Topics format (colours)

Course formats ::: format_colours
Maintained by DavoDavo Smith
This course format, based on the 'Topics' standard format, allows a teacher to specify the foreground and background colours for each course section.
Latest release:
57 sites
7 fans
Current versions available: 3

Colours course format

This course format, based on the 'Topics' standard format, allows a teacher to specify the foreground and background colours for each course section.


This format was created by Davo Smith of Synergy Learning, on behalf of Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg.

The main lib.php and formats.php files are only lightly modified from those found within the standard format_topics, the rest is new code.


This format is now compatible with Moodle 2.3 - make sure you download the appropriate version, based on which Moodle version you are running.

  1. On the course settings page, choose the format 'Topics format (colours)'.
  2. Click on the 'Edit colours' icon (on the left of a course section) to edit the colours for that section.
  3. Click on the 'Copy colours' icon (below the 'Edit colours' icon) to copy the colours from another section into the current section.

Note: only users with the capability 'format/colours:editcolours' (by
default, manager, coursecreator and editingteacher roles) can edit
course colours.

Note: This is compatible with the core Moodle Themes, but may not work
as well custom themes.

Further enquiries

If you have any questions about this plugin or are interested in further development work, please contact



Screenshot #0
Screenshot #1
Screenshot #2


Davo Smith (Lead maintainer)
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  • MD shot of me from his iphone4
    Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 11:39 AM
    I've noted that this plugin uses yui2 libraries.
    Do note that moodle version 2.4 (in development) has moved from using yui2 to yui2in3 as described by MDL-34741.
    Here is a link to using yui2in3 :
  • Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 6:41 AM
    This would be sooo helpful - but our Moodle is 2.3 - is there any roadmap for making this work with 2.3?
  • Davo
    Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 4:07 PM
    There is a 2.3 version - I need to find out if this can be released yet.
  • Thu, Oct 4, 2012, 6:38 PM
    Would an additional betatester be helpful? This would be really nice for one of my Moodles, where I need to visualize relevancy for different groups of users without actally wanting to use the groups-function...
  • Davo
    Thu, Oct 4, 2012, 7:01 PM
    I've just checked and I've been able to release the 2.3 version - available now both here and on GitHub.
  • Germán and Temudgin
    Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 10:29 AM
    Hi Davo,
    Seems good, but it gave me an error of "not compatible with 2.3" (I am running Moodle 2.3.2+ (Build: 20120927)), debug info follows:

    Capability "format/colours:editcolours" was not found! This has to be fixed in code.

    line 377 of /lib/accesslib.php: call to debugging()
    line 31 of /course/format/colours/locallib.php: call to has_capability()
    line 112 of /course/format/colours/renderer.php: call to format_colour_edit_icon()
    line 148 of /course/format/renderer.php: call to format_colours_renderer->section_left_content()
    line 116 of /course/format/colours/renderer.php: call to format_section_renderer_base->section_header()
    line 656 of /course/format/renderer.php: call to format_colours_renderer->section_header()
    line 58 of /course/format/colours/format.php: call to format_section_renderer_base->print_multiple_section_page()
    line 276 of /course/view.php: call to require()

    I downloaded file format_colours_moodle23_2012080800 from Moodle plugins page.

    Can you please check if the file above is the newest version, or replace it please.

    Thanks in advance for another great contribution to Moodle,
  • Davo
    Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 3:14 PM
    Thanks for pointing that out German - I've fixed it now. Please download the latest version and make sure that you delete the current 'course/format/colours' directory, before installing this fixed version.
  • Germán and Temudgin
    Sun, Oct 7, 2012, 1:21 AM
    Hi Davo,
    Thanks for the new version. It works beautifully. Thanks again for a nice, very user-friendly plugin. Keep on the good work.
    PS: Spanish translation of this plugin now available in AMOS.
  • Tue, May 7, 2013, 12:24 PM
    Hi Davo,

    it's a great plug in. Just wondering whether there would be function in the feature to upload image as background (most likely a pattern)

    Thanks for your great invention
  • Davo
    Tue, May 7, 2013, 3:17 PM
    Riady - that's not something I'm likely to be implementing - although I would be quite prepared to integrate a well-written patch, if someone was to write the code to support background images.
  • Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 6:11 PM
    We love your Colours Topics course format. I had to upgrade to 2.5 however, we love your Course format and were using it on all of our courses. Will you be making a 2.5 version? ( we didn't notice that it was not for 2.5 sad
  • Davo
    Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 9:07 PM
    I haven't yet looked at what would be involved in upgrading this to Moodle 2.5 - the plugin was created on behalf of LMZ and they haven't (yet) asked me to look at upgrading it. Unfortunately, I already have quite a lot of plugins that I have created and support in my spare time, so this is one of those that I can only really maintain in work time, if a client is willing to pay for it (aside from obvious bugs that need correcting).
    Sorry, I can't really help much more than that (but I am perfectly happy to integrate a new version if someone else fixes the 2.5 compatibility).
  •  me
    Wed, May 14, 2014, 9:51 PM
    Thanks so much! This is great. One question though - I have 2.5.2, and I can change the background of the content and the header, but for the header, the background color does not extend to the whole field. There is just a colored strip the size of the text, and then white space above and below the text in the header. It doesn't look like your screen shots above.
  • Davo
    Wed, May 14, 2014, 9:56 PM
    Jack, it probably depends on which theme you are using. The screenshots were taken with the 'standard' theme (from memory, it was a while ago). There may need to be some tweaks to the code to support the CSS for other themes.
  •  me
    Wed, May 14, 2014, 11:08 PM
    Thanks Davo! Switched to Standard theme and problem solved. Great plugin!!
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