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Customize Frontend Build

Most of the frontend parts of the portal engine are built with client side technologies. The JavaScript components are built with the help of React whereas all CSS files are powered by SASS.

As all of these libraries consist of a lot of files and SASS needs to be compiled to CSS, the portal engine uses webpack to pack all the frontend stuff to single minimized files. The integration into the portal engine and the Pimcore/Symfony stack is done via webpack encore, which is the Symfony standard way to integrate webpack into Symfony applications.

Within the portal engine there are two ways to change the appearance of the frontend build:

  1. Customize the colors and look and feel of the frontend via the admin interface. See Styling Settings and Frontend Build for more details.

  2. Customize parts of the SASS and JavaScript files with a customized frontend build via code changes. The next sections will inform you how to do this.

Create your own customized frontend build

The following steps are needed to create a customized frontend build.

Step 1: Configure a customized frontend build in the configuration tree

# put this into your yml config (i.e. config.yml)
pimcore_portal_engine:
    customized_frontend_builds:
        - my_portal 

The build name (my_portal) will be the final build folder in the filesystem, therefore do not use spaces or special characters here.

Step 2: Install Node.js

To be able to create webpack builds it's needed to install Node.js as you will need the tools npm and npx. You will need at least npm version 6 to make it up and running.

Step 3: Setup your development environment

Npm is a package manager (similar to composer) and uses a file called package.json to handle all the dependencies. Therefore, it's needed setting up a suitable package.json into the root directory of your project.

The portal engine provides a console command to support your with this action. Just call the following command as a starting point:

bin/console portal-engine:update:frontend-build

The final result of this command will be a package.json in your root folder with all needed dependencies of the portal engine. If your project already has a package.json in the root directory, the command will update not overwrite the existing package.json.

At the end, the command will instruct you to call npm install in the root folder of your project to install all dependencies.

npm install

Step 4: Create some customized files

If your build name is my_portal, the correct place to put all the files which you would like to replace or add into your final build would be the directory {PROJECT_ROOT}/public/portal-engine/my_portal (for Pimcore 6: {PROJECT_ROOT}/web/portal-engine/my_portal). If needed, it's possible to add additional files, but for the beginning it would be a good idea to overwrite some existing source files which are shipped with the portal engine. All these files are placed in the assets folder (top level folder within the bundle source code).

A very powerful file to change the appearance of the frontend without changing any real CSS codes is the variables.less located in assets/styles/settings/variables.scss. This file contains a lot of SASS variables to modify the look and feel. The portal engine is built on top of the Bootstrap CSS framework therefore all bootstrap SASS variables can be manipulated too.

The convention for overwriting source files is to put them into the same sub paths and give them the same file names like in the portal engine assets source folder.

Your customized variables.scss might look like this:

/* put this file into {PROJECT_ROOT}/public/portal-engine/my_portal/styles/settings/variables.scss */
@import "portal-engine-bundle/styles/settings/variables";

$primary: #FF0000;

This example would change the primary color to red. If you do not want to completely replace but extend the original file do not forget to import it. This can be done with regular webpack @import statements. Take a look at the webpack docs for more details.

The portal engine bundle can be referenced with the portal-engine-bundle module name. This module name will always reference the original bundle source folder.

It's also possible to use ~portal-engine as bundle name for imports. If you do it this way the logic is some kind of fallback logic:

  1. First take a look at your customized frontend build asset folder. If the file/module exists there, use it.
  2. If not take the file/module from the original bundle source folder.

Within the portal engine bundle all files/modules are referenced with ~portal-engine. This makes it possible to extend all of them. If you would like to reference always the original source file always use portal-engine-bundle.

Following this convention it's possible to overwrite and extend all portal engine SASS and JavaScript files. To do this effectively and if you want to do heavy customizations, it would be needed to have or get deeper knowledge of webpack, React, SASS and bootstrap. See Customize JSX Components for more details on how to customize JSX components.

Step 5: Setup the customized frontend build in your portal

Take a look at the portal/root document of your portal engine site. There is a setting called "Customized Frontend Build". If you added your build into the configuration tree it should appear in the select box. Select it and save the document.

Step 6: Execute the development build

The portal-engine:update:frontend-build will add some npm scripts to execute the build in the root folder of your project. While developing execute the following if your build is called my_portal:

npm run dev_my_portal

This will create a development build and start a file watch. The development build contains some additional debugging possibilities (for example source maps). The file watch will listen to changes of the asset source files. Therefore, it's not needed to start this command again and again on each file change. Just let it up and running in the background.

Step 7: Take a look at the portal frontend

Your changes should be visible there! Yeah!

Step 8: Execute the production build

The development build is very helpful for development purposes, but you should never deploy the development build to a production environment. An additional production build script exists to create a minified build without the debugging stuff enabled.

npm run build_my_portal

All final build files will be located in the folder {PROJECT_ROOT}/public/portal-engine/build (for Pimcore 6: {PROJECT_ROOT}/web/portal-engine/build).

Develop for the core

This would work quite the same way as mentioned above. For this purpose an additional option of the portal-engine:update:frontend-build exists (--core-bundle-development).

bin/console portal-engine:update:frontend-build --core-bundle-development

This will install additional npm scripts to update the frontend builds which are shipped within the bundle in your development environment.

npm run dev # development build
npm run build # production build