Modifying a Joomla! Template

From Joomla! Documentation

The "J2.5" namespace is a namespace scheduled to be archived. This page contains information for a Joomla! version which is no longer supported. It exists only as a historical reference, it will not be improved and its content may be incomplete and/or contain broken links.

Templates are just a group of XML, PHP, HTML and image files that are stored in the templates directory of your site. You can edit these files directly or use the Template Manager.

Before You Begin[edit]

Before you start hacking away at a default installed template, remember that any updates of the Joomla core files is likely to contain new copies of the default templates. Unless you take steps to protect your work, your modifications will be lost.

There are options in the Template Manager to Duplicate and Copy an existing template style or the actual template and template files. Note that you are only copying the style of the template and you are not protected from overwrites. There is simply another entry made in the _template_styles table of the database. The template files are not duplicated into another uniquely-named directory and they will be overwritten during an upgrade.

For example, consider the case in which you Duplicate the Protostar - Default style in the Template Manager and then modify the /templates/protostar/css/template.css file. A Joomla upgrade is likely to contain a full set of those Protostar template files. Your changes will be lost.

To preserve your changes you need to Copy the template with all its styles.

Copy an Existing Template[edit]

Create a new template by copying an existing template:

  • Go to Template manager in backend
  • Click on a template (not the style, the template on the right)
  • Click on Copy Template in Toolbar
  • Provide a name and click on Copy Template

Or manually:

  • Create a new /templates/my_template directory.
  • Copy the contents of the original template directory to the my_template directory.
  • Go to the root /language/en-GB directory.
    • Copy /language/en-GB/en-GB.tpl_original_template.ini to en-GB.tpl_my_template.ini
    • Copy /language/en-GB/en-GB.tpl_original_template.sys.ini to en-GB.tpl_my_template.sys.ini
  • Go to the /language/en-GB directory in the template's directory, if it exists.
    • Copy /language/en-GB/en-GB.tpl_original_template.ini to en-GB.tpl_my_template.ini
    • Copy /language/en-GB/en-GB.tpl_original_template.sys.ini to en-GB.tpl_my_template.sys.ini
  • Open the templateDetails.xml file in the my_template directory and change all references, if they exist, for the original template directory to the new directory my_template.
<language tag="en-GB">en-GB.tpl_my_template.ini</language>
<language tag="en-GB">en-GB.tpl_my_template.sys.ini</language>
<param name="theme_header" type="folderlist" directory="templates/my_template/styles/header" default="" label="Header Themes" description="HEADER THEMES DESCRIPTION" />
<param name="theme_background" type="folderlist" directory="templates/my_theme/styles/background" default="" label="Background Themes" description="BACKGROUND THEMES DESCRIPTION" />
<param name="theme_elements" type="folderlist" directory="templates/my_theme/styles/elements" default="" label="Primary Elements" description="PRIMARY ELEMENTS DESCRIPTION" />

Discover the New Template[edit]

Now the new template must be introduced to your Joomla site through the discovery process.

  • Go to Administrator  Extensions  Extension Manager  Discover
  • Click the Discover icon.
  • Select your new template.
  • Click Install.

If successful, the new template will now be available in Administrator  Extensions  Template Manager

  • Make the new template the default template.
  • View the site to verify it.

Finding Errors[edit]

You might have problems as a result of copying an existing template to a new template. Because of the way that Joomla handles file names, you might be tripped up by a capitalization error, for example.

Joomla contains some useful debugging tools. To see what is happening while working on a site, there are three settings that you should change.

  1. Administration > Site > Global Configuration > System > Debug Settings > Debug System > Yes (Default = No)
  2. Administration > Site > Global Configuration > System > Debug Settings > Debug Language > Yes (Default = No)
  3. Administration > Site > Global Configuration > Server > Server Settings > Error Reporting > Maximum (Default = System Default)

With the Debug Language set to Yes, for instance, you will see the success or failure of language file loading on each page of the Administrator. Open the Joomla Debug Console > Language Files Loaded panel to view the report.