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University Web Developers

Is it just me, or does it seem like most WCMS assume you don't have a design in mind and will just be using the one that is there or customizing that to look the way you want.

Yet, I already have a design, a design that is the standard for the campus, and the page must look exactly like that. So, I have found it both difficult to find information on how to place my CSS into the system and recreate my design within it. It's been quite frustrating actually.

I have installed and run Joomla, Drupal, Plone, eZ Publish, and some other systems like Wordpress, but I none of these have been intuitive on how to easily incorporate your CSS. So, am I just missing something, or is assumed that you must search for esoteric knowledge to accomplish this goal?

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I'm not really sure what you mean. If I get your question correctly, I must say that in my experience, I've never had an ounce of problem reproducing layouts, CSS and all, in most of the systems you mention. In fact, many have built in conventions for exactly how styles are handled. Maybe you just need to look into templating guides for whatever CMS you plan on using a little closer.
I thought it was pretty clear, but ok. I have a stylesheet. mystylesheet.css It covers all of the formatting of each page. Pages are broken down into sections by divs which are styled using the stylesheet (i.e. header, footer, content)

Now, if I want to manage my content say via Drupal or Joomla or whichever other system. It is not as simple as A) Upload Stylesheet B) Upload or Enter HTML C) Publish

Rather I have to go create a folder somewhere, possibly register it in a php or py file or some other configuration. Then, I have to try to somehow adapt my stylesheet to fit the WCMS' idea of a theme.

Now, I'm hoping that is the wrong way to do it, and that there is a much easier way to accomplish this, but so far I haven't found any, and would appreciate help on finding those resources. I have read the documentation on most of these WCMS I mentioned before and searched their forums, but there was no such thing as an easy step by step guide on accomplishing this simple task.
Well, with any of these systems, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't upload the CSS to your theme's folder, and then within the portion of the theme, do a to the CSS. That's pretty much how you handle it under any normal circumstance, and it works in any CMS. In some cases, like Wordpress, it demands a file called style.css in the template file folder, because that's where it gets theme info from to begin with, and you can then even edit that file from right within the CMS.
What I'm saying is, you are still customizingg a theme there (and most of the documentation I read also said to create new folders for new themes and to leave the default themes alone, although why that is, I'm not sure), there doesn't seem to be an easy 1.2.3 option for having your own theme (say you know without the logins, sidebars, etc.) just the CSS file and then all web sites/pages follow that CSS. If I have tried loading my css file into drupal or joomla or ez publish or etc.. what I get is the same look of the site, just with perhaps some of my colors thrown in. Now, perhaps that is because I'm not following the correct procedure, but it sure would be nice if a procedure was easier to find, on all these systems I have scoped through the top level documentation, and googled their sites and gone through the 1st 2 or 3 pages and still found nothing except info on either recreating your own custom theme or dealing with customizing what is there. I did find an add CSS module for Drupal which I'm going to try now.

IBM Workplace WCM (as they are now calling it) makes it fairly easy to add a stylesheet, although it certainly lacks in a lot of other areas.
K, do you know the difference between IBM Workplace WCM 5.1 and 6.1 about CSS. I use this CMS but some of my portals doesn't worf for FF3 or Safari 4. So I was wondering if you have a reference that can help me.

Key thing to remember is that IBM WCM doesn't support FF3 (or Safari as far as I am aware), so there are generally bugs everywhere when using these browsers. We had to put up a warning on the portal we set up for FF3 and Safari users that mentioned these shortcomings. There is supposedly a bug report in with IBM and they are working on it (along with for other Domino products) but I haven't seen any progress.

There are CSS hacks which may work, such as the following:
/* non-firefox browsers */
.style1 {
text-align: center;
background-color: #FF0000;
*background-color: #00FF00;
_background-color: #0000FF;

/* Target Firefox 3 */
.style1, x:-moz-any-link, x:default {
background-color: #FFFFFF;

/* Target Firefox 2 */
.style1, x:-moz-any-link {
background-color: #FF00FF;

Although, can't guarantee that will work for you. Try doing a google search for CSS Conditional statements.
1) To answer your question about why you need to leave the original themes alone and upload yours to their own folders (and, in some cases, even create "local" folders in which to keep your altered or custom theme files), it is generally for your own protection. When you upgrade your installation, many times the upgrade will overwrite the files inside of the original theme folder. If you don't want all of your custom work to disappear when you upgrade, you have to perform it in a separate folder.

EDIT - I just noticed that this topic is fairly old. Sorry for responding to a question that most likely became irrelevant quite a while ago. I hope it at least helps someone.
My experience is mostly with Joomla, which I love, and I must say that the template engine in version 1.5.x is absolutely fantastic. Here's the basic process...

1. Design static XHTML/CSS layout as if you were creating a single page.

2. Insert into the XHTML the "jdoc" tags to indicate where the various dynamic content "chunks" will go.

3. Package up the XHTML file (actually a PHP file), CSS file, and images, according to Joomla's rules, and upload to server. The only thing tricky about this is that you have to alter the relative URLs for images, etc, to jive with Joomla's folder structure.

4. Once uploaded, the new theme appears as a theme option in the Joomla admin. Change to that theme, and you're done.

5. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also customize the XHTML for the various Joomla modules, but I like to keep the styling of those things pretty standard, so I usually just go with the defaults that I take from a pre-existing template.

So my approach pretty much focuses on the main layout, header, top nav, left nav, footer, and basic styling. The actually content of the pages I like to keep basic and standard, as is usually the desire for a WCMS. But given those needs, I have not found one design objective that I have been unable to accomplish with Joomla. It is very easy if you are used to building your own XHTML/CSS layouts from scratch and working with things like PHP includes to template-ize common elements like headers and footers.

Designing custom templates for WCMS like Joomla is not for people who are new to XHTML and CSS, or people who have just taken a class. Custom templates requires all of the expertise of designing with XHTML, CSS, and images (usually Photoshop) and then adds another layer of complexity on to that--in my case Joomla. But Joomla is *VERY* easy, and I highly recommend it. I think the only thing that comes close is Drupal, which some argue is better, but I chose Joomla for its maturity.

Finally, I should tell you that I have used other open source web applications that are template based, and some of them have been very frustrating. For example, Zen Cart (shopping cart and product catalog solution) is very hard to customize if you're picky about your layout, and lots of discussion board apps are the same way. So I'm not suprised if you've been frustrated with *OTHER* apps. But Joomla (and Drupal) are very straight forward.

Perhaps you are just not finding the good how-tos. When I first started with Joomla, I bought the official Joomla manual and read a lot of online how-tos before I even started, and that helped a lot.

Good luck!!!

- John
John, thanks for the step by steps, that is what I was looking for. I will try that now for my Joomla install. I read through a lot of the how-tos, but none of them were very forthcoming on this issue. If we decide to use Joomla I'll purchase the manual, but as it is I don't want to purchase manuals just to test it.
The biggest (maybe even the only) drawback to Joomla is the documentation. The official manual is great for beginners, but it doesn't cover templates/customization in enough depth. There are normally great books for "pros," but there aren't a lot of good choices for version 1.5.x right now because it is *SO* new. But more books are coming, and there are plenty of good web-based resources out there if you dig. Do yourself a favor and go with Joomla or Drupal. Forget all the high-priced proprietary CMS apps out there. This is one of those areas where free/open-source happens to be the best product.
Our department is considering switching to stright HTML files, because of the vulnerability that Joomla provides. An HTML file is not susceptable to MySQL injection and other exploits. Since Joomla is so widely used and opensource, it's one of the biggest targets for attack. After our Joomla sites were hacked, we've been deeply thinking about this.
Something else to consider is placing a caching proxy between the back end and front end, then users never interact with the back end/database at all when visiting pages, they just get the cached HTML from the proxy server, and you can lock down all access to the back end. Squid is good at that, for instance. Best of both worlds.



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