RDMO is based on Django, which allows a high level of customization by modifying the Django templates as well as the static assets (CSS files, images, etc.). There is a powerful method by which the set of files getting imported can be changed. If you create a rdmo_theme app in your rdmo-app directory the framework will use the files in this folder and not their counterparts from the RDMO source code. By doing this you can override any template or static file you desire as long as you get the folder structure right. There are two ways to create a theme. We use rdmo_theme as name here, but you can use a different one.

In older versions of RDMO, did not use a Django app to create a theme, but simple directories theme/static and theme/templates and some additional configuration in config/settings/ While this approach will continue to work and can be kept for existing instance, we encourage the use of Django apps for new themes.

Create automatically

There is a script to simplify the theme creation. The script will create the rdmo_theme/static and rdmo_theme/templates folders as well as the rdmo_theme/ file which makes it a Python module. It also copies a basic set of files into them and adds the necessary configuration line to config/settings/ to enable the theme. To run the script do:

python make_theme
python make_theme --name=rdmo_cool  # for a cool theme name

If you want to override other files, you can use, e.g.:

python make_theme --file accounts/templates/account/terms_of_use_en.html
python make_theme --file accounts/templates/account/terms_of_use_de.html

# use the same --name as before
python make_theme --name=rdmo_cool --file=...

Create manually

If you want to manually create a theme you need to do the following:

  1. Create a rdmo_theme folder containing a static and a templates directory inside your rdmo-app directory:

    mkdir -p rdmo_theme/static rdmo_theme/templates
    touch rdmo_theme/
  2. Add the line below to your config/settings/

    import os
    from . import INSTALLED_APPS
    INSTALLED_APPS = ['rdmo_theme'] + INSTALLED_APPS
  3. Copy the files you want to modify into the rdmo_theme folder keeping their relative paths.

Working with themes

If you have completed the steps above templates and static files in the rdmo_theme directory are used instead of the original files as long as they have the same relative path, e.g. the template theme/templates/core/base_navigation.html overrides rdmo/core/templates/core/base_navigation.html from the original code.

Usually, the RDMO template files are located in your virtual environment, e.g. /srv/rdmo/rdmo-app/env/lib/python3.6/site-packages/rdmo/core/static/core/css/variables.scss. The exact path depends on your Python version and platform. The make_theme script will find the files for you. You can also download the original files from the rdmo repository instead. For the example above, this would be Please make sure to use the raw files when downloading from GitHub. If you accidentally grab the website’s html source code RDMO will throw an error.

Some files you might want to override are:

SASS variables can be copied to rdmo_theme/static/core/css/variables.scss and be used to customize colors.

Home page text and can be copied to rdmo_theme/templates/core/home_text_en.html and rdmo_theme/templates/core/home_text_de.html and be used to customize text on the home page.

Terms of Use

The content displayed in the Terms of Use dialogue can be customized by putting templates to the appropriate locations. Two different files resembling the available languages can be used and should be located at rdmo_theme/templates/account/terms_of_use_de.html and rdmo_theme/templates/account/terms_of_use_en.html. Set the variable ACCOUNT_TERMS_OF_USE to True in your config/settings/

Note that updates to the RDMO package might render your theme incompatible to the RDMO code and cause errors. In this case the files in theme need to be adjusted to match their RDMO counterparts in functionality.


The emails, which are send to the users can be customized as well. Of particular interest is the template for mails inviting users to projects located at The templates can be copied to rdmo_theme/templates/projects/email/project_invite_subject.txt and rdmo_theme/templates/projects/email/project_invite_message.txt and edited accordingly.

Custom translations

As described in the Introduction above RDMO themes are now supposed to be Django apps. Using this kind of themes brings another advantage regarding translations. It is possible to create custom .po files holding translations that then can be used along with the translations inside the RDMO core. Here are the steps to make this happen.

  1. Create a theme if you do not have one already

    python make_theme
  2. Ensure that the theme has a locale directory on it’s top level (the folder added to INSTALLED_APPS).

  3. Create the .po files for your translations. Note that the command has to be run inside the theme’s folder.

    cd rdmo_theme
    django-admin makemessages -l de
  4. Use po edit or another tool of your choice to edit the po files inside the locale folder.

  5. Compile the .mo files, if the tool does not do that on it’s own.

    cd rdmo_theme
    django-admin compilemessages -l de
  6. Make sure you have a folder structure equivalent to the one below. Especially regarding the location of the .po files.

    ├── locale
    │   ├── de
    │   |   └── LC_MESSAGES
    │   |        ├──
    │   |        └── django.po
    │   └── fr
    │       └── LC_MESSAGES
    │           ├──
    │           └── django.po
    ├── static
    │   └── core
    └── templates
        └── core
            └── your_template.html