The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7

Finding a Good Base Theme

Thousands of contributed themes are available at Unfortunately, Drupal themes have a reputation for being ugly. While there is some truth to that, there are many gems out there; you just need to know what to look for. Themes on are sorted by popularity, based on project usage stats, so it is easy to see which themes are the most popular. However, popularity is not always the best measure. There are a few things you should understand when evaluating a contributed Drupal theme.

All of the themes on are lumped together into one, uncategorized list. As you can see on, a large portion of the themes on the first page are base themes. While any theme can technically be used as a base theme, it’s important to read the project information so you know what to expect. Maintainers will be a lot less inclined to help you with a problem if you’re not using the theme how they intended.
Maintenance and development status
Each project has a Maintenance and a Development status which can be viewed on the project page. These will give you a good idea of how the module is supported. If the project has an “Actively maintained” maintenance status and an “Under active development” development status, chances are that the module developer intends to fix bugs and will entertain feature requests made in the issue queue.
Usage statistics
On each project page, the project Information section contains the number of reported installations and a link called “View usage statistics” that shows a long term graph and table of this data and how it has changed over time. Usage statistics can be a good indication of whether or not a theme has been well tested. If many people are using it or it shows steady growth, chances are that it’s a better theme.
Issue queue
Most projects contain issues queues where users can report bugs and request features. Reading through the issue queue is a good way to gauge the community participation in a project. It is also a great way to learn what bugs the theme may have and how quickly the community and maintainer(s) respond to such issues.

Popular Base Themes

There are many great base themes available from seasoned theme developers on A comprehensive list of available base or “starter” themes is available at Some of the most popular base themes available for Drupal 7 include:

You are reading content from two chapters on Theme Development from The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, written by Jacine Luisi and published by Apress on July 19, 2011. All rights reserved.