THEMES powered by Gridelements and Fluidcontent

October 10, 2013

Category: Community
Author: Joey Hasenau and Kay Strobach

Joey Hasenau and Kay Strobach met on the TYPO3 Developer Days 2013. Both are working on similar projects concerning the backend and theming. Their meeting did not turn into an epic battle, but into a fruitful cooperation. That is what the TYPO3 community is all about. ~ben

For quite some time now people have been using Joey's Gridelements to speed up their backend experience and structure their content. At the same time there is also Kay's THEMES, which is inspired by Ron Hall's TemplaVoila Framework, further developed based on the famous Fedext suite by Claus Due.

Further development of the groundbreaking TemplaVoila extension had been suspended a few months ago and this initiated some actions to fill this gap. At that time there were three different teams working on similar stuff which seemed to be quite distant to each other to be able to find a common ground. The normalized DB structures used by Gridelements didn't seem to fit the XML based way of Fluidcontent, which again raised similar problems like TV did, when it comes to performance. THEMES needed a file based approach to create layouts for pages and containers, which seemed to be possible with Fluidcontent only. Management and communication surrounding these kind of topics can be chaotic in Open Source projects.

Fortunately the TYPO3 community offers something very helpful to help alleviate such a situation: The TYPO3 Developer Days.

We had two separate sessions at the developer days, and the result of both is: We are now running on the same track and targetting the same goals, just because we were able to talk to each other and present and discuss the technical abilities of the different extensions. Suddenly it was quite clear how to proceed: Gridelements already offer the file based approach needed by THEMES, so they will be the first choice for structured container elements. Fluidcontent provides the flexibility people have loved TemplaVoila for, and by using Fluid based templates it already connects THEMES to the latest member of the TYPO3 family, NEOS.

The only thing we still have to tackle is the fact, that backend layouts for pages are still provided by the CMS core based on DB records only. It was quite a struggle to convince some sceptics in the core team, that a file based configuration will be necessary not just for THEMES but for everybody, who wants to deliver backend layouts with a professional deployment. But finally we agreed to implement a data provider into the CMS core, which will enable extension developers to use any data source they like, to provide layout configurations. This again will give us the option to create THEME packages that are already very close to the way structures and content are handled with NEOS. Additionally the CMS core itself offers a really cool feature now that enables us to easily create trade specific distributions. Combined this seems a future proof concept.

We are going to develop THEMES further so that there will be a solid base for themes for TYPO3 as well, just like you know them from many other Open Source projects. We already asked the TYPO3 Association for different budgets, so that we will be able to have some sprints, and hopefully we will get another budget to conduct an event for TYPO3 Distributions, Usability Solutions and THEMES in 2014 (T3DUST14), which might focus on distributions and a shift of the backend module design to pave the way for a smoother transition from CMS to NEOS.

As I already mentioned on Twitter lately: Expect some interesting and innovating things to come next year!


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