Reviving CivicSpace Theme: Making a useful Drupal theme for grassroots communities

CivicSpace LogoBack in the day, the CivicSpace theme was designed by Chris Messina (factoryjoe on twitter, amazingly tallented guy) for CivicSpace.  The theme was designed to make it incredibly easy for grass roots organizations and campaigns to develop a site that had the style and features they would need for their campaign or community to suceed.

Unfortunately, the theme has gone down-hill with time. And hasn’t seen a true upgrade since Drupal 4.6 (the time of the CivicSpace distro). Last year I got permission to take over the CivicSpace theme project, and to remake it into something useful for communities today. And that brings me to the reason for this post. I’m looking for two things to help develop version 2 of the CivicSpace theme into the best possible base theme for community organizations.

Firstly, I want to get feedback from those of you who are working with community organizations right now.  What kind of things do you want in a theme?  Also, I want to hear from theme developers, who might be interested in helping make the next generation of grass roots base theme.  The CivicSpace theme should put community first, so be sure and have your say!

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  • Samir M. Nassar
    Posted January 15, 2009 at 11:33 am 0Likes

    Since this is community-oriented I would like to see this rebased on one of the existing scaffolding themes such as Hunchbaque, Zen, or Basic. I am partial to Zen, but at the end of the day I think it is more important to build as a subtheme rather than creating a new one.

    One of the reasons for building on a scaffold theme is increasing and deepening the amount of eyes one can put on a bug. Themes are not particularly big and having multiple sub-themes doesn’t impact site loading as far as I can tell.

    Building subthemes gives a really good workout to scaffold themes and helps reduce their bugs. Fixing a bug in Zen helps fix bugs in Zen subthemes, or fixes them outright.

    • Robin
      Posted January 15, 2009 at 11:37 am 0Likes

      I tend to agree. The original CivicSpace actually was a scaffolding theme. It may be best to “outsource” that to an existing and stable scaffolding theme that exists now.


  • Kristin Antin
    Posted January 15, 2009 at 5:06 pm 0Likes

    I am an online community builder, and my ‘community’ includes human rights practitioners and organizations from around the world. I have learned that it is important to keep the theme ‘light’. My community members do not have the fastest computers or connections, so the lighter the theme can be, the better. I’d rather not have it take 3 min to download the front page. I would also like the i18n translation feature to work well with the theme – making it easy for users to access translated content, and also easy for them to translate the content themselves.
    For community based organizations, I think it’s key that users find it fun and easy to communicate with others, sharing documents, resources, stories, etc – og is a good way to do this. How can we make this more appealing via themes?

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