Thursday, February 26, 2015

Liferay Themes Introduction

Liferay themes are the one of Liferay plugin to change look and feel of the Liferay portal.

Liferay have provided theme mechanism so that we can apply different look and feel to portal and it’s very easy to develop Liferay themes and we can change look and feel of portals. 

Liferay themes are working like independent application that is called plugin in Liferay terminology.
Liferay Portal already implemented some of default themes it will part of Liferay portal application and these themes have basic look and feel.

When we start to develop Liferay themes instead of starting from scratch we will inherited these basic theme into our newly developed themes so that we will change some CSS and some of templates files as for our requirement so that finally we can give new look and feel to the portals.

The following theme Hierarchy of Thames in Liferay Portal

The above themes are reside in in Liferay portal so that when we come from top to bottom in each theme Liferay added new styles so that finally it made good look and feel to the portal.

Liferay Portal use Classic theme is default theme so that when we install Liferay portal the portal look and feel is from classic theme.

The above specified themes are resided in the Liferay portal application which is in themes directory of porta (\tomcat-7.0.42\webapps\ROOT\html\themes)

The following is General Overview of Liferay Themes

Generally when we change the look and feel of application we need to use css, java scripts and templates. Same way Liferay themes consist of all files that are css, java script and templates.
CSS files used to apply look and feel related things like colors, font size, padding, margin and backgrounds to the pages.

Java Script is used to do some actions and some dynamically changes elements in the pages like when we click on button we want open popup, when we click on some text then some animated images need to show such a we will use java script.

Templates are used to design page structure like body section, header section, left menu and right menu such way we will use templates to design structures to the page.

Images are used to make user friendly understand in the pages like some of slide shows, some background for pages.

Generally when we start new theme we will use existed theme files then we will override as for our needs. To make original files safe Liferay have created new directory called _diff there we will maintain same files and folder structure that we can see in original theme.

So all modifications is take place in the _diff directory files so that at the time of deployment original files will be overridden by the _diff directory files so that new changes will be applied.

From source side it’s separated as original files, directory and also we have _diff but after packaging or deployment the original files reflected by new changes that we already made in the _diff. finally all together become as theme with original directory structure.

Liferay Portal Theme CSS files

The following is CSS files we will use to change the styles

Instead of writing CSS styles in each file Liferay have given one file called custom.css there we can write all new CSS styles so that it will be applied.

Liferay had made all portal with predefined CSS class names and ID for html elements. Whenever we are going to change the CSS properties we need identify the appropriate CSS class name and ID then we needs to write new CSS styles in custom.css file.

To know CSS class name for portal we can use browser inspect element feature so that we can identify the CSS class names and its CSS properties.

Liferay Portal Theme Template files

Liferay have used template implementation to aggregate dynamic content and to made portal structure as one page for this Liferay used Velocity Templates and Free Marker Templates.

When we develop custom theme we can use any one and that is based on our convenient. Before Liferay 6.2 we have only velocity templates and from Liferay 6.2 version we have another choice is free market templates while develop our custom themes.


We have many template files all files are included in portal_noraml.vm/  portal_noraml.ftl  and this will aggregate all content and make it as page.

navigation.vm/ navigation.ftl:

This file Liferay pages navigation is implemented.

portlet.vm/ portlet.ftl:

This is for aggregate Portlet content and added to main page.

init.vm/ init.ftl:

 This file consist all requited velocity variables and free marker variable that we will use in them get dynamic content like sign in user name and id like that.

The following is Templates files we will use to change page structure


Theme related java script we will write in the main.js file this will be available in /js/main.js location.main.js java script is loaded at the time of page loading so we can write any java script that will be loaded at the time of page load.


We have images directory in theme to store all images related to theme and Liferay already used many images so this will be inherited from parent theme to our custom theme. Whenever we need new images we simply place in the images directory.

The following screen shows image directories which contain many sub directories inside they have images.

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