atck

Advanced Theme Construction Kit (ATCK) updated for Drupal 6

The Advanced Theme Construction Kit, which integrates a derivative of the Yahoo grids CSS library within a Drupal framework, was updated and released for Drupal 6 today.

Something new
After religiously following the changes to Drupal 6's theme-layer for many months now, as well as actively coding a Drupal 6 module for the past month and a half, I was thinking that upgrading ATCK was going to be a snap...

In some ways it was, but the Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 theme conversion was by far the most complicated theme update I've seen since being involved with Drupal (4.5 onward). As it turns out the Drupal 5 template.php file for ATCK was almost completely useless, and it was with great thanks that I (again) borrowed heavily from Hunchbaque's template.php in order to get the desired granularity for classes/id's.

One area I did depart from core and the Hunchbaque theme on is the handling of css files. Allowing for the possibility that there is something that I'm 'missing', I can't say that I'm currently very happy with Drupal's new method of adding stylesheets via .info files, nor with the functions that Hunchbaque currently uses in it's template.php to add IE-only css. The core method of stylesheet handling makes stylesheets a bit of a pain to refresh, and I found both methods to be unreliable with respect to conditionally adding stylesheets.

In the end 'old fashioned' conditional statements were implemented within page.tpl.php, and a custom function added to template.php. Along with being reliable, this combo provides the ability to tell Drupal to NOT import specific core css files (e.g., if you don't want the node.css file loaded - simply add a line to the function inside ATCK's template.php and node.css never gets loaded).

Something old
The most satisfying part of the upgrade was that the centerpiece of ATCK, the Yahoo Grids-inspired CSS library, did not require a single change. So this part has proven to indeed be modular and Drupal version independent. :-)

Future development plans for ATCK
* Possibly add the edit functionality that the Zen theme has introduced to make managing blocks and views easier.

~~~

HigherVisibility is looking for assistance!

15 March, 2008

Announcing the Advanced Theme Construction Kit (atck)

I am pleased to announce the official release of the Advanced Theme Construction Kit (atck) (project page):

atck was developed in a production environment for purposes of quickly building css and xhtml valid Drupal themes from scratch without having to un-theme an existing Drupal theme to do it.

atck components include:

1. WYSIWYG grid builder
A browser-based grid builder which produces starter code for a page.tpl.php file. The grid builder itself was originially built by Christos Constandinou and it uses a modified version of Yahoo Grids which is more flexible and easier to customize. With Christos' permission it, and the supporting css, has been customized so that it works for Drupal themes and so that it is css3 valid. Access the builder online (FF only!), or download it and run it locally. [builder cannot be on Drupal.org because of MIT license]

2. style.css [separate download because of BSD license]
style.css contains only the css needed to support what the grid-builder outputs, as well as some general 'resets'. The only modifications one should need to make here would be if they want to make their layout a fixed width and/or a different width (default widths are in %).

3. page-layout.css and template.php
These files are where the visual styling of the site happens. The source of these files is from a combination of code from the Hunchbaque theme and some changes/additions which I added in order to provide baseline settings I prefer and/or provide more granular settings. The beauty of these files is the simplicty of them - they include as little markup/styling as possible to avoid complexity, while at the same time putting many helpful tools/comments at your finger tips so that you can accomplish what you want.

4. page.tpl.php
A sample page.tpl.file is included as a reference for finishing your own page.tpl.php file using code output from the grid builder. Note particularly the variable names for the blocks, regions, menus, etc. (at this point the builder does not include those items)

5. fix-ie-6.css and fix-ie-7.css
These files are included for purposes of providing IE-only css to each of the respective versions. By using conditional comments like this we keep the main css files hack-free and atck css3 valid.

Please keep in mind that this is an initial release - comments, contributions, etc welcome! (please file such things at the project issues queue though)

21 October, 2007
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