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The Natural Skin Plugin

NOTE: This plugin is no longer maintained. We recommend to use other SkinPackages and PluginPackages; the PatternSkin is pre-installed and is very flexible to customize to you needs.


This is the supplemental plugin for the NatSkin. Its main purpose is to supply "skin states" to control different styles and variations to be switched dynamically while you are online.

The documentation of the NatSkinPlugin only covers the additional tags that have been implemented. Have a look at the NatSkin topic for more information.



Syntax: %CURREV%

returns the current topic revision (compatible among all TWiki engines)



Syntax: %FORMBUTTON{";lt;format>"}%

returns a link on to add or change the form attached to a topic. This will be shown on the edit screen depending on WEBFORMs being defined or not. More precisely FORMBUTTON returns

  • an empty string if there are no WEBFORMS defined
  • or an "Add form" link if there are but no form is attached yet
  • or a "Change form" link to change the current form

The optional %lt;format> string may contain the following variables

  • $url: the url of the link
  • $action: the link text
  • $1: the complete anchor including the link and the text

For example %FORMBUTTON{"| $1"}% will generate a pipe and the formbutton if possible. See the edit.nat.tmpl template file of the NatSkin.



get the current skin style; the priority is

  1. urlparam style=<name>,
  2. value of the session variable NATSKIN_STYLE and
  3. preference value SKINSTYLE set in (a) the user preferences (b) the WebPreferences or (c) TWikiPreferences


Syntax: %IFSKINSTATE{<tests> then="..." else="..."}%

conditionally returns content depending on the current skin state; <tests> can be

  • style="<name>": test if the current style is <name>
  • variation="<name>": test if the style variation is <name>
  • border="on,off,thin": test if the current border is on, off or "thin"
  • buttons="on,off": test if the web buttons are currently on or off
  • sidebar="left,right,off": test if the sidebar is currently on the right, left or off
  • searchbox="top,pos1,pos2,pos3,off": test if the searchbox is currently on given position or off
  • release="beijing,cairo,dakar": test if the twiki release this plugin is installed on is Beijing, Cairo or Dakar
  • action="view,edit,preview,...": test the current topic action
  • glue="on,off": control wether to eat surrounding whitespaces or not
  • final="<name>": test if a skin state variable called <name> is set to be changeable or not using the the FINALPREFERENCES setting; known names are are "style", "sidebar", "buttons", "border", "variation" or "searchbox"; "all" tests wether you can vary the skin at all; "switches" tests of you can change at least one of "sidebar", "buttons", "border" or "searchbox"

The tag will render the "then" content if all tests evaluate to true and the "else" content otherwise. Tested strings can be regular expressions.


  <then content> 
  <elsif content>]* 
  <else content>]?

This is the multi-line version of IFSKINSTATE that uses the same tests as above but takes the content from between the sections; thus, arbitrary TWikiML might be rendered conditionaly. IFSKINSTATETHEN expressions can be nested safely. Within a single IFSKINSTATETHEN the ELSIFSKINSTATE parts can be repeated arbitrarily. Before rendering the <then|elsif|else condition> any $nop string will be removed first. Thereby nested TWikiML expressions can be prevented from being expanded in advance.



returns a list of all known skin styles.



returns a list of all known styles variations.


Syntax: %NATFORMLIST{...}%

returns a formatted list of forms that can be attached to a topic. typically used in the changeform skin template. paramters:

  • header
  • format
  • footer
  • separator
  • selected
  • web
  • topic



substitute for %MAXREV% which differes all too much on Beijing, Cairo and Dakar. This version grants to behave the same.



substitute for the %REVISIONS% tag which only works on the TWiki:Plugins/PatternSkin.



returns either a textual or a graphical a logo to be used in the header bar depending on a set of preference variables.

NATWEBLOGO will check for a couple of preference variables in the following order:

  1. return %NATWEBLOGONAME% if defined
  2. return %NATWEBLOGOIMG% if defined
  3. return %WEBLOGOIMG% if defined
  4. return %WIKITOOLNAME% if defined
  5. or return the string 'TWiki' otherwise

The ...IMG% cases will return a full <img src="..." ... /> tag whereas the ...NAME% cases will return the string only.

So given you want to have the string TWiki in the logo position when using NatSkin but not so when using a different skin on the same site. Then add the following to the TWikiPreferences:

  * Set WEBLOGOIMG = /path/to/your/defaultlogo.gif

If you want to have a different logo using NatSkin than using another skin on the same site then add the following to the TWikiPreferences:

  * Set NATWEBLOGOIMG = /path/to/your/natskinlogo.gif
  * Set WEBLOGOIMG = /path/to/your/defaultlogo.gif


Syntax: %PREVREV%

returns the previous topic revision taking NumberOfRevisions into account


Syntax: =%SETSKINSTATE{...}%

set the skin state using TWiki markup. This is different from using topic preference variables in three respects: (1) you can set the skin state at any place now, i.e. INCLUDEing another topic where that topic's preference variables are not evaluated. (2) SETSKINSTATE "may come to late" in the rendering pipeline so that it does not take effect throughly; topic preferences are fetched before rendering starts. (3) it is not checked if the resulting skinstate is "valid" when you use SETSKINSTATE; this is the case if you use preferences values

The following arguments are known and can be used in any combination:

  • buttons="..."
  • sidebar="..."
  • variation="..."
  • style="..."
  • searchbox="..."
  • border="..."
The values to these keys will be commited into the skin state at once. Multiple invokations will override any former setting.


Syntax: %USERACTIONS{"<format>" ...}%

display separate sets of actions for anonymous or authenticated users.

  • sep="<span> class="natSep">|</span>": separator between actions
  • guest="$login$sep$register$sep$print": format string of actions for guests
  • format="$user$sep$logout$sep$print<br />$edit$sep$attach$sep$move$sep$raw$sep$diff$sep$more": format string of actions for authenticated users
  • restrictedactions="...": list of user actions that are disabled if the user has got no write access to the current topic
  • help="...": help topic used for $help, defaults to TWikiUsersGuide (see below)

The "guest" and "format" format strings can use the following variables

  • $attach: link to "attach" topic action
  • $diff: link to diff
  • $edit: link to edit
  • $help: link to a help page
  • $login: link to log in
  • $logout: link to log out
  • $more: link to more dialog
  • $move: link to move dialog
  • $pdf: link to export pdf using the TWiki:Plugins/GenPDFAddOn
  • $print: link to print action
  • $raw: link to display topic in raw format
  • $register: link to registration
  • $sep: separator string
  • $user: name of current authenticated user


Syntax: %WEBCOMPONENT{"name" web="<name>" lineprefix="<prefix>" multiple=""}%


  • name: The name of the WebComponent topic.
  • web="<name>": The web to fetch the component from. Default to the current web.
  • lineprefix="<prefix>": A prefix to be added to each line of the web component topic before inclusion. Typically three space characters.
  • multiple : If defined WEBCOMPONENT will allow for multiple inclusions of the same web component topic.

display a web component. A web component "MyComponent" is searched looking for

  1. MyComponent in the current web,
  2. TWikiMyComponent in the Main web,
  3. TWikiMyComponent in the TWiki06x00 web and
  4. MyComponent in the TWiki06x00 web.

The WEBCOMPONENT tag will retrieve the component where it was found first. Thereby every web can define a component of its own but if it is not defined locally a predefined component will be returned. Components can be predefined in the Main and the TWiki06x00 where the name of the component is prefix with "TWiki" to distinguish them from the local web components that may be present in the Main and the TWiki06x00. As a last resort the local components of the TWiki06x00 are used.

By default the NatSkin comes with predefined components


  • use %WEBCOMPONENT{"WebSideBar"}% to display a the sidebar component
  • use %WEBCOMPONENT{"WebButtons"}% to display the WebButtons

see also: MYSIDEBAR


Syntax: %WEBLINK{web="..." name="..."}%

display a link to a web with the its name and add the SITEMAPUSEDTO description to to the hover balloon. The web name is stripped down to its distinguishing tail, removing all parent web names.


  • web: name of the web to link to
  • name: name to display instead of the web name
  • format: format string for the web link
  • marker: string to be added to inserted into the format string if the web link points to the current web

The following variables can be used in the format string:

  • $web: full qualified name of the web, defaults to current web
  • $topic: name of the topic to link to, defaults to WebHome
  • $name: name of the web, all prefixes but its basename being stripped off
  • $url: url for the link
  • $marker: the marker set to the "marker" string if the link points to the current web
  • $tooltip: tooltip for the link, mostly used in a title argument of an anchor

Installation Instructions

  • Download the ZIP file
  • Unzip it in your twiki installation directory. Content:
    File: Description:

  • Optionally, run NatSkinPlugin_installer to automatically check and install other TWiki modules that this module depends on. You can also do this step manually.
  • Alternatively, manually make sure the dependencies listed in the table below are resolved.
  • Optionally install the TWiki:Plugins/RedDotPlugin to ease editing the sidebar navigation
  • Visit configure in your TWiki installation, and enable the plugin in the {Plugins} section.
  • Edit TWiki06x00.TWikiPreferences and change the SKIN variable to "nat"; customize the default style adding the variables SKINSTYLE, STYLEBORDER, STYLEBUTTONS and STYLESIDEBAR (see NatSkin)
  • If you have set up ssl for your server add the following variable to your TWikiPreferences:
     * Set HTTPSLOGON = on 
    This will prevent passwords being sent in clear-text over a possibly insecure net.
  • To enable ssl as soon as you logged in use the following rewrite rules in bin/.htaccess:
     RewriteEngine On
     RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} !443
     RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} template=oopslogon
     RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}/bin/$1 [R,L]
    Note, that you might need to accommodate the /bin url path above to your installation!

Plugin Info

Plugin Author: TWiki:Main/MichaelDaum
Copyright ©: 2003-2008, Michael Daum http://michaeldaumconsulting.com
License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
Plugin Version: v3.00-pre20
Change History:  
03 Jul 2008: removed unused NATLOGINURL, NATLOGOUTURL, NATDIFFURL; removed auto-disabling the plugin on non-nat skins; fixed patching the skinpath not to include the cover; added support for the GenPDFAddOn; added restrictedactions parameter to USERACTIONS to disable specific user actions if he/she has no write access to the current topic; fixed issue in WEBCOMPONENTS that could be used to reveil read-protected topics (reported by Martin Dahlö); implemented a google-like display of hit results in (nat)search; sorting natsearch results accross all webs - not per web
13 Nov 2007: propagating skin state to context to speed up template resolution, prepending style identifier to SKIN variable to be able to switch the markup together with the css, added NATFORMLIST, a more flexible variantion of the standard FORMLIST
02 Oct 2007: added support for HistoryPlugin, TinyMCEPlugin
21 Sep 2007: made external link detection optional, fixed mod_perl/speedy issue detecting new themes on the stylepath, recoded natsearch to be a lot simpler
06 Mar 2007: improved USERACTIONS tag for more flexibility; added NATSEARCHGLOBAL and NATSEARCHCONTENT flags for NatSearch
05 Feb 2007: new option NATSEARCHIGNORECASE;
13 Oct 2006: prevent recursive expansion of WEBCOMPONENTs; fixed natsearch not to print to STDOUT but use standard apis
02 Oct 2006: respect access rights in WEBCOMPONENTs; prevent deep recursion in WEBCOMPONENTs
18 Sep 2006: fixed natlogon to run on current TWiki4.1-svn
31 Aug 2006: don't call getSkin during initPlugin - you may switch off albeit you are needed
29 Aug 2006: cleaned up and removed all spaghetti code distinguishing beijing, cairo and dakar; removed lots of code that got useless now, i.e. NATSCRIPTURL
25 Aug 2006: first release that drops beijing and cairo support; fixed and cleaned up initialisation sequence to detect commandline context properly; removed unused IFACCESS tag; minor rewrite of the email obfuscator; fixed natsearch to properly support web.topic jumps; moved part of the documentation to NatSkin
21 Aug 2006: removed TablePlugin hack loading plugin preferences into the session store; instead provide proper css for twikiTables to match the current style now; this needs TablePlugin from TWiki > 4.0.4; alternatively use the attached patch to it; multiple fixes to email obfuscator; simplified support for localization ; fixed unexpanded MAKETEXT in natsearch
15 Aug 2006: suport for userinterface internationalization
04 Aug 2006: fixed detection of the cgi action to be more robust on different apache configurations (rewrites, aliases); implemented NATWEBLOGO to circumvent different ways of using WEBLOGO, WIKITOOLNAME; added a wrapper for natsearch and natlogon to be called using dakar's TWiki::UI:run() mechanism; reintroduced the dependency on the FilterPlugin which is still used in one place; load email obfuscator javascript only when needed
28 Jul 2006: This version drops the dependency on the FilterPlugin and adds three new dependencies (1) FlexWebListPlugin, (2) BreadCrumbsPlugin and (3) GluePlugin;
added use strict; and fixed some minor bugs showing up then; removed NATLOGON, NATLOGOUT tags and replaced it with NATLOGINURL, NATLOGOUTURL for more flexibility; fixed check of USEWYSIWYG preference variable
15 Jun 2006: remove double target attribute from external urls
26 May 2006: fixed error fetching the number of the last revision
24 May 2006: fixed detection of style files to prevent 403 errors; added SETSKINSTATE; added more accesskeys to topic actions; added "nop" class to prevent external link detection
05 May 2006: fixed table bgcolor for Independence style; display default WebLinks for non-public webs
19 Apr 2006: use <link rel="stylesheet" ... /> instead of @import url() to ease the pain for js wysiwyg editors
11 Apr 2006: added STYLEPATH feature; added style=off feature to emulate non-css browser; disable email obfuscation javascript if unused
05 Apr 2006: added support for dakar's TemplateLogin; changed semantics of NATLOGON, added NATLOGOUT; fixed some grave bugs exposed by the PublishContrib
27 Mar 2006: moved MySideBar tempaltes to NatSkin; added docu for HTTPSLOGON
20 Mar 2006: multiple errors in natsearch: always first look into the current web, even for a global search; default to local search, was global before, use g: to switch to global search explicitely; GO function searches in all webs; display number of hits; sort hit results in reverse chronological order
13 Mar 2006: dont remove leading and trailing whitespaces from web components
11 Mar 2006: removed MYSIDEBAR tag; new web component search path; new sidebar construction logic using WebLinks; docu restructuring; packaging using BuildContrib
22 Feb 2006: removed GROUPSUMMARY, ALLUSERS and registrationHandle which where only used on the NatsWiki installation, moved into a plugin of its own; fixed initPlugin not to return 0, disable the plugin if not used with the NatSkin on a per handler base
21 Feb 2006: externalized the IFDEFINED family into a plugin of its own and added a new dependency for it
15 Feb 2006: properly detect scripted mode on Dakar
14 Feb 2006: moved FORMATLIST to TWiki:Plugins/FilterPlugin; added dependency on it; fixed uninitialized variables with perl-5.8.8; added escape chars to IFDEFINED; don't switch off using an atom skin
03 Feb 2006: added escape chars (percnt, dollar) to IFACCESS to make it more useful; fixed detection of a Dakar engine; fixed default REDDOT in the MySideBarTemplate
26 Jan 2006: docu fixes
23 Jan 2006: fixed natlogn; fixed FORMATLIST to expandCommonVariables of the format result
09 Jan 2006: removed local sandbox; added dependency on DakarContrib; added variable expansion to IFDEFINED; added cleanup code if the AliasPlugin is not installed; improved natsearch customization; w3c fixes in the MySideBarTemplate
06 Dec 2005: switching off the plugin if the skin is not NatSkin
05 Dec 2005: skin state variables respect FINALPREFERENCES settings; added WEBCOMPONENT
01 Dec 2005: added tooltips to topic actions
29 Nov 2005: fixed warning about using the deprecated endRenderingHandler on Dakar
23 Nov 2005: added $nop to IFSKINSTATETHEN content
22 Nov 2005: added support for the WysiwygPlugin; added custom templates for the BlackListPlugin's error messages
10 Nov 2005: added switchvariation urlparam; work arround bug in Dakar (nested calls to getRenderedVersion()); fixed duplicate target/class in external links; improved MySideBarTemplate using Twisties
09 Nov 2005: fixed wrong call to expandCommonVariables() ... doh
08 Nov 2005: fixed use of uninitialized variables; https links to the same site are not external once
02 Nov 2005: added OBFUSCATEEMAIL flag to switch off this feature
28 Oct 2005: add searchbox and style variations to the skin state; configuring header art is now done using style variations; fixed the NatSkinStyleBrowser to only "stick" to changes; extended IFSKINSTATE to cover the new skin state variables
25 Oct 2005: customization of natsearch by WebPreferences
20 Oct 2005: improved external link detection
10 Oct 2005: added switchstyle feature to cycle thru all installed skin styles
09 Oct 2005: rewrite of skin state: support switching border, sidebar, webbuttons and style independently; rewrite of the email obfuscator; improved skin style browser
27 Sep 2005: added conditional content tags IFSKINSTATE and IFDEFINED; added web button support
30 Aug 2005: added external link detection; fixed IFSKINSTYLE; added style support for the TWiki:Plugins/TablePlugin
26 Aug 2005: new NatSkin-2.0 release
28 Apr 2005: pre-release to fix installation on TWiki/Cairo
16 Mar 2005: Initial version
Perl Version: >=5.6
TWiki:Plugins/Benchmark: TWiki:TWiki/GoodStyle nn%, TWiki:TWiki/FormattedSearch nn%, NatSkinPlugin nn%
Plugin Home: TWiki:Plugins/NatSkinPlugin
Feedback: TWiki:Plugins/NatSkinPluginDev
Appraisal: TWiki:Plugins/NatSkinPluginAppraisal

-- TWiki:Main/MichaelDaum - 03 Jul 2008

NOTE: This plugin is no longer maintained. There are other SkinPackages and PluginPackages you can use; the PatternSkin is pre-installed and is very flexible to customize to you needs.
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Topic revision: r65 - 2010-11-15 - PeterThoeny
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