main mozilla tech

Mozilla Community Theme v1.0beta

Happy Holidays!

I will use this moment to introduce you the first release of my latest project. Over two months ago I presented the revision version of Mozilla Community Theme.

MCT is an element of a wider project – Mozilla Community Sites (MCS) that will help start a new community and maintain a website without much effort.

The Theme and its implementation are major part of the project and for last two months I have been working on creating a powerful, generic implementation of the theme, several small tools for making the theme easier to use and many tiny updates that should result in the higher quality of the theme.

On Monday we finalized the draft of the licensing guidelines which was the final step to release the theme to public.

Today, I’m proud to present you all the first revision of Mozilla Community Theme (click to test a mockup live):


From today I’m starting a serie of blog posts about various aspects of Mozilla Community Theme, but for those of you who want to dig on your own you can just start reading documentation.


mctlogoThe very first element of the new theme is a Mozilla Community logo. The logo is a new element that we hope will become a unifying element of all community building efforts. We spent a lot of time thinking about how to license it and I believe the result is a very relaxed policy that allows you to do whatever you want with the logo, while leaving us ability to block malicious use.

The logo may be used by any community that wants to express its relationship with Mozilla project. We do not try to create a new brand out of it, we try to give you ability to show what you stand for. In result the logo can even be modified (!) to adjust it to your website, but please, try not to overuse this power. The logo means something and I believe its extremely cute, but can be easily devaluated by misuse.


Mozilla Community Theme is an open source theme (the sources will be provided soon) that provides polished and high quality solution for anyone willing to start a new community website but lacking designer skills.

We provide highly customizable theme that can be used in different color palettes, with different backgrounds, layouts and widgets. The theme was created basing on dozen of current community websites with an intention to match all major components of those websites. It is possible to take the theme as it stands and use it for your website without changing a single line, but if you want you can modify everything. Its up to you and the further you go from the original design, the more you’re on your own in terms of quality 😉

Example implementation

The theme itself is a huge step forward, but the real benefit only starts there. As a part of MCT we provide ready to use implementations of the Theme in several forms.

The very first form is a clean XHTML/CSS/JS mockup which presents the semantic structure of the website and its style documents.

Another is a PHP version, which may look similar but provides an example of how to use several tools and deploy the theme into PHP application.

The third is a small cutomization tool – PHP Builder, which is a proof of concept of what you can modify in the theme with simple CSS file (generated out of GUI). You can customize the theme, download custom.css file and replace it in HTML version to get your custom theme!


At the moment Builder is pretty rough, but it already allows to create tens of versions of the theme. Ability to generate custom color palette (select custom and type any HEX RGB color) makes the amount of possible result infinite. In the future Builder should be able to provide more features and layout options.

App implementations

In a few days I will release first Theme implementations – wordpress and mediawiki, and drupal should follow shortly. The app implementations will not only contain the theme itself but also set of extensions that will provide unified set of features across multiple applications (think: OpenID, Single Sign On). We will also work on adding unique Mozilla related extensions that will allow your website to present the data directly from websites like QMO, SUMO or MDC.

MCS Admin Panel

The last step will be to provide single admin panel for installing/updating Mozilla Community Theme powered applications to run a complete website. The panel should allow someone with no prior experience in running a website to painlessly install and maintain his website, learning with no rush how the whole thing works.

Now it is YOUR time!

Working on such project inside Mozilla has, among others, one more benefit. I’m surrounded by web experts. Every single person who is reading this blog post has some unique knowledge and experience with coding HTML/CSS/JS or usability or accessibility or cross-culture design. Everyone can take a look at the sources provided with the whole implementation and find all the bugs I made and all those stupid mistakes. You can help make this project better.

My dream is to have this theme be a pure example of excellence in HTML/CSS/JS website development. Clean, modern code, flexible beyond recognition. During those two months I probably missed many opportunities to get nearer to my goal. Many elements may be not polished or may require some patience and love. If you think you found something like this, you probably did. So please, take a moment to share the feedback.
If you find the project interesting, and have some experience with web development, themes/extensions for WordPress/Drupal/phpBB/punBB/MediaWiki and want to help, email me (zbraniecki _a_t_ mozilla dot com) please. I could use some help 🙂


I would like to thank people who have helped me with this project. Especially Seth for an incredible patience and support in removing road-blockers, and The Royal Order of Design for a great design they prepared 🙂

Also, Szymon Piłkowski contributed first round of reviews, Wojciech Szczęsny provided initial insight into IE6 compatibility (not ready yet) and Szymon Błaszczyk contributed first usability review.


After getting the first round of feedback, I will remove “beta” from the release status, tag it and call it official. You can take it today and start using right away, but there may be some changes in the CSS basing on the volume of bugs discovered by peers.

During next days (after some christmas rest with my family)  I will be working on finalizing wordpress implementation (you can take a look at the current status) and mediawiki. I will also shed some light on the PHP code I wrote for this project and present you CSSLib and Style class.

Finally, I hope to spend some time discussing with you your feedback and implementing fixes to the code and helping first brave souls implement it for their new community websites!

So… how do you like it? 🙂

p.s. if you have ideas you would like to see, or you would like to work on, contact me or list them on the MCS:Brainstorm page.

12 replies on “Mozilla Community Theme v1.0beta”

Is (or will be) Mozilla Community logo free to use only for communities or is it also allowed to be used by a single person, for example as a header of a website or blog?

Hi Gandalf,
first of all thanks for your work and happy holidays 🙂

Some thoughts about what I’ve seen so far:
* After years of discussions, great to see Mozilla speaking about “hosting” for communities (in terms of real hosting, not sponsorship). Maybe we’ll discuss this in a specific post, but this is really a good news (at least for our community).
* Maybe we should use the logo as a link to a page where all known community sites are listed and briefly described. AFAIK I don’t think such a page exists in Mozilla, and it could be useful for users: people land on a community site from a search engine, click on the logo and discover that a local community already exists.
* I took a look at the Licensing guidelines and they seem a bit too “strict”. For example, point “7” of restrictions: all that use of “tm” and disclaimers aren’t a bit too much for a real community site?
* Not really sure that designing for IE7 is a good decision: for example I’ve just looked at our site’s stats, and IE6 is still 40% of the Internet Explorer population.

About the WordPress theme (the only CMS I’m quite experienced in):
* I know it’s still in a preliminary stage, but for what I saw all strings are hardcoded in English (and that’s bad for l10n). Consider using Gettext support like the “kubrick” default theme.
* I think there’s some kind of problem in the css (not tried to find it): sometimes the right sidebar it’s displayed under the central column, a reload forces the sidebar to take the right place.
* This theme needs some SEO enhancements (for example the title of the page doesn’t contain the title of the post/page)

Hey Gandalf,

The logo looks awesome! In the guidelines it would be helpful to show examples of what is permitted and what is not.

Also, in skimming through the guidelines, I noticed that once they spell “Mozilla Manifesto” as “Mozilla Manifest”

That looks great, in fact so great I tried to do a demo of how it would look on our site.

Not bad, but as you can see I have squeezed the header and the line spacing, because the layout took up too much space leaving little room for the content.

Is there work being done on a phpBB3 theme? We currently use phpBB2 on our site because we don’t have a theme for phpBB3, and doing one alone is simply too much work. If someone else is working on it or interested in working on it, I will be happy to help.

[…] What you see of course, is just one example.  The color scheme, masthead, layout grid, and practically anything else…can all be changed.  Gandalf has set up a customization tool that begins to demonstrate the full range of this flexibility, and will be providing more details on implementation through his blog. […]

The logo looks cool! I like it, but I do agree with flod about licensing especially 7.2 and 7.3 ((R) and TM). It sounds not friendly with “community”, 7.1 is fine.

I can help on porting theme to Drupal, I’m going to use Drupal for Thai MCS.

Thanks for all of your effort!

Comments are closed.