Render Engine Supports Themes

18 Jul 2023 04:28 UTC

!!!NOTE This is still experimental and some decisions are still not fully figured out.

I also broke a couple things in the process... Documentation coming soon.

I created a theme for It's looks like my current website design but it does something very important.

It moves the development and design of the site to a shareable theme.

One of my most ambitious goals for Render Engine was to have it become a realistic option for a documentation engine.

There were some basic concepts that needed to be accomplished for that to happen:

  • [ ] Themes for common documentation engines like Readthedocs and MkDocs Material
  • [x] Admonitions (This was supported by trentm/markdown2 and I've been told there is custom plugin support on the way)
  • [ ] Autodoc discovery

Before I could start working on Autodoc I needed the ability to create plugins that could make it easy to add the feature and customize its settings.

Before I could start working on themes, I needed to figure out how to detect and add themes.

I do have plugin support (still in development but in alpha stage). And tonight we were able to add theme support.

How did I do this?

We aren't talking about the plugin architecture (that's a whole bigger development story that's been about 6months in development and is still in progess)

That said the changes that came to support plugins made supporting themes a bit easier. The primary change was how to add site_settings to your site. This simplified how settings were collected and the register_plugins was the impetus for the 1 of the 2 changes for theme support.


register_themes is a method for site that adds the template path to the engine.

from render_engine import Site
from render_engine_theme_kjaymiller import kjaymiller

site = Site()
site.register_themes(kjaymiller) # You can add as many themes as you wish.


Now how does that that adds the template path to the engine part work.

Originally, I had all the template paths (including the user's) just loaded in. This was fast and easy and probably would have lead to several problems.

Then I decided that by switching to Jinja's ChoiceLoader, I would be able to modify the loader on the fly since nothing was generated until site.render was called.

        for theme in themes:
  "Registering theme: {theme}")
            self.engine.loader.loaders.insert(0, theme) # Updates Choice Loader

This also created a simple LIFO (Last in First Out) order to provide a little sanity and allowed for more reliable template file choice.

What's next

Of course there are docs and tests that need to happen. I needed a working theme to start documenting potential gotchas.

I'd also like to start combining plugins and themes such as my personal theme and my render-engine-tailwindcss plugin.

site missing style from bad config

This is important as currently there is a fragile song and dance around how to configure tailwind to get your site's style.

site with styling set from output

After that I'll be working on the themes.

Shout out to all the folks that have helped me getting theses updates out the window!