Before we get started building any Vanilla Theme we’re going to need to get our development tools in place. In this chapter, we’ll run through the best of the best and build ourselves a cross-platform Vanilla Theme test environment that would do a professional Theme developer proud.
A Local Test Server: MAMP or XAMPP
The best place to develop your custom Vanilla Theme is off the web, on your home computer. To do that though you’ll need to turn your computer into a “local server”, essentially approximating the program suite on a regular web server (Apache, MySQL and PHP). This means you can install Vanilla on your home computer. Installing these separate server programs can be technically challenging but luckily for us there are some free programs that do all of the heavy lifting. On a Mac: MAMP On Windows: WAMP or XAMPP
Of course, we’ll need to download the latest version of Vanilla and get it correctly installed on your local test server.
Your Vanilla installation is going to need some sample, or dummy, content. Something to theme. You will need to download and import our dummy content for theming. Vanilla 2 has an import utility in its dashboard. This is what you’ll use to import your forum.
- Go to the import tool located in your dashboard under Site Settings > Import.
- There are only a few inputs required. You need to upload the file and supply the username and password of the old forum’s administrative user. If your file is large (say over 5MB), you might want to upload the file manually to your /uploads directory using ftp.
- When you are ready to go click "Upload File" to get started.
- Once the file has been uploaded you’ll see a short summary. Click "Start Import" to do just that.
- The import should run on its own. The length of time it takes depends on how much data you have to import. However, you will see a status update as the import progresses.
- Once the import is complete your data is now ready to go. However, you might want to go through your site’s settings to update some of the stuff that wasn’t imported. One of the places you’ll definitely want to check is Roles & Permissions or else no one will have permission to view the discussions you just imported.
- At this point you’re done. Congratulations! Your Vanilla 2 installation is ready to go with your old forum’s data.
A Code Editor
On Mac, I recommend Coda, Komodo, or Adobe Dreamweaver. On Windows, you can try Notepad++. It’s free and open-source. You can also use a professional package like Adobe Dreamweaver.
An Image Editor
I recommend Adobe Photoshop. You can also try Pixelmator for a cheaper option with less bells and whistles.
The Ultimate Theme Guide for Designers
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Your Arsenal
Chapter 2 - Installing Vanilla on localhost
Chapter 3 - How Vanilla Themes Function
Chapter 4 - Enough Technical Stuff - It's Design Time!