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Editskin switcher (2.0)

by Olha Pelishok last modified 2011-10-27
Released on 2011-09-28 by Maurits van Rees for Plone 4.0 under GPL - GNU General Public License available for All platforms.
Software development stage: stable
Automatically switch skins based on the url or on being logged in.
Editskin switcher

For a customer of Zest Software I [Maurits van Rees] created a package called collective.editskinswitcher. I gladly took some code from colleague Mark van Lent who did something similar for a different web site. The package is on the Cheese Shop so it can be easy installed. And the code is in the Plone collective.

What does it do?

Let's say you have a Plone Site. I tested this with Plone 3. I see no reason why it should fail on Plone 2.5. Maybe it even works on a CMF site. Anyway, whatever site you have is available on two urls: and Some day you should ask your local Apache guru how he did that.

With collective.editskinswitcher installed (with the portal quick installer), visitors that go to the website with the url will see the Editor Skin. (This can be set in a property, as we shall see later.) Visitors to will see whatever skin you have set as the default skin in portal_skins. Can be pretty handy.

To avoid confusion: we will call what you have set as "default skin" the Visitor Skin. And the skin meant for editors we call the Editor Skin.

Developer types probably like the fact that you also get the Visitor Skin when visiting localhost and the Editor Skin when you go to

Other options

There are some options you can set. Go to portal_properties, and then go to the editskin_switcher property sheet. These options are available:

  • edit_skin: set the skin that editors get. The default is "Plone Default".
  • based_on_url: when True (the default) you get the behaviour described above.
  • need_authentication: when True you need to be logged in before your skin is switched. By default this is set to False. This looks for the __ac cookie that Plone gives you when logged in. Note: logging in via the Zope Management Interface is handled without cookies, so the editskin switcher regards you as anonymous then.

You can combine the two behaviours if you want. If they are both True, then you need to have the right url and you need to be logged in.

When both are False, nothing happens: then you might as well simply uninstall this product as it is not useful.

Why not CMFUrlSkinSwitcher?

I looked at CMFUrlSkinSwitcher first but it had not been touched in two years. One import error (CMFCorePermissions) could easily be fixed as that import was not even used. But after that tests were failing all over the place. Theoretically always fixable of course, but rolling an own package seemed easier, cleaner and faster.

Also, CMFUrlSkinSwitcher does some more things. At least it messes around with some methods like absolute_url. It could be that I find out later that this is necessary in collective.editskinswitcher too, but currently it does not look like that will be the case.

How do I know this is working?

The easiest way to test this package in a default plone site (apart from running the tests of course), is:

  • Install collective.editskinswitcher.
  • Go to portal_skins in the ZMI.
  • Create a new skin selection based on Plone Default. Call this "Visitor Skin".
  • Make Visitor Skin the default skin.
  • Remove the custom skin layer from Plone Default.
  • Customize the main template or the logo or something else that is easy to spot.
  • Visit and you will see default Plone.
  • Visit localhost:8080/plonesite and you will see Plone with your customization.

On Linux you can edit /etc/hosts and add a line like:

Now visiting should give you the Editor Skin and should give you the Visitor Skin with the customizations.

You can also let the edit urls begin with cms or manage. As long as the url is something like:

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