This document aims to help web designers customize skin for their askbot instances.
Askbot has own skinning system, where current skin can be switched on the fly in live settings, section “Skin and User Interface Settings”. Currently, there is only one skin available, called “default”.
All (with minor exceptions) templates are written with Jinja2 templating engine, very similar to Django, but with advantages of better performance and flexibility of coding.
Skin is a directory, pointed to by ASKBOT_EXTRA_SKINS_DIR parameter of your settings.py file.
Skin name is the same as the name of its directory, here is an example of a skin directory structure:
Some template names and their locations are hardcoded in the python code of askbot. In addition, there are templates that are included
Name “default” is reserved and should not be used to name custom skins.
Default skin is still somewhat in flux. In addition to refactorings of HTML, skins may receive additional template context variables.
A caveat is that some names of the element selectors might still change so the customization may require some maintenance upon upgrades.
There are several methods at your disposal, would you like to customize askbot’s appearance.
Deprecated since version 0.7.21: Whenever you change any media files on disk, it will be necessary to increment “skin media revision number” in the skin settings and restart the app, so that the change goes past the browser caches. This requirement will be removed in the future.
Some customizations can be done via the live settings, section “Skin and User Interface settings”:
these settings are stored in the database, therefore remember to back it up. Also, if you change these settings it is not necessary to increment the skin revision number.
In this method you will not need to edit any askbot’s files. The extra.css file is not distributed with askbot, but can be added by the site administrators wishing to add their own css rules to those shipped with askbot.
You can create a new skin in one of the directories reserved for the skins, then place all of your custom css rules into a file style/extra.css within the skin directory or just add extra.css to the default skin.
If necessary, add your custom images to images/ within the same skin directory.
Since the default skin still will change (a major redesign is expected), the best method for deeper customization is via use git revision control on a clone of the askbot master repository. It does require some knowledge of git system.
If you plan to do this, firstly, install askbot from the repository. In addition, it will help if your copy of askbot code is installed in the django project directory (use python setup.py develop method to install askbot in the first place).
Then edit anything in directories askbot/templates and askbot/media and commit to your own repository.
If the askbot app is installed in the site-packages or dist-packages of your sitewide python system, or your virtual environment, then it is not very convinient to tweak the skin, as the file path may be long and files may be writable only by from the root account.
This is technically possible, but not advisable because a redesign of default skin is pending. After the redesign your custom skins may be difficult to update.
If you still wish to follow this option, name all directories and files the same way as in the “default” skin, as some template file names are hard-coded in the askbot’s python code.
Add setting ASKBOT_EXTRA_SKINS_DIR to your settings.py file and set its value to the directory with your additional skins.
ASKBOT_EXTRA_SKINS_DIR = '/home/myname/my_askbot_themes'
And your directory structure might be:
/home/myname/my_askbot_themes/ /my_theme /templates /media
If you are planning to seriously recode the skin - it will be worthwhile learning the git system and just follow the recipe described in the previous section - direct editing of the “default” skin. Git makes this task quite simple and manageable.
The first template to look at is askbot/templates/base.html, it is quite simple and you can substantially change the appearance by modifying that template in the combination with adding some custom css.
More detailed description of templates will follow.
Some pages in askbot have classes assigned to the HTML <body> element, to facilitate styling. Eventually all more pages will have dedicated class names. These are not set in stone yet.
|page url||class name|
|/about/ /badges/ /badges/<id>/ /account/logout/ /faq/ /feedback/||meta|
The general template layout is controlled by a few files described below:
|base.html||This is the base template, a container to call all the template files required.|
|one_column_body.html||This is a base layout for one column style pages.|
|two_column_body.html||This is a base layout for two column style pages.|
|widgets/answer_edit_tips.html||Contains text displayed as “Answer Edit Tips” in the answer edit page.|
|widgets/ask_form.html||Contains the form to ask a question.|
|widgets/editor_data.html||Contains data necessary for the post editor this is included in block endjs.|
|widgets/footer.html||Contains the html displayed on the footer.|
|widgets/header.html||Contains the header section of the web. Normaly includes the site logo and navitation tools.|
|widgets/paginator.html||Renders the paginator in the main page.|
|widgets/question_edit_tips.html||Contains text displayed as “Question Edit Tips” in the question edit page.|
|widgets/secondary_header.html||Containter for the search bar section.|
|widgets/system_messages.html||Containter for notification messages in the top of the page.|
|widgets/user_navigation.html||User links to login/logout.|
Widgets are pieces of html code separated to be easily modified, they are located in the widgets folder and are called from several places in the templates.
According to the URL some template files are called, the detail on which file is called is in the following table.
|Page url||Template file||Macros used|
|/tags||tags.html||tag_widget, paginator, tag_cloud|
|/question/<id>/<slug>||question.html||tag_widget, edit_post checkbox_in_div, share|
|/questions/<id>/edit||question-edit.html||tag_autocomplete_js, checkbox_in_div, edit_post|
|/account/signin/||authopenid/signin.html||provider_buttons (from authopenid/macros)|