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Understanding InstantForum Skins

The skinning architecture within InstantForum allows developers to easily customize and create forum skins to fit within existing designs or corporate identities. Skins are the key to changing the visual appearance and styling of InstantForum. A skin is essentially a directory containing all the user controls, images, style sheets & master page templates required for the skin.

As each skin has a unique collection of user controls, different visual layouts are supported between skins. Each skin can also have a unique cascading style sheet and set of associated images ensuring the style of the skin can be customized to suite your needs. Skins are located by default within the [Root]\Skins\ directory.

The root directory of a typical InstantForum skin is shown below:

Skin User Controls

The various user controls (.ascx files) contain the HTML mark-up for your skin.

IF your familiar with ASP.NET development user controls should already be familiar.  For those not familiar user controls are basically injected into our web pages (.aspx files) at run-time at specific locations. They allow you to develop re-usable controls with highly customizable mark-up.

As all mark-up generated by InstantForum is skin specific each skin cannot only have a unique theme but also a unique layout between skins. To achieve a unique layout you could go about customizing the various user controls to suite your requirements.

When modifying user controls within a skin please ensure you don't remove any controls with the Runat=Server" attribute. These are server controls references by the user controls code-behind and it they are not present a "Object Reference To Instance Of An Object" error may be displayed.

I your having difficulties locating any specific mark-up within an InstantForum skin please don't hesitate to contact us and we can guide you in the right direction.

Skin Style Sheet / CSS

The style sheet "forum.css" for each skin can be found within the "Styles" folder within your skin directory. For example "\Skins\Classic\Styles\forum.css".

See our "Key InstantForum CSS Classes" article.

Skin Master Page

The "masterpage.master" file allows you to easily wrap your existing web site design around InstantForum.

See our "The InstantForum Master Page" article.

Skin Images

All the images for your skin can be found within the "Images" folder within your skin.

See our "Key InstantForum Skin Images" article.