You can take advantage of themes, making it easy to switch the look and feel of your page quickly and easily.

To use themes, specify the theme name in your controller:

class ExampleController extends AppController {
    public $theme = 'Example';

Changed in version 2.1: Versions previous to 2.1 required setting the $this->viewClass = 'Theme'. 2.1 removes this requirement as the normal View class supports themes

You can also set or change the theme name within an action or within the beforeFilter or beforeRender callback functions:

$this->theme = 'AnotherExample';

Theme view files need to be within the /app/View/Themed/ folder. Within the themed folder, create a folder using the same name as your theme name. For example, the above theme would be found in /app/View/Themed/AnotherExample.


It is important to remember that CakePHP expects CamelCase theme names.

Beyond that, the folder structure within the /app/View/Themed/Example/ folder is exactly the same as /app/View/.

For example, the view file for an edit action of a Posts controller would reside at /app/View/Themed/Example/Posts/edit.ctp. Layout files would reside in /app/View/Themed/Example/Layouts/.

If a view file can’t be found in the theme, CakePHP will try to locate the view file in the /app/View/ folder. This way, you can create master view files and simply override them on a case-by-case basis within your theme folder.

Theme assets

Themes can contain static assets as well as view files. A theme can include any necessary assets in its webroot directory. This allows for easy packaging and distribution of themes. While in development, requests for theme assets will be handled by Dispatcher. To improve performance for production environments, it’s recommended that you either symlink or copy theme assets into the application’s webroot. See below for more information.

To use the new theme webroot create directories like:


in your theme. The Dispatcher will handle finding the correct theme assets in your view paths.

All of CakePHP’s built-in helpers are aware of themes and will create the correct paths automatically. Like view files, if a file isn’t in the theme folder, it will default to the main webroot folder:

//When in a theme with the name of 'purple_cupcake'

//creates a path like

//and links to

Increasing performance of plugin and theme assets

It’s a well known fact that serving assets through PHP is guaranteed to be slower than serving those assets without invoking PHP. And while the core team has taken steps to make plugin and theme asset serving as fast as possible, there may be situations where more performance is required. In these situations it’s recommended that you either symlink or copy out plugin/theme assets to directories in app/webroot with paths matching those used by CakePHP.

  • app/Plugin/DebugKit/webroot/js/my_file.js becomes app/webroot/debug_kit/js/my_file.js

  • app/View/Themed/Navy/webroot/css/navy.css becomes app/webroot/theme/Navy/css/navy.css