Nearly 3 months after Scott W piqued our interest with a tease about Community Server 3.0 skinning, Ben Tiedt has begun publishing his Introduction to Chameleon. According to Ben, skinning will be much easier in v.3 than it has been in previous versions of Community Server:
Over the past several months, I’ve been working pretty constantly on developing the new theming engine for Community Server 3.0, named Chameleon. Chameleon represents a major change in the way themes can be implemented in Community Server. Chameleon enables far more flexibility in theming while being simpler and more standardized.
I have wanted to create my own customized skin for a while, but the promise of Chameleon has been on the horizon so I have held out to this point. I can take it no longer!
Because of this innate desire to do something creative ("do something with my hands" - Clark Griswold, European Vacation, one of my favorite movies of all time) and some others listed below I decided to check it out and get it running on this site:
I pulled down the latest source, grabbed a backup of my database, hooked everything up with a wave of my magic wand (aka, Little Dan) and dug down into the code. I was prepared for a couple hours of spelunking to figure out how all the new stuff worked. Fortunately it took nowhere near that long - within 15 minutes I had copied an existing skin, "Vanilla", made a few css and master file modifications and had something similar to the below screen shot.
Coming soon to a browser near you:
Beautiful, isn't it? Well, not too bad for a wannabe like me. The missing images are from Eric Duncan's PostIcon mod - I haven't gotten it to work with the new CS drop, but then I only spent about 2 minutes on it. I also haven't read Ben's new post, Chameleon's Single Value Controls, which might help.
I've got a few tweaks to make and because I started with a fresh code-base I have to migrate any existing mods I have already installed and grown used to. I hope to have the new code running soon, though.
Seriously, the skinning in CS3.0 is so much better. I really only spent about an hour working on the new skin last night and probably a quarter of that was fussing around with image editing software and the most of the remaining time was in CSS changes. I think Chameleon will open up the world of Community Server skinning to a whole new group of people.