NYC Theming Seminar / January meetup

kwang0274's picture
2009-01-23 18:00 - 2009-01-24 16:00 America/New_York
Event type: 
Training (free or commercial)

Event signup is now closed

edit by litwol: Due to unusually large number of people wanting to attend this event, I have had to close the signup to the list. Unfortunately we've reached the venue capacity. If some one wanted to attend the event but didnt make the list please email me directly at to check for last minute availability and to get on the waiting list.

Bob Christenson from Mustardseed Media, Inc. will be teaching this seminar on "real world" Drupal theming. He will be talking more about the practical "how to theme" and will NOT be doing in depth detail on how the drupal theme system works (although we'll cover the basics of course).

Bob is a themer, not a developer, so expect a designer's view on the Drupal theme system, not a programmer/developer's view. This will be most helpful if you are an HTML/CSS designer and want to learn how to theme/style Drupal! (if you're a Drupal developer, you may already know everything that will be covered)


Friday, January 23 2009 from 6pm - 9pm
Saturday, January 24 2009 from 1pm - 4pm (There will be an optional lunch gathering at 11am)


Mansueto Ventures - 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007


The seminar is FREE. (If you will be joining us for lunch on Saturday, lunch will be each individual's responsibility.)



  • Welcome
  • What is Drupal Theming
  • Who is a themer?
  • Contrib vs. Custom themes
  • Theme Engine Basics
  • Drupal Terminology Primer
  • Anatomy of a Basic Theme
  • Drupal Coding Standards
  • Theme File Structure
  • Q&A


  • Converting a Static HTML document to a basic Drupal Theme
  • CCK Overview
  • Node theming by content type
  • Custom Theming Nodes
  • User Profile Theming
  • Theming Individual Modules
  • Providing new variables to your templates
  • Making .tpl.php templates available
  • Views and Views Theming
  • Building a Homepage
  • Q&A


  1. You must register in advance to be able to attend. I need to provide the security office with a names of all attendees. If your name is not on the list, they will not let you enter.
  2. We need everyone to show up on time, because litwol (aka Oleg Terenchuk) who is allowing us to use the facility needs to escort us in and out. If you happen to come late do not hesitate to call litwol's cell and he will come meet you to walk you in. Litwol's number is (917) 306-5653.
  3. Those interested in helping provide food/drinks for the seminar as Rob Loach suggested, please visit ( previous chippin ended unexpectedly preventing further donations: ) and make your contributions there. Thanks in advance.

Only local images are allowed. will be sending us some acquia shirts and stickers :)


Signing up


RobLoach's picture

Looking forward to it!

Please mention if there are

litwol's picture

Please mention if there are any fees associated with participation in this seminar. thanks.

Sometimes interesting things appears on

What would you like to learn?

Rob_Feature's picture

this comment was rolled into the description of the seminar. See y'all in NYC!


RobLoach's picture

Rob Feature coming to NYC?! No way! This seminar is going to rock hardcore.


kb2453's picture

This is great!!I can't wait.


kb2453's picture

kwang0274 / litwol ,
Do you think it will be possible to have the program recorded? Thanks.


I would be willing to bring

tylerc66's picture

I would be willing to bring my canon camera and set it up on a tripod and let it run if you want? Its a basic canon that records on mini dv.


kwang0274's picture

Tylerc66 I'd appreciate it greatly if you could do that. Thanks in advance.


glidetothehoop's picture

Man, recording this thing would be awesome! I would love to hear / see what Rob says about this stuff!

Front-end love

ShawnGregg's picture

Glad to see the front-end of Drupal (theming) getting some love, great venue too, can't wait.

Shawn Gregg
[ blog ]
[ work ]

-sg shalo

Thanks Bob!

flabat's picture

I really enjoyed watching all your screencasts, can't wait to be there.

Dang! Wondering how I could swing this...

micahw156's picture

The venue name jumped out at me from the Lullabot interview with Ed Sussman, and I recall wishing for an opportunity to see it first-hand. Not sure I can justify the time and expense for the trip, having already had the opportunity to sit in one of Bob's theming sessions, but it's tempting.

Even if you're a Drupal developer who knows most of the mechanics involved, Bob's point of view as a designer can bring some useful insight and make you rethink some of your existing theming process. My skills improved quite a bit by attending the free seminar he did here in metro Detroit. Plus, he's a fun presenter.

The two day schedule gives a lot more time than we had in Detroit, too. This should be a great one.


looks great

ericG's picture

Glad to see this sort of community-centric seminar coming out of the group! It sounds great, I think I'll even put aside my hate of corporate offices, security, etc. and show up.

Looking forward to this!

tom_o_t's picture

I'd not come across mustard seed before, but they've done some great-looking sites. I'm looking forward to this.

Will there be a particular emphasis on D5 or D6?

i hope d6 only.

litwol's picture

i hope d6 only.

Sometimes interesting things appears on


Rob_Feature's picture

Yup, this will be D6 only.

I'm really looking forward

jpowell-gdo's picture

I'm really looking forward to this seminar!

I recognize that D6 is the future (and the present for many) and am looking forward to learning more about D6 theming. I'm currently still working on some D5 projects due some modules not yet D6-ready. I'm not asking to show both ways if D5 and D6 are completely different, but it would be really useful if you could mention the differences between D5 and D6 as you go.

Thanks again for doing this!!

Sure thing...

Rob_Feature's picture

I'll be sure to point out differences between D5 and D6 as we go along and I'll even show how you can update most sites from D5 in a matter of minutes (depending on their complexity)

will be there on sat! can't

johnvsc's picture

will be there on sat! can't wait !


jensimmons-gdo's picture

Yah! Thanks so much to everyone making this happen. See you there!


flickerfly's picture

So is this going to be more "Designing Drupal for Developers" or "Designing Drupal for Graphic Designers"?

Meaning is the objective to help Developers think like designers or help designers with skills in other media/software learn the ins and outs of making Drupal look like the picture in their head?

The perfect question

Rob_Feature's picture

Hey're asking the perfect question here. I'd say that it will be:

  1. Primarily to show html/css designers how to theme Drupal. I'm not a developer, therefore I think my approach is unique to many people who work on Drupal (most of whom are developers or want to be developers). I'll try and be a bridge to html/css folks who are starting in Drupal to explain things to them in a way they understand.

  2. However, secondarily, I think developers will be able to see inside the mind of someone who designs Drupal. To see a different perspective on what, in Drupal, works well for design and what doesn't. Hopefully that will give them some tips which will make Drupal more designer friendly (or tips on how to be a better designer). However, developers won't learn anything new about Drupal's nuts and bolts that they don't already know.

My personal philosophy is that developers shouldn't ever be asked to think like designers...and designers should never be asked to be developers. Personally, I'm not a developer and I don't want to be one...I'm a designer and user-experience guy so i leave development to developers. So, maybe the answer is: This will mostly be for design types who don't yet fully understand Drupal theming, but I think there will be some good perspective to be had for developers as well.

Great Answer :-)

flickerfly's picture

That was a great answer.

Thanks! I'm going to try to come and bring my sister who just got a degree in graphic design and is working on a degree in communications who I think would really enjoy this.

I'm thinking about getting a

flickerfly's picture

I'm thinking about getting a hotel room for the night so my wife could come and we could enjoy the sights of the city also or something like that. Any recommendations for a reasonable rate hotel (for NYC) nearby or with easy commuting options?

Designer's Rejoice

aibayroff's picture

Thank you Drupal!

looking forward..

likewhoa's picture

looking forward to this seminar and finally going to a NYC drupal's group meeting so I can link up with some drupalings.

bending technology to fit businesses.

Would love to attend

rgammon's picture

Count me in.


kwang0274's picture

If you want to attend, please sign-up for the event using the sign up button located after the even information.

I'd love to attend, but can't...

kjv1611's picture

I'd love to attend this sort of thing, myself, but for the forseeable future, I know no travel will fit into my budget at all. But you never know when/if things will change. Once our 2-year-old gets a little older, I may better be able to at least consider these sorts of things.

If anyone will be able to stream this again or either make it available for download or purchase or something, I'd love to do it that way. If not, I hope everyone has a good time up there, and of course learns something useful.

i might...

likewhoa's picture

I might be able to digitally record the seminar as I don't have a camcoder that I'll be able to use for that date.

bending technology to fit businesses.

I have a camera

rgammon's picture

I have a Sony tape camera w/Firewire out and also a Sony mini-DVD camera. Both are non-professional home sort of cameras, but not lousy. Say the word and I can bring one and a tripod-- and which would be the better media, tape or DVD.

My video editing skills are even worse than my sign-in button finding skills (thanks for the reminder, Kwang), but if somebody else wants to take the tape or DVD and then 'cast it, I can contribute the camera and blank media.

(In review, looks like Tyler is bringing too though?)

dvd encoding

likewhoa's picture

if you record it to DVD I will be able to convert it for web use.

bending technology to fit businesses.

I also have a camera

jpowell-gdo's picture

I have an older Sony Digital-8 DV camcorder with Firewire. Like rgammon, mine is non-professional but pretty decent. My tripod is MIA, but I'd be happy to bring it if you need.

The more recording equipment

litwol's picture

The more recording equipment we have the better. :) all are welcome.

Sometimes interesting things appears on

Midwest Version

Rob_Feature's picture

If any of you are in the Midwest (Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, etc) you may be interested in the Southeast Michigan version of this event. I'll present the exact same info there as a 'trial run' for the NYC workshop.

The response to this NYC workshop has been overwhelming...can't wait to meet you all there!

if the meeting was on the 31th..

likewhoa's picture

if the meeting was on the 31th as it should have been, i wonder how drunk everyone would have gotten after. I know on the 31th I will be ready to party hard. happy new years people!! looking forward to the 23rd meetup.

bending technology to fit businesses.

Final Session Plan

Rob_Feature's picture

Hey All...
I've done final planning for this seminar and the sessions are a little different than what's currently listed in the description (I had to cut some things due to time limitations). You can see the schedule below and hopefully kwang will roll it into the description. You'll see I'm definitely angling this more towards html/css and drupal noobs as opposed to teaching "drupal developers how to theme"...I feel that talking to the noobs is more needed in the community.

What is Drupal Theming
Who is a themer?
Contrib vs. Custom themes
Theme Engine Basics
Drupal Terminology Primer
Anatomy of a Basic Theme
Drupal Coding Standards
Theme File Structure

Converting a Static HTML document to a basic Drupal Theme
CCK Overview
Node theming by content type
Custom Theming Nodes
User Profile Theming
Theming Individual Modules
providing new variables to your templates
making .tpl.php templates available
Views and Views Theming
Building a Homepage

Foods and Drinks?

RobLoach's picture

I'm really getting excited for the event, Bob. Want us to create a ChipIn for sponsored foods/drinks?

You Go Girl!

Rob_Feature's picture


Sure, man...rock it out (kwang is really the one setting this up, but I'm sure he's cool with it too). I'm really not planning on doing anything except concentrate on my presentation...if you guys wanna take it over the top with food, etc, that would be fantastic. Thanks Rob!


RobLoach's picture

Kwang, would you mind sticking a link to the ChipIn in the announcement post?

Or, if possible, stick the whole widget in there!

<object width="250" height="250"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><param name="event_desc" value="If%20you%20would%20like%20some%20food%20during%20the%20Drupal%20NYC%20Theming%20Seminar%2C%20then%20please%20consider%20contributing."></param><param name="color_scheme" value="blue"></param><embed src="" flashVars="event_desc=If%20you%20would%20like%20some%20food%20during%20the%20Drupal%20NYC%20Theming%20Seminar%2C%20then%20please%20consider%20contributing.&color_scheme=blue" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowScriptAccess="always" wmode="transparent" width="250" height="250"></embed></object>

Chipin Issue

winston's picture

Hey Rob,

Tried contributing to the chipin, but was having trouble. Is it maxed out or something?

I'd love to chip in.


I had a momentary issue

jpowell-gdo's picture

I had a momentary issue myself, but figured out my own problem. Make sure you click update totals before you click the link to make the PayPal payment. Otherwise you're trying make a payment of $0 which PayPal isn't so keen on. ;-)

drinks for sure..

likewhoa's picture

if we can't eat and chat, atleast we should all hit a lounge or bar for some drinks so we can hang out and relax.

bending technology to fit businesses.

Friday night i hope we (most

litwol's picture

Friday night i hope we (most if not all) would go to a bar after the seminar. saturday however, we should do the same :-D.

Sometimes interesting things appears on

Bringing Another

flickerfly's picture

I'm bringing a person who is a designer, but not yet into drupal so no account. Who should I tell about this person since I can't use the Signup button to register her attendance?

tell her to create an

litwol's picture

tell her to create an account on g.d.o

Sometimes interesting things appears on


flickerfly's picture

Ok, I was trying to avoid that since she isn't likely to be a regular participant any time soon, but if that's the best way, I'll have her do it.

Create the account yourself?

RobLoach's picture

You could also just create the account yourself, sign her up for the event, and then give her the account. I've done that a couple times....

Saturday Lunch

kwang0274's picture

Now that the seminar is only 18 days away, anyone have a good place for a large group to have lunch on Saturday?

Order in?

RobLoach's picture

Due to the tight schedule, we might not be able to have time to all hit a restaurant nearby. We could, however, order in a bunch of foods. I don't know, it's really up to Bob and you. There's a barish restaurant pretty close by that's nice.

hey rob, I am a complete

kl2ish's picture

hey rob,
I am a complete noob when it comes to drupal. Say so far I have 0.1% knowledge of drupal.Would there even be a 1 % chance of learning something? if so i would definitely be attending for sure!

100% targeted at noobs

Rob_Feature's picture

Hey kl2ish...
Yeah, this training will be 100% targeted at Drupal noobs. I had to make some hard decisions when planning it and I ended up cutting out advanced stuff in favor of basic stuff.

In my view, there's almost no good training/help for themers....and theres almost no good help for noobs. Which means there's practically zero help for noob themers. So, I'm totally targeting them.

To be honest, my fear is that I'll disappoint folks who already know alot of Drupal (and/or development types) since I'm going so basic. But, I've drawn my line in the sand...and I'm sticking to it to try and serve, what I see as, a needed niche :)

I won't speak for Rob, but yes!

jpowell-gdo's picture

I don't want to speak for Rob, but from his outline I think there's a lot of good stuff for a drupal noob!

PS: This was for kl2ish - I thought I hit reply. I'm such a noob ;-)

I'll bring my camera/tripod/wireless mic also

deanmeistr's picture

At least we can have some combined effort to get it on video--I can edit too.

Dean Meyers
Visual Problem-Solver

Dean Meyers
Visual Problem-Solver

Where are we meeting to be escorted into the building?

jwolf's picture

For those who have never been to Mansueto Ventures, could you clarify the location of the meet up? Specifically, where are we meeting Oleg to be escorted into the building? Barclay St., Vesey St., or Greenwich St.?


Google Street View to the Rescue!

RobLoach's picture

Just go into 7 World Trade Center and tell the people at the front that you signed up for the Drupal New York Theming Seminar. If one of us isn't at the front, the guys there will let you in.

Yay Top Notch Themes!

Now I can kick back

Rob_Feature's picture

Ok, good...if jwolf is coming I'll just have him teach the seminar while I kick back and learn some Top Notch tricks. :)

hehe, NOT!

jwolf's picture

hehe, NOT!

I've closed the signup list

litwol's picture

I've closed the signup list because we've reached the venue capacity (a while ago :-p).

Sometimes interesting things appears on

I've officially submitted

litwol's picture

I've officially submitted the guest list.

See everyone there! cheers.

Sometimes interesting things appears on

People who have e-mailed

kwang0274's picture

The following people have e-mailed about giving up their spot on Friday:

Thomas Turnball
Dean Meyers
Jonathan Berger
Amy Cham
Richard Baldwin
Paul Hardwick

Is there a plan for all the extra people who will be there?

Even with cancelations we

litwol's picture

Even with cancelations we are still expecting a lot of people to come, perhaps more than can fit comfortably in the conference room (which is rather big).

That is not to discourage current signups from coming, its just letting you know that waiting list, unfortunately, may not join us.

Sometimes interesting things appears on

sorry for late notice, but add me to that list

ericG's picture

Sorry for the late notice on this, but I just realized I have a conflict with another commitment that I can't get out of. Really sorry I won't be there, was really looking forward to it

I have cancelled also

robbiethegeek's picture

I am not going to be there for this, look forward to people who need this to taking my spot see everyone at DrupalCamp :)


Aye, I'm out too.

rgammon's picture

I hope the event sparks all sorts of themers! But I'll Drupalize in the Jersey woods this weekend and pass my seat to someone else.

But please! Can we get video of at least day 2 out there?! Please!

Hey all - I did the same and

smerrill's picture

Hey all - I did the same and cancelled my attendance to let others in. Hope someone can use my seat!


amycham's picture

I'll step down more seat in the main room!

I would also, however, love to see video of day 2, if it becomes available!

Have a great seminar!

Amy C. Cham
Tech/Marketing Convergence Manager
Tree House Agency
Twitter: amycham

Amy C. Cham
Twitter: amycham

FYI, withdrawing now make no

litwol's picture

FYI, withdrawing now make no difference as the guest lists have been submitted and are final.

Sometimes interesting things appears on

Brunch Tomorrow

RobLoach's picture

Brunch is going to be held at the Kitchenette on Saturday morning, at 10:30 AM before the session.

Find your variables

pwolanin's picture

put this in any *.tpl.php file to find out the names of all populated variables:

All variables in this tpl:<br />
<pre><?php print_r(array_keys($variables)); ?></pre>

List of core templates and suggestions

smerrill's picture

Here's another useful resource for getting started theming:

That page lists all the templates available in core, and also all the template suggestions that core will try (look for Template Suggestions.)

As an example, Rob mentioned that while you can make a page-node-214.tpl.php to theme the entire page around the node with ID 214, you can't make a node-214.tpl.php, because the template suggestion for node templates is very simple: node-[type].tpl.php.

So if our hypothetical node 214 was a story, Drupal would only try node-story.tpl.php and node.tpl.php to output the content of that node.

Great job to everyone who helped put this together and especially Rob for giving a great presentation!

Please fill out the survey

Rob_Feature's picture

Hey all...
Thanks for having me to NYC to teach theming. It was great to get to meet all of you, hopefully the info was helpful. If you attended, please take 2 minutes to fill out a survey about the teaching. It will help me make these more effective in the future. Thanks!

You can find the survey at:

You can also find our video podcast at:
and info about all the in-person training we offer at:

Thanks everyone!

Wireless Mic

kwang0274's picture

I think I left a wireless mic at the Mansueto office yesterday. If anyone finds it, could they please contact me. Thanks. Had a great time, yesterday.

Lost and Found

RobLoach's picture

Hi Kwang. I found the mic, and it's now sitting on my desk at the office. I also found an Apple power charger if anyone forgot to pick their's up.

Wireless Mic

kwang0274's picture

Would it be possible for me to come pick it up tomorrow around 6 ~ 7'ish pm?

Thank you

stuart-gdo's picture

Kwang / Rob / Mansueto Team / Everyone Who Chipped In - thank you for making this weekend's event possible!


ricardoom's picture

Thanks to all for putting together the awesome theming seminar, learned a great deal. Bob, I am curious if you will be making your notes available.

thanks again.


flabat's picture

Thanks to Rob, Kwang, Rob Loach, litwol and everybody else who made this possible!

Thanks a ton!

jpowell-gdo's picture

Thank you so much to Rob and everyone who helped put together this great seminar.

I am so bummed I missed Day 2 (last minute transportation issues from Jersey), so I really hope someone can post notes/video from that part of the seminar.

Thanks again!

Video of Day 2

deanmeistr's picture

I recorded video of Day 2 (including some of the imprompu talk on Panels by johnvsc, which he spoke about at the end of the day). which I hope to post online by the weekend. Thanks Rob, Kwang and all the rest who put the sessions together.


Dean Meyers
Visual Problem-Solver


kwang0274's picture

Video that I have taken during the conference will be available at in small bite size chunks. The first 30 minutes of video of the first day is currently available in 4 chunks. A word of warning, the audio is not as good as I would have liked it too be. And, anything that Bob didn't speak himself, is almost impossible to hear. With that being said, enjoy the videos. And as I find time, I'll post more as they get done.


jpowell-gdo's picture

Thank you so much for posting the videos and helping organize the seminar. It was awesome!!

Static Theme Conversion - video from Day 2

deanmeistr's picture

The first hour of Saturday's session is online at . Bob covered Static Theme conversion for the first 45 minutes, then goes on to talk about CCK, (what it is and how to use it), in the last 15 minutes of this video. I'll put up a seperate video on CCK by itself and the other topics that follow in the next few days.

Dean Meyers
Visual Problem-Solver

You rock!!

jpowell-gdo's picture

Thank you so much for posting the video. I have it in my iTunes already and am looking forward to watching it!

definite thanks

ricardoom's picture

cant wait to see the last part of the talk.


Looks Great

psalmonjr's picture

I'm new to this so I have some elementary questions. At the January meeting I noticed in your pictures that some people had computers and some didn't. Do you recommend bringing a computer or will there be equipment there? In the info listing for the NYC Feb seminar there was a section for suggestions. Any suggestions or comments on what one should know before attending to get the most out of the meeting.
Thank you
Pat Salmon

Presentation decks

tujam's picture

Can Rob post his presentation decks? I was there the first day but couldn't attend the second day.

Saturday Theming videos online

Dean Meyers
Visual Problem-Solver

New York City

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