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I think we need to do a bit more to really make skins work in TWiki. At present any template can hve multiple skin versions and a skin can be selected either by a preference or the URL parameter skin. Some issues:

  • There's no way for a new user to TWiki to try out skins i.e. something very easy and obvious, such as a button or drop down on the view page or possible their personal (preferences) page.
  • User preferences information is not always available. There is no explicit session facility for knowing who the user is on the scripts that don't demand login. TWiki can be set to allow the user to remembered based on the IP address, but there isn't necessarily reliable.
  • It's a lot of work to write and maintain a new skin template for all existing ones

So, how can these be addressed.

  • Forms could be used on the user pages for setting preferences
  • Bring in sessions - se SessionsForTWiki
  • Drop down added to view page for temporary change in skin - would be remembered for the session
  • A large part of each template is almost the same i.e. the header and footer sections. I suggset we move these to CommonHeaderFooterTemplate. Then a big difference can be made to look by just changing this template and the view template.

Skins should allow a user to see TWiki in a way that works for them. Often this will mean a specific Intranet site using a new look, but we must also allow individual to choose a skin. Additionally we must make new skin creation easy and keep down the maintainance effort.

Why does this matter? Lots of people are put of TWiki because of the current default skin - people are writing new skins, but we must make these easily accessible.

-- JohnTalintyre - 04 Jul 2001

I agree about the current skin being less than ideal - it's fine for people who like a fairly plain design, but most people seem to want something that uses graphical elements/buttons for navigation, often with JavaScript mouseovers. All quite inessential but people do like it - in fact some intranet sites have way more flash than this, making them quite a pain to use! A certain amount of flash is quite useful, as many people judge a tool based more on appearances than on substance.

It would be useful if people could upload and use their own skins - currently I'm the only person able to log in via shell to our TWiki server, so creating other skins is not really an option for other people.

-- RichardDonkin - 08 Jul 2001

I created a nice skin this weekend (I will upload it later once I remove the "corporate" stuff from it). I agree that the ability to create skins that the user can select would be a great idea. I'm not so sure about sessions though. Seems like we keep wanting to violate the KISS principle to make TWiki into something more full-featured. Why not just allow the user to go to a topic in Main called "SkinChooser", where they can see thumbnails of the skin (and get a bigger image by clicking on it), and then setting the user's default skin to that if they so choose?

Just my $0.035 ($0.02, adjusted for inflation smile

-- DavidWeller - 08 Jul 2001

If you want users to be able to choose their skin, then how is TWiki going to remember it? It can't really at present, see SessionsForTWiki.

-- JohnTalintyre - 09 Jul 2001

WRT: "currently I'm the only person able to log in via shell to our TWiki server" - even if individuals couldn't change their own skins hands off access is still important. At my installation I am pushing to hand over the whole server to our technology support division but they won't touch it until I can prove that I don't need shell access to it. I guess my company is not the only one that works that way.

WRT: "It would be useful if people could upload and use their own skins" - how about we make them upload them as attachments to a topic with a well-known name (say MartinCleaver.ChosenSkin) within their own personal area? (This is a bit PieInTheSky as I am talking ideally about creating people a web per-person, creating the Skins page as ChosenSkin and then using ImportingContexts to search a path first through UsersPersonalWeb and then TWiki.) Note that I am definitely not proposing this last idea as a candidate for TWikiReleaseSpring2001!

-- MartinCleaver - 10 Jul 2001

Some skins are likely to require plugins which would still require access to the server.

  • Can we not make it an objective to not need access, for anything? Hmm. Do we have a TWikiObjectives page somewhere? &sign; [Main.MartinCleaver]

Why not write a short script that setups up soft links to attachments to get around your problem?

  1. How would that help on a UNIX box?
  2. Coz I am a TWikiOnWindows user. [Main.MartinCleaver]

-- JohnTalintyre - 10 Jul 2001

You could writ a script that copied files. This could even be intelligent enough to undo changes. Make life even easier by allow attachments to be unzipped.

For templates in root directory you could change TWiki.cfg to point to an attachment directory.

-- JohnTalintyre - 10 Jul 2001

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Topic revision: r9 - 2001-09-29 - MikeMannix
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