Modifying a Joomla! Template

From Joomla! Documentation

Revision as of 22:24, 21 June 2013 by Tom Hutchison (Talk | contribs)

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 or you can use the editing interface available in the Template Manager.

Before You Begin

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. 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 template 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.

Copy an Existing Template

Create a new template by copying an existing template:

  • 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

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.

Editing the Template

In the Administrator, select Extensions > Template Manager. Now select Styles or Templates. Select the template you wish to modify.

CSS stands for cascading style sheets. This controls many elements of the look and feel of your site. HTML is the file that controls where positions are defined and placed. Other than that, it should be noted that, with a few exceptions, what is in the .css and what is in the HTML files largely depends on the approach of the template designer.

One common change is to use your own graphic/image. Graphics are linked to the HTML file. Simply change the reference to the image of your choice. Keep in mind that if it is a different size than the original image this may change the appearance of the site in unexpected ways.

Finding Errors

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.