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Mehul Harry is the DevExpress Web Program Manager. Follow him on twitter: @Mehulharry

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Custom ASP.NET Themes And The New ASP.NET Themes DLL

I’ve mentioned before about how the DXperience 2009 volume 2 release packs all the DevExpress ASP.NET Skins into one DLL. This removes the need to copy ALL of the separate CSS and image files that are associated with a DevExpress skin into your AppThemes folder. In fact, the AppThemes folder is not created when you apply one of our ASP.NET themes as an AutoFormat.

Dilemma: Where did the theme files go?

The slick and professional DevExpress ASP.NET themes are packed within each DXperience installation. Best of all, you’re free to use the themes with the default settings or customize it by tweaking the colors, fonts, etc.

The DevExpress ASP.NET themes used to be stored as files in your AppThemes folder. To make them more convenient to manage the themes are now packed in a DLL installed with DXperience. It's convenient and some settings can be changed but what do you do if you want to make major changes or completely new themes?


Use the free ASPxThemeDeployer tool that’s included within each DXperience installation. You can find the tool in the Start menu under the DevExpress folder and also in the installation directory (usually with Program Files/DevExpress/…).

Getting the theme files into your project is actually pretty easy. Let’s take a look.

Free Theme Deployer Tool

The ASPxThemeDeployer tool takes care of most of the heavy lifting of creating a new theme by:

  1. Creating an AppThemes folder in your Visual Studio project
  2. Then creates subfolders for the different themes you selected to import
  3. Finally, copies the selected themes (including CSS and image files) into your project’s AppThemes folders

ASP.NET Theme Deployer Tool

Now you have all the necessary files to customize the theme to your heart’s content. To learn more about ASP.NET theme customization, check out these ASP.NET theme posts and screencasts. I recommend watching all videos and be sure to watch the first one which shows how to use the new theme deployment tool:

AppThemes vs AutoFormat

If you use our themes across your entire website as an ASP.NET theme then you’ll need the corresponding theme files in the AppThemes folder. An ASP.NET theme uses the web.config to specify an overall theme for the controls rather specifying an individual control’s AutoFormat.

This need for the AppThemes folder is true anytime you use the ASP.NET theme approach. However, if you selected an ‘AutoFormat’ for our controls without using the ASP.NET theme, then you won’t see the AppThemes folder.

DXperience? What's That?

DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now:

Published Jul 24 2009, 03:20 PM by
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ASP.NET Themes In DLL: Easy Theme Deployment - The ASPx Blog - Mehul Harry's DevExpress Blog

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July 24, 2009 6:15 PM

Hans Nieuwenhuis I can't use the 1 DLL approach if I want a theme for my complete website? I still need those hundreds of files? That's a pity....

July 25, 2009 1:09 AM


but the beta did not have to already be out?

July 25, 2009 8:27 AM

Mehul Harry (DevExpress)

Hi Gino,

The 2009 Volume 2 RC is out now and available in the client center if you have DXperience Enterprise or Universal.

July 30, 2009 8:01 PM


We're just about to release v2009.2 and it would be a good idea to have an "accumulator"

August 20, 2009 8:29 PM

DotNetBurner -

DotNetBurner - burning hot .net content

September 12, 2009 6:05 PM

The ASPx Blog - Mehul Harry's DevExpress Blog

Another performance enhancement in the DXperience 2009 volume 3 release is the use of the ASPxThemes

October 30, 2009 1:39 PM

Yves Lessard

So what's the difference between App_Themes and Themes directory ?

November 30, 2009 10:56 AM

Mehul Harry (DevExpress)


Not sure I understand your question. There is only the App_Themes folder in your projects. The themes will probably be stored in the ..ProgramFiles/DevExpress/Themes folder. Is that what you meant?

November 30, 2009 3:41 PM


I'm using XtraMenu in my header page for the whole site, on my dev computer looks pretty good, but when I deployed the application to the IIS Server...  Can you please advice on what to do... Thanks,

April 20, 2010 2:08 PM

Mehul Harry (DevExpress)


Can you please upload a small sample to support so they can have a closer look?

April 21, 2010 4:03 PM

About Mehul Harry (DevExpress)

Mehul Harry is an ASP.NET technical evangelist at Developer Express. You can reach him directly at You can also follow him on Twitter:

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