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Web Tutorial

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Evennia uses the Django web framework as the basis of both its database configuration and the website it provides. While a full understanding of Django requires reading the Django documentation, we have provided this tutorial to get you running with the basics and how they pertain to Evennia. This text details getting everything set up. The Web-based Character view Tutorial gives a more explicit example of making a custom web page connected to your game, and you may want to read that after finishing this guide.

A Basic Overview

Django is a web framework. It gives you a set of development tools for building a website quickly and easily.

Django projects are split up into apps and these apps all contribute to one project. For instance, you might have an app for conducting polls, or an app for showing news posts or, like us, one for creating a web client.

Each of these applications has a urls.py file, which specifies what URLs are used by the app, a views.py file for the code that the URLs activate, a templates directory for displaying the results of that code in HTML for the user, and a static folder that holds assets like CSS, Javascript, and Image files. Django applications may also have a models.py file for storing information in the database. We will not change any models here, take a look at the New Models page (as well as the Django docs on models) if you are interested.

There is also a root urls.py that determines the URL structure for the entire project. A starter urls.py is included in the default game template, and automatically imports all of Evennia's default URLs for you. This is located in web/urls.py.

Changing the logo on the front page

Evennia's default logo is a fun little googly-eyed snake wrapped around a gear globe. As cute as it is, it probably doesn't represent your game. So one of the first things you may wish to do is replace it with a logo of your own.

Django web apps all have static assets: CSS files, Javascript files, and Image files. In order to make sure the final project has all the static files it needs, the system collects the files from every app's static folder and places it in the STATIC_ROOT defined in settings.py. By default, the Evennia STATIC_ROOT is in web/static.

Because Django pulls files from all of those separate places and puts them in one folder, it's possible for one file to overwrite another. We will use this to plug in our own files without having to change anything in the Evennia itself.

By default, Evennia is configured to pull files you put in the web/static_overrides after all other static files. That means that files in static_overrides folder will overwrite any previously loaded files having the same path under its static folder. This last part is important to repeat: To overload the static resource from a standard static folder you need to replicate the path of folders and file names from that static folder in exactly the same way inside static_overrides.

Let's see how this works for our logo. The default web application is in the Evennia library itself, in evennia/web/. We can see that there is a static folder here. If we browse down, we'll eventually find the full path to the Evennia logo file: evennia/web/static/evennia_general/images/evennia_logo.png.

Inside our static_overrides we must replicate the part of the path inside the static folder, in other words, we must replicate evennia_general/images/evennia_logo.png.

So, to change the logo, we need to create the folder path evennia_general/images/ in static_overrides. We then rename our own logo file to evennia_logo.png and copy it there. The final path for this file would thus be: web/static_overrides/evennia_general/images/evennia_logo.png in your local game folder.

To get this file pulled in, just change to the game directory and reload the server:

evennia reload

This will reload the configuration and bring in the new static file(s). If you didn't want to reload the server you could instead use

evennia collectstatic

to only update the static files without any other changes.

Changing the Front Page's Text

The default front page for Evennia contains information about the Evennia project. You'll probably want to replace this information with information about your own project. Changing the page template is done in a similar way to changing static resources.

Like static files, Django looks through a series of template folders to find the file it wants. The difference is that Django does not copy all of the template files into one place, it just searches through the template folders until it finds a template that matches what it's looking for. This means that when you edit a template, the changes are instant. You don't have to reload the server or run any extra commands to see these changes - reloading the web page in your browser is enough.

To replace the index page's text, we'll need to find the template for it. We'll go into more detail about how to determine which template is used for rendering a page in the Web-based Character view Tutorial. For now, you should know that the template we want to change is stored in evennia/web/templates/evennia_general/index.html.

To replace this template file, you will put your changed template inside the web/template_overrides/ directory in your game folder. In the same way as with static resources you must replicate the path inside the default template directory exactly. So we must create a new directory evennia_general and add/copy our replacement template there, named index.html. The final path to the file should thus be: web/template_overrides/evennia_general/index.html within your game directory.

Note that it is usually easier to just copy the original template over and edit it in place. The original file already has all the markup and tags, ready for editing.

Further reading

For further hints on working with the web presence, you could now continue to the Web-based Character view Tutorial where you learn to make a web page that displays in-game character stats. You can also look at Django's own tutorial to get more insight in how Django works and what possibilities exist.

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