5.3. Skins

Portfolio → Skins

If you see the menu item Skins under Portfolio, you can create skins yourself, edit them, use other people’s skins, and use them on your portfolio pages and your profile page.

Note

If you do not see the menu item Skins, please check with the site administrator. There are two possibilities why you may not be able to use skins:

  1. Skins have not been enabled for the site. A server administrator will need to enable skins for the site.
  2. If skins are enabled for the site in general, but your Mahara institution does not yet allow the use of skins. Your institution administrator can change that in the institution settings.
Your Skins overview page

Your Skins overview page

  1. Click the Create skin button to design a new skin.

  2. Click the Import skin(s) button to import skins that others have shared online.

  3. Click the Export skin(s) button to export all your personal skins.

  4. You can decide which skins you want to display:

    • All skins: All skins that you have access to
    • Site skins: Only skins created by a site administrator
    • My skins: Skins created by yourself
    • Public skins: Other people’s skins that they shared publicly on the site
  5. Click the View skin information icon to see metadata in a pop-up window about the skin such as:

    • Title
    • Owner
    • Description
    • Creation date
    • Modified date
  6. Click the Edit button to make changes to this skin.

  7. Click the Export button to export only this one skin.

  8. Click the Delete button to remove this skin.

    Note

    You only see the Edit, Export and Delete buttons when you have the permission to perform these actions for a skin.

  9. Click the Like button to mark someone else’s skin as one that you want to use on your own pages. The icon will turn grey. Clicking the button again will allow you to remove the skin from your list of favourite skins.

    Note

    You can only like another user’s skin, but not site skins. You can always select a site skin for a page, but only select other people’s skins when you liked them.

5.3.1. Create a skin

You can create skins as:

  • individual user
  • site administrator

Depending on the settings of your skin, it will be available only to you or others.

In the following, the individual skin settings will be described. You do not have to change all settings for a skin but can pick and choose which elements of the theme that your page has you would like to change.

See also

Watch this video demonstrating the page skin feature.

5.3.1.1. General

General settings for your skin

General settings for your skin

  1. Skin title: Give your skin a title. You will see that on the Skins overview page.
  2. Skin description: Describe your skin here and add any details that will help you in the future to remember why you created the skin, what is special about it etc. You can expand the text box if you need to enter a long description by dragging its bottom right corner.
  3. Skin access: Decide here who shall have access to your skin. The default is This is a private skin.
    • This is a private skin: Only you can use this skin on pages.
    • This is a public skin: Others can see your skin and use it.
  4. Click the Save button to accept your changes or click Cancel to abort your changes.

5.3.1.2. Background

Choose the background for your skin

Choose the background for your skin

  1. Background colour: You can tick the checkbox to have no special skin background but use the theme’s background. Alternatively, you can click into the field and select the colour you would like to use or type the colour code in.
  2. Background image: You can choose to use an image as background. Click the Add a file button to choose an image from your files area.
  3. Background image repeat: Decide whether you want to repeat the background image. This setting is useful if your image is smaller than your page. If you do not choose a repeat option, the background will not be filled with the image entirely. Your options are:
    • Don’t repeat: No repetition of the image. This option should only be used if you have a very large image or if the image is larger than your page.
    • Repeat only horizontally: Your image will only be repeated horizontally, but not vertically. This setting can work for a very wide but short page.
    • Repeat only vertically: Your image will only be repeated vertically, but not horizontally. This setting can work for a narrow but long page.
    • Repeat both directions: Your image will be repeated both horizontally and vertically. This setting is the most flexible for your page.
  4. Background image attachment: Decide whether your background should scroll or stay fixed.
    • Fixed: If you select this option, your background stays in place and does not move. Only the page content will scroll.
    • Scroll: If you select this option, your background will scroll together with the page.
  5. Background image position: Decide where your background image shall be anchored. Click one of the options to select the position.
  6. Click the Save button to accept your changes or click Cancel to abort your changes.

5.3.1.3. Fonts and colours

Change font properties

Change font properties

  1. Heading font: Choose the font for your headings. You can choose from any of the installed fonts. The font will be applied to all your headings, e.g.
    • page title
    • block titles
    • headings in the text if you marked them as headings
  2. Text font: Choose the font for all other text. You can choose from any of the installed fonts.
  3. Font size: Choose a relational font size. Headings will be changed proportionally.
  4. Text colour: Decide on the colour for text that appears on the page.
  5. Heading text colour: Choose the colour of your page heading.
  6. Emphasized text colour: Choose the colour of your block titles and other emphasized text.
  7. Normal link colour: Choose the colour in which links shall be displayed.
  8. Underline link: Change the switcher to “Yes” if you want your links to be underlined.
  9. Highlighted link colour: Choose the colour of your links when you hover over them.
  10. Underline link: Change the switcher to “Yes” if you want your highlighted link to be underlined.
  11. Click the Save button to accept your changes or click Cancel to abort your changes.

Note

Wherever you have a colour field, you can either click into the field and select the colour you would like to use or type the colour code in.

If you do not want to use a custom colour but retain the theme colour, tick the checkbox Default.

5.3.1.4. Advanced

Add custom CSS

Add custom CSS

  1. Custom CSS: If you know how to change CSS, you can change other styles for your skin here and overwrite other elements on a page. You can expand the “Custom CSS” text box if you need to enter a a lot of custom CSS code by dragging its bottom right corner.
  2. Click the Save button to accept your changes or click Cancel to abort your changes.

5.3.2. Choose a skin

Portfolio → Pages → Edit a page

When the Skins feature is turned on, you see another item in the page editor navigation: Choose skin.

Choose a skin

Choose a skin

  1. Click the Choose skin navigation item to see all skins that are available to you for this page.
  2. If you do not see a skin that you are looking for, click the Manage skins button. You will be taken to Portfolio → Skins where you can add or remove skins.
  3. My skins: Skins that you created are displayed in this area. Click the title of a skin or the preview image to select it.
  4. Favourite skins: Skins from other people that you like are displayed here. If you do not see a skin, click the Manage skins button. You will be taken to Portfolio → Skins where you can favourite more skins. Click the title of a skin or the preview image to select it.
  5. Site skins: Skins created by site administrators on the site level are displayed. Click the title of a skin or the preview image to select it.
  6. You can see skin information such as:
    • Title
    • Owner
    • Description
    • Creation date
    • Modified date
  7. Once you have selected your skin, click the Save button to select it for your page. You are taken out of the edit mode because you can only view your skin when the page is displayed. If you want to make further changes to your page content, click the Edit this page button.
  8. If you do not want to use the skin that you selected, click the No skin button to reset your selection.

Note

The skin is only shown when you display your page. When you edit your page, you see the standard theme.

5.3.3. View a page with a skin

This is what a skin applied to a page could look like.

Example of a skin on a page

Example of a skin on a page

  1. Background. This is either a solid colour or an image.
  2. Heading font and Heading text colour.
  3. Heading font and Emphasized text colour.
  4. Text font and Text colour.
  5. Font size.
  6. Normal link colour and decision on whether to underline the link or not.
  7. The header is not changed. You may be able to do so if you employ Advanced CSS.
  8. The bottom of the page is not changed either.

5.3.4. What is the difference between themes and page skins?

Themes

  • Have been present in Mahara in their current form since 1.2.

  • Must be uploaded directly onto the web server by a system administrator.

  • Can override the page template for every single screen in Mahara, giving total control over how everything is displayed.

  • Depending on site and institution settings, there may be:

    • a single theme for the whole site
    • a theme for every institution
    • the possibility for users to choose their own theme for browsing the site
    • the possibility for users to apply a particular theme to each portfolio page, the page themes

Skins

  • Can be created, shared, exported and uploaded by users via Portfolio → Skins.
  • Are less powerful than themes. They can only change page colours, fonts and background images, and add extra CSS. Basically they add one additional user-controlled CSS stylesheet to a page.
  • Can only be applied to user-created portfolio pages. They don’t change the way any other part of Mahara is displayed.

When skins and themes collide

  • If users apply a skin to one of their pages, it adds one additional CSS stylesheet to the page. This is in addition to the CSS from the theme.
  • Naturally, any particular skin might not look good in all themes, especially if the theme has changed the underlying page templates for portfolio pages.
  • If you’re a theme designer, the good news is that the skin stylesheet is itself a page template (skin/style.tpl). So, you can specify which page elements each of the skin settings should apply to by overriding that page template.

5.3.5. Disallow skins on a theme

If you use Mahara at an institution, you may wish to prevent anyone making changes to your institution theme with a skin so that your corporate design is preserved and that portfolios created for assessment purposes or as showcases of work done at your institution for example are easily recognizable as belonging to your institution. However, at the same time, you do want to give portfolio authors in your institution the freedom to create personal portfolios with other themes and apply skins to them.

Themes are allowed to use skins per default. If you want to change that, you need to add the parameter $theme->skins = false; to the file themeconfig.php in your theme folder. Once done, users of this theme will see the following message:

‘Your Mahara site theme “Name of the theme” does not support page skins. This means the skin you select will have no effect on how you see this page, but it may affect the page’s appearance for other users viewing the site with a different theme.’

Warning that skin cannot be applied

Warning that skin cannot be applied

Note

This option works best when users cannot choose the theme in which they want to browse the site. If they do, and choose a different theme from the institution theme, then they could see the skin applied to the page because then the underlying theme is their personal one which may allow skins.