From Scratch or Based on Plone Default?

It is perfectly possible to build your own Plone theme completely from scratch, but you probably won't want to do this.

Based on Plone Default?

In particular, the bells and whistles of the Plone editing interface are wrapped up as part of the out-of-the box Plone Default, and you'll probably want to keep these.

The good news is that you can base your own theme on Plone Default and interweave your bits of templates, styles, scripts and components with what's already there. There are three ways of doing this:

  • with the Skin building block you customizethe Plone Default bits (there's a neat way of doing this which ensures you leave the Plone Default theme completely intact)
  • with the Components building block you build your own, but you can reuse bits of the Plone Default components in the process
  • with the Configuration you simply add newdirectives

There's more good news - the elements of a Plone theme are broken up into very small parts. Each one can be dealt with independently of the others, so you can home in on just the bits you want to change.The price of all this flexibility is that it is sometimes difficult to track down exactly which bit you want, and things can start to seem complicated. This manual should help with that.

You can change a great deal of the look and feel just by overwriting existing CSS styles, or by rewriting some of the existing style sheets. However, if you want to start moving page elements around or rewriting some of the XHTML, then you'll need to delve into the templates, components, and configuration in more detail.

In the end, you're likely to come up with a theme based on Plone Default (that is, based structurally, not necessarily visually). This will probably contain

  • your own style sheet; or rewrites of some of the Plone CSS
  • some rearrangement of page elements
  • a few rewrites of some page elements
  • a few 'new' page elements