Manual:How to make a MediaWiki skin

Making a skin is a great way to get familiar with the inner workings of MediaWiki and to kick off your contributions to the Wikimedia movement! If you are familiar with the front end technologies of CSS, JavaScript and JSON you can make a MediaWiki skin! There is no need to know PHP, but it may help if you want to do anything advanced.

While not essential, it will help if you are familiar with LESS CSS. This tutorial assumes that you have installed a working version of MediaWiki, and are running the current development release, if not, it is recommended you do that first.

If you having an existing skin using the PHP BaseTemplate, this guide is not for you. Please see Manual:How to make a MediaWiki skin/Migrating SkinTemplate based skins to SkinMustache instead.


Skin development will be a lot easier with a familiarity with Mustache templates.

At minimum, you should know be familiar with the following Mustache basics described in the example below:

{{ str }} <!-- renders escaped string -->
{{{ html-str }}} <!-- renders RAW HTML -->

<!-- accesses data inside an associative array of the form { 'key' => 'hello' } -->
{{ key }} <!-- renders hello -->

<!-- for boolean values -->
<!-- conditional rendering if is-talk-page is true -->

A skin is responsible for the rendering of user-visible content - the HTML inside the BODY tag. It is restricted from editing anything inside the HEAD. Code will be automatically generated for the skin, so that the skin can focus on presentation. If you need to modify the HEAD this is considered outside the scope of the skin, please use Hooks, extensions or configuration to do that see the FAQ for best practices on how to do that.

Getting startedEdit

To begin making your first skin, we recommend two options.

Option 1 - Fork Example skinEdit

The Example skin provides the bare bones implementation of a skin. Clone the repository in your skins folder making sure the folder is called "Example" and add the following to your LocalSettings.php:

wfLoadSkin( 'Example' );

If all has gone to plan your skin should be available on the Special:Preferences page of your wiki.

Option 2 - Use the skins labEdit

The skins lab tool allows you to setup a skin with basic CSS and templates. Once you feel comfortable, you can click "download as ZIP" which will compile the necessary boiler plate for your skin. Hopefully the resulting repository is easy to navigate. When you have downloaded the ZIP place it in your MediaWiki skins folder and update LocalSettings.php with the following:

wfLoadSkin( 'FolderName' );

If all has gone to plan your skin should be available on the Special:Preferences page of your wiki.

Let people know!Edit

Making a skin will be more fun with other people and much easier too! Once you have got something usable, please consider publishing it to GitHub or Gerrit . Once the code is publicly available, you should create a skin page (make sure you change the title!) to let people know you are open for collaboration!

Setting up a wiki page has many other benefits. You'll be able to handle bug reports in Phabricator or GitHub issues and receive patches from other volunteers in the MediaWiki community. Somebody should also be able to help you setup translation.


In 1.35 we added support for Mustache in skins. We found using Mustache to be very helpful in the development of the Skin:Minerva and Skin:Vector skins as it allows you to separate data from presentation. Mustache partials can be used to reuse templates. To use a partial Partial.mustache in MediaWiki, simply add them to the folder you are working in and reference them using {{>Partial}} in the master template `skin.mustache`.

The data sent to Mustache templates is relatively flexible. If something is missing, you can use PHP to add data by extending the SkinMustache::getTemplateData function.

The SkinJson skin can be added to a MediaWiki development instance, to inspect the data available to skins. Note that arrays are prefixed "array-", booleans are prefixed with "is-" and objects are prefixed "data-" to help you conceptualize the data you are working with.

The data available, and in which MediaWiki versions it is available is documented on Manual:SkinMustache.php.

Making your skin translateable (i18n)Edit

In skin.json under ValidSkinNames, you can use the `messages` option to define translateable message keys. These keys should correspond to entries inside the i18n/en.json folder. Once registered for the skin, these will be available in your template with a prefix "msg-".

"example": {
	"class": "SkinMustache",
	"args": [ {
			"name": "example",
			"messages": [
	} ]

For example in the example below, the message "sitetitle" can be rendered in a Mustache template using


See Localisation for more information on why this is important.

Rendering template partialsEdit

Template partials can be used to render different parts of the skin and to avoid the problem with having a large unmaintainable skin.mustache file. In the following example, the skin renders the contents of the templates in the 3 files with the filenames Logo.mustache, Content.mustache and Footer.mustache. These files must exist in the same folder as the skin.mustache file or a subfolder of the directory containing skin.mustache.


Template partials are a great way to break up your skin to make it more readable. No template partials are predefined and available by default, however you can look at existing skins using SkinMustache for inspiration.

Read more about Mustache template partials.


Following code block is being used to show the site logo in the Example skin and you will also see the same if you create the skin from the SkinLabs.

<!-- Logo.mustache -->
<div id="p-logo" class="mw-portlet" role="banner">
    <a href="{{link-mainpage}}">
        {{#icon}}<img src="{{.}}" width="40" height="40">{{/icon}}
        {{#wordmark}}<img src="{{src}}" width="{{width}}" height="{{height}}">{{/wordmark}}

From the code block mentioned above, the following line is responsible to show the logo `icon`:

{{#icon}}<img src="{{.}}" width="40" height="40">{{/icon}}

This line assumes that, there is a key icon in the array $wgLogos. So in your LocalSettings.php file, if there is a line similar as $wgLogos = [ 'icon' => "$wgResourceBasePath/resources/assets/wiki.png" ];, then the logo/ icon image will be displayed. The default MediaWiki LocalSettings.php exports a 1x key in the $wgLogos array.

So to show the logo you need to update the LocalSettings.php and add a key icon.

If you want to change the logo do not just replace the default logo with a new one in the resources/assets/wiki.png path. Because it will be changed to default, when you update the MediaWiki. The recommended way to change the logo is to add a new logo image file and add that path to the LocalSettings.php.

Rendering menus with MustacheEdit

All menus are structured in the same format (Manual:SkinMustache.php#PortletData). A generic Menu.mustache template partial, added to the same folder as skin.mustache can therefore be used to generate a menu.

<div role="navigation" id="{{id}}" class="{{class}}" title="{{html-tooltip}}"
    <input type="checkbox" aria-labelledby="{{id}}-label" />
    <h3 id="{{id}}-label" {{{html-user-language-attributes}}}>{{label}}</h3>
    <div class="mw-portlet-body">
        <ul {{{html-user-language-attributes}}}>

However, when using this partial you'll need to tell it which menu to generate HTML for. Inside skin.mustache the following would render the languages and views menu.

{{! Switch template context to data for all menus }}
    {{! Access the menu called "languages" }}
    {{! Access the menu called "views" }}

Disabling the table of contentsEdit

In 1.38, you can remove the table of contents from the article body and position it outside the content area. To disable the table of contents generation, add the following to skin.json:

    "ValidSkinNames": {
        "notocskin": {
            "class": "SkinMustache",
            "args": [
                   "name": "notocskin",
                   "toc": false

The array-sections template key can be used for rendering the table of contents.

More examplesEdit

To see examples of template partials that can be used in your project, you can look through the examples in the Wikimedia skins labs.

Scripts and stylesEdit


A skin at minimum requires a single style ResourceLoader module. It will look a bit like this:

       "ResourceModules": {
                "skins.example": {
                        "class": "ResourceLoaderSkinModule",
                        "features": [ "normalize" ],
                        "styles": [ "resources/skins.example.less" ]

The features key allows you to use useful boiler plate defaults for a variety of things including i18n and normalize which are documented in the MediaWiki core php documentation. Features can be a list of keys (opt-in policy) or in 1.36 an object (opt-out policy). If you are not sure, please omit the features key to use the recommended defaults.


The skin.json is a manifest of all the assets your skin uses. Under the `ResourceModules` key you should find the style module for your skin listed under `skins.example`. Here, under the "styles" key you can add LESS or CSS files. They will be loaded in the order they are listed. With LESS you can use @import statements in the same folder. More information about what's possible can be found in ResourceLoader/Developing_with_ResourceLoader.

When using images you should be able to use relative URIs to access the image assets.

Responsive skins / adding a meta viewportEdit

If you are building a responsive skin, make sure to use the responsive skin option when declaring your skin in skin.json.

    "ValidSkinNames": {
        "my-responsive-skin": {
            "class": "SkinMustache",
            "args": [
                   "name": "my-responsive-skin",
                   "responsive": true


You can extend Manual:$wgLogos with any data you choose to. This will allow site admins to configure images as they choose, but you must always conditionally render them.

In cases where images must be hardcoded for some reason., and cannot use a CSS background-image, or wgLogos for any reason you will need to extend the data sent to the template


JavaScript code in skins, runs in an environment where you can rely on the `mw` and `jQuery` objects having been loaded. We recommend using ResourceLoader/Package_files which will allow you to require file assets.

For information on the available API and libraries see core JS documentation.

More advancedEdit

More advanced information will provided on an as requested basis. Please ask a question on the talk page to accelerate the addition of documentation!


Messages defined in i18n/en.json can be passed directly to your Mustache template by inclusion in skin.json. Note, that you can use any messages defined inside MediaWiki core.

skin.json i18n/en.json skin.mustache
    "ValidSkinNames": {
        "mymustacheskin": {
            "class": "SkinMustache",
            "args": [
                   "name": "mymustacheskin",
                   "messages": [
        "@metadata": {
                "authors": []
        "skinname-mymustacheskin": "My Mustache Skin",
        "mymustacheskin-hello": "Hello"
    {{msg-mymustacheskin-hello}} <!-- prints hello in the current language -->

Extending dataEdit

The data available is documented on Manual:SkinMustache.php.

If you need to add additional data for rendering inside your skin's template that cannot be served by messages (as in the i18n section) e.g. raw HTML or complex data structures you must use a dedicated PHP class and extend the SkinMustache::getTemplateData method.


class MySkin extends SkinMustache {
     * Extends the getTemplateData function to add a template key 'html-myskin-hello-world'
     * which can be rendered in skin.mustache using {{{html-myskin-hello-world}}}
    public function getTemplateData() {
        $data = parent::getTemplateData();
        $data['html-myskin-hello-world'] = '<strong>Hello world!</strong>';
        return $data;

Default styling via the ResourceLoaderSkinModule classEdit

All skins should define a single style module with the class ResourceLoaderSkinModule. The module defines various default styles to take care of MediaWiki internals. If you want, you can disable these features and provide your own styles. Define features as an empty object to tie yourself into the recommended MediaWiki defaults. A list of support features is provided in our docs.

Example ResourceLoaderSkinModule that disables the logo feature but enables several others:

    "skins.vector.styles": {
                        "class": "ResourceLoaderSkinModule",
                        "features": {
                                "normalize": true,
                                "elements": true,
                                "content": true,
                                "logo": false,
                                "interface": true,
                                "legacy": true
                        "targets": [
                        "styles": [ "resources/skins.vector.styles/skin.less" ]

Integrating with other extensionsEdit

Extensions should integrate with you, not the other way round! Try to forget about extensions when writing your skin. User:Jdlrobson/Skins for extension developers is provided for extension developers to ensure they get the best compatibility. The starter templates in Manual:How_to_make_a_MediaWiki_skin#Getting_started will render all possible UI elements. If you omit certain pieces of data you may break support with extensions.

For certain extensions you may want to tweak the styles of the default UI elements, notably Extension:Echo. To do this you will need to read Manual:$wgResourceModuleSkinStyles.

Changing menu contentEdit

The composition of menus can be changed by using hooks. For example in Vector, the SkinTemplateNavigation hook is used to relocate the watch star icon. When doing this, remember to check the skin being operated on, to avoid side effects in other skins.

I want to change elements in the head of the HTML pageEdit

Skin developers should not concern themselves with modifying anything in the HEAD of a document. Modifications of the HEAD are better served via extensions and configuration inside LocalSettings.php. For any questions please use the

The following links may be helpful:

I am writing an extension that needs to style itself differently depending on the skinEdit

Extensions can make use of skin styles to ship skin-specific styles using the skinStyles key. See Manual:$wgResourceModuleSkinStyles.

Building skins for 1.35Edit

In 1.35 support for building skins was not as straightforward as in 1.36. If you wish to build a skin for 1.35, using template data provided in 1.36, you will need to extend the SkinMustache PHP class. A polyfill for the Example skin is provided.

Your feedback is importantEdit

If something is not easy, we'd like to make it easier, so your feedback is important. If you run into problems, then please file a bug report in the mediawiki core skin architecture project in Phabricator, and we'll try and find an elegant solution.

Please feel free to ask a question on the talk page. There is no such thing as a stupid question.