De-Uglyfying ikiWiki and other horror stories.


NOTE: These are old instructions on how to theme ikiWiki and might not be relelvant anymore. I no longer use ikiWiki to maintain my website. This site is generated using staticjinja and a custom build script.

I use ikiWiki to host this (and a few other) wiki’s. I love it! It is based on git, and hosts pages written in markdown and multimarkdown. From a development point of view it is great:

  1. Type documents into vim.

  2. Using multimarkdown syntax, and render math with MathJAX (setup instructions here).

  3. Press <c-k> and look at a local preview (setup instructions here).

  4. Type git commit && git push and have it uploaded to the server.

No annoying (and slow) web-based editors / sign-up forms etc. Great, great great!

Now for the bad news: This is the default look. It was written in html 1.0 designed only for w3m users on a teletype. If there’s even a remote change one of your users might use a (god forbid) GUI or a browser that is less than 100 years old, then you’re going to have to work to theme it.


ikiWiki has exactly one theme that doesn’t suck: actiontabs. I use this (with some modifications) on this site. To use this, put

theme: actiontabs

in your setup file. (Be sure to also enable the theme plugin.)

A third party navigation bar plugin is available here. It looks just as ugly as everything else. I fixed a few bugs and hacked it.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get my version here (or browse the git repo from one of the links below).

  2. You will also need the css file.

  3. Patch your templates/page.tmpl as follows:

    --- /usr/share/ikiwiki/templates/page.tmpl      2013-11-30 18:09:54.000000000 -0500
    +++ templates/page.tmpl  2014-07-20 16:38:25.118037883 -0400
    @@ -16,6 +16,9 @@
     <link rel="icon" href="<TMPL_VAR BASEURL><TMPL_VAR FAVICON>" type="image/x-icon" />
     <link rel="stylesheet" href="<TMPL_VAR BASEURL>style.css" type="text/css" />
    +<link rel="stylesheet" href="<TMPL_VAR BASEURL>navbar.css" type="text/css" />
     <link rel="stylesheet" href="<TMPL_VAR BASEURL><TMPL_VAR LOCAL_CSS>" type="text/css" />
    @@ -131,6 +134,11 @@
     <TMPL_IF HTML5></aside><TMPL_ELSE></div></TMPL_IF>
    +<TMPL_IF HTML5><nav id="navbar"><TMPL_ELSE><div id="navbar"></TMPL_IF>
    +<TMPL_IF HTML5></nav><TMPL_ELSE></div></TMPL_IF>
     <div id="pagebody">
  4. Alternately, download my page.tmpl, but be warned that I might have also made other changes you don’t want.

  5. Put this in navbar.mdwn

    o [[Main|index]]
    o [[Lecture Notes|notes]]
    o [[Student Stuff|students]]
    o [[Code n Git|code]]
    o [[Tips "blog"|tips]]

Oh yeah, also my CSS file only works if you use html5.

Site Title

If you want a site title at the top, and page titles just above the content, do the following:

  1. Install and enable the third party plugin varioki plugin.

  2. Edit your setup file:

    # varioki plugin
      sitetitle: "\"Gautam Iyer's Wiki.\""
  3. Edit your page.tmpl:

    diff --git a/templates/page.tmpl b/templates/page.tmpl
    index 5669d59..2d756ff 100644
    --- a/templates/page.tmpl
    +++ b/templates/page.tmpl
    @@ -56,12 +56,16 @@
     <a href="<TMPL_VAR URL>"><TMPL_VAR PAGE></a>/ 
    +<span class="sitetitle"><TMPL_VAR SITETITLE></span>
     <span class="title">
    @@ -141,6 +145,7 @@
     <div id="pagebody">
    +<TMPL_IF SITETITLE><span class='pagetitle'><TMPL_VAR TITLE></span></TMPL_IF>
     <TMPL_IF HTML5><section id="content"><TMPL_ELSE><div id="content"></TMPL_IF>
     <TMPL_VAR CONTENT>''']]
  4. Style it:

    /* Extra styles for when sitetitle is enabled. */
    span.parentlinks { display: none; }
    span.sitetitle {
      display: block; 
      font: 144% sans-serif;
      text-shadow: -1px -1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2);
      margin-bottom: .2em;
      margin-top: .2em;
    span.pagetitle {
      display: block; 
      font: 144% sans-serif;
      text-shadow: -1px -1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2);
      /* margin: 1em 2rem; */
      margin: 1em 1.388889em;

Local modifications

If you want a similar look to my old wiki / use one of my plugins, here are all the browsable sources of this wiki:

You can git clone them (read only) from here:

git clone git://
git clone git://
git clone git://

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