Drupal 6 Themes

I have used Drupal to administer sites for years. It is flexible, powerful, and relatively easy to use. The one area of Drupal where I have been weak is theming. Generally, I have used contributed themes, maybe modifying colors, logos, and other simple things.

The one or two times I felt ambitious and tried to read through the documentation in order to learn how to create my own theme from scratch, I either got distracted by life, or found myself getting tired of the search and wishing I had all of the information I needed in one place to learn how to create a theme.

This week, I have been reading a book on precisely this topic called Drupal 6 Themes.

The book has impressed me. It is well-written, using clear language, useful diagrams and figures, and a logical progression of ideas. It starts with the basics, talking about what a theme is and defining its components. Then, it moves into the details of modifying the default themes. Up to this point, I didn’t encounter anything new to me, but I was only up to chapter two.

Starting with chapter three, the book reveals and clearly describes each of the files and elements that make up a theme, using both the default PHPTemplate engine as well as other options. Later, the book teaches how to use and master this template engine to create your own custom theme, including how to create custom looks for specific pages, modules, and more.

In between the two, you learn how to download ready-made themes, contributed by the Drupal user and developer community, and modify them for personal use, knowing how and where to look for usage restrictions to avoid problems.

Finally, the book ends with some very useful appendices that show where to find every css file and what it affects, and other useful tooks and kits for developers.

This book has saved me a lot of time, and is well done. If you are responsible for a site powered by Drupal, you may find it useful as well.