Customizing HTML/CSS in Templates

Overview

CodeRed CMS is an extension of Wagtail CMS. You can further customize your site by overriding the built-in templates to suit your needs. For this tutorial, we will assume that you have basic knowledge of the Django templating system. You can read more about it by visiting Django template language.

The templating language uses a series of {%  %} to pull in content from your page models (found in the models.py file) and add minimal logic to the page. This allows it to render the page after content is added in the CMS and allows you to create multiple pages with the same layout. At the top of the page, you also want to make sure to either specify that you are extending a page template and that you are pulling in Wagtail tags to make your template work the way it should.

Note

If you are completely overriding a template, you will not use the {% extends "path/to/template" %} at the top of your template. You do, however, need to make sure to use the appropriate template tags at the top of the template or your template will not render.

The templates directory inside your website app is empty by default. Any templates you put in here will override the default coderedcms templates if they follow the same name and directory structure. This uses the standard Django template rendering engine. For example, to change the formatting of the article page, copy coderedcms/templates/coderedcms/pages/article_page.html to website/templates/coderedcms/pages/article_page.html and modify it. The source code for built-in templates can be found on GitHub.

Example 1: Navbar Customization

The built-in template for the navbar can be found in templates/coderedcms/snippets/navbar.html. This file may not actually be in your installation folders for your site; however, you can see its contents by visiting the CodeRed CMS source code here: navbar.html.

Let’s say that you want to have a 2-tiered navbar with the logo on the top tier and the menu items on the second tier. The default navbar does not have that as an option, so you will want to override this template.

Look at your folder structure for your project. In the website folder, you should see another folder called templates. In there are two folders as well: website and coderedcms. The coderedcms template folder is likely empty at this point because the CMS is pulling in the default templates from source, but you can add templates to the coderedcms folder if you are overriding the default templates.

Most of your custom templates will go into your website folder because they are not overriding the default templates in the CMS but either extending them or creating completely new ones specific to your site.

Note

Adding templates to the coderedcms templates folder does not change the default templates throughout all of CodeRed CMS but does override those specific templates for your website app.

Your website folder currently only has a folder for coderedcms in the templates folder. You can add a new website folder in templates (because we will use it in another tutorial), but for now, you will want to add a snippets folder inside the templates\coderedcms folder so that your folder structure looks something like this:

Our folder structure for templates.

Our folder structure for templates within our website app.

The folder structure needs to be the same as the default folder structure in the CMS if you want to override the navbar template. Now you should have templates\coderedcms\snippets. Navigate to the snippets folder and create a navbar.html file inside of that folder.

You are now ready to begin customizing the navbar template!

  1. Examine the default template for the navbar. What code will we want to use from it? You can use what’s there in your customization.

  2. We will need the Wagtail tags at the top, so copy those and paste them into your navbar.html file.

{% load wagtailcore_tags wagtailsettings_tags wagtailimages_tags coderedcms_tags i18n %}
  1. Next, we need to figure out how to move the logo (aka the navbar-brand) into its own section for the navbar. Maybe we could essentially create two navbars, one that just has the logo and one that has the menu. Hmm, let’s try that!

  2. We want to preserve the basic functionality of the navbar, so we should keep the tags for CMS settings and the overall layout inside of a container.

  3. The 2-tiered navbar will have two navbars on top of each other but one will only have the navbar-brand (logo) while the other will allow for adding menu items via the CMS. So, the top navbar is not going to have access to CSS settings in the CMS that are reserved for the main navbar –- which means that you will need to add any custom classes to the top navbar, such as the background color or where you want the logo to be placed. Keep that in mind.

    {% load wagtailcore_tags wagtailsettings_tags wagtailimages_tags coderedcms_tags i18n %}
    
    
    {% if not settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_wrapper_fluid %}
    <div class="container">
    {% endif %}
    <nav class="navbar navbar-header bg-warning">
    
    {% if not settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_content_fluid %}
    <div class="container">
    {% endif %}
       <div>
       <a class="navbar-brand" href="/">
             {% if settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.logo %}
             {% image settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.logo original as logo %}
             <img class="img-fluid" src="{{logo.url}}" alt="{{site.site_name}}" />
             {% else %}
             {{site.site_name}}
             {% endif %}
       </a>
       </div>
    {% if not settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_content_fluid %}
    </div><!-- /.container -->
    {% endif %}
    
    </nav>
    

    We have set the foundation for the top navbar, which will be the banner section for the logo. Instead of <nav class="navbar {% get_navbar_css %}">, we have added our own Bootstrap classes since this part of the navbar will not be getting its CSS settings from the CMS.

    However, we did keep the {% if settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.logo %} {% endif %} block because we want to show the name of the site if no logo is uploaded in the CMS.

  4. Now we can include the code block for the normal navbar beneath it. Place this code below the </nav> in your template. We want to preserve majority of the navbar as-is (without the block for navbar-brand) so that when we add menu items in the CMS, those items will show up as navigation links.

    <!--Put this below the previous nav closing tag -->
    
    <nav class="navbar {% get_navbar_css %}">
    
    {% if not settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_content_fluid %}
    <div class="container">
    {% endif %}
       <button class="navbar-toggler" type="button" data-toggle="collapse" data-target="#navbar" aria-controls="navbar" aria-expanded="false" aria-label="Toggle navigation">
             <span class="navbar-toggler-icon"></span>
       </button>
    
       <div class="collapse navbar-collapse" id="navbar">
       {% get_navbars as navbars %}
       {% for navbar in navbars %}
       <ul class="navbar-nav {{navbar.custom_css_class}}"
             {% if navbar.custom_id %}id="{{navbar.custom_id}}"{% endif %} >
             {% for item in navbar.menu_items %}
                {% include_block item with liclass="nav-item" aclass="nav-link" ga_event_category="Navbar" %}
             {% endfor %}
       </ul>
       {% endfor %}
       {% if settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_search %}
       <form class="ml-auto form-inline" action="{% url 'codered_search' %}" method="GET">
             {% load bootstrap4 %}
             {% get_searchform request as form %}
             {% bootstrap_form form layout='inline' %}
             <div class="form-group">
                <button class="btn btn-outline-primary ml-2" type="submit">{% trans 'Search' %}</button>
             </div>
       </form>
       {% endif %}
    
       </div>
    
    {% if not settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_content_fluid %}
    </div><!-- /.container -->
    {% endif %}
    
    </nav>
    
    {% if not settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_wrapper_fluid %}
    </div><!-- /.container -->
    {% endif %}
    
    {# Navbar offset #}
    {% if settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_fixed %}
       {% if settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.logo %}
       <div class="{{settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_format}}-fixed-img-offset {{settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_collapse_mode}}"></div>
       {% else %}
       <div class="{{settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_format}}-fixed-offset {{settings.coderedcms.LayoutSettings.navbar_collapse_mode}}"></div>
       {% endif %}
    {% endif %}
    

    Let’s talk about what is happening here. So, we pulled in the code for the navbar a second time, with the removal of navbar-brand section from the original template, but preserved majority of the default code for this section. The if statements refer to whether or not some settings are chosen in the CMS and tells the template what to do in those cases. We also needed to close to top-level container.

    Another section that we kept was for the navbar-toggler, which sets the hamburger menu when the screen sizes change. Finally, we also kept the {% get_navbar_css %} tag in the class for the nav because we can use CSS classes for this navbar from the CMS.

Note

To add classes in the CMS, look for the line Custom CSS Class, which can be found as a field in sections of the admin for a snippet or page, or in the Advanced section of a Layout Block. This is where you would put a class like bg-warning from Bootstrap or a class that you created yourself, like logo-banner.

Adding Custom CSS to the Navbar

If you noticed, we have a few custom classes that are not found in Bootstrap. To style our navbar with these classes, we need to include them in our CSS file and set the styles the way we want. Once you’ve done that and saved your work, your navbar is ready to show the world!

CSS files will be found in website > static > css in your project folder. Unless you are using SASS, you will be editing the custom.css file. For those using SASS, you will want to create a navbar.scss file in your src folder and add a link to it in your custom.scss file.

Note

If you want to learn how to use SASS, we really like this tutorial: SASS Guide.

This is the CSS that we used for our navbar:

.navbar .nav-link {
    font-family: 16px;
    text-transform: uppercase;
}

As you can see, you may not need to use a lot of custom CSS. Sometimes a Bootstrap class will work perfectly. Sometimes all you need to do is customize your template HTML and then add Bootstrap classes as needed. It all depends on your use case.

For our custom navbar, we needed to un-check the “fixed navbar” option in the CMS via Settings > Layout in order for it to work. Check out what our 2-tiered navbar looks like:

Our 2-tiered navbar.

Our custom 2-tiered navbar on our website.

Making More Drastic CSS Changes Sitewide

What we did: So, we went back and changed some of our classes in the HTML template and in the CMS to reflect some new classes that we created, such as bg-lightyellow and bg-cherry.

We’ve also added some additional padding classes in places where we thought it would look good.

Finally, we decided that our logo needed an update as well. So, we swapped our original logo for one that fit our new color scheme.

This is what our website looks like now with all of our customizations and updates:

Our customized website so far

Our updated and customized website so far

And this is our CSS file at the moment:

/*Navbar */
.navbar .nav-link {
    font-family: 16px;
    text-transform: uppercase;
}

/* Custom CSS classes */
.cherry-links a {
    color: #f75990;
}

.bg-lightyellow {
    background-color: #fff685;
}

.bg-cherry {
    background-color: #f75990;
}

With the combination of using Bootstrap classes directly in the CMS and making our own classes, which we can use in the CMS and in custom templates, we can quickly update our site with our changes. There’s more that we want to do, but now we have a good start on a beautiful, customized website!