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Isaac Freeman

Kakano at 50

Logo for Kakano, as used in the Obsidian theme browser. It shows miniature versions of Obsidian windows with backgrounds in a range of bright colours.

Obsidian inclues a modal where users can browse themes contributed by the community, with a download count for each theme. My own theme Kakano is in there, so out of general curiosity (and definitely not vanity) I've been keeping a record of how many downloads it gets each day, and how that compares with other themes. As of today there are 246 themes, and Kakano has been downloaded more than 123 of them, so I've made it to the 50th percentile.

Line chart of Kakano downloads over time. Close to a straight line from zero at first elease in October 2023 to more than 5000 downloads today.
Line go up

Kakano has come a long way since I started. It works better on mobile and Windows, and supports almost all of the core Obsidian plugins plus a few of the most common community plugins. A few people have requested features, and I'done my best to judiciously support what they need without making Kakano more complex than it needs to be. There are plenty of Obsidian themes that allow users to customise everything, which is great, but I'm deliberately taking a different approach. I want Kakano to look and feel good out of the box, with a lot of design consistency, and for it to be difficult to accidentally make it ugly.

I'd never go back to working for myself, but I do sometimes miss being able to make decisions without negotiating. I like to think holistically about design, branding, and marketing as well as code, but at work those are different jobs for different people. It's nice to have a hobby project where I call all the shots, and hopefully it keeps me appreciating all the work that my colleagues do when I try to do similar thing sfor myself.

Kakano is basically one big stylesheet with over 6000 lines. I could split it up into smaller files, but I like having no build step between editing in a browser and seeing the results in my local Obsidian vault. I don't need to target old browsers, just the current version of Blink that Obsidian uses for layout, so I get to use new CSS features as they arrive. Modern CSS is amazingly powerful.

I have a big list of things I want to improve in Kakano, and I'm still making small improvements several times a week. I shall keep going as long as I feel like it.