CKAN Extension that demonstrates some common patterns for customising a CKAN instance
by Open Knowledge

This CKAN Extension demonstrates some common patterns for customising a CKAN instance.

It comprises:

  • A CKAN Extension “plugin” at ckanext/example/ which, when loaded, overrides various settings in the core ini-file to provide:
    • A path to local customisations of the core templates and stylesheets
    • A “stream filter” that replaces arbitrary strings in rendered templates
    • A “route” to override and extend the default behaviour of a core CKAN page
  • A custom Pylons controller for overriding some core CKAN behaviour
  • A custom Package edit form
  • A custom Group edit form
  • A plugin that allows for custom forms to be used for datasets based on their “type”.
  • A custom User registration and edition form
  • Some simple template customisations


To install this package, from your CKAN virtualenv, run the following from your CKAN base folder (e.g. pyenv/):

pip install -e git+

Then activate it by setting ckan.plugins = example in your main ini-file.


  • Examine the source code, starting with ckanext/example/
  • To understand the nuts and bolts of this file, which is a CKAN Extension, read in conjunction with the “Extension documentation”:
  • One thing the extension does is set the values of extra_public_paths and extra_template_paths in the CKAN config, which are “documented here”:
  • These are set to point at directories within ckanext/example/theme/ (in this package). Here we: * override the home page HTML ckanext/example/theme/templates/home/index.html * provide some extra style by serving extra.css (which is loaded using the ckan.template_head_end option * customise the navigation and header of the main template in the file layout.html.

    The latter file is a great place to make global theme alterations. It uses the _layout template_ pattern “described in the Genshi documentation”: This allows you to use Xpath selectors to override snippets of HTML globally.

  • The custom package edit form at follows a deprecated way to make a form (using FormAlchemy). This part of the Example Theme needs updating. In the meantime, follow the instructions at:

Example Tags With Vocabularies

To add example tag vocabulary data to the database, from the ckanext-example directory run:

paster example create-example-vocabs -c <path to your ckan config file>

This data can be removed with

paster example clean -c <path to your ckan config file>

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