to all our contributors for helping make Storybook the best it can be!

Check out all the PRs that went into SB 7.4 and 7.5 👉

Releases · storybookjs/storybook
Storybook is a frontend workshop for building UI components and pages in isolation. Made for UI development, testing, and documentation. - storybookjs/storybook

If you're interested in contributing to Storybook, there's no better time to start than now! We regularly go through GitHub Issues and identify ‘good first issues’ for first-time contributors. Check them out!

New learning resources

Finally, here are the new learning resources that we shared last month!

Three ways to quickly set up Storybook

How to theme your Storybook

Component Testing IRL

That's all for this month! Thanks for reading, and we'll look forward to bringing you the next update in October. Until then: for all updates from the community, follow us on social media!

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