Theming API

Presented by

When you are actively working on theming in Drupal, you definitely know how should theme an item list or a table. But, there is a big difference between being able to theme most things in Drupal and really knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it. This is like mathematics. Understanding the logic behind your tools, helps you with creating solutions for problems you've never seen before.

This session doesn't focus on making things beautiful or useful; it focuses on the code behind those beautiful designs. We take a look under the hood of Drupal and find out how we can use the Theming API to its maximum possibilities.

The focus will be on Drupal 7, but differences between Drupal 6 and 7 will be mentioned occasionaly.

Intended audience

Themers, who already know what they want to do, but do not always know how, and more importantly, do not always know why.

Questions answered by this session

How does the Theming API work under the hood?

How can I use the Theming API the best way?

What is the role if the theme engine in the whole theming process?

What cool stuff can be done using process and preprocess functions and how do they work?

How does the concept of base and sub themes work in the API?

Comments (5)

Render elements

Will you be talking about the new approach with render elements instead of theme variables?

Good to see the D7 & API

Good to see the D7 & API focus. I understand this goes beyond messing around in tpl and temple.php files. So, what are some of the concepts that you will tackle? (pre-)process, hooks and the like? What are the keywords around this? Thanks!

– Roy, your friendly co-chair for the Design & UX track

The idea is basically to give

The idea is basically to give people that are working intensively with the Theming API a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts of the API. This should help them to do more advanced stuff with the available hooks, with template preprocessors and processors.

Most themers know quite well what they want to achieve and there are several proposals about design and usability. I want to give people better tools to achieve what they want.

Update: As you can see, I altered the proposal a bit to clarify the above things.

Hi, I have done quite a bit


I have done quite a bit of theming but only ever worked on the CSS and the tpl.php files. I've never actually gone into the template.php. Will this session be over my head?

I hope not

The first iteration of this talk, which I presented at the Drupal Design Camp in Berlin, would have been over your head, although it wasn't intented to be. The idea is to lower the level to make it interesting to a broader group of people.
So, the session might be challenging for you, but you should be able to follow the general outline.

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