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Themeable sites

Cogworks has an idea...

Imagine if you could construct your site in some rigid way that allowed 3rd party CSS builders to make universal "themes" for sites, like skinning an app.

This could be really cool. I wrote some comments in the thread, but wanted to talk more about it.
[seen at LazyWeb]

If people used a standard set of tags on their site, creating some sort of an interface to switch user stylesheets would be an amazing browser extension. This interface could have a small screenshot, and a link to a site for more styles.

The basics for the MT styles use this format:
<br /> <div id="banner"><h1>Site Name</h1><br /> <h2 class="date">Date Header</h2><br /> <h3 class="title">Title</h3><br /> <div class="blogbody">Body of the post</div><br /> <div class="posted">posted by line</div><br />

  • #content, #links, #llinks surround columns.
  • .side and .sidetitle go around sidebar sections
  • .powered is the copyright spot
There’s more, but those are the basics. A *lot* can be done with the stylizing of just those tags and basic html tags. smile

Copyright info for the designer would be something to be addressed - its harder to add text into someone else’s site to mention where the skin came from, but since the user would be picking from an interface, the copyright data could appear there.


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I would love to do this. My idea of how to handle skin data might be to add it into like a small frame, like when you use about.com to surf an external link or something...that way you could also have links in there to see it with the author’s stylesheet, and etc...

also, have you looked at http://www.csszengarden.com/ ? That’s similar to what you’re talking about I think.

Damn, halla beat me to the mention of css Zen Garden! I found out about it a few days ago from Gwen. It does pretty much exactly what you mentioned - there are a whole lot of contributed designs, each of which is just a CSS file that skins the main site. It’s really cool!

Yeah I’m the poster on LazyWeb about this idea. I’d love to sit down with folks interested in doing this and hashing out something quickly - even if just to test out the idea. The CSS Zen garden was one of the inspirations for the idea. Another site with some amazing CSS stuff is http://www.meyerweb.com/eric/css/edge/

Is this similar to the Smarty templates in PHP? (I still don’t get Smarty, so if I’m off base don’t give me strange looks...)

What is being described makes me think of what Brad Choate does with his site preferences. Just point to a css file and his site changes. Of course, settling on a standard set of divs would help a great deal.

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