The theme creation process is nearly identical to the portlet creation process that we covered in the last chapter. Our theme will be named Deep Blue, so the project name (without spaces) is deep-blue, and the display name (which can have spaces) is Deep Blue. Let’s create the theme using Liferay Developer Studio first, and then with the terminal.

Using Developer Studio:

  1. Go to FileNewLiferay Project.

  2. Fill in deep-blue for the Project name and Deep Blue for the Display name.

  3. Select the build type, Plugins SDK, and Liferay runtime.

    If you select the Maven build type, you’ll be prompted to enter an artifact version, group ID, and active profile for your project. See Using Liferay IDE with Maven for more information. Otherwise, select the Ant build type, a Plugins SDK and a Liferay runtime.

    For this demonstration, make the following selections:

    • Build type: Ant
    • Plugins SDK: [a configured Plugins SDK]
    • Liferay runtime: [a configured Liferay runtime]

    For more information, see sections Installing the SDK and Setting Up Liferay IDE.

  4. Select Theme for your Plugin type.

  5. Click Next.

  6. Select a theme parent. Your theme inherits the parent theme’s styling as a base from which to build your theme. In addition to the _styled theme, you can choose to inherit from the _unstyled theme, which contains no styling. There’s also the classic theme that has a smooth look and feel and works well. For now, select _styled as the theme parent.

  7. Select your theme’s framework. You can select the Freemarker or Velocity template frameworks for your theme. Or you can select JSP as your theme’s framework.

  8. Click Finish.


Figure 5.1: Make sure to select the Theme plugin type for your theme.

With Developer Studio, you can create a new plugin project, or if you already have a project, create a new plugin in an existing project. A single Liferay project can contain multiple plugins.

Using the terminal: Navigate to the themes directory in the Plugins SDK and enter the appropriate command for your operating system:

  1. In Linux and Mac OS X, enter

    ./ deep-blue "Deep Blue"
  2. In Windows, enter

    create.bat deep-blue "Deep Blue"

Now there’s a blank theme in your themes folder, which the Plugins SDK automatically named by appending “-theme” to your project name. Right now your theme is empty. Your next step is to set a base theme that serves as the default for your theme.

Setting a base Theme

All themes in Liferay are built on top of two base themes, named _unstyled and _styled. Your newly created theme is based on these by default, but they contain very limited styling. You can take advantage of an existing theme’s styling by setting the theme of your choice as the base for your theme.

Base themes are added in layers. First _unstyled is added, giving you the core of the theme, then _styled, providing the most basic elements. When you set a different base theme, it’s added on top of _styled and overrides the default styling wherever there are differences. After the base themes are added, your own custom styling is added on top.

To specify a base theme, edit the build.xml file for your theme and change _styled in <property name="theme.parent" value="_styled> to the name of any existing theme that’s installed or in your Plugins SDK. Now that your base theme is set, let’s deploy the theme to your portal instance.

Deploying the Theme

If you’re already familiar with portlet deployment from reading Chapter 3, theme deployment will be a piece of cake! You can deploy your theme in Developer Studio or the terminal.

Deploying in Developer Studio: Click and drag your theme project onto your server.


Upon deploying, your server outputs messages indicating your plugin is read, registered, and available for use.

Reading plugin package for deep-blue-theme
Registering themes for deep-blue-theme
1 theme for deep-blue-theme is available for use

Deploying in the terminal: Open a terminal window in your themes/deep-blue-theme directory and enter

ant deploy

A BUILD SUCCESSFUL message indicates your theme is now being deployed. If you switch to the terminal window running Liferay, within a few seconds you will see the message 1 theme for deep-blue-theme is available for use.

Let’s apply your theme to a page:

  1. Go to your web browser and log in to the portal.

  2. Hover over Manage at the top of the page and click on Page.

  3. Directly underneath the words Manage Pages, select the Look and Feel tab. Click on your theme to activate it.

Now that you’ve built and deployed a theme, let’s study theme anatomy.

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