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New Default Theme (1.5)

Topics: Announcements
Mar 23, 2012 at 11:37 PM

Orchard Prime will be kicking off the development of a new theme which will hopefully become the default theme for Orchard version 1.5. We'll be using this forum to gather community input on the features that should be included in this theme. 

We think that from a design aspect the theme should be very minimalistic with fine typography, acting as a canvas for designers and developers alike to build upon. It will be fully responsive, using CSS3 media queries and use very modern HTML5 & CSS3 code. 

I'll leave things very open at that for you guys to add your input, and of course we'll post any updates and previews on here or Twitter.

Thanks for any feedback in advance.

Mar 24, 2012 at 8:45 PM

@ryan great idea with this post.

I propose re-using the building blocks of the HTML KickStart from, a great starting point IMO : open source- with HTML5, CSS3, JQuery etc... tested and compatible with dominant browsers.

Erik Lenaerts has created an orchard theme based on it:

HTML KickStart

Mar 24, 2012 at 9:33 PM
Edited Mar 24, 2012 at 9:42 PM
phusion wrote:

@ryan great idea with this post.

I propose re-using the building blocks of the HTML KickStart from, a great starting point IMO : open source- with HTML5, CSS3, JQuery etc... tested and compatible with dominant browsers.

Erik Lenaerts has created an orchard theme based on it:

HTML KickStart


I think we could use some of the features from this framework, however, I've been working very hard on our own typography framework which is being used in our premium themes. I think we'll use that as a type base since it's a lot more comprehensive and very easy to customize. For a grid system we're using the 1140 grid, as we feel it represents the future in that it scales up for very high resolution displays and right down for mobile devices. This is something we'd like to promote and encourage with Orchard development and therefore using it for the default theme seems like a natural choice.

After some thought I've come to the conclusion that we need a theme which represents a blank canvas that can be used as a base for any site. We can include several alternate style sheets which add a lot of styling to the UI making it usable on live sites out of the box. If we can achieve the latter then we have certainly fulfilled the first requirement, since we'd be able to completely change the appearance of the site using only CSS. 

Let me know what you think. :-)

Mar 25, 2012 at 2:06 PM
Edited Mar 25, 2012 at 5:27 PM

What I would love to see is a theme (except that it looks neat) that is able to anticipate to multiple screen resolutions and orientation. I think this would make your web site look much better on different devices. Some designers use full screen background images to mask those empty areas on my desktop monitor, but still, it has no content. With the growing amount of devices that can switch orientation (mobile, tablets or even desktop monitors) to landscape or portrait, it would be nice to have a layout that adapts to that.
It's often been a problem to choose whether to pick fixed, liquid or elastic layout, but I think 'fixed' is what most designers want. So, it would be nice to scale in the amount of shown content. In conjunction with f.i. Projections it would be nice to filter based on your layout/resolution. Large screens can show more content than small screens. Also, dynamic placement in zones based on layout/resolution would be nice.

I know it´s currently possible to do some automagical theme switching based on user agent or other tricks, but I´d love to see ´out if the box´ support for different screen resolutions. If your web design supports multiple resolutions, you don´t want to maintain a theme for each resolution.

The ´issue´ of different screen resolutions has always been a p.i.t.a. That´s why it´s very understandable that f.i. Windows Phone uses 480x800 pixels as a fixed resolution. I wonder what will happen with apps on Windows 8 on all the different devices. A designer always designs for a given surface, isn't it?
EDIT: useful insights

I realize this stuff transcends the context of a 'new default theme', but hey, this is what I think :-)

Mar 28, 2012 at 9:08 PM

The theme will be fully responsive, that is scale for screen over 1,000px wide right back down to those at around 300px wide.

Okay, here is some information that we need from you guys before we move on regarding the zones. Would you like to see the current zones from The Theme Machine to be present in the new theme? How do you find developing on top of the theme with these zones etc. 

Mar 29, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Edited Apr 30, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Okay, so regarding the zones we're thinking that we should strip away the main area to "Content" and "Sidebar" as shown in the image below. The nature of the construction will allow anybody to modify this with minimal of effort due to the grid system. We feel this is much more important than having many zones implemented out of the box. Let us know what you think!

Note: The preview shown below is in a very early form and does not in any way represent the finished product. However, all feedback is welcomed.

Image removed <ins>See latest iterations below</ins>.

Mar 31, 2012 at 4:53 PM

@ryna, do you mean modifying the layout.cshml, stripping away zones?

Apr 1, 2012 at 5:08 PM

@phusion, the theme will be written from scratch. We're just doing mock-ups in Photoshop and HTML at the moment. But the idea would be to have a minimal zone offering, that is header, navigation, content, sidebar and footer. Putting the focus on ease of adding new zones, as nobody is ever going to need the amount of zones that are present in The Theme Machine?

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:22 PM
Edited Apr 10, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Feedback is now needed before we continue any further.

As this is the default theme, we've decided to encompass Microsoft's Metro design ethos, that is, content comes before chrome. This will allow designers easier implementation if their own designs. A static HTML mock-up of will be available here, this will be subject to updates.

It's still very crude at the moment, but it's at a stage where you guys are able to say whether you like what you see or not! :-)

We look forward to your feedback!

Apr 2, 2012 at 10:49 PM

@ryna, I really like it!!!!, I would though, is there any way we could keep the names of zones between the themes the same?

Apr 2, 2012 at 11:15 PM

Very nice, well done. 

I also would like to see support for heirarchical menus, and yes IE7+ too :-/

Also, I'm not sure about the stripping out of zones.  I'm pretty new to Orchard but I like the flexibility & unobtrusiveness of all the Theme Machine zones - it takes the design/development work out of creating them ourselves.  In the site I'm creating at the moment I've used many (but not all) of them.

Apr 2, 2012 at 11:30 PM

I was simply talking about keeping the zone names the same, if there are less zones thats fine, I was just think of more compatibility betwen themes.

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Edited Apr 3, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Hey guys, thanks for the feedback!

Yes, here is a note: There is no responsiveness, that is, things act quirky on browser resize. This revision is only Web-kit compatible. 

Here's feedback for your feedback ;-)

  1. No IE supported as of yet, however we will support back to IE7. Anybody else (God have mercy on your soul) can try IE6.
  2. With regards to drop down support, this will be via Orchards core system, as this is due to roll out with 1.5, or advanced menu if no implementation exists in this release.
  3. CSS Media queries will be used to make this design look perfect on every device out there! :-)
  4. The Segoe UI Light font is the only way to achieve this font weight, as mentioned this is still in a very early form and typography is still pretty crude. We'll look into this, but I'm not sure if there will be any changes made.
  5. Yes, you're correct about the sans-serif. (Duh, didn't see that ;-) )
  6. We'll keep all of the zones, and they'll all be responsive. (This will be present in the next static preview)
  7. Edit The content columns also need work. That's a pen, paper and calculator job to work the %'s out!
Apr 26, 2012 at 7:04 PM
Edited Apr 26, 2012 at 7:26 PM
  1. I think all new themes should be compatible with hierarchical navigation, as it will be included in 1.5. The Menu and MenuItem shapes already handle it, it's just that the current navigation module doesn't.
  2. If you intend to do a canvas like theme, I understand why you wouldn't want to reuse TheThemeMachine (no responsiveness, new CSS framework, no hierarchical menu). But I think that keeping the same zones would be really great. First it shows how to create them, second it provide a really nice base theme for designers to place content and then customize the CSS. If you don't provide zones, you not only ask for modifying the CSS but also to understand how to code zones, and to code them.
  3. My initial idea when I pushed for a new Default theme, was to have something more finished than TheThemeMachine. Currently it's very usefull for dev, but it's too light for being proud of it without doing anything. For instance when you install Wordpress, the theme is light but it feels nice enough to be published as is, an you can customize the banner from the admin. You don't need to change any css or template if you don't want to. That is a huge point to deployment rate. That's also why we need services like Orchard Prime.
Apr 27, 2012 at 12:50 AM

Ryan, would you mind giving a status report to the Steering Committee for the meeting next Wednesday, either by attending the meeting or here in written form? Is there a public repository where people can contribute and watch progress?

For task management, Sébastien opened a new Trello board: Please use this instead of the current iteration board.

Apr 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Edited Apr 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Right, so we'd be happy to lead this team and provide feedback on our progress every Wednesday. 

The design flow that we'd follow is nearly identical to that of our own themes, which is something like:

  1. Theme concepts and design goals.
  2. PSD design.
  3. HTML Mockups.
  4. Initial Orchard theme.
  5. Refined and features added. (Such as options panels)

Clearly we'll have to start from scratch on this, as we had planned to deviate away from The Theme Machines zone offerings. We will do some work on the design aspect and get back to you on this.

I've joined the Trello board as well.

Apr 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM


Apr 29, 2012 at 6:52 PM
Edited Apr 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Howdy folks,

Here is the latest design mock of the default theme, as always, honest feedback is appreciated:

Image removed <ins>Please see latest iterations below</ins>.

Apr 29, 2012 at 7:18 PM

I find it really clean, but maybe a little austere.

I'm not sure what the "Like what you see here" is doing there. I'm assuming this just going to be the gallery screenshot and it's only there in order to have something in aftermain?

One thing we may want to try with the quad zones is to put them in the black zone on the bottom? It may make it look more current.

Are we going to make some of this configurable from the admin, such as fonts, icons and colors (fore and backgrounds)? If so, we should probably make a couple of mocks with different configured fonts and colors.

Thanks for the good work.

Apr 29, 2012 at 7:24 PM


That plan is to have this as the "Default" style for the site, and include several other styles that can be selected from the back-end. This "Default" style is designed to be simple so that it is easy to build upon, there is no visual noise. The idea for the back-end is to incorporate some of the system that Orchard Prime themes will be using, which we hope to make open source at some point in the future.  

How does that sound?

Apr 29, 2012 at 7:26 PM

That sounds positively awesome.

Apr 29, 2012 at 8:29 PM

I think the screenshot looks great, and it really is serving the purpose of being a "base" theme. The last thing I want in a base theme is to have to delete a bunch of styles that the authors thought were nice to have, when they really are just bloat. I think the base theme should in fact be minimalist like this one is, to allow a developer/designer to insert their own style quickly and with a minimum of fuss. It's therefore cannot also serve the purpose of being a "production worthy" theme that people can use as is. That's what the other contributed themes need to do. This one needs to remain simple.

Also, I agree the Footer Quad sections could go dark so that they look like they're part of the footer, which I'm guessing was the intention from their names.

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:39 PM

I disagree the Footer Quad section go inside footer. It's on theme designers to put it there. Editors or end users may want to put content on Quads in case Triples are not enough. 

Looks great but I would like to see orchard's logo somewhere. Also I noticed a down arrow on "Services" menu item. Are you gonna implement multi level menus on next release?

At the end a "Bravo" from me. Good job.

Apr 30, 2012 at 9:57 AM
ryandrewburnett wrote:


That plan is to have this as the "Default" style for the site, and include several other styles that can be selected from the back-end. This "Default" style is designed to be simple so that it is easy to build upon, there is no visual noise. The idea for the back-end is to incorporate some of the system that Orchard Prime themes will be using, which we hope to make open source at some point in the future.  

Do you mean you could "select a style" as in "select a theme", or do you mean you could select a style from one of multiple that a theme supports?

Apr 30, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Ps. I LOVE the new default theme. Maybe the big dark grey banner should contain a default image, with Orchard's logo in it?

Apr 30, 2012 at 5:24 PM
Edited Apr 30, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Here is our next iteration based on your feedback, same here... honest comments required! :-)

Just an outline of what's changed:

  1. There's an image in the featured area, this is intended to be a slider or billboard.
  2. Footer quad is now more visually related to the footer.
  3. There is an Orchard logo to share the love.

The next phase from here will be to produce a full HTML mockup of this design, and then discuss the full feature set before creating the Orchard Theme. (This is things like options panels, recipes with dummy content etc.)

Apr 30, 2012 at 5:56 PM

One of the goal is also to have something that people could publish as is, and proud of. So don't be shy when adding some colors ;) For instance the banner is also very dark. It doesn't make the theme harder to change if the default image(s) are more colorful. But it might help a few people to publish their site more quickly. Look at how many Wordpress websites use the default theme. "Default theme" doesn't mean "Developer theme". Though if we can have both requirements in a single theme I am fine with it.

As an implementation note, you might want to embed something like three different themes with only one package using Child Themes, each of them defining only a CSS, instead of having a new admin setting. Then users can use the Themes page to select the one they want. And you can even have specific assets (like images, banners) in each of the themes.

Same comment as Bertrand, what is "Like what you see Here ..." Maybe that should be a Zone, and your mockup reflects it. (It's AfterMain in TTM)

Some people might also wonder why not using a public template framework instead of your own. Just explain how more awesome you are ;)

Otherwise, AWESOME.

May 2, 2012 at 9:22 PM

Howdy, sorry for the late reply.

Here is my opinion on the matter of how streamlined the theme is to be used as a basis for site development:

The default theme will not be filling in this role, as you say we need something that is deployable out of the box. With this in mind, we're going to maintain two themes, with the generic layout as defined in the previews. There will be the Orchard default which will feature several child themes, heavily styled in a 'ready to deploy' state, and a neat options panel. We'll also have a developers version of this theme which will feature the exact design as shown in the previews, including a responsive grid system and typography framework. (There will be no options panel) We feel this will allow for both objectives to be achieved better, our stripped down theme will allow you guys to develop fast whilst our default theme will allow you to deploy a beautiful site fast. 

Why don't we use a public template framework?

This is something that we feel very strongly about, using our own CSS core library. Our library consists of an HTML 5 reset, responsive grid and a fantastic typography base. What this allows you to do is develop sites your way and fast. It's very unobtrusive, there's nothing to learn and what's in there is what you already know. Things that are often neglected are done for you, in particular our typography styling is something which I'm very proud of. It allows you to deploy a site with fantastic type out of the box. Not every site needs tabbed boxes, buttons, banners and another infinite amount of Web 2.0 objects, so why should you start with them only to strip it all out? If we used something like Bootstrap we'd have to remove 90%+ of it's features, ending up with a nice responsive grid and a select amount of other items. We'd love to know what you think on the matter though! :-)

The "like what you see" area:

This is a quick one: it's after main. ;-)

May 2, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Are you using open source grid, typography, and reset frameworks? For example, and reset.css/normalize.css? If you are not using some open/public libraries for all these things I would still prefer to switch to something public, unless there is a significant reason to use your custom ones. The main reasons are: 

1. Familiarity - Everyone already knows the open source projects, and can easily find help in stackoverflow or other forums on the web, if they need it. If we use a custom thing that you have developed, no matter how nice and awesome it is, we'd have to learn yet another framework. 

2. Documentation 

3. Wide support - these libraries are used by a lot of people and therefore cover a lot of cases in different browsers/OS'es. 

4. Plugins/Features - the counter to your point about having to strip things out, is a. many people won't care. Bootstrap isn't that large for what it provides, and (b) bootstrap provides a ton of very useful UI features. Simple things like making a submit button flush with an input box, plus all the other form stylings they have. typeahead, tooltips, etc. Does your framework provide all these, if someone wanted to use them? 


With bootstrap you can pick and choose which modules you want to include on top of the base. I believe the bootstrap module on the Orchard gallery lets you customize some stuff. In my projects I included bootstrap and it was very easy to enable the features I wanted to use. Can you provide details on why your framework makes it worth it to go against the above points? A lot of this is moot if you are using a collection of public stuff. 

May 2, 2012 at 9:44 PM
The reset is based upon HTML5 doctors reset stylesheet. The grid is the 1140 grid system. Our typography is in-house, I think the idea of being unfamiliar with simple CSS is pretty irrelevant, we've written very clean and clear styles that are easy for anybody to pick up on. Are you saying that you want to use Bootstrap as the new default theme?

Sent from my iPod
May 2, 2012 at 10:02 PM

No, I'm not advocating for bootstrap necessarily, i'm advocating that the pieces used all be public frameworks. That's why I asked if you are using open source grid, typography, and reset frameworks. I haven't looked at your code so up until now I didn't know that you were using 1140 and html5 doctor's reset, and a custom typography css. Sorry if I missed it, if you had already mentioned that.  

I'm not sure what you mean about the familiarity. A lot of people know bootstrap and aside from the grid (which is super basic and easy to pick up), the way to accomplish stuff is already established and the documentation for how to do everything is already there and very nicely layed out. 

So yeah, my personal preference would be to use bootstrap as the basis for the default theme, but it's not a big deal if that doesn't happen because there are themes already on the gallery that use bootstrap. A bootstrap based theme doesn't have to look like out-of-the-box bootstrap (I don't see bootstrap as a theme, more as a framework for building web UI). That way users could have the option to enable all those other nice things that bootstrap provides. Ultimately it's up to you because you are building it, and maybe you'll hear feedback from others as well. 

May 2, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Can you let us know what your system does to in terms of providing nice type? I've heard of such frameworks before but I never got a chance to work with any typography-focused css libraries. 

May 3, 2012 at 7:20 PM

At the moment we're just throwing the design out there to see what the response is; not the coding. 

The one thing to remember is that this theme is not aimed at developers. It's aimed at Jo Public to enable him/her to be able to deploy quickly and easily. If the theme has too many options, it will deter these people who are the ones we need to grow Orchard from a niche CMS to a mainstream one. 

The Twenty Eleven Theme in WordPress isn't based on a well known css framework (in fact none of their default themes have been) because the people who use it for their site are not likely to extend it in any way. It also doesn't have any bells or whistles; no shortcodes and limited widgets, just basic colour changes; these are for developers to add on if necessary. If we start adding things that people *might* want (or start picking elements from bootstrap); we'll be adding them ad infinitum. 

In terms of type, there is a ratio based structure to the headings, some minimal styling for blockquotes etc. Again, there is no point in styling these massively. We've used a Helvetica font stack; and not enetered into font-face to keep things minimal. Again developers can add these or typekit if need be.

May 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Edited May 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Using a publicly available HTML framework has pros and cons - I agree. From the developer's/designer's perspective it's sometimes useful to start from stratch, but as Sebastien mentioned before - the "default theme" does not equal "developer theme". The main goal is to have something easy-to-use ootb by someone who has little knowledge about HTML. If the theme could also be developer-friendly, it's a perfect scenario. And IMO, using Bootstrap/Kickstart is good enough for both.

I'm not an advocate of the Bootstrap-like frameworks, but in this case there are lots of pros. I totally agree with @TheMonarch on this.

  1. Everything (almost) is styled and/or scripted. One may consider it a drawback, but... If I want to have a neat table, button, split-button, tooltips or whatever - it's just there.
  2. Documentation and samples. 
  3. Userbase. Actually, CSS/HTML newbie users will always ask a ton of simple questions, no matter if we use Bootstrap or custom framework. But in the former case there are lots of people that can help beside us.
  4. LESS/SASS based styling. I'm personally a great fan of those - it saves a hell lot of time when doing customizations.

@ryandrewburnett I understand you would like to pursue your framework as you feel familiar with it. If you convince us that from the end-user perspective it's better than the publicly available ones - I'm perfectly fine with that. We'd just like not to reinvent the wheel, unless there is a really good reason to.

May 4, 2012 at 6:37 PM

We'll be posting our base CSS library for you guys to have a look at sometime this weekend. I use the word 'library' here because it's just a nice reset and base for typography. What we're working towards with this is skeleton CSS for building Orchard themes and not a Web application UI framework. 

May 4, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Here is a preview of the CSS library. Honest feedback is needed so that we can develop it further. Forms isn't really in there yet.

May 4, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Nicely done, with some questions though.

1- Shouldn't the main font-size be in px and the subsequent ones in em ? For instance the main text is 12px, but I (let's suppose I am a theme developer) want my websites to be in 16px (which I have read several times to be better for readability, or as an example), then the headers are smaller than my text.
2- Same remark for line-height (though it should be the same answer as they should be consistent)
3- What is the reason behind having h6 upper cased ? To have an upper cased style out of the box ?
4- There are no links to test their behavior (as defined in the css), you mentioned the forms but not the links, so I just wanted to remind it ;)
5- Why are some properties defined for -o -ms -moz -webkit and some other just for a subset. Shouldn't they be repeated, even if this is the default value, just to remove confusion ?


May 4, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Hi Sebastien, :-)

  1. Sure, I've read about the 16px font size in a lot of places. I'll switch over to 16px as I 100% agree it's the best for readability. (It is browser default after all) I'll adjust the headings to match these changes.
  2. Are you referring to the selection of line heights or the chosen sizes? The line heights are set using the Golden Typography Ratio.
  3. The reason I've done that with the H6 is that a natural progression down from the H5 is simply too small. So I went a few pixels larger and added some extra styling to visually distinguish it from body text. This will probably resolve itself once I've adjusted everything to match the 16px body size.
  4. I'll add links! :-)
  5. We're using all vendor prefixes where any CSS3 is used, can I get some specifics on where we've been inconsistent here please so I can sort it out.

Thanks for the help!

May 4, 2012 at 11:16 PM

1- Actually you didn't answer the question which was more about using px vs. em than 16. I don't care about 16, it was an example, but why using 23px for h1 instead of 1.3em (just random numbers here)
5- Search for -webkit, they all miss either -ms or all the others 

May 4, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Hah, sorry!

My mind works best in pixels, when it's final we'll change then to em's for better browser support. I'll use 62.5% base so 12px = 1.2em.

The vendor tags is something which has slipped my mind and will be added.

Sent from my iPod
May 5, 2012 at 2:12 AM

@JasperD: I think there are copyright issues with the Segoe UI font

May 5, 2012 at 3:29 AM

I like how clean everything looks, and lists are styled nicely. I agree that the font sizes could be bigger. At first I didn't like the font but I changed my mind after  increasing the body copy size and line height. It looks pretty nice at 18px (not a suggestion for size or to use px; just sayin', it looks better larger). I'll try this font out on a couple of side projects. 

Nice job so far. 

May 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Maybe I misunderstood, but I think the last link is not to judge the default theme look and feel but the CSS framework/organization itself, isn't it ?

May 5, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Yep! We'll have a full HTML mockup to you by next week, then it's time to get it into Orchard. 

The idea is to get basic elements set up before making them pretty and building the theme. Now everything is in em's, if the user changes the base font size to 18px everything else changes too. I think this is nice because the H6 will get larger, normally it would stay at 16px and be smaller than the body font. It might not look like much at the moment but we're trying to sweat all of the fine details here to produce something special for Orchard. (This is also being used in our premium themes.)

May 5, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Thanks for all the hard work. This is shaping up to be a pretty awesome theme.

May 5, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Thanks, we appreciate that. :-) We'll have some style variations to show off with the mock-up as well.

May 7, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Thanks all for your participation. I think we have a good grasp of the rationale behind not adopting an existing CSS framework. I'm convinced by Ryan's arguments and I think we can agree that the CSS he's produced is high quality and easily maintained, which is what we should care the most about. Unless there is a final compelling argument not to, I suggest that we close this part of the discussion and move on, based on the decision to use Ryan's CSS.

May 8, 2012 at 1:55 PM

@ryan If you need any help with turning the mock-up into an Orchard theme, or anything else for that matter, feel free to let me know and I'll help out the best I can. Thank you for the awesome new design!

May 9, 2012 at 3:02 AM

Feature Team Leaders, please join us tomorrow at 1PM Pacific Time for a status report at (Lync client required). If you can't join us, please leave us a note here giving status before the meeting.



Aug 13, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Is this theme complete?

Aug 16, 2012 at 11:57 PM
As you can see this took the backseat for a while, however we're currently working on this alongside our premium themes. Expect to see this and another free theme in the gallery shortly after the premium themes become available. Keep an eye on @orchardprime on Twitter for updates.

From: [email removed]
To: [email removed]
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2012 15:45:13 -0700
Subject: Re: New Default Theme (1.5) [orchard:349845]

From: xotj123
Is this theme complete?
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