Zen is the ultimate starting theme for Drupal. If you are building your own standards-compliant theme, you will find it much easier to start with Zen than to start with Garland or Bluemarine. This theme has fantastic online documentation and tons of code comments for both the PHP (template.php) and HTML (page.tpl.php, node.tpl.php).
This theme saved me at 2am. Three hours of messing with 1000+ lines of nasty Garland-adapted code later, I abandoned it and recoded the site as a Zen sub-theme in under an hour. Thank you, thank you, thank you. - Greg
The idea behind the Zen theme is to have a very flexible standards-compliant and semantically correct XHTML theme that can be highly modified through CSS and an enhanced version of Drupal’s template system.
Out of the box, Zen is clean and simple with either a one, two, or three column layout of fixed or liquid width. In addition, the HTML source order has content placed before sidebars or the navbar for increased accessibility and SEO.
The name is an homage to the CSS Zen Garden site where designers can redesign the page purely through the use of CSS.
We are hoping to build up a library of Zen sub-themes, so feel free to hit this one like the Zen Garden and see how far you can extend it.
Well documented php and css files.
Lots of easy-to-access classes and ids for CSS developers.
Classes on body include items like "logged-in", "not-logged-in", "front", "not-front", as well as the node type ("node-type-story", "node-type-blog", etc) for single node pages. This can allow CSS developers to do things like have a different color for a given page item for non-logged-in users, have a larger header section on the front page, or put a different background color on a given node type.
Automatic (table-less) column resizing for 1, 2, and 3-column layouts.
Separate layout.css file to allow for changing the type of column layout (holy grail, jello mold, etc).
A print.css file optimizes print display automatically when sent to a printer — removes, sidebars and nav elements, optimizes font size, adds text to links showing href, etc.
There seems to be a conflict between some host installations of the SiteZen site builder and the Zen directory name which causes broken tabs, css files to be "not found", and other issues. To learn more about this problem and to learn its solution, visit the troubleshooting guide.
The Zen theme system is maintained by John Albin Wilkins of Palantir.net. There are numerous contributors to make Zen a better system. Most notable is Jeff Robbins with Lullabot who originally created Zen and continue to provide important improvements. There is also a Zen task force group to help discuss, test, and fix bugs, develop CSS-based subthemes, and improve Zen as a framework for further theme development.
Please contribute your ideas in the issue queue. Zen continues to get better because of community input. :-)