Drupal 6 Themes

Author(s): Ric Shreves
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-1847195661
ASIN: 1847195660
Release Date: 13th October 2008


Once a developer has completed his or her first Drupal website build, they will step back and admire their handiwork. But that self-satisfaction will be short-lived. They will soon start finding fault with their own graft. It looks too 'Drupally'! The theme isn't quite what I wanted! It looks like 2000 other websites on the Internet! At that point its time to remedy these shortcomings. But fear not, the solution is not as difficult as may first appear - Drupal 6 Themes is here to rescue you.

Theming is the art of turning an off-the-shelf website into something totally individual, something you can genuinely call your own work. Furthermore, due to ingenious nature of Drupal theming, it is possible to use someone else's theme as your starting point and bend it into something you actually want, or something that complies with your client's requirements.

Drupal 6 Themes would be any prospective themer's first port of call. The book starts with the essentials - a whistle stop tour of themes, theme engines, page elements and theme files. The second chapter perhaps takes a little too long to explain the downloading, installation and configuration of 3rd party themes. Chapter 3 discusses theme engines, although with an emphasis on Drupal's default engine, PHPTemplate. A little more time spent on Smarty would have been useful from a personal perspective considering I have a few years' experience with that particular product.

Chapter 4 is where the real action commences. The author systematically walks through the stylesheet elements in turn, giving an insight into their usage and providing an opportunity to customize. By Chapter 6 we are ready to customize an existing theme - the Zen theme which is considered a good starting point for further work. Once this has been safetly negotiated, a new theme is created from scratch in the subsequent chapter, and then theming dynamic page elements such as for specific content types.

There are glaring omissions however - no discussion on Content Templates (Contemplates module) or customizing Panels and Views modules. This prevents me from awarding top marks but a worthy addition to any Drupal developer's collection nonetheless.