One of my earlier posts was entitled ‘If you are not prepared to be wrong then you’ll never come up with anything original.’ In this post I thought i’d revisit this idea and share a little personal project with you that didn’t turn out quite as I intended however depending on how you look at things with a bit of creative interpretation I think I may have come up with something somewhat original.
I am not programmer by trade but personally I like to get to grips with as many concepts as possible that my developer colleagues work with on a daily basis. A few months back I was exploring the ‘Alternative CSS’ approach to styling portals that have the publishing infrastructure feature enabled.
I decided to dabble with my own Alternative style sheet as a way of gaining an understanding of CSS by working through all of the styles and seeing how far I could go with using a single solitary CSS file only. Perhaps biting off a bit more than I could chew I set out to create a stylesheet file that looked a bit like the recent trend in design tools and various applications where with they are all black backgrounds, those of you who use Tweetdeck or Photoshop elements will understand what I mean.
The great thing with Portals that have the Publishing infrastructure enabled is that they allow you to slip into the site settings of a site and specify an ‘Alternative CSS’ reference that it will call last when the browser is loading the styles for the page. I had a lot of fun using Firebug, IE Developer Toolbars and SharePoint designer to locate the styles and make the tweaks using SharePoint Designer to edit the CSS file I placed directly in a document library.
It was a good learning experience however I never quite polished it off for a couple of reasons. What stopped me going much further was that all the images and icons that MOSS uses don’t look that great on very dark backgrounds. I was aiming to try and do as little as possible with images and keep as much as possible within the constraints of a single CSS file, things got a little busy with other projects and I put everything on hold, I may very well pick it up and give it some more time at some stage.
Rather than look at my exercise as a write off and see it from the perspective of ‘If you are not prepared to be wrong then you’ll never come up with anything original’ , I thought this could be the worlds first ‘Climate change friendly Alternative CSS for MOSS’ however this proved inconclusive as Google themselves stated that black screens don’t really save any energy so instead i’ve come up with an alternative and new and totally original purpose, I hereby announce the worlds first ‘Monitor tan reducing Alternative CSS for MOSS’ download it now and keep your monitor tan in check today!
Download – CSS 71KB
- Your Portal or site will need the publishing infrastructure feature enabled, else you won’t be able to get to the Look and Feel’s master page options:
- You’ll also need the appropriate permissions to get you into site settings (such as site owner)
- Upload the CSS file to a document library on you site
- Navigate to Site Actions > Site settings
- Under the Look and Feel heading click ‘Master page’
- Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the Alternative CSS options
- Select Specify a CSS file to be used by this publishing site and all sites that inherit from it and enter the location of your file.
- If you want to make all the subsites inherit the stylesheet check the ‘Specify a CSS file to be used by this publishing site and all sites that inherit from it.’
This method of styling is ‘light touch’ no features required, no files needed on the server and if you get told off you can click the radio button to set the site back to default quick as lightning. Have fun!
Other alternative uses for this alternative stylesheet from my esteemed colleagues:
- Working late at night so its not so glary – Dave (the green shirted full time front end dev, part time bassist)
- April fools day joke, tell everyone you’ve had to turn out the lights on the server for routine maintenance – Martin