Getting Started

Plate is a frontend-based Content Management System (CMS) that offers clean simplicity in terms of content editing; the user does not have to manage his content in a backend, but edits it inline. That is what makes Plate truly WYSIWYG.

Getting started video tutorial (Dutch):

Plate themes

Every Plate site uses a theme. Themes are made out of plain HTML/CSS/JS, and a templating layer: Liquid, extended with Plate specific functionality.

How to create a theme

You can create an empty theme by going to your partner dashboard, and clicking on ‘Themes’ in the sidebar menu. Next click on ‘Create New Theme’. To download the theme files after creating it, click on ‘Download Theme’. To continue working with your theme, check out Themes & Theme files.

What happens with your theme when it is picked?

When a user picks your theme, a site gets created with not only the theme files, but also the preview content and content types of your preview site. So make sure you keep your preview site just a preview site.

A couple of tips to create a preview site:

Theme Structure

The Plate Nested Layout Structure

The layout of a post in Plate is built out of the following nested layout components.

Post > Section > Row > Column > Content Element

The dragging/dropping of content elements, and resizing plus changing the order of sections, rows and columns gives the user ultimate freedom to set up the posts layout as he sees fit.

Plate content scheme

Below a more detailed description for each layout component.


Each web page with a URL within a Plate site is a post, consisting of a post type and corresponding content fields. The post is the top level container for Plate’s frontend editor, which is loaded in with the tag content_for post, which in turn loads in the rest of the layout scaffold. Starting with:


Sections are meant to divide the post in (fullwidth) page sections. Each section can have it’s own template, if needed. This way you can have a section with a background image, and a section with extra top and bottom padding, for example. This makes Plate sites compatible with modern web design. It also makes creating one-page site possible. Sections consist of:


Rows are ordered vertically within a section, and can be reordered by the user.


Columns are orderd horizontally within a row, and are inline draggable by the user. Because of this row/columns structure, the user can create his own layout on a page. Columns have:

Content Elements

Or just Elements. Elements are pieces of inline content, ordered vertically within a column and also draggable by the user. Elements, just like Posts, have their own content type and corresponding content fields. With elements the user can fill his layout with needed content.

Required files

Plate will load a site starting with a theme layout file, layouts/theme.plate by default. This is the file that is the basis for every page, so a header, footer or html head tag that appears on every page should be placed here. At the location where {{ content_for_layout }}, is called, the page specific content will be loaded.

The page specific content is retrieved by calling the corresponding content for the requested post. This post content is templated separately for each post type like Pages and Blogposts. For each post type, an index.plate and a show.plate file is required. The index.plate template is used for the overview page of all the instances the post type, and the show.plate template is used for the detail page of a single instance of the post type. Learn more about theme files

Writing theme files

Theme files are written in the plate templating language. This language is HTML combined with a simple templating language. Any CSS or Javascript assets or frameworks can be used and included. By default, the Plate Grid framework is included.

The Plate Grid system

When you add the {% include "content_for_head" %} Plate also loads a grid system that is utilized by the nested layout structure to build the layout. You can use this grid system in your own theme. The grid works much like Bootstrap’s grid.


<div class="plate--container">
  <div class="plate--row">
    <div class="plate--column sm-4">
    <div class="plate--column sm-4">
    <div class="plate--column sm-4">

The default responsive grid sizes are:

The plate--container div has the same max width as the current grid size. plate--container-fluid always has 100% width.

The maximum amount of column units inside plate--row is 12.

plate--column has a gutter width of 30px (15px on each side). Columns are initially horizontally aligned, but break to vertically if the screen size is smaller than the named grid-size. E.g. sm-4 breaks off to vertical aligning if the screen size is smaller than 992px (sm is max 991px).

Of course you are not required to use Plate’s grid system. If you like another grid system better, you are free to use that one.

Uploading your theme

After creating and downloading your theme (you can also download a specific site’s theme) you want to add changes to it and upload these changes. Plate’s dev team created a deployment tool to ensure this process goes with as much ease as possible. You only have to turn on the listener, and go edit your theme files. The theme tool does the rest.

Read more about the Plate Theme Tool.

Creating a site

As a partner you can create sites for your client. To do this follow these steps:

A site’s theme

The chosen theme gets copied to the site, so you or the site’s end user can change it without changing the source theme. To download a site’s theme, go to the Site dashboard, and click on ‘Site settings’. you can download the site’s theme by clicking on the ‘Theme’ tab.