Themes

Core themes and theme installation

 
 
Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Core themes and theme installation
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
I really don't think we should put more themes into the core distribution. It is just a maintenance headache.

If the theme is always kept up to date, then it is no trouple for admins to get an up-tp-date copy when they update their moodle.

If the theme is not kept up-to-date, then we really don't want it in core.

So keep almost all the themes in the themes database (there are too many in core already). If we want to do anything in core, just improve the theme admin page to make it even easier to find and install new themes.
 
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Martin Dougiamas
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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Absolutely Yes for a better theme installation system if that is possible, but about core themes what I really want to do is REPLACE the existing quite crappy ones with a handful of really classy ones.

Perhaps we need a vote or a competition.

Patrick: Serenity looks quite nice, good job!
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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Actually, a theme competition leading up to Moodle 2.0 might be a good way to add to the excitement surrounding reaching that milestone.

Have you seen the default theme in Drupal 5? It is really cool, it is basically one theme, but you can pick a couple of colours on the admin screens, and then it recomputes the whole theme using combinations of those colours. So only one theme to maintain, but lots of flexibility. That sort of theme would let us replace the whole standard red/white/blue set with a single theme. Chameleon is a great theme to have in core. Then, I would say, at most one or two other themes in core, to give people a bit of inspiration - and an improved interface for downloading more. Like the one for lang files.
 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Core themes and theme installation
 
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Goatee
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Developers
I was hoping to go this route, in simpler terms, when suggesting the Kubrick theme for the core. My vision was a color selector bar in the header somewhere that allows the user to select their own color "on the fly." Color selection would change link colors, header background, and that's it. Personal but simple.
 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
I have tested that too and a simple solution is to select font size, color, brightness and perhaps something else from the same bar.

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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Hi Patrick,

I am all for an a-la-Kubrick theme in core. But please, can we have it with a 2-column design (with the content in the wider column to the left and menus, blocks, etc. in the narrower column to the right). I see no justification for a 3-column design on Moodle courses front page at all. See e.g. Julian's playpen.

Joseph

 
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Goatee
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Developers
I don't recommend theme designers messing with the structure of the layout tables (a-la-Stotson's now ancient Kubrick theme). I seem to remember a lot of people wondering where their blocks went, and it restricts the admin of the site from using the third column if they want it. Rather, why not make your theme two-column yourself by moving all of your blocks to the right (or left) side?

For example:


 
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Picture of Michael Woods
Re: Core themes and theme installation
 
Hi Patrick,

Thanks for your work on this theme - it's great. One question: you have a png file in the header (header_title.png) that appears transparent in firefox, but not in IE6. Do you have a working/preferred fix for the png transparency issue in IE, as I've tried the iepngfix.htc method to no avail (see attached file for the version I found). I inserted the line "img {behavior: url(iepngfix.htc);}" at the top of the styles_serenity.css.

I realise there's another thread discussing this, but I wanted to get your opinion since it's your theme I'm attempting to modify.

Thanks a lot,
Michael
 
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Goatee
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Developers
I'll be taking others' advice on this one as well.

In fact, does anyone know how I can install IE5 and IE6 on my Vista install at the same time as IE7. The last time I tried installing IE6, I received a message saying that I can't install because a more recent version is already there. There has to be a way that I'm just not realizing??

I'll work on this soon, but have no opinion/thoughts on it yet. I'm sure others are much better suited at helping you with this anyway.

I would just assume getting rid of the PNG - since it is the only one being used? Just add your logo to the header background image, then comment out the CSS calling up header-title.png. It's not like you're header is going to be changing that frequently that you need it in a separate image, right? Might save you some trouble.

I have a few custom themes to get tied up, then I'll address this issue in the Serenity download. Until then, you're on your own with this one.

Good luck.

BTW: If you're feeling up to posting your fix, if/when you find it, I (and probably others) will certainly appreciate knowing what you end up doing. smile

 
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Picture of Urs Hunkler
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Patrick you may check Virtual PC 2007

I work with the antecessor for win xp.

 
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Picture of Just H
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Patrick

Never tried it but this site might fix up the multiple IE issue.

Regards
H
 
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Picture of Urs Hunkler
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

In many cases it is important to decide if one creates a two or three column theme. Two column themes often are designed different than three column themes. If one builds a two column theme one should be sure that the theme is not used as a three column theme.

If design is about communication and therefore more than pure decoration it matters how one builds themes and how users work with the themes.

You can easily get both - two column for the users and three column for the admin (to avoid loosing blocks).

An example how to hide/show the left column:

#left-column { display:none }
body.editing #left-column { display:block }
 
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Julian Ridden
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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I am loving the use of transparencies on that theme. I have started reverse-engineering it. Hope to make it available once I am finished.

Attached is a screenshot of work done so far.

JR

 
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Goatee
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Developers
Julian - That is awesome! Keep it up, man.
 
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Picture of Urs Hunkler
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Mauno, in Moodle from 1.8 on you may work similar: with a configuration file for cssconstants. In the Moodle Tracker you may find a short documentation and a rough example theme.

The rocket themes look fascinating. But legibility of the learning stuff will help learners much with their main task: reading and understanding. smile

Or do we need to hide our content behind effects? Surely not.

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Urs,
I am always happy and grateful when you add these new features to moodle. You are right, we don't need to hide our content behind effects but reading content in a pleasant environment may still be productive. Glassy transparent elements and dark backgrounds are not always readable but I never said I would be fallen under the spell of them (I think it was Julian...wink)

I introduced this link because of the flexibility of that theme package (it is not just one theme). And to prevent misunderstanding I have never felt that moodle would be somehow inflexible - IT IS NOT - but making themes for moodle is a little complicated for newbies even with Chameleon that I like a lot. I just wanted to provoke ideas and thoughts to be able to create better and better themes for moodle.
I meant for example
Simple Basic Customization
and
13 module positions that will collapse when not populated.

Package Replicant has a beautiful design (it may be transparent or not), independently configurable elements and module variations, 50 preset styles, 2 built-in menu options - MooMenu menu system and SplitMenu, lightweight and fast-loading portal design, built-in IE6 PNG fix. Those themes are W3C XHTML 1.0 Transitional, W3C CSS Valid, Accessible - Section 508 and WAI + fully compatible IE6, IE7, Safari 2, Firefox 1.5+, Opera 9, OmniWeb, Shira and Netscape.
"Extra things" like RocketLauncher, RokFlow 1.0, RokSlide 1.0, RokZoom 2.0 and RozLatest 2.0 may add relish but are not actually a part of theme.

All the best,

Mauno

 
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Goatee
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Developers
I would agree that a competition might be the way to go. Everyone tends to get quite excited about that. With time, I would be willing to submit at least one. Perhaps for 2.0?
 
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Picture of Stuart Anderson
Re: Core themes and theme installation
 
I would be happy to invite our 150+ first year Computer Science students to get involved in the competition (and other students). I can't guarantee any one will submit an entry of course! However, having a meaningful CSS project to work on might be more motivating.

By the way, other than prestige, what kind of thing would you expect the prize to be? Raw cash is likely to motivate impoverished students! Do you think Google or somebody might be willing to sponsor it, i.e. have they in the past?

--Stuart.
 
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Picture of Urs Hunkler
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

1) Theme installation system: Great plan to add an easy possibility to change the Moodle page look. An easy installation system like the language packs might not be convenient with the actual theme system. Themes contain XHTML, CSS and PHP code. You know what may happen when anybody can include any PHP code to your application.

I have been thinking about a possibility for some time now every once in a while - without a solution.

One possible approach might be to split themes into a base theme with the PHP/XHTML part. This base theme is securely checked and installed by administrators. And a CSS part which may belong to any base theme and is installed like languages.

2) The theme competition: A competition might be a good way to communicate how attractive Moodle is or may get for theme designers.

The base for this attraction is a truly clean XHTML structure without inline styles and without depreciated HTML properties for page layout. To reach this goal the competition might be a valuable challenge for all Moodle developers to clean up the code and replace all inline styles and all HTML attributes with CSS for Moodle 2.0. This process is already on a good way but actually much too slow to be finished for 2.0.

3) Martin, you'r not fair with the maintainers of the existing themes when you just call their work crappy. They invest a valuable amount of work to maintain the themes and update them for every new Moodle version. And they have helped Moodle getting to the point it is today.

4) And there are reasons why Moodle is not as attractive for theme designers as other systems are. As a good base for themes you need a consistent XHTML code base with sufficient CSS hooks. On this base good themes will spread up.

Creating a functional and good looking theme is much work. When this work is done you need to start creating Moodle specific corrections for many areas - modules, blocks etc. to get them looking consistent. Some modules or resources you even can't design - that breaks the value of a theme designer's work.

And you may think about the Moodle developer support strategy for theme designers with their special interface oriented needs.

Lets create the split, easy install theme system and let's clean up Moodle code for a marvellous base for a successful theme competition!

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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Hi Urs,
I agree with all of your sensible proposals.
> the competition might be a valuable challenge for all Moodle developers to clean up the code and replace all inline styles and all HTML attributes with CSS for Moodle 2.0
Very true!
3) Martin, you'r not fair with the maintainers of the existing themes when you just call their work crappy.
I have to agree.
4) ditto
Joseph
P.S.- Could someone with teacher rights in this course create a new thread to move discussions not directly related to Patrick's Serenity theme from this thread to the new one, for clarity's sake? Thanks.
 
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Picture of Helen Foster
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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P.S.- Could someone with teacher rights in this course create a new thread to move discussions not directly related to Patrick's Serenity theme from this thread to the new one, for clarity's sake? Thanks.

Thanks for the suggestion Joseph - as you can see, it's done. smile
 
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Goatee
Re: Core themes and theme installation
Group Developers
I won't say much about the majority of the above since Urs captured my feelings quite well.

My biggest issue with creating themes are the modules. I could work on a theme for days and still find something that isn't being rendered correctly because it has it's own individual id or class that seperates it from the rest of my CSS.

With that said, Moodle is vast, and I can understand how this happens. There's just a lot of room for improvement.

How does this process work? Should I start keeping a log of instances where I think the code can be improved for theme development? Should I be submitting these instances to the tracker?
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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Should I start keeping a log of instances where I think the code can be improved for theme development?



Yes definitely, althought I don't know what the best format for that would be.

And it would be good to come up with a few simple rules that could be added to http://docs.moodle.org/en/Development:Coding - maybe as a 'User Interface' section - that would tell all Moodle developers what the basic things to do to make things easier for themers are.


By the way, I think Martin's comment about crappy themes was misinterpreted. I don't think that Martin was talking about the existing themes people have made for recent versions of Moodle. I think he was talking about some of the themes in core moodle, like standardred/yellow/pink/brown/blue/etc. There are lots of those and they are are not very inspiring.
 
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Picture of A. T. Wyatt
Re: Core themes and theme installation
 
Response to Tim Hunt, way up there on this page!

This is an interesting point, and ELGG seems to follow this model (only default is included, you download and add the rest of the themes if you want). I would only offer that Moodle is installed by a lot of people who have various levels of either knowledge or access to the backend. I think it would be best for those folks to continue to have a small number of themes as part of the core, and then a repository of themes for those who want to add more.

I remember something I was using/messing around with that had some kind of macro to import themes--I think it is tiddlywiki, and maybe I also saw something like this in websitebaker?

atw
 
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Julian Ridden
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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Could we not try and handle themes the same way we do lang packs?

A central repository that can be installed from the Moodle interface? This way users would be adding themes to that single database and users would be installing from there. No backend knowledge required.

Would be a challenge..but possibly a worthwhile one.

As for a competition, I think this is a great idea. Might see if I can help rustle us up some prizes to.
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Core themes and theme installation
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That would be ideal. It just needs someone to design and implement it.
 
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