The subtheme is designed to be "mobile first". In short this means to first load a set of global styles, the progressively add styles for larger devices using media queries.

Its important to note that you do not have to follow a mobile first approach. Adaptivetheme can support Desktop first approach as well, which means you will progressively add styles to override things for mobile, rather than progressively adding style for larger devices.

You can do both in Adaptivetheme - it's merely a matter of where you place the majority of your styles, and what theme settings you choose in the Appearance settings for your sub-theme.

Lets examine the CSS file structure of Adaptivetheme and look at how each file is loaded. From this you will be able to deduce what approach might work for you, and where you should be placing your CSS.

Mobile First or Desktop First - that is the Question!

Depending on your approach AT will load the stylesheets in a different order, indeed it will load different stylesheets. You MUST make a conscious decision which to use and set this in theme settings.

Look under CSS settings. By default AT is set to Mobile first, if you want to do Desktop first you should change this setting.

Global Styles

The global styles do not target any specific device - they always load for all devices.

There are two main global stylesheets:

  • global.base.css
  • global.styles.css

global.base.css - this holds a few imoportant declarations that should probably not be removed, however you can modify them, such as gutter width and flexible image/media styles.

global.styles.css - includes a slighly modified normalize reset and many empty selectors for elements and drupal classes and id's. If you prefer you can delete everything in global.styles.css and start with a clean slate.

The selectors are extensive and you should delete unused selectors before going live to reduce CSS weight. You can use cleancss.com or a better way is just use SASS, it does this for you.

Each file includes a lot of comments and documentation, please review each of the global CSS files for more help.

If you are doing mobile first then you will probably keep things to a minimum in these files. "Minimum" is relative, this might still be a lot of CSS, never-the-less its worth keeping in mind the mobile view of the site, and
avoid writing CSS rules that are clearly for larger width devices.

Responsive Styles

Adaptivetheme 7.x-3.x has two "modes" - Development mode and Production mode. Depending on what mode you are in the stylesheets will load differently.

Mode changes automatically depending on CSS aggregation settings. When CSS aggregation is ON, the its in Production mode.

If you don't know what CSS aggregation is, look here: ~/admin/config/development/performance

Responsive Styles - Development mode

In Development mode (CSS aggregation OFF) the responsive stylesheets will load in individual link elements with the media query in media attribute.

This allows them to load directly into the browser and you will see your CSS changes immediately, as per normal CSS development.

There are five of these responsive stylesheets - one for each break point set in the theme settings:

  • responsive.smartphone.landscape.css
  • responsive.smartphone.portrait.css
  • responsive.tablet.landscape.css
  • responsive.tablet.portrait.css
  • responsive.desktop.css

Its important to know that these files DO NOT contain the media queries, instead they load in the elements media attribute - remember, these files only load when in Development Mode.

Responsive Styles - Production mode

When in production mode all the responsive stylesheets are aggregated into one file and use embedded @media queries. AT Core will automatically aggregate the CSS from each of the development mode stylesheets and wrap it in the right media query. This reduces the number of HTTP requests from 5 to 1.

This file is always called: ThemeName.responsive.styles.css

By default will find this file at: ~/[public files]/adaptivetheme/[ThemeName]/ThemeName.responsive.styles.css

However you can choose where to save AT's generated files, for example you can save them directly to your theme or enter a custom directory path - see File Generation System.

NOTE: please see the section below titled "Relative Paths in Responsive Styles".

Important Note about CSS Aggregation and Responsive Stylesheets

Once you have CSS aggregation ON if you make changes to any responsive stylesheet, you MUST re-save the theme settings AND clear the sites cache. AT Core will re-write the saved files, then clearing the cache tells Drupal to use the new file.

Relative Paths in Responsive Stylesheets

When CSS aggregation is ON AT Core will load the production version of your responsive styles (see above "Production mode"). this file is loading from Public Files and not from within your theme so special handling is required for relative assets - AT Core will do this for you.

AT Core will automatically re-write the relative paths to the files so they are relative to the site root. This is the same functionality as Drupal core CSS aggregation feature, so paths are not broken. If you use absolute paths these will not be altered.

Overlapping/Custom Media queries

By default the media queries in Adaptivetheme are "stacked", meaning they do not overlap. This makes it very easy to target one set of device width and not have those styles "leak" over into others. However it can also mean you may need to duplicate CSS that you would rather have cascade.

To use custom media queries the sub-theme includes a special file called: responsive.custom.css

To enable the use of this file in your theme see your theme settings: Layout & General Settings > CSS > Custom Media Queries

This file has embedded media queries which means you MUST set them yourself. Defaults are provided. Allowing styles to cascade can result in a huge saving on total CSS weight and speed up development.

Internet Explorer Styles and Scripts

AT can load conditional stylsheets and scripts from you sub-themes info file. Please see adaptivetheme_subtheme.info - there are good docs and examples of how to declare stylesheets and scripts for Internet Explorer. Adaptivetheme also includes special conditional classes on the HTML element which allow you to easily target styles at specific version of IE.

These are the classes you can use:

  • .iem7 (IE7 Mobile)
  • .lt-ie7 (less than IE7)
  • .lt-ie8 (less than IE8)
  • .lt-ie9 (less than IE9)

Use these if you only have a small number of overrides and do not want to load a dedicated conditional stylesheet. For more information about AT's IE features see: IE Styles and Scripts.

Last updated 4th July, 2012 - 8:57pm