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One of the most effective ways you can customize a Drupal site to make it distinctively yours without installing a new theme is to tweak the theme CSS. However, a theme CSS or Cascading Style Sheets are typically contained in several files in a complex hierarchy that can be hard to understand. We will show you how some of your options for changing themes appearance through CSS are done through the Firefox plug-in tool, Web Developer, which we downloaded previously. To make these changes we are going to go into Tools, Web Developer, CSS and Edit CSS. This is taking CSS directly from the website that we are looking at and the changes that we make would not be permanent until we save them by clicking on this disc icon.
In addition if we decide we want to go back to the original appearance we can do so by clicking on this Reset All button. Finally the page will update automatically after a few seconds, but if it is not or would like it to do more quickly we can click on this little icon to apply them immediately. As you look at the Web Developer interface you will notice all of the CSS files that are affecting this page are listed in tabs. The main one is style.css. Whenever you revert this using this icon it will switch back to aggregator and make sure go back to style.css so that you can edit the correct file.
Now let us take a look at the file itself. The main part of any page is the Body tag, which you see here at the top of the CSS file. Things that you change within the Body tag will change pretty much the entire page. For example, let us change this font size from 76 to 90. Wait a second and you will see that all of the text on the page has changed. That is because the Body tag drools over most everything else on the page. Changing it will have some very severe repercussions. So let us change that back. Again I am hitting Command+Z or Ctrl+ Z on the Windows machine. Going down a little further let's be a little bit more specific. We are going to just change these links. You will notice right now there are certain colors and when you hover over them they become underlined. That is done through CSS. We are going to scroll down and here we have the A tag, one called a: link, one called a: visited and one called a: hover.
The a: hover one, if you look at the CSS, you can see that that is where the underline is coming from. Let us change it to blink. Now let us see what happens. We have given it a second to apply, we go up over a link and you can see when you hover over a link now it blinks. That is ugly; I am going to undo that by hitting Command+Z. Continuing further down the page you can see how CSS affects the way that blogs are actually laid out on the page. We will scroll down until we get to this Page layout blocks/IDs. Let us scroll a little bit further and see what we can change. There we go header background color. Let us see what that changes. We will change it to something very different. Let's say 333. And we can see immediately it changes this top area.
That is good to know because the color and dimensions of various layout parts of the page can have a big effect and differentiate your site from the original theme, but we are going to just change it back for now. I mentioned something about the dimensions of blocks and in fact that is something that CSS also controls. See this padding; let us take a look at what would happen if we were to change one of these to let us say, 6em instead of 1.2. Take a good close look and I will you give you a hint. This has to do with the Primary, Navigation links up here. We will change it to 6 and you see it changes the padding around those links. Of course we did not change it into anything more attractive so we will change it back. Finally I should mention something at the very bottom of the CSS sheet. We will scroll down. We have these Module specific styles. That is because Drupal comes with several modules built-in, as you know for example the Feed aggregator and the Blog module.
As a result everything theme designer can count on them being there and sometimes they will add there own styles so that those modules will match the rest of the site. However they can be over written as you can see with these other modules specific style sheets such as poll and aggregator.css. Let us say that we have made some of these changes and in fact let us go back to our style CSS scroll all the way up to the top and let us actually change our font size, let us say that we do not like it being quite that big through out the entire site. I am going to change the font size from 76 to let us say 70. It is a sudden change, but it allows you to put more content on your site.
Now I am going to save that out. Now here is something important. Do not save it to the same place as the original style.css file unless you have already backed it up. If you do so of course you are going to loose your original backup and I recommend that you backup your CSS file. So I am going to save it to the desktop in this case and then I am going to apply it by dragging it by into my Drupal folder. Click on the Finder, hide everything else. If you are working with a downloaded theme you probably put it inside of sites and then either in all or default.
I tend to put them in default and themes right here. In this case we are working with a theme that came by default with Drupal, so let us go back to our Drupal folder and just go into themes folder. Remember the ones by default are at the top-level themes folder. The ones you download should go into a subdirectory of your sites folder. Open up themes, open up our theme, which is bluemarine. I am going to make a backup remember. Call this one style-BACKUP. Then I will just drag this new style CSS in and let us see if that font size change occurred.
We are going to switch back to Firefox, we can this up if we like so we can see the whole page and now reload by clicking on the reload icon here. As we can see our font change took, but we are going to revert it back by simply going back to the Finder, Hide Others throwing away our new style sheet either by dragging it to the Trash in the Mac or right click delete in the PC. Change this back to style.css then go back to Firefox, reload one more time and we are back to normal. We have only touched a little bit of CSS. If you want to learn more Lynda.com offers much more information on both its technical side and on using CSS for design. Visit the Lynda.com site for several courses to continue your CSS studies. Besides the Wed Developer plug-in there are many other ways to work on CSS files.
Once you are good enough at understanding them you can use a plain text editor or you can edit them graphically in a general web developing tool such a Dreamweaver or Adobe GoLive or you can download a specialized tool such as Coda for the Mac. However you do it, until you become you CSS expert remember to respect its power and complexity. Keep your changes small and controlled and always make a backup first.
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