Joomla! 1.5: Creating and Editing Custom Templates
Illustration by Richard Downs

Joomla! 1.5: Creating and Editing Custom Templates

with Jen Kramer

Video: Using the Firefox Web Developer toolbar

The Firefox Web Developer toolbar is an incredibly useful tool for making your CSS changes in Joomla! as well as diagnosing various CSS problems. If you haven't done so already, download the latest Firefox browser and install the Web Developer toolbar. You can download this right at the Firefox Add-ons website. I am going to switch back to our website and I am going to show you a few of the tools that are very useful when you are working with the Firefox Web Developer toolbar. One tool in the Web Developer toolbar is the Outline tool.

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Watch the Online Video Course Joomla! 1.5: Creating and Editing Custom Templates
2h 11m Intermediate Dec 02, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Custom templates are the key to making a Joomla!-driven website stand out. In Joomla! 1.5 Creating and Editing Custom Templates, Jen Kramer McKibben offers instruction and insight to help Joomla! users create eye-popping websites. Jen starts with the basics, like how to add the Joomla! template codes to a static HTML layout, install the template package, and clean up styling after installation. She also shows how to make multiple layouts within the same Joomla! template, configure menus and submenus, and more. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Converting HTML comps to Joomla! templates
  • Troubleshooting installation problems
  • Creating XML and index files
  • Placing random images
  • Configuring menus and submenus
  • Changing the favicon
Subject:
Web
Software:
Joomla!
Author:
Jen Kramer

Using the Firefox Web Developer toolbar

The Firefox Web Developer toolbar is an incredibly useful tool for making your CSS changes in Joomla! as well as diagnosing various CSS problems. If you haven't done so already, download the latest Firefox browser and install the Web Developer toolbar. You can download this right at the Firefox Add-ons website. I am going to switch back to our website and I am going to show you a few of the tools that are very useful when you are working with the Firefox Web Developer toolbar. One tool in the Web Developer toolbar is the Outline tool.

As you can see here, you can Outline many types of elements within your HTML web page. While we are not using frames on this website, we do have a few tables because our content is generated in a table. We can outline the table itself and you see where the tables appear on this Web page. We can also outline specific table cells. Just simply go back in and reselect these items to un-select them. We can also outline our block level elements. Very handy for finding were the divs are that run the side and of course other block level elements such as paragraphs are also outlined in this particular view. You can also outline certain types of positioned elements. Again very useful. I have used floats in this layout, so if I outline floats you can see which items are floated on this particular page. Finally a very handy thing is to able to outline some custom elements. I often think this handy where I am working with lists when I diagnose problems. So for example, if I want to outline the actual unordered list, a list item and a link, and then I can pick some colors that work with the template that I am working on, so I can actually see them with enough contrast. I don't pick for pretty. There I can see that where exactly all of the uls, the lis and the as are on this particular Web page. You can also just refresh the page to get rid of the outlines. I know the Miscellaneous bar, there is a very handy ruler that's helpful on occasion. If I need to know the exact size of this particular navigation bar, I can simply draw a box around it and adjust and it will tell me that it's 440 pixels wide and 28 pixels high and it tells me the start positions and the end positions as well.

That can be very handy also. Under the Information toolbar, occasionally it's helpful to display all of the ID and class details on this particular Web page. So, this shows me where all of those things are. Finally what No1 most used things that I use within the Firefox Web Developer toolbar is under CSS. There is an Edit CSS option that's incredibly helpful. This shows us the three style sheets that are used in this particular template. Remember that system.css and general.css are system templates that come from Joomla! directly. We won't be editing these particular style sheets. We will be editing the one called Default, which is our last tab. You can go in here and make whatever changes you like. So for example, let's say I want the image and the header, which would be this logo right here. Instead of floated left, I want to floated right. This happens locally, your local copy of the style sheet and the local copy of the Website. So if we close this window, things go back to exactly the way they were. A few other quick pointers about this, the icon that's right next to the tab that days Edit CSS is the position of the editing window on your Web page. I like mine on the left side but you can put it on the top, on the right, on the bottom. You just keep clicking it until it goes to the position that you want it to be in. There is also an icon for saving out your particular changes or cutting or clearing some changes or refreshing and so forth. I am now going to show you the flow of how you can edit your style sheets using the Firefox Web Developer toolbar. Let's say that I want to change this Read More link from the default blue color to a white color. I am going to go ahead and start typing here at the top of the page. a:link, a:visited and you will notice that all the styling is pretty much dropped out of my page here on the right. That's because right now I have one curly bracket open in my style sheet but I haven't closed the particular statement that I am working on.

That makes all of the styling go away on this Web page. All I have to do is close my curly brackets and the styling will come right back. You have probably also noticed that the background images are not showing up here. That's because I am using relative paths to these background images in my style sheet that are not correct when working in Firefox. Don't change them because they are correct in Joomla!. Although you won't see your background images here, they will work correctly in Joomla!. Let's say I just want to make this Read More link white and underlined. So I am going to add a color of white and that of course has affected all of the links here on the site, generically. Now, that I have made this change there is two ways to proceed. One is to know that all I have changed on the style sheet were these few lines and copied and pasted them into my Style Sheet within Joomla!. But the problem is sometimes they tweak other things along the way and then forget about it. So the easiest way to deal with these changes instead is to select all, which is easily done clicking Ctr+A or Command+A, and then picking Edit > Copy. Now we are going to switch over to Joomla! and that funny little blip that you just saw there is because of the switching style sheets once again. If I just close that Style Sheet window at this point, then the site will look normal again. And I am going to go to my Template Manager and for my inside template, I am going to edit it. I am going to edit the CSS. I am going to edit default.css and here once again I am going to highlight everything by clicking Ctr +A or Command+A and then I a going to click Ctr+V or Command+V and save. Now when I go back to this Web page and I refresh, my change has been incorporated . Now we are ready to go and make more CSS changes throughout this site. So that's one small change that we have made to the styles of our website and I am sure many of you graphic designers looking at this can see plenty more, for example, we might want to style the title of this page, the latest news looks a little bit chunky, we would like the title of the news articles to look a little bit different than the text for the news articles and things are a little bit close to the edge of the screen and of course we want to style the footer of this page. There's all kinds of these minor little tweaks and changes that we need to make with CSS. Our Web Developer toolbar is really going to help us get these done quickly and easily.

Particularly using the Outline tool so that we know where our boxes are and using our Edit CSS function.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Joomla! 1.5: Creating and Editing Custom Templates .


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Q: When creating and uploading custom templates as described in Joomla! Creating and Editing Custom Templates , the following error occurs:

XML Parsing Error at 1:1. Error 4: Empty document
JInstaller::install: File '/tmp/install_4bd887e090339/css/default.css' does not exist.


What is causing this error?
A: Check through the errors described in the “Fixing typical installation problems” video (e.g. files included in the install package that are not listed in the XML file; the XML file lists files that are not in the install package; XML is badly formed). Also check for permissions issues with your server.
In all likelihood, if this message appears, there is an error with the XML file, possibly a typo or a misnamed file. Make sure the CSS file is called default.css and is located in the CSS folder. Also, make sure everything is spelled correctly.
 
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