The latest version of Drupal (6.x) has many improvements with regard to theme creation vs. the 5.x platform and the artists who create the themes continue to release some great, new designs. In this article, we review some of the best free, open source themes released on the drupal.org site in the Spring of 2009. Top Notch Themes have released another Acquia supported theme – “Slate” which has a professional, corporate look that trends away from the traditional blues of Drupal. The graphic art and design blog “Smashing Magazine” has made a strong entry into the field with three new themes from their studio that are included in the list. Other themes include a remix of the Acquia Marina theme by a Russian Group, released under the code-name of “Waffles,” and a couple ports of popular WordPress themes to Drupal.
1. Acquia Slate – http://drupal.org/project/acquia_slate
“Acquia Slate is an advanced, dark, corporate Drupal theme developed by TopNotchThemes in partnership with Acquia for their commercially-supported Drupal distribution.”
Highlights: 14 regions (excellent), similar to a #111 – #222 – #333 CSS color slide with gradients, two types of gold tones on the links, nice front space for splash image on home page with slogan and transparent menu overlay, and in the works possibly some kind of banner rotation for the image block (maybe similar to the Marinelli theme).
TNS & Acquia have also produced a manual for this theme: http://drupal.org/node/418326
2. Analytic – http://drupal.org/project/analytic
“Clean modern theme with fine tuned css, will be great for blogs, communities and online media.
This theme was designed & developed exclusively for Drupal by RussianWebStudio.com team.”
Highlights: smart colors and styling, nice borders and accents, CSS has been configured with font & display settings that recall sites like Business Week and Bloomberg. The blocks at the top of content are 50% width followed by a full page banner, repeated at the bottom, with 2 columns, header, & footer.
3. Magazeen – http://drupal.org/project/magazeen
“The Magazeen theme is a cool and modern theme with a stylish colour scheme. This bold magazine 2-col-theme was designed with the main focus being on typography, grids and magazine-look. It was created especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers.”
Highlights: likely the best of the three themes from Smashing Magazine, actually very reminiscent of their site’s design itself. Provides an excellent base for further customization.
4. Inf08 – http://drupal.org/project/inf08
“This is a valid XHTML 1.0 Strict / CSS 2.1 theme ported from the free CSS template Inf08. The original template is licensed under CCPL but the designer has kindly granted me the permission to release the theme under GPL “
Highlights: very nice & neat “notebook” type of theme with tabbed browsing and clear lines. More of the strong WordPress crossover to Drupal themes.
5. CDMug – http://drupal.org/project/cdmug
“This is the theme used by the Chicago Drupal Meetup Group. It has been ported to Drupal 6 with zen. It uses a header based on the current time.”
Highlights: can create sunrise / sunset, day / night graphics for the main banner and synch with users local time anywhere in the world. Top “toolbar” type of menu can save a lot of space & is efficient. Prominent user avatar support.
6. ColorPaper – http://drupal.org/project/colorpaper
“Color Paper was initially created by the DreamTemplate team for WordPress. This theme aims to combine visual appeal with clean typography and vivid design elements. It was created by them especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers. Which was later converted to a Drupal theme by Leow Kah Thong.”
Highlights: Technically this is a 2008 theme, but it is included in the list because it is exceptional. Endless possibilities for theme garden type of mods to this template.
7. Fervens – http://drupal.org/project/Fervens
The Author of the original WordPress theme writes – “Fervens is a 3 column theme that has a base idea of ‘freshness’. Summer is my favorite time of year as it always amazes us with a rainbow of sensation and colors, making this time of year the best of all. The green of the plants and trees, the blue of the water….I love this time of year :)… “
“The theme was designed by Design Disease and brought to you by Smashing Magazine. Coded into a Drupal theme by Leow Kah Thong.”
8. Waffles – http://drupal.org/project/waffles
Theme garden modification of the original Acquia Marina theme from: http://www.artinet.ru/
A few other new Drupal 6 themes that look really promising, but have not been fully debugged:
1. Austin – http://drupal.org/project/austin
2. Mulpo – http://drupal.org/project/mulpo
3. Elements – http://drupal.org/project/elements_theme