Creating themes

To generate its HTML output, Pelican uses the Jinja templating engine due to its flexibility and straightforward syntax. If you want to create your own theme, feel free to take inspiration from the “simple” theme.

To generate your site using a theme you have created (or downloaded manually and then modified), you can specify that theme via the -t flag:

pelican content -s pelicanconf.py -t /projects/your-site/themes/your-theme

If you’d rather not specify the theme on every invocation, you can define THEME in your settings to point to the location of your preferred theme.

Structure

To make your own theme, you must follow the following structure:

├── static
│   ├── css
│   └── images
└── templates
    ├── archives.html         // to display archives
    ├── period_archives.html  // to display time-period archives
    ├── article.html          // processed for each article
    ├── author.html           // processed for each author
    ├── authors.html          // must list all the authors
    ├── categories.html       // must list all the categories
    ├── category.html         // processed for each category
    ├── index.html            // the index (list all the articles)
    ├── page.html             // processed for each page
    ├── tag.html              // processed for each tag
    └── tags.html             // must list all the tags. Can be a tag cloud.
  • static contains all the static assets, which will be copied to the output theme folder. The above filesystem layout includes CSS and image folders, but those are just examples. Put what you need here.
  • templates contains all the templates that will be used to generate the content. The template files listed above are mandatory; you can add your own templates if it helps you keep things organized while creating your theme.

Templates and variables

The idea is to use a simple syntax that you can embed into your HTML pages. This document describes which templates should exist in a theme, and which variables will be passed to each template at generation time.

All templates will receive the variables defined in your settings file, as long as they are in all-caps. You can access them directly.

Common variables

All of these settings will be available to all templates.

Variable Description
output_file The name of the file currently being generated. For instance, when Pelican is rendering the home page, output_file will be “index.html”.
articles The list of articles, ordered descending by date. All the elements are Article objects, so you can access their attributes (e.g. title, summary, author etc.). Sometimes this is shadowed (for instance in the tags page). You will then find info about it in the all_articles variable.
dates The same list of articles, but ordered by date, ascending.
drafts The list of draft articles
tags A list of (tag, articles) tuples, containing all the tags.
categories A list of (category, articles) tuples, containing all the categories and corresponding articles (values)
pages The list of pages
hidden_pages The list of hidden pages

Sorting

URL wrappers (currently categories, tags, and authors), have comparison methods that allow them to be easily sorted by name:

{% for tag, articles in tags|sort %}

If you want to sort based on different criteria, Jinja’s sort command has a number of options.

Date Formatting

Pelican formats the date according to your settings and locale (DATE_FORMATS/DEFAULT_DATE_FORMAT) and provides a locale_date attribute. On the other hand, the date attribute will be a datetime object. If you need custom formatting for a date different than your settings, use the Jinja filter strftime that comes with Pelican. Usage is same as Python strftime format, but the filter will do the right thing and format your date according to the locale given in your settings:

{{ article.date|strftime('%d %B %Y') }}

index.html

This is the home page or index of your blog, generated at index.html.

If pagination is active, subsequent pages will reside in index{number}.html.

Variable Description
articles_paginator A paginator object for the list of articles
articles_page The current page of articles
articles_previous_page The previous page of articles (None if page does not exist)
articles_next_page The next page of articles (None if page does not exist)
dates_paginator A paginator object for the article list, ordered by date, ascending.
dates_page The current page of articles, ordered by date, ascending.
dates_previous_page The previous page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
dates_next_page The next page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
page_name ‘index’ – useful for pagination links

author.html

This template will be processed for each of the existing authors, with output generated according to the AUTHOR_SAVE_AS setting (Default: author/{slug}.html). If pagination is active, subsequent pages will by default reside at author/{slug}{number}.html.

Variable Description
author The name of the author being processed
articles Articles by this author
dates Articles by this author, but ordered by date, ascending
articles_paginator A paginator object for the list of articles
articles_page The current page of articles
articles_previous_page The previous page of articles (None if page does not exist)
articles_next_page The next page of articles (None if page does not exist)
dates_paginator A paginator object for the article list, ordered by date, ascending.
dates_page The current page of articles, ordered by date, ascending.
dates_previous_page The previous page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
dates_next_page The next page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
page_name AUTHOR_URL where everything after {slug} is removed – useful for pagination links

category.html

This template will be processed for each of the existing categories, with output generated according to the CATEGORY_SAVE_AS setting (Default: category/{slug}.html). If pagination is active, subsequent pages will by default reside at category/{slug}{number}.html.

Variable Description
category The name of the category being processed
articles Articles for this category
dates Articles for this category, but ordered by date, ascending
articles_paginator A paginator object for the list of articles
articles_page The current page of articles
articles_previous_page The previous page of articles (None if page does not exist)
articles_next_page The next page of articles (None if page does not exist)
dates_paginator A paginator object for the list of articles, ordered by date, ascending
dates_page The current page of articles, ordered by date, ascending
dates_previous_page The previous page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
dates_next_page The next page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
page_name CATEGORY_URL where everything after {slug} is removed – useful for pagination links

article.html

This template will be processed for each article, with output generated according to the ARTICLE_SAVE_AS setting (Default: {slug}.html). The following variables are available when rendering.

Variable Description
article The article object to be displayed
category The name of the category for the current article

Any metadata that you put in the header of the article source file will be available as fields on the article object. The field name will be the same as the name of the metadata field, except in all-lowercase characters.

For example, you could add a field called FacebookImage to your article metadata, as shown below:

Title: I love Python more than music
Date: 2013-11-06 10:06
Tags: personal, python
Category: Tech
Slug: python-je-l-aime-a-mourir
Author: Francis Cabrel
FacebookImage: http://franciscabrel.com/images/pythonlove.png

This new metadata will be made available as article.facebookimage in your article.html template. This would allow you, for example, to specify an image for the Facebook open graph tags that will change for each article:

<meta property="og:image" content="{{ article.facebookimage }}"/>

page.html

This template will be processed for each page, with output generated according to the PAGE_SAVE_AS setting (Default: pages/{slug}.html). The following variables are available when rendering.

Variable Description
page The page object to be displayed. You can access its title, slug, and content.

tag.html

This template will be processed for each tag, with output generated according to the TAG_SAVE_AS setting (Default: tag/{slug}.html). If pagination is active, subsequent pages will by default reside at tag/{slug}{number}.html.

Variable Description
tag The name of the tag being processed
articles Articles related to this tag
dates Articles related to this tag, but ordered by date, ascending
articles_paginator A paginator object for the list of articles
articles_page The current page of articles
articles_previous_page The previous page of articles (None if page does not exist)
articles_next_page The next page of articles (None if page does not exist)
dates_paginator A paginator object for the list of articles, ordered by date, ascending
dates_page The current page of articles, ordered by date, ascending
dates_previous_page The previous page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
dates_next_page The next page of articles, ordered by date, ascending (None if page does not exist)
page_name TAG_URL where everything after {slug} is removed – useful for pagination links

period_archives.html

This template will be processed for each year of your posts if a path for YEAR_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS is defined, each month if MONTH_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS is defined, and each day if DAY_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS is defined.

Variable Description
period A tuple of the form (year, month, day) that indicates the current time period. year and day are numbers while month is a string. This tuple only contains year if the time period is a given year. It contains both year and month if the time period is over years and months and so on.

You can see an example of how to use period in the “simple” theme period_archives.html template.

Objects

Detail objects attributes that are available and useful in templates. Not all attributes are listed here, this is a selection of attributes considered useful in a template.

Article

The string representation of an Article is the source_path attribute.

Attribute Description
author The Author of this article.
authors A list of Authors of this article.
category The Category of this article.
content The rendered content of the article.
date Datetime object representing the article date.
date_format Either default date format or locale date format.
default_template Default template name.
in_default_lang Boolean representing if the article is written in the default language.
lang Language of the article.
locale_date Date formatted by the date_format.
metadata Article header metadata dict.
save_as Location to save the article page.
slug Page slug.
source_path Full system path of the article source file.
status The article status, can be any of ‘published’ or ‘draft’.
summary Rendered summary content.
tags List of Tag objects.
template Template name to use for rendering.
title Title of the article.
translations List of translations Article objects.
url URL to the article page.

Author / Category / Tag

The string representation of those objects is the name attribute.

Attribute Description
name Name of this object [1].
page_name Author page name.
save_as Location to save the author page.
slug Page slug.
url URL to the author page.
[1]for Author object, coming from :authors: or AUTHOR.

Page

The string representation of a Page is the source_path attribute.

Attribute Description
author The Author of this page.
content The rendered content of the page.
date Datetime object representing the page date.
date_format Either default date format or locale date format.
default_template Default template name.
in_default_lang Boolean representing if the article is written in the default language.
lang Language of the article.
locale_date Date formatted by the date_format.
metadata Page header metadata dict.
save_as Location to save the page.
slug Page slug.
source_path Full system path of the page source file.
status The page status, can be any of ‘published’ or ‘draft’.
summary Rendered summary content.
tags List of Tag objects.
template Template name to use for rendering.
title Title of the page.
translations List of translations Article objects.
url URL to the page.

Feeds

The feed variables changed in 3.0. Each variable now explicitly lists ATOM or RSS in the name. ATOM is still the default. Old themes will need to be updated. Here is a complete list of the feed variables:

FEED_ATOM
FEED_RSS
FEED_ALL_ATOM
FEED_ALL_RSS
CATEGORY_FEED_ATOM
CATEGORY_FEED_RSS
AUTHOR_FEED_ATOM
AUTHOR_FEED_RSS
TAG_FEED_ATOM
TAG_FEED_RSS
TRANSLATION_FEED_ATOM
TRANSLATION_FEED_RSS

Inheritance

Since version 3.0, Pelican supports inheritance from the simple theme, so you can re-use the simple theme templates in your own themes.

If one of the mandatory files in the templates/ directory of your theme is missing, it will be replaced by the matching template from the simple theme. So if the HTML structure of a template in the simple theme is right for you, you don’t have to write a new template from scratch.

You can also extend templates from the simple theme in your own themes by using the {% extends %} directive as in the following example:

{% extends "!simple/index.html" %}   <!-- extends the ``index.html`` template from the ``simple`` theme -->

{% extends "index.html" %}   <!-- "regular" extending -->

Example

With this system, it is possible to create a theme with just two files.

base.html

The first file is the templates/base.html template:

{% extends "!simple/base.html" %}

{% block head %}
{{ super() }}
   <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{ SITEURL }}/theme/css/style.css" />
{% endblock %}
  1. On the first line, we extend the base.html template from the simple theme, so we don’t have to rewrite the entire file.
  2. On the third line, we open the head block which has already been defined in the simple theme.
  3. On the fourth line, the function super() keeps the content previously inserted in the head block.
  4. On the fifth line, we append a stylesheet to the page.
  5. On the last line, we close the head block.

This file will be extended by all the other templates, so the stylesheet will be linked from all pages.

style.css

The second file is the static/css/style.css CSS stylesheet:

body {
    font-family : monospace ;
    font-size : 100% ;
    background-color : white ;
    color : #111 ;
    width : 80% ;
    min-width : 400px ;
    min-height : 200px ;
    padding : 1em ;
    margin : 5% 10% ;
    border : thin solid gray ;
    border-radius : 5px ;
    display : block ;
}

a:link    { color : blue ; text-decoration : none ;      }
a:hover   { color : blue ; text-decoration : underline ; }
a:visited { color : blue ;                               }

h1 a { color : inherit !important }
h2 a { color : inherit !important }
h3 a { color : inherit !important }
h4 a { color : inherit !important }
h5 a { color : inherit !important }
h6 a { color : inherit !important }

pre {
    margin : 2em 1em 2em 4em ;
}

#menu li {
    display : inline ;
}

#post-list {
    margin-bottom : 1em ;
    margin-top : 1em ;
}

Download

You can download this example theme here.