Modifying Tinkerer Themes

Update: After I wrote this I ended up going back to the ‘native’ pygments style. The reason was that monokai didn’t seem to produce css for the shell console code-block type, and I wanted those blocks to be pretty like the rest of them.

So one of the reasons it took me so long to create this site was that I had a really hard time finding a system I liked to create it with. My thought process on that is probably the content of another blog post, but since I’m in the middle of working on making this site the way I want it I figured I’d share some of the things I’ve found about the static blog generator I settled on, Tinkerer.

While for the most part I really enjoyed Tinkerer’s default theme (modern5), one thing I wanted to mess around with was the theme it used for syntax highlighting.

It turns out its actually pretty simple - and even more simple if you use an existing theme. The first thing I did was make a themes directory in my site’s source, then copied the modern5 theme into that directory with a new name (signal0 in this case):

mkdir themes
cp -r /usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/tinkerer/themes/modern5 themes/signal0

Note: My server is a FreeBSD host. The path to your tinkerer themes may be different on your server depending on a lot of things. If you don’t know the correct path, here’s a way you can figure it out:

Python 2.7.2 (default, Oct 24 2011, 00:25:49)
[GCC 4.2.1 20070719  [FreeBSD]] on freebsd8
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import tinkerer
>>> print "%s/themes" % (tinkerer.__path__[0],)

So now that you have the copy of your theme, now we need to update your theme to use a new syntax highlighter. Tinkerer uses Sphinx, which in turn uses Pygments for syntax highlighting.

Pygments calls its different highlighting themes ‘styles’. So lets see what styles we have available on our system. Again you want to do that from your python interactive interpreter:

Python 2.7.2 (default, Oct 24 2011, 00:25:49)
[GCC 4.2.1 20070719  [FreeBSD]] on freebsd8
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from pygments.styles import STYLE_MAP
>>> import pprint
>>> pprint.pprint(STYLE_MAP)
{'autumn': 'autumn::AutumnStyle',
 'borland': 'borland::BorlandStyle',
 'bw': 'bw::BlackWhiteStyle',
 'colorful': 'colorful::ColorfulStyle',
 'default': 'default::DefaultStyle',
 'emacs': 'emacs::EmacsStyle',
 'friendly': 'friendly::FriendlyStyle',
 'fruity': 'fruity::FruityStyle',
 'manni': 'manni::ManniStyle',
 'monokai': 'monokai::MonokaiStyle',
 'murphy': 'murphy::MurphyStyle',
 'native': 'native::NativeStyle',
 'pastie': 'pastie::PastieStyle',
 'perldoc': 'perldoc::PerldocStyle',
 'tango': 'tango::TangoStyle',
 'trac': 'trac::TracStyle',
 'vim': 'vim::VimStyle',
 'vs': 'vs::VisualStudioStyle'}

As you can see there’s a ton of styles available on my system. In the end you have to play with them to figure out which one you like best, but in the end I settled on monokai.

Update: This is not necessarily true. Favio Manriquez Leon of posted a page that gives examples of all the standard pygments styles at

In order to tell Sphinx to tell Pygments to use a new theme, there are a few things that need to be changed. First lets change our custom theme. To do that you need to edit the theme.conf file, changing pygments_style to the appropriate theme name. In this example, the file is located in themes/signal0/theme.conf:

inherit = boilerplate
stylesheet = modern5.css
pygments_style = monokai

Once you have that, now you have to tell Sphinx how to find your new theme, and then to use it. Both of these settings are located at the root of your site source tree in

The first thing you need to update is the html_theme setting. This chooses your theme. The second thing you need to update is html_theme_path, which tells Sphinx what paths to look through in order to find your theme. After I edited mine, here’s what I was left with:

html_theme = "signal0"
html_theme_path = [tinkerer.paths.themes, 'themes']

And that’s it! Recompile your site and enjoy your new pretty syntax highlighting colors. If you have any questions, let me know!