Some thoughts on themes

Topics: Themes
Nov 23, 2007 at 9:09 AM
I spent some time last night trying to create my own theme (I've done one before in BE 1.1), and as before, given my ineptitude at CSS it was a bit of a battle. However, the experience has left me thinking about some potential improvements to the way themes work in BlogEngine. I don't know if any of these ideas are planned for future releases or not. The main problem I see is that themes have to contain too much information about content rather than simply being about form.

For example, the widgets that appear in the sidebar and the order in which they are displayed are decided by the theme. This means for example if I want to remove the calendar or if I want to move the tag cloud to the top, I have to edit the theme. It would be great if the items in the sidebar could be chosen and configured in the BlogEngine admin interface. That way you could switch themes and your sidebar configuration would remain the same.

Similarly, the themes currently choose the main menu items that live in the header (e.g, Home | Archives | Contact). Again, this would be better configurable in the admin section, so once you had chosen what your main menu items should be, they would appear in every theme.

Post Footer
The same applies to post footers. Rather than each theme determining whether a post rating or various social networking bookmarks are displayed, this would be better moved into a plugin that could emit the HTML for these post footer items at the end of each post.

Common CSS
Finally, it would be useful if BlogEngine provided a common CSS file that themes could use if they simply wanted to use the default styling for things such as post rating, tag clouds or calendars. That way theme authors could concentrate on the main look of their theme without needing to cut and paste large sections of CSS from other themes.

Anyway, thanks again for BlogEngine.NET. I am hoping to get a second site up and running with it in the near future.