Writing NewsBruiser themes
Leonard Richardson <email@example.com>
NewsBruiser themes let you package the look of your site for others
to use. You can keep several themes and easily switch back and forth
between them easily. If you're good at Web design but not at
programming, themes are your ticket to NewsBruiser-contribution fame
Anatomy of a Theme
A theme consists of one or more files in a directory under the
themes/ subdirectory of a NewsBruiser installation. The name
of the directory is the name of the theme.
- AUTHOR: (recommended) Information about the person or persons who
designed the theme.
- configuration: (required) A theme configuration file (see
- description: (recommended) A short description of the
theme. Used in the selection box on configure.cgi.
- Any auxilliary files (CSS files, images, etc.) mentioned in the
The theme configuration file
The theme configuration file is in the same format as the notebook
configuration file, but it can set only the subset of the
configuration options deemed "themed" by NewsBruiser (these are all
the "Templates" options and almost all of the "UI Customization"
options). It consists of a set of key-value pairs, one per line, with
the key and the value separated by an equals sign. Example:
You can get a list of configuration keys by scouring
options.conf for options with 'themed=Y' set, or by looking
at the Default theme, which sets every themable value.
The theme-generate.cgi CGI (linked to from the 'Util'
option on the main menu) will create a theme configuration file from
your current notebook setup.
Creating a theme
NewsBruiser currently ships with several themes that take different
approaches to presentation. Study them, learn from them.
To create a new theme, first create a CSS file (if you want one
associated with your theme), then use configure.cgi to use
that CSS file and generally make your notebook look the way you want
it. Then, create a new directory under themes, named after
your theme. Add the description and AUTHOR
To create the configuration file, start with the output of
theme-generate.cgi. Whittle away the options that you want to
leave up to the user of the theme to configure
(display-time-format is probably one of these). Be sure that
all your URLs point to a resource inside the theme directory, and that
your CSS file, your images, and any other resources point inside the
theme directory. Any instance of '%R' in your theme definition file
will be replaced with the base content URL, as defined in
If you create a cool theme not like any current NewsBruiser theme,
I'd really appreciate it if you could send it to me to include in a
future version of NewsBruiser.
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