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Templates, Templates, Templates.

By far the more requested topic of interest on the website (in comments and in the forums) has been for information regarding the release of pLog 1.0 Beta. Oscar has finished rounding up a very sleek schedule for beta testing which will begin within the next few days/weeks. There'll be notification on the website about how users will be able to contribute to the beta testing period.

That being said, people have been murmuring about templates, the templating system, and new features relating to templates for 1.0. Below, I've posted a somewhat in-depth review of the templating system in 1.0.

template system, 1.0b
Automatic Template Installation.

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To be frank, as a front-end user, you'll notice very little difference between the 0.3.2 and 1.0b templating systems. This is perhaps due to the fact that templates are still handled by a third-party template engine, Smarty (which is, and has been, excellent). While the base has remained the same, there have been some updates on the part of the project team to appeal to those frequent requests that people generally have regarding changing the look of pLog.

Let's take a look at the various settings that come with pLog. As before, administrators will be able to define paths to templates, general cache usage (new caching options added!), and what the defaults will be when creating new blogs. You'll notice that, additionally, administrators can determine whether or not users may add their own templates, whether to check validity of templates, and when templates in cache should be refreshed.

template system, 1.0b
Template Options, Site Admin

Now, as far as adding templates, the system is pretty much the same. There are a few major differences, however. For one, standard with every template should come a "search results" template (searchresults.template) for use with 1.0's powerful built-in search options. People using the linktracker option may be dissappointed to find that it's been removed from the core installation -- since most of you won't need this functionality, it's been converted into a plugin. If you're a template designer that wants to know how to take control of the new functionality behind templates in 1.0, check out this page in the new wiki (which is still under heavy work) for details.

Managing templates is just as easy as ever (and even more-so, now). If you've been reading my previous postings about features in 1.0, you won't be surprised to see the new look when browsing templates. It's neatly organized in a smooth, neo-professional look that allows you to preview or remove full templates with the click of a button. Adding templates is the same (with the option of manual uploads -- pLog scans the contents of the plugins folder at the touch of a button), but I must say there's been less difficulty getting things to work. No more shuffling around and finally resolving to manually add template sets!

template system, 1.0b template system, 1.0b Managing your templates

Well, I hope that helps ease you into what templates are like -- and if you have yet to download any version of pLog then that's all the better! Obviously, there's less to say than for some of the other features, but hey, I hope it's still an interesting feature. With pLog's new core capabilities, a plugin to allow users to edit templates online in a per-user basis is not difficult to achieve. In any case, I certainly have enjoyed the benefit of being able to preview templates before applying them -- simple things that keep me having to do as little work as possible.

On a side note, have you noticed how some of the small grey text is moving away from generic "..._help" and into real descriptions to help you out? That's all thanks to Oscar's hard work at fixing up the main locale before the beta comes out. If that's any sign, you can expect to see a preliminary release very soon!
  1. Comment :-(

    Smarty is not excellent, it's a real pain to customize templates with it.
    I think it is a big mistake to have kept it.

    Posted by eBlog 28 Jan 2005, 18:54
  2. Comment Re: :-(

    It's too bad you feel that way. Agreed, almost everyone has some hang-ups with the Smarty engine. Smarty pushed forward some pretty bad ideas not so long ago. Regardless, the engine is excellent at what it does. You'd be hard pressed to find another solution that fits all your needs -- by using the engine, the development team is free to work on the more blogware-related aspects of pLog.

    Besides, customization doesn't need to be done by templates; modify pLog by writing plugins / installing pre-written ones!

    Posted by b 28 Jan 2005, 23:37
  3. Comment Diego

    Hello,

    I think Smarty is excellent but not for blogs :(

    I use it with Xoops, I love it, but is not everyone who knows and love.

    Should have anyway to use only tags, as Blogger.com

    Take a look on it :)

    Fnx a lot!!

    Posted by Diego 29 Jan 2005, 09:13
  4. Comment Re: Smarty

    for those of you who are complaining about smarty, there's one thing clear: the development team committed themselves to Smarty since pLog 0.1 and we're not going to change it now. One of the most important reasons is that it offers a powerful templating language that allows blog users to pretty much do anything they want without needing access to php itself. We can even control what objects they have access to at the template level, whereas the situation wouldn't be that easy if we were using php or our own custom home-brewn tags system:

    1) if we give access to php, users will be able to use any object they want, use any code they want pretty much without limits.

    2) if we come up with our own template system, it would not be as good and as feature-rich as smarty. Besides for those of you who'd like to use a custom tag system for templates, Smarty allows to create your own tags (via smarty plugins) so that's not an issue either.

    I think that those who complain about smarty it's because they haven't spend too much time trying to learn it. Besides compilation of templates is not an issue anymore now that pLog 1.0 offers caching features.

    Just my 0.02 cents :)

    Posted by oscar 29 Jan 2005, 15:25
  5. Comment Re: Smarty

    I fully agree with Oscar regarding Smarty, but from a 'blog community' standpoint with users who have a hard enough time with HTML, it can be quite frustrating for them to learn yet another type of coding to make their template unique.

    Other than that, I have no complaints about using Smarty as the template engine for pLog.

    Posted by silex 30 Jan 2005, 07:06
  6. Comment Re:template

    Strongly agreed , the smarty make ppl become frustrating ...
    No doubt that smarty is a good engine..but..it is rellay non-suitable for blog template modificatio.

    Posted by new 01 Feb 2005, 08:00
  7. Comment No Subject

    This is a bad news for 1.0 version

    Posted by new 01 Feb 2005, 08:01
  8. Comment Template or CSS

    Hi All:

    I want to share with you what I think about template in pLog.

    I want to seperate the template design to two levels:

    1. Template Design (*.template)
    The template use smarty that will not change in near future. So, how can we make a good template?
    I think we can do a template that include most useful plugins, with plugin enable/disable feature. Then, For example, If user doesn't want to show "Recent Comments", he just need to disable the plugins in control panel. How we do that in template?

    example:

    {if $recentcomments->isEnabled()}
    show recent comments
    {/if}

    2. CSS/Image Design (*.css and jpg/gifs)
    we just need to develope a lot of CSS and Images ... Then, user can change thier style without change template. We also can allow user to design thier own CSS. That will be more easier for user to design a whole set of templates.

    This idea already done by BCSE. YOu can see
    this template provide by him:

    - WordPlog (It can adapt most wordpress css file)

    So, if user want to change a new style, he just need to design or find a new CSS and put it into template folder. That's all.

    Of course, user can always design whole set of templates.

    Mark

    ** All these idea aready done in recent pLog 1.0 Beta, you can check out the code from SVN if you want to try it.

    Posted by Mark 01 Feb 2005, 18:59
  9. Comment gg

    gg

    Posted by g 06 Feb 2005, 13:44
  10. Comment what do you want, then?

    for any who have problem with smarty, it is obvious that you dont understand why it is used in plog. you dont even need to know smarty to customize design, you can just rely on css.
    if you read smarty docs, you will see it is fine and powerful. no compelling reason to downgrade at all.

    but, what do you want instead? a mickey mouse tag system? well, technically, once plog team has time, a pre-defined set of variables/tages for common use can be documented, for making it easier to understand before reading template code.

    Posted by sull 16 Feb 2005, 04:31
  11. Comment lovin' smarty

    btw: smarty was the reason why i moved from b2evo to plog ... i don't wanna miss it.

    Posted by bamm 17 Feb 2005, 09:29
  12. Comment look at here

    garbage

    Posted by powerpolly 23 Feb 2005, 09:41
  13. Comment blah blah blah

    Smarty just rulez - I know it coz i use it!

    The other thing is to make the USER happy with this (doc, howto or so)

    I am deciding to give plog a try - one point for Smarty :)

    ...just wanted to say it

    Posted by robajz 25 Apr 2005, 14:02