Tutorial Part 1: Creating an add-on with a custom Look and Feel

In this part of the tutorial, we’ll concentrate on how to create the new add-on package, how to install and register it with our site, and how to manage static resources in Kotti.

Kotti add-ons are proper Python packages. A number of them are available on PyPI. They include kotti_media, for adding a set of video and audio content types to a site, kotti_gallery, for adding a photo album content type, kotti_blog, for blog and blog entry content types, etc.

The add-on we will make, kotti_mysite, will be just like those, in that it will be a proper Python package created with the same command line tools used to make kotti_media, kotti_blog, and the others. We will set up kotti_mysite for our Kotti site, in the same way that we might wish later to install, for example, kotti_media.

So, we are working in the mysite directory, a virtualenv. We will create the add-on as mysite/kotti_mysite. kotti_mysite will be a proper Python package, installable into our virtualenv.

Creating the Add-On Package

To create our add-on, we’ll use a starter template from kotti_paster. For this, we’ll need to first install the kotti_paster package into our virtualenv (the one that was created during the Installation).

bin/pip install kotti_paster

With kotti_paster installed, we can now create the skeleton for the add-on package:

bin/paster create -t kotti_addon kotti_mysite

Running this command, it will ask us a number of questions. Hit enter for every question to accept the defaults. When finished, observe that a new directory called kotti_mysite was added to the current working directory, as mysite/kotti_mysite.

Installing Our New Add-On

To install the add-on (or any add-on, as discussed above) into our Kotti site, we’ll need to do two things:

  • install the package into our virtualenv
  • include the package inside our site’s app.ini


Why two steps? Installation of our add-on as a Python package is different from activating the add-on in our site. Consider that you might have multiple add-ons installed in a virtualenv, but you could elect to activate a subset of them, as you experiment or develop add-ons.

To install the package into the virtualenv, we’ll change into the new kotti_mysite directory, and issue a python setup.py develop. This will install the package in development mode:

cd kotti_mysite
../bin/python setup.py develop


python setup.py install is for normal installation of a finished package, but here, for kotti_mysite, we will be developing it for some time, so we use python setup.py develop. Using this mode, a special link file is created in the site-packages directory of your virtualenv. This link points to the add-on directory, so that any changes you make to the software will be reflected immediately without having to do an install again.

Step two is configuring our Kotti site to include our new kotti_mysite package. To do this, open the app.ini file, which you downloaded during Installation. Find the line that says:

kotti.configurators = kotti_tinymce.kotti_configure

And add kotti_mysite.kotti_configure to it:

kotti.configurators =

Now you’re ready to fire up the Kotti site again:

cd ..
bin/pserve app.ini

Visit the site in your browser and notice how the the title now has a shadow.

Adding CSS Files

How was the color for the shadow changed? Take a look into the directory kotti_mysite/kotti_mysite/static/. This is where the CSS file lives.

How is it hooked up with Kotti? Kotti uses fanstatic for managing its static resources. fanstatic has a number of cool features – you may want to check out their homepage to find out more.

Take a look at kotti_mysite/kotti_mysite/fanstatic.py to see how the creation of the necessary fanstatic components is done:

from __future__ import absolute_import

from fanstatic import Group
from fanstatic import Library
from fanstatic import Resource

library = Library("kotti_mysite", "static")
kotti_mysite_css = Resource(library, "style.css")
kotti_mysite_group = Group([kotti_mysite_css])

If you wanted to add a JavaScript file, you would do this very similarly. To add a JavaScript file called script.js, you would add a fanstatic resource for it in kotti_mysite/kotti_mysite/fanstatic.py like so:

kotti_mysite_js = Resource(library, "script.js")

And change the last line to:

kotti_mysite_group = Group([kotti_mysite_css, kotti_mysite_js])

Configuring the Package with kotti.configurators

Remember when we added kotti_mysite.kotti_configure to the kotti.configurators setting in the app.ini configuration file? This is how we told Kotti to call additional code on start-up, so that add-ons have a chance to configure themselves. The function in kotti_mysite that is called on application start-up lives in kotti_mysite/kotti_mysite/__init__.py. Let’s take a look:

def kotti_configure(settings):
   settings['kotti.fanstatic.view_needed'] += ' kotti_mysite.fanstatic.kotti_mysite_group'

Here, settings is a Python dictionary with all configuration variables in the [app:kotti] section of our app.ini, plus the defaults. The values of this dictionary are merely strings. Notice how we add to the string kotti.fanstatic.view_needed.


Note the initial space in ‘ kotti_mysite.static.kotti_mysite_group’. This allows a handy use of += on different lines. After concatenation of the string parts, blanks will delimit them.

This kotti.fanstatic.view_needed setting, in turn, controls which resources are loaded in the public interface (as compared to the edit interface).

As you might have guessed, we could have also completely replaced Kotti’s resources for the public interface by overriding the kotti.fanstatic.view_needed setting instead of adding to it, like this:

def kotti_configure(settings):
    settings['kotti.fanstatic.view_needed'] = ' kotti_mysite.fanstatic.kotti_mysite_group'

This is useful if you’ve built your own custom theme. Alternatively, you can completely override the master template for even more control (e.g. if you don’t want to use Bootstrap).

See also Configuration for a full list of Kotti’s configuration variables, and Static resource management for a more complete discussion of how Kotti handles static resources through fanstatic.

In the next part of the tutorial, we’ll add our first content types, and add forms for them.