A major item on my BlogEngine.Net wishlist has been the ability to customize the sidebar elements on a page-by-page basis. For example, I'd like to show the latest posts in the side bar, but not on the home page where the body of the page displays the posts anyway. Or I'd like to show the search box in the sidebar on all pages, but not on the search page which has it anyway in the body.
Extending the trend of thought, why not customize the sidebar on category pages? Wouldn't it be nice to fill the sidebar with information or links related to the category? And going a step even further, why not have the ability to customize the sidebar on any page or post as you can do with Drupal and Wordpress? [more]
But that's not possible with BlogEngine.Net because it routes almost all page display through default.aspx. Therefore, you can customize the sidebar(s) to your hearts content in your theme, but you get the same sidebar on all your pages.
ThemeEngine.Net is a theming engine that allows you to customize the sidebar content on any page on your web site. It's not really an engine or anything; it's simply a master page, a bit of URL rewriting code which I cut and pasted from BlogEngine.Core, and a set of conventions. But calling it ThemeEngine.Net sounds a bit more grand.
ThemeEngine is not a theme; it is a way of building BlogEngine.Net themes. You can easily convert any BlogEngine theme to use ThemeEngine. ThemeEngine doesn't modify any of BlogEngine's source code.
ThemeEngine's code resides entirely in the theme folder. It uses a Wordpress-like logic to load sidebar content dynamically. In a nutshell, this is how it works:
How many sidebars can I have?As many as you want.
Why have another masterpage? Why not add the code to site.master?1. The new masterpage keeps all the code separate from whatever code you might have in site.master2. Updates to the code can be seamless.
What if I have other placeholders which I don't want to load dynamic content into?ThemeEngine ignores any placeholders for which it doesn't find a folder inside the ThemeEngine folder.
Can I widgetize my themes?Sure. Just put the widget code inside your user controls. But remember: because of BlogEngine.Net's architecture, that widgetized content is not customizable on a page-by-page basis. But you could always add static content to your controls along with widgetized content.
Do you have a working example?This web site. Visit the search or contact pages, or some of the category pages and you'll see that they have different content in the right sidebar.
Where can I download it?The attached zip file, TEStandard.zip (10.52 kb) contains the ThemeEngine version of BlogEngine's Standard theme. It's called TEStandard. Just create the necessary subfolders for your site's structure.
How can I BlogEngine-enable a theme?1. Copy ThemeEngine.master and ThemeEngine.master.cs to the theme folder.2. Create a folder named ThemeEngine in the theme folder.3. Copy ThemeEngineFallback.ascx to the theme folder.4. Change site.master to inherit from ThemeEngine.master and to use its cphThemeEngine ContentPlaceholder.5. Change BlogEngine.Net's blog.js to change the name of the control as mentioned above. (If you don't do this, the Saving Comment... spinner will keep showing after you try to add a comment.)6.Create the necessary folders and ascx controls