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Plone 4 Theming Options

written by Chrissy Wainwright on Thursday August 19, 2010
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The next major version of Plone is now in the Release Candidate stage and will be officially available in the coming months. I have been working with Plone 4 through the beta stages by fixing tickets during Plone Tune-Ups, but it wasn't until recently that I got to work with the new version as if I were implementing a design for a client.

When I style Plone sites for clients, I use the initial theme that comes with Plone as a base, which is easier than starting from scratch (without preset styles). Plone 4 has a brand new theme (Sunburst) that is installed by default.

There are a lot of great new features in Plone 4 that I am excited about like the ability to hide portlets and using TinyMCE as the default editor. However, while creating a new theme based on Sunburst, I ran into minor difficulties because of some differences seen in Sunburst. I quickly realized that using this theme as a base for customizations may be a little more complicated than I had hoped.

This led me to the decision to create a new theme, that I would use as a base theme for Six Feet Up's future projects. The result is Plone Basic. It is similar to the Sunburst Theme, and in fact I started by copying the CSS from Sunburst, and pasting it into Basic. I stripped out a bit of the code and did some cleaning and reorganizing. My whole purpose for this new theme was to create something that can be easily customized. This allowed me to strip out many of the "prettier" styles, since I don't intend to use this theme on its own.

If you are a Plone themer, I encourage you to test this new theme and give me feedback and/or suggestions. One of the major components is the re-addition of base_properties. Some new properties have been added to help with quick overall color changes. It also reverts to the original main_template, which uses a table. There has been discussion of using a grid-based layout for Plone Basic, which I may do as long as it is still easily customizable.

The 0.1 version of Plone Basic has been released and is available for use. It is on pypi, or can be checked out from the collective.

At Six Feet Up, we strive to make Plone as helpful as we can. Please let me know what you think.

Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 07:46 PM
Cool! Can't wait to try. Looks like you registered plonetheme.basic on pypi but didn't release any packages. You can do that with jarn.mkrelease pretty easy: $ cd plonetheme.basic/trunk $ mkrelease -d all . This assumes you are using Python 2.6 and that you have a .pypirc in your home directory that looks something like this: --- [distutils] index-servers = pypi plone [pypi] username:aclark password:secret [plone] username:aclark password:secret [aliases] all = pypi plone --- Alex
Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 10:02 PM
thanks, Alex. This was my first time working with pypi, so I'm still learning. Thanks for the help!
Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 10:45 PM
I thought the Plone Default layer kind of did this already and was supposed to be easier to customize? Or does your product do better than this yet?
Posted by on Aug 20, 2010 08:32 AM
Plone Default in Plone 4 has no styles, it allows you to start from scratch. The default Plone 3 theme is now called Plone Classic, and it would be pretty easy to customize since that is what I'm used to starting from. I suppose then, I went with a Sunburst copy since it was specifically made for Plone 4. For the most part, I liked using as a base theme. Plone Basic is just a product to make my own job easier in the future, and I thought others might enjoy it, too.
Posted by on Aug 20, 2010 10:56 AM
It's all good! I was just curious about the differences. Thanks for the post and your work!
Posted by Steven Githens on Dec 21, 2010 12:59 PM
Thanks for writing this! While I was mostly interested in customizing Sunburst, this was the simplest starting point I've found so far since there weren't any Plone 4 paster templates in the ZopeSkel that comes with 4.0.2. I needed to quickly slap together a bunch of quick themes and wrote a shell script to search replace the module and theme name. The result, based off this, is here: Thanks again, this helped a lot.
Posted by Chrissy Wainwright on Dec 22, 2010 09:20 AM
Actually, you can still use the plone3_theme paster template. Just make sure when it asks about skinbase, to enter 'Sunburst Theme'. I see in your README you mentioned 'the plone 3 template didn't seem to install correctly', so I'm curious as to what kind of problems you ran in to.
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