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Django-CMS extensible basic theme with Bootstrap to get you started quickly.

Build Status on Travis

Sample Screenshot


Django-CMS is very powerful, but comes with no themes by default. They say:

Themes are outside the django CMS scope. If you wish to theme the admin, just override the template admin/base_site.html and include some custom css.

That's all very well, but everyone wanting to start a new project with Django-CMS faces a lot of study, effort and difficult choices just to get their first pages to display sensibly. CMSBootstrap aims to get you started in minutes, with a quality extensible base to build your site on.


CMS Bootstrap aims to:

Work with Django-CMS

Themes for non-CMS projects are out of scope.

Work out of the box

Provide a reasonable basic theme for a Django-CMS site automatically, out of the box, with no effort.

Use Bootstrap

Use the Bootstrap project to provide a sensible default theme (toolkit) that you can pull bits from when you need them, without getting in your way.

Be reasonably extensible

Make the simple things simple, and the hard things possible. Changing colours, fonts and sizes should be easy with SCSS.

To that end, we use the Sass/SCSS version of Bootstrap so that you can quickly enable and disable modules and change colours.

Be lightweight

Low bandwidth accessibility is a big part of our philosophy, and this theme needs to support that. Using Bootstrap/Sass allows us to enable and disable Bootstrap modules quickly, so we can skip large chunks of CSS and keep the overall page weight small, while still being flexible.

Our goal on our first project is to keep our pages below 100 kB compressed, including images, CSS and javascript. This allows them to be loaded within 10 seconds on an 80 kbps connection. Standard Bootstrap CSS alone is 99 kB (bootstrap-3.1.1-dist/css/bootstrap.min.css), which leaves no room for anything else on the page within our budget!

Be reusable

This is related to being extensible, but often in conflict. For example:

To be extensible, a theme needs a lot of hooks to override in subclasses: Django template blocks, CSS classes applied to elements, etc. But all the hooks that you're not using are noise that clutters and bloats your pages, so a page full of hooks is a poor template to copy and modify in your own code, at least not without ripping out a lot of code.

So our aim is to have likely extension points, but not every possible one. Other reuse mechanisms such as:

  • Importing existing files wholesale
  • Extending (importing and then overriding) existing files
  • Reusing a block's contents, but adding to it
  • Replacing a file completely
  • Disabling a file

should all be supported and used where possible in preference to cluttering every template with every possible extension point.

Be maintainable

For the same reason, our "API" to developers should be clear, simple, and stable: unlikely to change, or need to be changed in future to support newer versions of Django, Django-CMS, Bootstrap, etc.

This allows developers using CMSBootstrap in their projects to upgrade to the latest version (for example, if there is a security vulnerability in the CSS, or to support a newer version of Django) with minimal risk that it will break their projects and require extensive repair.

Be portable

As well as slow and unreliable connections, our philosophy is that websites should be accessible:

  • Using old browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer 8) for those without bandwidth, skills or permission to upgrade their browsers.
  • Using mobile devices (smart phones, feature phones, low cost tablets) as well as desktop PCs. So our designs should be responsive, compatible with older and simpler browsers such as Opera Mini, and not require Javascript.
  • Using free software (Linux, Firefox, Chromium etc.) as well as Windows, Internet Explorer and Flash, to access our websites.
  • By people using assistive technology (screen readers etc.)
  • Into the future, by using web standards properly. So we use HTML5 elements such as header and nav elements, and add backwards compatibility in IE8 using Javascript.

Where these standard conflict, we aim to support the largest possible number of users in our target audience.

Use Django-Assets

We use django-assets to automatically compile Sass/SCSS to standard, minified CSS. It will make your life better, so we think you should use it too.

You can manually compile the Sass files to standard CSS if you really want to.


The Github project contains the following files and directories:

  • cmsbootstrap: the app which you can add to INSTALLED_APPS in Django.
    • an empty models file to keep Django happy.
    • static: static resources: Sass/SCSS, CSS and JavaScript.
      • bootstrap-sass-3.1.1.tar.gz: the complete sources for the supplied version of Bootstrap (in Sass/SCSS format).
      • cmsbootstrap: CSS and JavaScript files:
        • ie7.css: Internet Explorer 7 compatibility CSS library (minimal, just for the included styles).
        • ie8.css: Internet Explorer 8 compatibility CSS library (minimal, just for the included styles).
        • html5shiv.js, lte-ie7.js, respond.min.js: compatibility libraries for Internet Explorer 8 (responsive media queries and HTML5 elements).
      • js/bootstrap.js, js/bootstrap: the JavaScript libraries supplied with Bootstrap.
      • sass/bootstrap: Bootstrap Sass/SCSS source files.
      • sass/cmsbootstrap.scss: a few additional styles in Sass/SCSS format.
    • templates: the supplied templates, described in detail below.
    • tests: test cases for cmsbootstrap, may be affected by your own application choices (e.g. changing URLs, languages or pages.)
    • no views are currently provided.


With DYE

If you don't yet have a Django-CMS project, the easiest way to get started is:

Whether this is a new or an existing DYE project, add cmsbootstrap to it:

Manual Installation

If you're not using DYE, then install cmsbootstrap in your global Python environment or virtualenv:

pip install cmsbootstrap

Or if it's not available on PyPI, or you need a newer version:

pip install -e git+

Of course you need Django (1.5 or higher) and Django-CMS (2.4 or higher) in your environment as well. They'll be installed automatically by Pip if you don't have them already.


Add django_assets and cmsbootstrap to your INSTALLED_APPS setting like this:


This allows Django to find the templates and static files that we've provided. Add django_assets.finders.AssetsFinder to your STATICFILES_FINDERS:


This allows django-assets to find the assets and compile them. Ensure that you have the LocaleMiddleware enabled in your MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES:

    # other middleware ...

Some of our templates use the request.LANGUAGE_CODE context variable, which requires LocaleMiddleware.

You'll need to add some templates too. You don't need all of these, but you probably want at least one simple page design, a custom home page, and the global placeholders.

    ('custom/page_1col.html', 'Simple Page (no sidebars)'),
    ('custom/page_3col.html', 'Simple Page (both sidebars)'),
    ('custom/page_3col_notitle.html', 'Simple Page (without title, for plugins)'),
    ('custom/homepage.html', 'Home Page'),
    ('custom/placeholders_extra.html', 'Global Placeholders'),

Configuration for Crispy Forms

Although not required by CMSBootstrap itself, you might want to add this setting so that you'll be ready if you decide to start using Crispy Forms (recommended) in your project at some point:


Add django.contrib.auth URLs

The standard template has login and logout buttons, for which you need to have the django.contrib.auth.urls URL patterns installed somewhere in your URL map. Otherwise you'll get an error:

NoReverseMatch at /en/

Reverse for 'login' with arguments '()' and keyword arguments '{}' not found. 0 pattern(s) tried: []

If you get this error message, you can add the following lines to your project's to resolve it:

import django.contrib.auth.urls
urlpatterns += patterns('', url('', include(django.contrib.auth.urls)))

Building the assets

You'll have to build the assets (CSS files) from the Sass sources at least once:

django/website/ assets build

Or you can run the following command, in a spare terminal, to watch the sources for changes and rebuild them automatically when necessary:

django/website/ assets watch

Creating a superuser

If you don't have one already, you'll need a superuser to log into the Django-CMS admin. You can create one like this:

django/website/ createsuperuser

And run the development server (in a spare terminal):

django/website/ runserver

You should be able to access http://localhost:8000/ and see the Django-CMS pony or welcome page.

Starting your site

If you haven't used Django-CMS before, we recommend that you start with the tutorial.

You need some Django-CMS pages to see the templates. If you don't have any, then you'll just see the Django-CMS pony when you visit your site at http://localhost:8000/.

Creating pages is not really in the scope of this documentation. You could follow the Creating your first CMS Page part of the tutorial. Or, if you just want to get started quickly, you can import the homepage fixture to get a simple home page into your CMS (you can then customise or delete it as you wish):

django/website/ loaddata homepage


About Django templates

In Django you can reuse templates by:

  • overriding a template file, by placing a file with the same name and path in the templates directory of one of your own apps.
  • extending a template file, by creating a file with a different name that starts with {% extends "basetemplate.html" %}.

Note that you cannot both override and extend the same file. Overriding a file hides the original file, so you can no longer access it or inherit from it.

Therefore we inserted some extra layers into the inheritance hierarchy: the templates in the custom directory. They extend the real templates from the cmsbootstrap directory, and make no changes by default. You can copy them into your own app (with the same directory name, custom), thus overriding the ones in CMSBootstrap. Note that:

  • custom templates extend the eponymous template in cmsbootstrap.
  • cmsbootstrap templates extend a parent template in custom.

Django-CMS page templates

Because Django-CMS stores the actual filename of the template file in the database, you do not want to move templates around. Therefore the custom templates serve another function: you can use them in your CMS_TEMPLATES list instead of the CMSBootstrap versions, and get a default implementation from cmsbootstrap that does nothing.

When you want to change the template in your project, create a custom/homepage.html (for example) in one of your apps (perhaps by copying the one from CMSBootstrap) and override some of the blocks that it inherits from cmsbootstrap/homepage.html.

Included templates

Note that each template appears in two directories, cmsbootstrap and custom, as described above.

It's recommended that you read the template files to discover all the customisations that are possible. Only a few are listed here.


This is the base template which includes most of the HTML structure to build a basic website out of Bootstrap:

Base template HTML structure

Elements that you're likely to remove or replace completely are wrapped in template blocks with the same name as the element or its CSS class:

  • viewport: <meta name="viewport">
  • media: all CSS and Javascript. You can override this to add CSS and early-loading JavaScript if you don't want to use assets.
  • header: <header class="{% block header_classes %}header_site container-fluid{% endblock %}">
  • logo: the default/dummy CMSBootstrap logo.
  • user_access: <nav class="user_access">
  • user_login_links: <div class="user_login_links">
  • header_nav: HTML5element: `, a Bootstrap navbar for top navigation.
  • header_nav_brand: empty by default, you can override this to include your branding inside the header navbar instead of above it.
  • header_nav_menu: the Django-CMS top-level menu: {% show_menu 0 0 0 0 "cmsbootstrap/menu/menu.html" %}
  • language_menu: the Django-CMS language chooser
  • main: HTML5 <main> element: <main class="{% block main_classes %}container-fluid{% endblock %}">
  • breadcrumb_wrap: the wrapper for the Django-CMS breadcrumbs element
  • article: HTML5 <article> element: <article class="main_article">. You can override this to add left and right sidebars inside <main>, as the page_3col_notitle.html template does.
  • content: empty by default, you can override this to hold your pages' main content, placeholder or application.
  • footer: <footer class="{% block footer_classes %}cmsbootstrap_footer container-fluid{% endblock %}">
  • js_footer: loads most JavaScript assets. You can override this to add late-loading JavaScript in pages if you don't want to use assets.


An example home page with image rotator with a few image blocks.


An example three-column layout with no page title.


Extends page_3col_notitle.html and adds a title.


Extends page_3col_notitle.html, adds a title and removes the sidebars.


This template exists so that you can add static content that appears on multiple pages (headers, footers, etc.) and edit it using the Django-CMS front end.

To do that, create a page (just one!) using this template, with the reverse_id placeholders_extra, and populate the placeholders in it with your static content.

To add new placeholders, override this page and add some new placeholders:

{% placeholder "footer_middle" %}

And then include it in your other templates somewhere:

{% show_placeholder "footer_middle" "placeholders_extra" %}


Renders a Django-CMS menu item in a way that works with Bootstrap Navbar.


Renders a Django-CMS menu item in a way that works with Bootstrap Navbar as a subitem of the Language item dropdown.


Renders a Django-CMS breadcrumb item in a way that works with the standard breadcrumb list.


In addition there is another template file called base.html above the cmsbootstrap directory, which is just an adaptor for 404.html and 500.html in DYE, and is not used otherwise.

CSS classes

Many elements have CSS classes to help you target them:


You can import the assets from cmsbootstrap.assets into your own assets module and add extra files to combine them into a single asset, minified and compressed, to avoid creating extra HTTP requests, like this:

import cmsbootstrap.assets as cmsbootstrap
myapp_css = Bundle(
    filters='pyscss, cssmin',
register('myapp.myapp_css', myapp_css)

To avoid including the standard CMSBootstrap files a second time, you'll want to override the standard_css block, replacing its contents with your own asset, in the base.html template:

{% block standard_css %}
    {% assets "myapp.myapp_css" %}
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ ASSET_URL }}" />
    {% endassets %}
{% endblock standard_css %}

Adding SCSS styles

You can add new Sass/SCSS assets by following the django-assets documentation, creating an file. For example, you could create a main/ like this:

from django_assets import Bundle, register

main_css = Bundle(
    filters='pyscss, cssmin',

register('main_css', main_css)

And create main/static/sass/main/main.scss with whatever additional Sass/SCSS you'd like to include, for example:

@import "bootstrap/bootstrap";

.nav-text {
    padding: $nav-link-padding;

Because you've imported the bootstrap.scss from cmsbootstrap, which in turn imports variables.scss, you have access to all the variables defined by it, such as $nav-link-padding used above.

Then you need to include the generated CSS file in your base.html:

{% block css %}
    {{ block.super }}
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ STATIC_URL }}css/main/main.css" />
{% endblock %}

Changing Bootstrap variables and values

If you want to make changes to these variables, without copying all of the cmsbootstrap Sass files into your own app, you can add the cmsbootstrap project directory to PYSCSS_LOAD_PATHS in

    path.join(path.dirname(__file__), '.ve', 'src', 'cmsbootstrap',
    'cmsbootstrap', 'static', 'sass', 'bootstrap'),

Then you can copy bootstrap.scss and _variables.scss into your own project, for example main/static/sass/bootstrap:

mkdir main/static/sass/bootstrap
cp .ve/src/cmsbootstrap/cmsbootstrap/static/sass/bootstrap/bootstrap.scss main/static/sass/bootstrap
cp .ve/src/cmsbootstrap/cmsbootstrap/static/sass/bootstrap/_variables.scss main/static/sass/bootstrap

In this case, all of the files imported by bootstrap.scss are found in the cmsbootstrap project using the search path, except for the ones that you copied into main/static/sass/bootstrap which are used in preference. So you can modify the variable values defined in variables.scss, and enable or disable modules in bootstrap.scss (most are commented out by default to reduce bandwidth overhead).

In order to actually compile this, you must have created an in the main app as described above. And you need to replace the standard-css block inherited from cmsbootstrap/base.html with your own, including your file instead of bootstrap.scss:

{% block standard-css %}
    {# note that the inherited block.super is NOT included #}
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ STATIC_URL }}css/cmsbootstrap.css" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ STATIC_URL }}css/main/main.css" />
{% endblock %}
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