By creating your own Themes, you can customize your mobile app’s design and functionality. You can create them from scratch or use an existing Theme as a foundation. Themes include a View class for implementing Screenlet behavior and an XIB file for specifying the UI. The three Liferay Screens Theme types support different levels of customization and parent Theme inheritance. Here’s what each Theme type offers:

Child Theme: presents the same UI components as its parent Theme, but lets you change their appearance and position.

Extended Theme: inherits its parent Theme’s functionality and appearance, but lets you add to and modify both.

Full Theme: provides a complete standalone View for a Screenlet. A full Theme is ideal for implementing functionality and appearance completely different from a Screenlet’s current Theme.

This tutorial explains how to create all three types. To understand Theme concepts and components, you might want to examine the architecture of Liferay Screens for iOS. The tutorial Creating iOS Screenlets can help you create any Screenlet classes your Theme requires. Now get ready to create some Themes!

Determining Your Theme’s Location

After determining the type of Theme to create, you need to decide where to create it. If you want to reuse or redistribute it, you should create it in an empty Cocoa Touch Framework project in Xcode. The packaging tutorial explains how to package and publish with CocoaPods. If you’re not planning to reuse or redistribute your Theme, you can create it directly inside your app project.

The rest of this tutorial explains how to create each type of Theme. First, you’ll learn how to create a Child Theme.

Creating a Child Theme

In a Child Theme, you leverage a parent Theme’s behavior and UI components, but you can modify the appearance and position of the UI components. Note that you can’t add or remove any components and the parent Theme must be a Full Theme. The Child Theme presents visual changes with its own XIB file and inherits the parent’s View class.

For example, the Child Theme in Figure 1 presents the same UI components as the Login Screenlet’s Default Theme, but enlarges them for viewing on devices with larger screens.

screens-ios-xcode-child-theme.png

Figure 1: The UI components are enlarged in the example Child Theme’s XIB file.

You can follow these steps to create a Child Theme:

  1. In Xcode, create a new XIB file that’s named after the Screenlet’s View class and your Theme. By convention, an XIB file for a Screenlet with a View class named FooScreenletView and a Theme named BarTheme must be named FooScreenletView_barTheme.xib. You can use content from the parent Theme’s XIB file as a foundation for your new XIB file. In your new XIB, you can change the UI components’ visual properties (e.g., their position and size). You mustn’t change, however, the XIB file’s custom class, outlet connection, or restorationIdentifier–these must match those of the parent’s XIB file.

You can optionally package your Theme and/or start using it. Fantastic! Next, you’ll learn how to create an Extended Theme.

Extended Theme

An Extended Theme inherits another Theme’s UI components and behavior, but lets you add to or alter it by extending the parent Theme’s View class and creating a new XIB file. An Extended Theme’s parent must be a Full Theme. The Flat7 Theme is an Extended Theme.

These steps explain how to create an Extended Theme:

  1. In Xcode, create a new XIB file named after the Screenlet’s View class and your Theme. By convention, an XIB file for a Screenlet with a View class named FooScreenletView and a Theme named BarTheme must be named FooScreenletView_barTheme.xib. You can use the XIB file of your parent Theme as a template. Build your UI changes in your new XIB file with Interface Builder.

    screens-ios-xcode-ext-theme.png

    Figure 2: This example Extended Theme’s XIB file extends the Login Portlet’s UI and behavior with a switch that lets the user show or hide the password field value.

  2. Create a new View class that extends the parent Theme’s View class. You should name this class after the XIB file you just created. You can add or override functionality of the parent Theme’s View class.

  3. Set your new View class as the custom class for your Theme’s XIB file. If you added @IBOutlet or @IBAction actions, bind them to your class.

Well done! You can optionally package your Theme and/or start using it. Now you know how to create and use an Extended Theme. Next, you’ll learn how to create a Full Theme.

Full Theme

A Full Theme implements unique behavior and appearance for a Screenlet, without using a parent Theme. Its View class must inherit Screens’s BaseScreenletView and conform to the Screenlet’s View Model protocol. It must also specify a new UI in an XIB file. As you create a Full Theme, you can refer to the tutorial Creating iOS Screenlets to learn how to create these classes.

Follow these steps to create a Full Theme:

  1. Create a new XIB file and use Interface Builder to build your UI. By convention, an XIB file for a Screenlet with a View class named FooScreenletView and a Theme named BarTheme must be named FooScreenletView_barTheme.xib. You can use the XIB file from the Screenlet’s default Theme as a template.

    screens-ios-xcode-full-theme.png

    Figure 3: This Full Theme for the Login Screenlet, includes a text field for entering the user name, uses the UDID for the password, and adds a Sign In button with the same restorationIdentifier as the Default Theme.

  2. Create a new View class for your Theme named after the XIB file you just created. As a template, you can use the View class of your Screenlet’s Default Theme. Your new View class must inherit BaseScreenletView and conform to the Screenlet’s *ScreenletViewModel protocol, implementing the corresponding getters and setters. It should also add all the @IBOutlet properties or @IBAction methods you need to bind your UI components.

  3. Set your Theme’s new View class as your XIB file’s custom class and bind any @IBOutlet and @IBAction actions to your class.

Super! You can optionally package your Theme and/or start using it. Now you know how to create a Full Theme. Note that a Full Theme can serve as a parent to a Child and Extended Theme.

You’ve mastered Themes!

Related Topics

Packaging iOS Themes

Using Themes in iOS Screenlets

Architecture of Liferay Screens for iOS

Creating iOS Screenlets

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