Customising the design

This page describes how to change the directionality and colour scheme of your installation — which is a good starting point for further customisations.

Background

The CSS is stored in web/cobrands/ under which there are directories for Cobrands. Note that FixMyStreet uses SCSS and Compass to generate its CSS so there are no CSS files until bin/make_css has been run as the site user.

The CSS provided with FixMyStreet uses CSS3 media queries in a mobile-first format order to adapt the layout to work on different devices. It is structured into these main files:

  • base.css – all the styling for the content of the pages in a mobile sized browser.
  • layout.css – all the styling for the content of the pages in a desktop sized browser.
  • _colours.css – basic settings information, so you can easily make a site that looks different simply by copying these files to your own cobrand CSS directory, and changing the contents, as we will describe below.

Our .gitignore file assumes that any CSS files directly in a cobrands/* directory are generated from SCSS - if you have CSS files that you want to use directly, put them in a css directory within your cobrand directory.

Tutorial

You can override any of the CSS or HTML templates of your FixMyStreet installation, but to begin with it’s a good idea to just change the colours. That way you can learn how FixMyStreet customisation works, before tackling more complex layout, design, or code changes.

Start simple!

FixMyStreet’s default CSS comes with a few basic colour settings which you can change. Remember that ultimately you can override any styling for your own site but most of this page shows how to set your own colours without adding any new HTML or CSS. We know that you’ll want to change more than just the default colours: but this is the best way to start.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll have your own cobrand, and can start changing other stylesheets and templates in the same way.

Why you should create a cobrand

A cobrand is just FixMyStreet’s way of separating your customisation from everybody else’s. To start with, this is almost as simple as putting what you need in its own directory.

You can simply edit the default settings (just edit the values in web/cobrands/default/_colours.scss and run bin/make_css) but we strongly recommend you do not do that. It's OK if you just want to play with the settings to see what's possible, but the right way to change how your site looks is to make a cobrand.

By making your own cobrand you’ll be keeping your changes separate from the core code, but also keeping it within the main repository. This has serious benefits later on: it means you can easily update the FixMyStreet code (we frequently add new features, for example) while retaining your changes.

How to change the colours

This is the process:

  1. pick a name for your cobrand
  2. update your config to use the new cobrand
  3. create a directory for it in web/cobrands
  4. copy the default cobrand’s CSS into it
  5. edit the colours
  6. run bin/make_css

The rest of this page describes each step in detail.

Pick a name for your cobrand

Choose a name for your cobrand. In the examples below, we’ve used fixmypark, but you can use anything provided it’s not a cobrand already in use in the code. Only use lower case letters. This name is never seen by the public — it’s FixMyStreet’s internal name for it.

Update your config to use the new cobrand

You need to tell FixMyStreet to use your cobrand instead of the default one.

FixMyStreet uses the ALLOWED_COBRANDS config variable to decide which cobrand to use. In conf/general.yml, set it to your new cobrand like this:

ALLOWED_COBRANDS:
  - fixmypark

In fact, ALLOWED_COBRANDS is a little more complex that it looks. If you give it a list of cobrands, it will decide which one to use depending on string matches on the incoming URL for every request But for most cases you don’t want it to switch. So if you just specify just one cobrand like this, FixMyStreet will simply use it.

Create a directory for your cobrand in web/cobrands

Make a new directory with your cobrand’s name in web/cobrands/ For example, on the command line, do:

cd fixmystreet
mkdir web/cobrands/fixmypark

Copy the default cobrand’s CSS into yours

Copy the contents of web/cobrands/default into that directory.

cp web/cobands/default/* web/cobrands/fixmypark

This puts the stylesheet files you need into your cobrand. At this point, your cobrand is effectively a copy of the default one.

Edit the colours

The default cobrand’s colour scheme, which you have copied, will be blue and orange — we picked startling colours to force people to want to customise it.

We use SCSS (instead of CSS) because it’s a more powerful way of defining and managing styles. This means that when you make any changes, FixMyStreet needs to compile those SCSS files to rebuild the CSS — see the following section.

You can edit the colours defined in web/cobrands/fixmypark/_colours.scss. You’ll need to use web colour codes to specify the colours you want.

Be careful: if you’re not familiar with SCSS, the syntax of that file is a little strict. Typically, those colours must always be either exactly three or six hex characters long. And there must be a # before and a semicolon after each one.

These are the colours which you can easily change within your copy of the stylesheet:

variable examples of where it's used in the default cobrand
$primary the front page's main banner background
$primary_b border around the the front page street/area input
$primary_text text on the front page banner
$base_bg
$base_fg
Large width page background/foreground (bleeding to edge)
$map_nav_bg
$nav_fg
Mobile width, the header's colours; large width, the navigation's foreground colour
$menu-image “Hamburger” menu colour (menu-black or menu-white)
$col_click_map
background of the "click map to report problem" banner on the map page
$col_fixed_label
$col_fixed_label_dark
background of the colour of the "fixed" label that appears on fixed reports, and its darker underside
$col_big_numbers Colour to use for the step numbers on the front page.

SCSS supports functions such as darken so you can specify colours that are calculated from other colours like this:

$col_click_map: #ee6040;
$col_click_map_dark: darken($col_click_map, 10%);

For more about SCSS, see the SASS website.

Run make_css so FixMyStreet’s CSS uses the new values

FixMyStreet now needs to absorb those changes by rebuilding the CSS. There’s a task in the bin directory called make_css that will do this for you. You’ll need to be logged into your shell in the fixmystreet directory as the site user, then do:

bin/make_css

This will update the CSS files. You can run the command just for your cobrand by specifying the path to your cobrand’s SCSS as an argument, e.g.:

bin/make_css web/cobrands/fixmypark

Keep an eye on the output of that command — if there’s a problem (for example, if you’ve made a mistake in the SCSS syntax, which is easy to do), it will report it here.

See the new colours

If you look at your site in a browser, you’ll see the new colours. Remember that every time you edit them, you need to run bin/make_css to make FixMyStreet include the changes, or run bin/make_css --watch to have it monitor for changes itself.

Or… use your own CSS and HTML

Remember that all you’ve done here is change the colours, using the existing default CSS and HTML. Of course any and all of this can be overridden (by overriding CSS files and overriding the bits of HTML that you want to change in the templates) but this is just so you can get going.

Directionality

If you wish to use FixMyStreet in a right-to-left layout, this is very straightforward and involves two steps:

  • First, uncomment the line in your cobrand’s _colours.scss file as explained, so that the $direction variable is set to right.
  • Secondly, create a copy of the templates/web/base/header.html in your own cobrand if you haven’t already (see template customising for more details) and uncomment the SET line that sets dir="rtl".

That’s it; recompile your CSS, reload your site and you will find that FixMyStreet has switched to a right-to-left layout. Your next step will probably be to change the language used by your site.

Next steps…

If you want to customise the logo, we have a tutorial for that.

Now you have your own cobrand, adding your own HTML templates is straightforward.

Please see our separate page on customising templates.

Feeding back changes

Finally, when you’ve finished creating your cobrand you should consider feeding it back to us so it becomes part of the FixMyStreet repository.