Customizing the look of Galaxy

Author(s) orcid logoLaila Los avatar Laila Los
Editor(s) orcid logoHelena Rasche avatar Helena Rasche
Creative Commons License: CC-BY Questions:
  • How do I change Galaxy’s front page?

  • How do I set a custom brand text?

  • How can I configure theming?

  • Set a brand text for your Galaxy instance

  • Add a custom welcome page to Galaxy

  • Activate and customize themes

Time estimation: 45 minutes
Supporting Materials:
Published: Apr 16, 2023
Last modification: Feb 20, 2024
License: Tutorial Content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The GTN Framework is licensed under MIT
purl PURL:
rating Rating: 5.0 (0 recent ratings, 1 all time)
version Revision: 4

Customizing your Galaxy instance makes it more recognizable at a glance, and can help communicate its purpose to its users. This tutorial will teach you three basic customizations you can make to Galaxy:

  • Setting a brand text
  • Setting the contact information
  • Adding a custom welcome page
  • Customizing the masthead using themes

For this tutorial we will be setting up a fictional instance called “Galaxy Mars”. Feel free to use the included material in the hands-on sections, or provide your own.

  1. Custom Branding
  2. Configuring Support
  3. Custom Welcome Page
  4. Custom Masthead Theme

Custom Branding

The brand text in Galaxy refers to the text you can see in the masthead of some Galaxy instances. This text will appear in the masthead, as well as the sites title. It is an easy way to set your instance apart, and make it more identifiable.

screenshot of the start page of Galaxy Europe. Open image in new tab

Figure 1: Galaxy Europe uses the brand text \"Europe\"
Hands-on: Customising the Branding
  1. Open your group_vars/galaxyserers.yml and the following option under galaxy_config.galaxy:

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -32,6 +32,9 @@ galaxy_job_config:
    +    # Branding
    +    brand: Mars 🚀
    +    logo_src: ""
         # Main Configuration
  2. Run the playbook.

    Input: Bash
    ansible-playbook galaxy.yml
    screenshot of fictional "Galaxy Mars" start page, with the brand text set to "Mars". Open image in new tab

    Figure 2: Your Galaxy start page should now look something like this

Configuring Support

The Galaxy Help Site ( receives a lot of user support questions, sometimes for Galaxies that we do not manage. Including support information inside your Galaxy can help users find the right place to ask about issues with tools or quotas!

Hands-on: Adding Support Information
  1. Open your group_vars/galaxyserers.yml and the following option under galaxy_config.galaxy:

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -35,6 +35,9 @@ galaxy_config:
         # Branding
         brand: Mars 🚀
         logo_src: ""
    +    # Support
    +    support_url: ""
    +    terms_url: ""
         # Main Configuration

Ideally this would point to a support URL and a terms of service that are appropriate to your deployment of Galaxy. You could, for instance, add a page on your group’s blog with the appropriate contents of who should be contacted in case of issue, their email or a ticketing system. These options will help users from your site find you when they need help.

Custom Welcome Page

The welcome page is an html document embedded in Galaxy’s start page. It is what users see when first navigating to your instance. This page can be used to communicate what your instance is about, and share news and updates with your users.

Hands-on: Creating a custom welcome page
  1. Set the location of your welcome page in group_vars/galaxyservers.yml

    Under galaxy_config.galaxy specify the location of your welcome page

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -96,6 +96,10 @@ galaxy_config:
               - job-handlers
               - workflow-schedulers
    +  - src: files/galaxy/welcome.html
    +    dest: "{{ galaxy_mutable_config_dir }}/welcome.html"
       - /data
  2. Let’s then develop the associated template, add a title and some text to our welcome page:

    --- /dev/null
    +++ b/files/galaxy/welcome.html
    @@ -0,0 +1,11 @@
    +<!DOCTYPE html>
    +<html lang="en">
    +    <head>
    +        <meta charset="utf-8">
    +        <link href="/static/dist/base.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />
    +    </head>
    +    <body>
    +        <h1>Welcome to the Galaxy Mars instance!</h1>
    +        <p>The only Galaxy instance on mars.</p>
    +    </body>

    This works the same as any other html page. You can add styles in the head, or import some scripts.

    Make sure your welcome page has exactly one h1 element, which describes the page. This will act as the heading for your start-page, which can help assistive technologies.

  3. Now that we have a proper welcome page, we’ll also need to correct our nginx routes:

    --- a/templates/nginx/galaxy.j2
    +++ b/templates/nginx/galaxy.j2
    @@ -40,7 +40,7 @@ server {
     	# automatically copied around. The welcome page is one of them. In
     	# production, this step is skipped, so we will manually alias that.
     	location /static/welcome.html {
    -		alias {{ galaxy_server_dir }}/static/welcome.html.sample;
    +		alias {{ galaxy_mutable_config_dir }}/welcome.html;
     		expires 24h;
  4. Run the playbook.

    Input: Bash
    ansible-playbook galaxy.yml

A lot of the UseGalaxy.* instances choose to use their welcome.html to display an IFrame to a different site, e.g. the site, or a sub-site thereof.

This makes it easier for non-administrators to keep the homepage’s contents up to date. By embedding (for example) a Wordpress blog in the center, non-technical contributors can still publish articles and announcements without having to re-deploy Galaxy every time.

As in our example welcome.html, we’ve loaded the default Galaxy CSS to keep it consistent with the surrounding material. If you wish to load a different CSS file, or set a different font for the main panel, you can easily do that by adding whatever CSS you like.

Custom Masthead Theme

Galaxy’s theming system allows you to easily change the color of your Masthead, to give your instance an even more distinct look. You can even offer several options, to allow users to switch to the default if they prefer it, or another look all together.

Hands-on: Configuring Themes
  1. Set the location of the themes configuration in your group_vars/galaxyservers.yml

    --- a/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    +++ b/group_vars/galaxyservers.yml
    @@ -35,6 +35,7 @@ galaxy_config:
         # Branding
         brand: Mars 🚀
         logo_src: ""
    +    themes_config_file: "{{ galaxy_config_dir }}/themes.yml"
         # Support
         support_url: ""
         terms_url: ""
    @@ -100,6 +101,10 @@ galaxy_config_files_public:
       - src: files/galaxy/welcome.html
         dest: "{{ galaxy_mutable_config_dir }}/welcome.html"
    +  - src: files/galaxy/themes.yml
    +    dest: "{{ galaxy_config.galaxy.themes_config_file }}"
       - /data
  2. Create your themes config file in files/galaxy/themes.yml:

    --- /dev/null
    +++ b/files/galaxy/themes.yml
    @@ -0,0 +1,76 @@
    +  masthead:
    +    color: "#2c3143"
    +    text:
    +      color: "#f8f9fa"
    +      hover: gold
    +      active: white
    +    link:
    +      color: transparent
    +      hover: transparent
    +      active: "#181a24"
    +    logo:
    +      img: "/static/favicon.svg"
    +      img-secondary: null
    +  masthead:
    +    color: "#384E77"
    +    text:
    +      color: white
    +      hover: "#E6F9AF"
    +      active: white
    +    link:
    +      color: transparent
    +      hover: transparent
    +      active: "#18314F"
    +    logo:
    +      img: "/static/favicon.svg"
    +  masthead:
    +      color: >
    +        linear-gradient(120deg,
    +          #3c476d 0px 130px,
    +          #fdda0f 131px 139px,
    +          #fff 140px 148px,
    +          #f4b0c9 149px 157px,
    +          #7ccee6 158px 166px,
    +          #93540c 167px 175px,
    +          #000 176px 184px,
    +          transparent 185px),
    +        linear-gradient(270deg,
    +          #3c476d 0px 110px,
    +          #3c476d00 110px),
    +        linear-gradient(180deg,
    +          #FE0000 16.66%,
    +          #FD8C00 16.66% 33.32%,
    +          #FFE500 33.32% 49.98%,
    +          #119F0B 49.98% 66.64%,
    +          #0644B3 66.64% 83.3%,
    +          #C22EDC 83.3%)
    +      text:
    +        color: white
    +        hover: gold
    +        active: white
    +      link:
    +        color: "#3c476d"
    +        hover: "#323a53"
    +        active: "#6170a6"
    +      logo:
    +        img: "/static/favicon.svg"
    +        img-secondary: null
    +  masthead:
    +    color: "#0C0F0A"
    +    text:
    +      color: white
    +      hover: "#FBFF12"
    +      active: white
    +    link:
    +      color: transparent
    +      hover: transparent
    +      active: "#FF206E"
    +    logo:
    +      img: "/static/favicon.svg"

    The themes file can contains themes for users to select in Galaxy.

    Each theme is identified by its id, eg blue, and followed by a set of rules, which style the client. The first theme in your theme file will be used as the default theme, which users see when visiting your instance, and which users who haven’t logged in will see.

  3. Creating our own Theme

    Let’s create a theme more fitting for our Mars instance.

    Create a new theme, by adding mars: to the top of the themes config file. Now add masthead: underneath, and then color:. Set color to "#e03e1d", a nice deep martian red.

    Your theme file should now begin with:

    --- a/files/galaxy/themes.yml
    +++ b/files/galaxy/themes.yml
    @@ -1,3 +1,8 @@
    +# Our Martian Theme
    +  masthead:
    +    color: "#e03e1d"
         color: "#2c3143"
  4. Run the playbook

    Input: Bash
    ansible-playbook galaxy.yml
  5. You can also try logging in, and changing your theme under Preferences

Comment: Got lost along the way?

If you missed any steps, you can compare against the reference files, or see what changed since the previous tutorial.

If you’re using git to track your progress, remember to add your changes and commit with a good commit message!

Comment: Galaxy Admin Training Path

The yearly Galaxy Admin Training follows a specific ordering of tutorials. Use this timeline to help keep track of where you are in Galaxy Admin Training.

  1. Step 1
  2. Step 2
  3. Step 3
  4. Step 4
  5. Step 5
  6. Step 6
  7. Step 7
  8. Step 8
  9. Step 9
  10. Step 10
  11. Step 11
  12. Step 12
  13. Step 13
  14. Step 14
  15. Step 15
  16. Step 16
  17. Step 17
  18. Step 18
  19. Step 19
  20. Step 20
  21. Step 21