Cuckoo's Egg Themes: Insert your own themes into FileMaker

This is a backdoor way to get an entire theme into the selection list that we are offered in the Theme selector. It's not terribly difficult but it really should be much easier to do.

We have three ways officially supported ways to acquire themes: Import from another file, select from built-in templates, and build your own (BYO). We are going to provide one more method: the cuckoo's egg.

The Cuckoo's Egg is a variation of BYO but we don't want to use the tools that FileMaker provide for the job - that's time-consuming work.

The "Import Theme" button will only allow you to select FMP12 files and select from themes they contain. You cannot point to a folder that contains a theme (which is what I would like to do). Claris - the management for themes should be much easier than it is.

The "Theme Selector" allows you to choose from current themes. When you are in layout mode, you can use the menus to open a Theme Chooser dialog. This displays a list of the seventeen (17) current themes. However, opening the theme folder inside the application resources on a Mac , /Applications/FileMaker, reveals all of the themes that have ever been provided. My sentimental favourite -bamboo- is there, amongst them. It is necessary for the app to support all of the old themes. You will find fifty-five (55) themes there.

The current themes are excellent templates. It is easy to replicate them and modify the themes in a good text editor. You can change default fonts, modify background and foreground colours, set the palette for consistent colour selections, specify default heights for layout parts, and so on. Bamboo was fun, but it's not a good choice for a modern theme. Apex-Blue is designed to be a basis for a modern light-weight theme. If you are starting from scratch, it's a reasonably good starting point.

So, what do we do?

Modify an Existing Theme

  1. Quit FileMaker
  2. Using your OS file browser, open the FileMaker application package to reveal the Themes folders.
  3. Duplicate the theme folder which you want to be the basis for your new theme.
    3.1. Important note : you must select one of the seventeen themes that appears in the Theme Selector.
    3.2. We are going to use the theme selector to import our custom theme, so you must choose one of the privileged themes that appear in the Theme Selector
    3.3. The duplicated folder is a backup to protect the original theme.
  4. Now modify the contents of the original theme.
  5. The primary targets are manifest.xml and theme-name.css.
    5.1. Languages are supported in the file names, you'll notice that CSS and XML files have a two character language suffix for language localisation.
  6. If you have chosen your new colour scheme the modification process can be as simple as doing find and replace across the different colours in the CSS
  7. The manifest contains extra elements, such as the colour palette and defaults for minimum height and padding of layout parts.
  8. Look in the folder "partials" if it is present, as you'll find more CSS and XML there.
  9. You can add your own styles in the CSS. Not every CSS instruction is implemented in FileMaker. You'll only discover what is not supported through trial and error.
  10. Are you done?
  11. For bonus points, replace theme-name preview.png with an image of your own choosing.

When you are ready to import your theme

  1. Open FileMaker
  2. Create a new database
  3. Enter Layout mode.
  4. If you decided to modify Apex-Blue your new theme is already in use.
  5. Otherwise, go to the Theme Selector dialog and choose the theme you modified

:clinking_glasses: :beers:

Saving your Theme

There are a few more steps that we want to take

  1. Open the Theme Manager.
  2. Select your theme, duplicate it and provide it with a unique name.
  3. Go back to your layout and select your unique theme


Tidy Up

If you wish, you can leave things exactly as they are and use your Cuckoo theme as a template for other files. The drawback here is that the changes you made only affect your copy of FileMaker.

If you intend to share with a team, or if you intend to make changes to the theme, it is easiest to share the changes using FileMaker's "Import Theme" functionality.

It's entirely up to you to reset the original theme, but I do that.

  1. Quit FileMaker
  2. Go back to the Themes folder and replace the modified theme files with the backups that you made.
  3. Delete the backup folder
  4. Restart FileMaker

What has happened?

We've taken one of the current themes, modified the colours, added our own styles, changed layout.

We've then used the theme in a database and that database now stores our theme which we can use, share, and build on.


absolutely wonderful! Thanks for this tip.

Great explanation @Malcolm !

There is a place where a custom theme can be stored and will not be overwritten during program updates.
On the Mac this is: ~/Library/Application Support/FileMaker/Extensions/Themes/
On Windows in your user folder: \AppData\Local\FileMaker\Extensions\Themes\
If this folder does not exist, it can be created here. This folder is valid for all FileMaker versions on your computer.

I always copy the theme I want to start from into this folder. You can change the new name of the theme in the files (manifest.xml and in my case manifest_de.xml) itself and you have to change the name of the CSS file accordingly. You can delete the language manifest files that you don't need for your environment.)

The next time you start FileMaker, the program will see the themes in this folder. You don't have to import them.


One of the most easy to understand explanation and step-by-step guide I've seen on the method!


That is much cleaner and easier. Thank you.

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