Ben Tiedt, one of the developer’s on the Community Server team, shares some details on the next version of Community Server version 3.0.
Our focus for the 3.0 release is simplifying the platform and making it easier for people to theme the application.
From a technical point of view the current Community Server theme engine is incredibly robust. There are several other applications available that base their theme engine off of a similar technique. The design yields great UI flexibility coupled with some under-the-hood tricks to ensure that ASP.NET compiles the theme (instead of runtime loading on each request). It’s been a very, very proven system.
The challenge we had with the theme engine is that we took a developer’s approach to building UI, i.e. implementing concepts such as inheritance and abstraction to ensure we had tons of flexibility. Unfortunately flexibility usually has a side affect called complexity. For example, a blog theme in Community Server 2.1 has about 55 files associated with it. Each distinct area of a page, such as the search area, would have its own file.
For Community Server 3.0 our goal has been to keep the high level of flexibility so that a Community Server site could have full fidelity with what the design team envisioned, but to also simplify the entire system. So far we’ve made a lot of progress:
Blog Themes (85% reduction)
2.1 Blog Theme: 55 Files
3.0 Blog Theme: 8 Files
Site Theme (58% reduction)
2.1 Site Theme: 164 Files
3.0 Site Theme: 70 Files
In addition to simplifying the theme system we’ll also be introducing something new: dynamic themes. More on that later…
If you want more information on what else is being done, follow Ben’s blog.
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