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Plone 4 Theming Options

October 14, 2010

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.

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