By Frank Nimphius on Feb 29, 2012
Recently I observed an increase of questions on OTN and Oracle internal that aim for applying CSS on the generated HTML output of an ADF Faces application. Surely, skinning in ADF is not the same as using CSS in tools like Dreamweaver, but it is the proper way of applying custom images and colors to ADF Faces applications. The biggest risk in styling the generated ADF Faces HTML output with CSS is change in the renderer classes. Oracle constantly works on improving its ADF Faces components, for example using HTML 5 to replace Flash and DHTML on some of the ADF Faces components. If you skinned applications on the generated output, then with each of the changes Oracle applies, your custom styles will break.
ADF sinning applies style sheet definitions to style classes at runtime. In contrast to direct output styling, the style classes are dynamically created and derived from the ADF Faces skin selectors. The component developer ensures that the style classes are always set to the correct location in the generated component output, ensuring that changes last across Oracle JDeveloper versions and component changes. Though I can't save you from learning, I can help you with pointers to sources you want to be aware of:
ADF skinning is documented in the Oracle® Fusion Middleware Web User Interface Developer's Guide for Oracle Application Development Framework
An ADF insider recording exists that explains skinning in a 40 minute video. Though this recording doesn't show the new skin editor, you learn a about how skinning works, how you dynamically detect skins at runtime and how you debug skins using FireBug in FireFox.
As mentioned, a visual skin editor exists that you can use in its stand-alone edition for JDeveloper 11g R1 (126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52) applications and integrated in JDeveloper 11g R2. An article that explains working with the skin editor and a recommend workflow is published here
To download the stand alone skin editor (JDeveloper 11g R2 has it integrated and no extra download is required), use the link below
To learn about the stand alone and the integrate skin editor, refer to the Oracle® Fusion Middleware Skin Editor User's Guide for Oracle Application Development Framework, which you can access online from
To try the skin editor on a JDeveloper 11g R2 sample, you can run through the hands-on exercise exposed as part of the Oracle learning library.
A video recording of how to use the skin editor can be found here
And finally, a list of all skin selectors and ADF Faces components can be read up in the Oracle Fusion Middleware Tag Reference for Oracle ADF Faces Skin Selectors
This document is a well written by the ADF Faces component developers and provides information that you don't find in other documentation. If you worked through all of this, Skinning should no longer be a problem for you.