Layers allow you to easily enable and disable views and other site functionality based on installed add-ons and themes.


Layers allow you to activate different code paths and modules depending on the external configuration.


  • Code belonging to a theme is only active when that theme has been selected.
  • Mobile browsing code is only active when the site is being browsed on a mobile phone.

Layers are marker interfaces applied to the HTTPRequest object. They are usually used in conjunction with ZCML directives to dynamically activate various parts of the configuration (theme files, add-on product functionality).

Layers ensure that only one add-on product can override the specific Plone instance functionality in your site at a time, while still allowing you to have possibly conflicting add-on products in your buildout and ZCML. Remember that multiple Plone site instances can share the same ZCML and code files.

Many ZCML directives take the optional layer parameter. See example, resourceDirectory

Layers can be activated when an add-on product is installed or a certain theme is picked.

For more information, read

Using layers

Some ZCML directives (for example: browser:page) take a layer attribute.

If you have:

# plonetheme.yourthemename.interfaces.IThemeSpecific layer defined in
Python code
# YourTheme product installed through add-on product installer on your
site instance

then views and viewlets from your product can be enabled on the site instance using the following ZCML:

<!-- Site actions override in YourTheme -->

Unconditional overrides

If you want to override a view or a viewlet unconditionally for all sites without the add-on product installer support you need to use overrides.zcml.

Creating a layer

Theme layer

Theme layers can be created via the following steps:

  1. Subclass an interface from IDefaultPloneLayer:

    from plone.theme.interfaces import IDefaultPloneLayer
    class IThemeSpecific(IDefaultPloneLayer):
        """Marker interface that defines a Zope 3 skin layer bound to a Skin
           Selection in portal_skins.
           If you need to register a viewlet only for the "YourSkin"
           skin, this is the interface that must be used for the layer attribute
           in YourSkin/browser/configure.zcml.
  2. Register it in ZCML. The name must match the theme name.

  3. Register and set your theme as the default theme in profiles/default/skins.xml. Theme layers require that they are set as the default theme and not just activated on your Plone site. Example:

    <object name="portal_skins" allow_any="False" cookie_persistence="False"
        <!-- define skins-based folder objects here if any -->
        <skin-path name="SitsSkin" based-on="Plone Default">
            <layer name="plone_skins_style_folder_name"

Add-on layer for clean extensions

An add-on product layer is enabled when an add-on product is installed. Since one Zope application server may contain several Plone sites, you need to keep enabled code paths separate by using add-on layers - otherwise all views and viewlets apply to all sites in one Zope application server.

  • You can enable views and viewlets specific to functional add-ons.
  • Unlike theme layers, add-on layers depend on the activated add-on products, not on the selected theme.

An add-on layer is a marker interface which is applied on the HTTP request object by Plone core logic.

First create an interface for your layer in

""" Define interfaces for your add-on.

import zope.interface

class IAddOnInstalled(zope.interface.Interface):
    """ A layer specific for this add-on product.

    This interface is referred in browserlayer.xml.

    All views and viewlets register against this layer will appear on
    your Plone site only when the add-on installer has been run.

You then need to refer to this in the profile/default/browserlayer.xml file of your add-on installer setup profile:



The add-on layer registry is persistent and stored in the database. The changes to add-on layers are applied only when add-ons are installed or uninstalled.

More information

Add-on layer for changing existing behavior

You can also use layers to modify the behavior of plone or another Add-on.

To make sure that your own view is used, your Layer must be mor specific than the layer where original view is registered.

For example, some z3cform things register their views on the IPloneFormLayer from

If you want to override the ploneform-macros view that is registered on the IPloneFormLayer, your own Layer must be a subclass of IPloneFormLayer.

If a view does not declare a specific Layer, it becomes registered on the IDefaultBrowserLayer from zope.publisher.interfaces.browser.IDefaultBrowserLayer.

Manual layers

Apply your layer to the HTTPRequest in the before_traverse hook or before you call the code which looks up the interfaces.

Choosing skin layer dynamically 1:

Choosing skin layer dynamically 2:

See the module.

In the example below we turn on a layer for the request which is later checked by the rendering code. This way some pages can ask for special View/Viewlet rendering.


# Defining layer

from zope.publisher.interfaces.browser import IBrowserRequest

class INoHeaderLayer(IBrowserRequest):
    """ When applied to HTTP request object, header animations or images are not rendered on this.

    If this layer is on request do not render header images.
    This allows uncluttered editing of header animations and images.

# Applying layer for some requests (manually done in view)
# The browser page which renders the form
class EditHeaderAnimationsView(FormWrapper):

    form = HeaderCRUDForm

    def __call__(self):
        """ """

        # Signal viewlet layer that we are rendering
        # edit view for header animations and it is not meaningful
        # to try to render the big animation on this page
        zope.interface.alsoProvides(self.request, INoHeaderLayer)

        # Render the edit form
        return FormWrapper.__call__(self)

Troubleshooting instructions for layers

  • Check that your view or whatever is working without a layer assigned (globally);
  • Check that configure.zcml has a layer entry. Put some garbage to trigger a syntax error in configure.zcml to make sure that it is being loaded;
  • Add-on layer: check that profiles/default/browserlayer.xml has a matching entry with a matching name;
  • Theme layer: if it's a theme layer, check that there is a matching skins.xml entry
  • Check that layer name is correctly spelt in the view declaration.

Checking active layers

Layers are activated on the current request object


if INoHeaderLayer.providedBy(self.request):
    # The page has asked to suspend rendering of the header animations
    return ""

Active themes and add-on products

The registered_layers() method returns a list of all layers active on the site. Note that this is different to the list of layers which are applied on the current HTTP request object: the request object may contain manually activated layers.


from interfaces import IThemeSpecific
from plone.browserlayer.utils import registered_layers

if IThemeSpecific in registered_layers():
    # Your theme specific code
    # General code

Getting active theme layer

Only one theme layer can be active at once.

The active theme name is defined in portal_skins properties. This name can be resolved to a theme layer.

Debugging active layers

You can check the activated layers from HTTP request object by looking at self.request.__provides__.__iro__. Layers are evaluated from zero index (highest priority) the last index (lowest priority).

Testing Layers

Plone testing tool kits won't register layers for you, you have to do it yourself somewhere in the boilerplate code:

from zope.interface import directlyProvides

directlyProvides(self.portal.REQUEST, IThemeLayer)