It is possible to configure distributed nodewatcher theme or even develop your own custom theme. The theme is composed of four layers:

  • favicon, logo and possible other graphical elements of the network using nodewatcher installation
  • icons and other graphical elements to visualize nodewatcher elements (like nodes)
  • SCSS files to generate CSS used for layout styling
  • Django templates for XHTML layout

Overriding CSS

For small changes you might just want to override CSS in the browser, loading your changes after the provided CSS files. So no changes to distributed files are needed. You will just need to provide a head.html Django template file which should then include your own CSS file. This file should be somewhere in Django template search path, but before the distributed (empty) one.

You should use this approach really just for minor modifications. If you happen to find yourself overriding a lot of CSS all around then this will probably be unmaintainable in the future when distributed nodewatcher theme will change and you will have to manually keep up with all the changes. In this it is best to extend distributed nodewatcher theme through SCSS.

Changing CSS

Color scheme and other styling modifications can be achieved by changing the CSS of the theme. A new CSS style can be created using basic knowledge of CSS, however it is recommended that you first try to extend and modify an existing basic theme. Do not modify the actual CSS in this case as it is generated automatically using the Compass authoring framework. The source SCSS files are located in the static/scss directory. One can check the Compass documentation for more information about Compass.

Assuming that you have now Compass installed on your system, here are the instructions how to compile the default nodewatcher theme. Compass files are organized into projects. To compile our project go to static/scss and type:

compass compile

This will update CSS files in statics/css.

To use development settings (adds line comments with source information) use:

compass compile -e development --force

During the actual development running this command may become annoying so the handy way to compile CSS on the fly is to run the following command in a separate terminal:

compass watch -e development --force

In this case Compass will pool for changes to the source files and compile them when needed. You can now focus solely on creating the theme.

It is recommended that you use our SCSS files as a base and extend them through capabilities provided by Compass. So create your own Compass configuration file and directory with SCSS files alongside the default directory and add your changes there, using our files as a base.

SCSS Files

The syntax of the SCSS files is very similar to the one of the CSS, however, there are some handy features that make development easier. Some basic examples can be found here (note that there is also an older syntax called SASS that should not be confused with SCSS). More examples on mixins provided by Compass can be found on a Compass website.

Changing Django Templates

More drastic changes in layout can be made by modifying the Django templates. In this case some knowledge of Django templating system is required. You can then override specific template files from frontend/templates directory by copying them in some other directory, modifying them and then adding the directory path to the templates directory list TEMPLATE_DIRS in your file (before the default templates directory). Templates are modular so it should be easy to change only parts you need.

Again, be careful not to change templates in a way to be hard to maintain them with future nodewatcher versions. If you need more modular templates for your needs, feel free to open a ticket with request.