Chapter 26. Customizing Drupal's Appearance


  • Understanding how themes work

  • Knowing the parts of a theme

  • Adding new themes

  • Customizing themes

  • Creating a new theme

  • Working with the admin theme

The Drupal CMS includes one of the most flexible and customizable systems for controlling the appearance of Web sites. The system is, however, somewhat complex and often viewed as non-intuitive. This chapter looks at the system, explains how it works, and shows how you can gain control of Drupal's theming system to create exactly what you want on the screen.

Some of the techniques discussed in this chapter require skills in HTML, CSS, and PHP. You also need an editing program that allows you to make changes to your Drupal site's theme files.

Understanding How Themes Work

A theme is a collection of files that are responsible for the look and feel of a Drupal site. Themes create the interface you see on both the front end and the back end of a Drupal site. Although a theme does not itself create the output you see on the page, it does provide the positioning and the styling for that output. The theme also can be used to select which output should be displayed and on which pages.

The layout and styling in a theme are handled by HTML and CSS. The selection of the output and the conditions placed on that output are handled by PHP. To make all this work together smoothly, Drupal relies on a theme engine known as PHPTemplate. The theme engine works behind the scenes. As a site administrator or ...

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