Theme Development in Concrete5 – HTML5 Starter Theme

Last updated in June 2018.

I’ve used concrete5 for the last few years nearly the last decade while developing anything from small ten page websites to complex 500+ page sites with workflows and advanced permission sets. It’s an amazing CMS but one problem from a development perspective has been it’s lack of standards adoption and kind of messy application structure (in comparison to modern web application architecture).

After spending a morning examining what has been done in the freshly released 5.7 version, my initial reaction is wow! It’s an absolutely huge move forward for the CMS and I must congratulate the development team on the massive steps that have been made with the application structure, standards adoption and plethora of fantastic new features.

Concrete5 Boilerplate Theme Package

Off the back of this release, I’ve updated my concrete5 theme boilerplate to work with the update. I’ve converted it to a package based setup, because let’s face it I usually end up packaging a theme to distribute other blocks and components with it anyway, so it made sense to do this.

The boilerplate theme includes no grid system, CSS (except a placeholder file), JS or anything else, it’s literally just the bare minimum to get a theme quickly up and running. This helps makes it easy to use with any framework you wish and keeps things lean.

I’ve put together a quick five minute tutorial screencast (my first screencast, so please be nice) aimed at more novice theme developers (and possibly those moving up to 5.7/8) showing how to use my boilerplate to quickly start a new project. Let me know what you think!

You can download the theme development boilerplate from my Github repo.

6 thoughts on “Theme Development in Concrete5 – HTML5 Starter Theme”

  1. Chris Ray says:

    Hi Oliver

    I realise this may be a little off topic but
    I’ve been comparing various CMS’s out there. I have dabbled with WP for a while but I just find it big and unwieldily. I keep coming back to the idea of C5 as a more ongoing ‘long-term’ option. I see the official docs are pretty comprehensive but I also read that they aren’t fully up to speed ref the latest 5.7 version.
    Did you find the earlier versions easy to get up to speed?
    I’m not a natural coder but I do have a good handle on the static stuff (html, CSS, js responsive etc). However less so on PHP though not completely green.
    Before I commit serious time to this do you have any advice/thoughts you could share?
    Kind Regards

    1. Oliver says:

      Hey Chris,

      Sure, I can. Firstly, I use both, and I find both great products within their own areas. WordPress is great as what it was created for, blogging, but I definitely agree in that it can be ‘unwieldy’ to use as a full blown CMS. Concrete5 on the other hand was created with being a full blown CMS in mind, and as such, I find it has a much better ‘fit’ for use cases such as larger websites or more complicated content layouts for example, that’s not to say it’s bad or overkill for the smaller stuff either. There are pros and cons to both platforms, it all depends on what you’re planning on creating.

      I’ve been using C5 for 5+ years, one thing I’ve always found is that the community over on the forums are an awesome bunch, they’re always willing to help people out with issues they have, so don’t be scared to holla out over there if you need a hand (or at me for that matter). I think the docs are mainly there for the basics, possibly some of the more advanced stuff they’re not quite up to speed yet.

      The new version of C5 (5.7.x) has had a major overhaul, it’s now much more standards compliant (codebase wise), which makes it much easier to develop for than earlier versions. Theming for C5 has always been fairly straight forward, if you’re good with the static stuff you shouldn’t have a problem getting up to speed fairly quickly.

      Any questions just shout,

      Cheers, O

  2. Owen says:

    Is this compatible with ?
    I think there were some changes in the last C5 release that broke a few things with the early 5.7 versions.

    1. Oliver says:

      Sorry for the late reply, but yes, it works fine on the latest 5.7.X versions. 🙂

  3. Sam Perrett says:

    Hi Oliver,

    I myself have been using C5 for about 4 years now and i design all my clients site using it. And i agree its a cracking CMS.
    One things i have felt it does lack is the ability to have a blank theme as a starting point to develope custom themes from. And you have just answered that.
    Thanks for this will come in very handy indeed!
    Keep up the good work.

    P.S Great to see somebody else using Sublime 🙂 Its a cracking tool.

    1. Oliver says:


      Sublime is great for light development, PHP Storm is my preferred for more in-depth stuff.

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