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MCS – round two

Over the last quarter of 2008 and somewhere into first months of 2009 I was working on the project called Mozilla Community Sites. We got a lot at the time, with initial implementations for several products, the Theme, Logo, style guidelines and the whole concept that was originally introduced by Pascal Chevrel and me in 2004 really took off.

Then, at some point I had to call it a release and switch to other tasks, while MCS was waiting there for people to pick it up and use. From the very early days of the project, I knew it’s one of the projects that has to be maintained by the community of its users and upstreaming patches people make while deploying will set the speed of the project. In the end, we have to use the work to understand what’s most important and I’m personally maintaining only one community website –, so I can’t be the only driving force.

Over a few months we saw a lot of experimentation with MCS, and there are at least 10-15 sites that are using some aspects of the project (for example Mozilla Lietuvoje, Mozilla Argentina or Mozilla Srbija) and people started approaching me and sending patches, asking for bug fixes, features and plans. I would like to especially thank Tomer, Jesper, Guillermo and RQ.

Unfortunately, until now, I really failed to find time to push MCS further, and I feel like I was blocking it by being an inactive owner of the project. Things are slowly changing as RQ started pushing patches to the repo, Jesper and Topal started working on their sites working around me, Tomer suggesting to start a community group forum for MCS and me wrapping up my other projects to have a clean slate to work on MCS once again, this time, collaborating in a group! Yay! 🙂

So, I’d like to thank everyone involved in this project and apologize for not being able to be active when it was needed, and I’ll do my best to make myself and the project back on tracks. Rimas committing patches and Jesper getting an HG account is a solid first step. I want to start a group project for MCS next week, and I hope we’ll have more people joining the project now. In the time of EU MozCamp, we should have a lot of exciting things done here 🙂

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MCT: Style guide

It’s been a while since the last update on MCS but things were moving on and it’s time to catch up with the progress in the project.


Today, I’d like to introduce you to a new Mozilla Community Theme style guide. MCT Style Guide is a document that explains the design decisions made by the theme authors that allows people who use the theme to extend it following the original concepts and keeping their new elements in sync with original one.


Mozilla Community Theme was created to give us a fresh theme that can make it easier for communities to set up a professionally looking website without having to look for a designer or crafting something on their own. Three months after the release, MCS is becoming a popular option among opicture-2ur communities when they’re making their choices with regard to the website. We like to think that the reason is because we offered maximum freedom and flexibility with this set, letting people do what they want, while providing high quality of the design itself.

One element that we did not cover very well until today, was how to extend the theme. How to move forward. Not only modify what we gave you, but also add new elements, theme new websites, or T-shirts, or posters… That’s where the Style Guide hits.

Style Guide

Style Guide is a short book that presents the concept choices together with list of modification options that, in the theme author’s opinion, will match the theme and let you keep the unified look and feel no matter where you’ll go.picture-3

What’s exciting about it, is that it opens communities to a new level where they have all the tools and resources that usually professional web agencies have and they can develop their skills and get accustomed to the new concepts. While working on our hobbies, we’re getting real experience that translates directly into our portfolio.


picture-5This Style Guide lets you dig into:

  • color palettes
  • typography decisions
  • layout and grid models
  • branding options
  • methods of preserving space and light between text blocks that influences readability of the text
  • texture options that influence how the website looks
  • and others…

picture-4We hand this to you, so that you can experiment and develop the theme further or just customize it to your needs. What’s really important and exciting is that as all other parts of this project, the style guide is open! You can download Indesign document or editable PDF document and hack the Style Guide itself.

I’d also like to use this moment to thank Tara Shahian and Seth Bindernagel who have worked together with the theme authors on this 1.0 release of the guide. 🙂

So, grab it here and… we’re accepting patches 🙂

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MCS: Source files released!

Another milestone for MCS project has been reached! And its a big one!

If you open you will find full source PSD files of the theme.


What does it mean? Well, this is another step on the way of making sure that we have a really good theme that is open to everyone according to what we understand as Open. And understanding of it is not that common.

Think of it. How many open themes do you know. There are a lot of themes that you can download for free, but that’s not making them open, right? Next, there are themes that may provide sources, even on open licenses, which makes them technically open but does it make it easy to work with. Its almost like opening sources of a software, but not making the sources readable, not helping with hacking them, not providing documentation, and build environment… If you track all open projects out there, they usually take a lot of time to open their projects exactly because re-licensing sources is not enough. Because it will not make people want to use it and contribute to it.

Because in order to get this kind of activity around your project, there’s much more that needs to be done, and the source files for MCS are exactly doing this. It’s not only theme, it’s a theme with PSD files there, and the PSD files are licensed on Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Share-Alike and it is ready to be modified. The source has all the layers properly grouped to make working on theme sections easy and natural. It has guidelines that help you keep the scheme in shape while modifying and it makes it easy to change colors or elements that you will likely to want to modify. It is a fully open source theme, and we have an example implementations there to show you, but you can change it however you like and come up with your own implementations.

We will provide tutorials on how to do this, and we hope to see people modify it in creative way and upstreaming their changes to make the theme look even better in result of community effort!

I would like to thank Legal Team in Mozilla (Catherine, Harvey), Tara and Seth for making this possible!

I may be wrong, but I think this is the first case ever of opening the theme this way. I would love to see other examples, but it I think we’re just opening a new chapter with both, Mozilla Community Theme and Mozilla Community Sites – since I think no other project is offering such powerful tools for its communities to develop themselves around their own websites.  Mozilla is leading  🙂

p.s. if there’s someone who knows how to port psd file to gimp xcf without loosing… everything in the file, then I’d love to get your help!

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MCS MediaWiki alpha1

After successful launch of the Theme and WordPress, its time for the next tool that your community can find very useful in collaborative work – Wiki.

mcsmediawikiWiki technology allows no-entry-cost edition of documents making it possible for many people to contribute to the same set of documents. Such technologies are widely used for projects like Wikipedia, MDC, or for many projects at Wikia.

In case of MCS, Wiki can be a good place to start a community when you have a group of people who want to collaborate on the vision for your project, or can serve as a place where people can work on documents and statups updates for your community. In today world almost every project in the world is using a Wiki and we believe that your can benefit as well.

Because of its popularity we decided to stick to MediaWiki, as the most popular wiki solution in the world. MCS MediaWiki is a powerfull addition to WordPress or Drupal based website and will allow you to boost participation level accross your community.

This is an alpha release, and I mean it even more than in the case od WordPress. MediaWiki may be a solid wiki solution, but its definitely not easy to customize and theme, so we want to work more on making the theme better for some specific sections of the Wiki (like search or recent changes), but the big thing that is missing here is usability.

We deployed all controls that should be needed, but the UI of original mediawiki is far from being perfect and our theme tries to fix it where possible. I cannot call it a full success yet and I hope those who will want to deploy the theme as well as other usability experts will want to contribute to the project by finding ways to make the UI more intuitive for use.


Edit section
Edit section

You can see it live at or download sources from

I am aware that MediaWiki 1.14 has not yet been released, but it’s already branched and will get there soon (while it contains some important improvements and our MCS Mediawiki is in alpha version. alpha versions are for people who know what they’re doing, right?) 😉

So, feel free to test it and play around and if you decide to implement it in your website, consider upstreaming your changes so that everyone benefits!

Next is phpBB3 and Drupal 🙂

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MCS WordPress 1.0alpha

One of the major efforts during last 2 weeks was to prepare working application using Mozilla Community Theme.

The first app that got MCS support is… WordPress 2.7.


WordPress 2.7 is a modern, flexible CMS system, that is best known as an excellent blogging platform. Because of its clean design, easy maintainance and many plugins its also used by many websites as a classic CMS. For example polish community – – is using  WordPress and it proved to be very stable and solid platform for small websites.

Because one of the primary goals of MCS is to help our small communities get a shiny website with minimum effort WordPress was an obvious choice for the first app to be implemented.

Today, I believe we have a quite stable and usable theme for WordPress together with one custom plugin and support for another.

That’s how it looks in its full glory:


I call it Alpha, because there’s some work to do. JS code requires optimization, Theme should provide admin configuration panel, and it needs some experimental implementations with bug squashing before we can call it stable.

You can install it togther with OpenID to gain full OpenID support. It uses vanilla WordPress 2.7, so feel free to give it a try, and if you’re familiar with WordPress theming/plugins take a look at the sources and… you know… we’re accepting patches 🙂

p.s. we currently do not provide bundles, so to download the elements you either have to use mercurial (hg export or go to and click on “bz2” or “zip” to download the package. Then follow instructions in ./wordpress/INSTALL.

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MCS Theme 1.0beta2

10 days after first beta of MCS Theme – core element of the Mozilla Community Sites project, the next iteration is coming!

MCT 1.0beta2
MCT 1.0beta2

MCS Theme 1.0beta2 brings many improvements:

  • Tomer Cohen contributed initial support for right-to-left locales! (thank you!) 🙂
  • several lists are now <ul> (footer link list, article list etc.)
  • fixed nasty bug with right sidebar positioned below content due to Gecko bug by adding a wrapper div with display: table-row in #middle. (dbaron pointed out the solution)
  • fixed another nasty bug that caused middle row to shrink if #content was (almost) empty. (.aside is now display: table-cell by default)
  • fixed IE7 CSS hack. Now the theme will look good in IE7 when left-menu/right-menu is hidden
  • jQuery JS code split into modules
  • JS login box supports states (login, logout, register etc.)
  • cleaned up the use of .headline vs. .title classes
MCT in Right To Left mode
MCT in Right To Left mode

You can download sources from directory theme/html and theme/php.

You can also preview Beta2: HTML mockup, HTML rich mockup, PHP mockup, Builder.

This release brings us near to stable version with many elements being in place and working well.

Right now, my main focus is on webtools using the theme, so if you want to play with it a bit, and you’ll find any bug, please let me know!