The Platform UI Theme Challenge begins today!

by Marc Palmer in


Extended and updated see competition prize update

As you may have seen, I finally managed to release Platform UI plugin 1.0 RC1.

I believe this plugin holds massive potential to take the Grails plugin ecosystem to an entirely new level. This exciting opportunity rests on the availability of high quality Themes and UI Sets. Grails application developers will be able to use these to get amazing looking apps with close to no effort. This in turn will make Grails an even more attractive platform for development.

A great parallel for this is the Wordpress theming community. If you use Wordpress you can find a free or premium Theme (typically under $50) that instantly makes your site look great - and if you think this just means Blog styling you are very out of date. Wordpress Themes adopted ad-hoc conventions shared across Themes by the same author, and sometimes across authors, for tags to render buttons and other content elements. The bottom line is you can hit the ground running without hiring a designer for two weeks, or you can have a designer focus on only the brand-specific tweaks that you need.

Themes just define the layout, right? Wrong. As Wordpress themes have shown, there is huge potential for themes to include content-related functionality also. This might include social sharing buttons, responsive and/or mobile rendering, smart image rendering using light boxes, Tweet panels etc.

Good examples can be found here.

The challenge

So what is the challenge?

It's simple: create a high quality Platform UI Theme and release it as a plugin before December 10th 2012.

I will pick five winners. These will be the most professional and most feature rich entries.

One Theme will be singled out as the supreme champion and will win the entire A Book Apart Library in either ebook or paperback form. For those not aware, these excellent books are by web luminaries such as Mike Monteiro, Jeremy Keith and Karen McGrane.

All winners will receive an extremely rare Grailsrocks t-shirt and the results will be announced in my Platform UI talk at GGX 2012, and some of the winning themes may be featured.

There's more! All winners can upgrade their prize by: creating their theme using a new UI Set created for a CSS framework other than Bootstrap and/or including a fully themed set of scaffolding templates.

These winners will receive a rare Grailsrocks hoodie in addition to the t-shirt. Such a win will obviously benefit two-person teams who might otherwise have to timeshare the t-shirt and hence have to normalise their body shapes.

Why the upgrade? Themes alone are pretty easy, but UI Sets and scaffolding are more involved and the more choice we have in the ecosystem the better.

How to enter

Step one: Start a plugin project using Platform UI 1.0 RC1

Step two: Make an awesome theme

Step three: Test it in a real app

Step four: Release the plugin to the Grails plugin portal

Step five: mail the links to the plugin portal page and include your screenshot (see rules)

By its nature this competition is about high quality design. So you if you want to enter you may consider teaming up with a designer and splitting the rewards.

The rules

  • You can submit as many entries as you like
  • All entries must be free open source in the Grails portal tagged "platform-ui"
  • All CSS and JS and related code must be open source licensed (ASL 2 or compatible)
  • All entries must supply a 1024px wide screenshot minus browser chrome for each theme included
  • Theme plugins must be called xxxxx-theme and ditto UI Sets must be xxxxx-uiset
  • Themes must support all required Platform UI Theme layouts as per the documentation, use of Platform Core Navigation API for menus, and an implementation of/compatibility with all the UI tags in the UI Set they depend on

What we'll be looking for

Awesome design. Great typography. Contemporary look. Design appropriate for real world applications.

In addition I will be looking out for:

  • static and responsive variants
  • mobile themes
  • multiple colour schemes
  • an extra "user" menu for e.g. Sign in/out and profile
  • retina support


Please use grails-user list to get support from me and others.

Look at ThemeForest and similar off-the-shelf Theme sites for inspiration.

Perhaps look at converting high quality free themes that already exist (all credits must be retained and open source licensing apply).

Consider bundling multiple theme variants in the same plugin to maximise your chances, as well as gaining through reuse of shared theme templates and UI Set.

Use Platform Core Configuration API to parameterise themes,