Variations and themes

Just a quick postscript to my previous blog on MOSS variations.
I found recently when setting up some language variations, after installing the appropriate language packs for a customer, that if you have defined one or more custom themes for your base install, in this case English, then none of the language variations will have those themes available by default. This is because the language packs set up additional paths on disk on the server and the themes are defined under C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\THEMES but configured to be available under the LAYOUTS folder. Where ever you see a folder 1033 this is where english language base config and settings are stored. Each language pack installed creates an equivalent folder (e.g 1036 for French and 3082 for Spanish). An equivalent set of folders are also created within the template layouts folder (C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS) and to make your custom themes available under the new language variation sites you will need to edit the SPTHEMES.XML file with the relevant configuration xml e.g.
 <Templates>
  <TemplateID>FrCorpTh</TemplateID>
  <DisplayName>French version of Corporate Theme</DisplayName>
  <Description>French version of Corporate Theme for use within the French language sites</Description>
  <Thumbnail>images/FrCorpTh/thFrenchTheme.gif</Thumbnail>
  <Preview>images/FrCorpTh/thFrenchTheme.gif</Preview>
 </Templates>
 
The neat thing with this approach is that it enables you to provide a culturtally appropriate version of your custom theme for the traget audience of each language variation. You may not need this but you will still need to update the SPTHEMES.XML file to point at your customised themes anyway. If you’re like most organisations you will probably want to control or limit the themes that are available anyway and this approach to themes in variations means you have additional control within each language variation.
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