CKAN 2.2.3 documentation »


If you want more control over your CKAN site’s layout and appearance than the options described in Getting started give, you can further customize CKAN’s appearance by developing a theme. CKAN’s templates, HTML and CSS are all completely customizable by themes. This document will walk you through the process of developing a CKAN theme.

Create Custom Extension

This method is best for you want to customize the HTML templates of you CKAN instance. It’s also more extensible and means you can make sure you keep your custom theme as seperate from CKAN core as possible.

Here follows the main topics you’ll need in order to understand how to write a custom extension in order to customize your CKAN instance.

Customizing the HTML

The main templates within CKAN use the templating language Jinja2. Jinja2 has template inheritance which means that you don’t have to re-write a whole template in order to change small elements within templates.

For more information on how to exactly change the HTML of your CKAN instance: please read the Templating > Templating within extensions documentation.

Including custom Stylesheets, JavaScript and images

Within CKAN we use a resource manager to handle the static resources that are required by any given template. In order to include a stylesheet or a JavaScript document you should tell the resource manager of its existence and then include it within your template.

For more information on how resources work within CKAN and how to add custom resources to your extension: please read the Resources > Resources within extensions documentation.


The main CKAN theme is a heavily customized version of Bootstrap. However the core of Bootstrap is no different in CKAN and therefore people familiar with Bootstrap should feel right at home writing custom HTML and CSS for CKAN.

Customizing the JavaScript

Within CKAN core we have a concept of JavaScript modules which allow you to simply attach JavaScript to DOM elements via HTML5 data attributes.

For more information on what a JavaScript module is and how to build one: please read the Building a JavaScript Module documentation.

Customizing the CSS

To customize your CSS all you really need to know is how to add a stylesheet as a resource. Beyond that it’s purely writing your own CSS and making sure it’s included on the correct pages.

For more information on how CSS works in CKAN core: please read the Front End Documentation > Stylesheets documentation.


In CKAN core we use LESS to pre-process our main CSS document. We do this to make the core CSS more maintainable (as well as to offer different basic colour styles on our default theme). It’s not necessary that you do the same, but we’d recommend using something like it if you plan on customizing your CKAN instance heavily.