Giraffe theme update

My Giraffe theme has now been updated. I’ve made some pretty major changes and these are summarised below:

  • The theme is fully localised! I don’t have any translations yet, but once I release the relevant parts then hopefully people can translate the theme into their own language – no more hacking the theme to bits.
  • Administrator interface. The support plugin now adds it’s own interface into the administration section. From here you can configure many aspects of theme’s appearance, such as colour scheme. More details in the themes section.
  • Extra information can be inserted into the sidebar by creating a file ‘sidebar-extra.php’ and filling it with whatever you want. This saves you having to modify the core theme files.
  • The layout can be configured to have the sidebar below the lead content, or to the side of it

Hopefully I’ve tracked down any problems already.

WordPress Theme: Giraffe

After the (almost) complete restoration of my system I can now get back to finishing off the things I was working on. The result of this is I’ve now made the theme for this website available for download.

I’ve tried to tidy it up as much as possible, although it’s still not perfect. There is also one small issue with Firefox 1.0.4. Sometimes, on a wide screen (1400 pixels on mine), FireFox will incorrectly add a 1 pixel gap between a border in the comments section. I’m not sure what the cause of this is, and it only occurs on FireFox – all other browsers display it perfectly. I know it’s a browser inconsistency because resizing the screen causes the gap to disappear. Until I can figure out a fix, or if anyone else knows the reason, then I will put it down as an acceptable problem that will hopefully disappear in the next FireFox release.

Anyway, the theme can be found in the themes section. I’m looking forward to any feedback and suggestions!

Planes, trains, and computer failure

My last post was June 6th, and today it’s June 21st. In the time since then my hard drive had a spasm of identity, and I went back to England for a short holiday. Actually, both happened at the same time, which has left my computer pretty much incapacitated until I got back to Prague. Now I have the fun task of restoring its former glory. And they say computers are designed to make our lives easier.

While most of my work and emails were backed up, I had 10’s of gigs of photos and videos that were not, and not all of them survived. It’s quite disheartening really, as some were the only copies I had.

What was more disturbing was that after re-installing Windows, and before I could download a firewall and update Windows from Windows Update, my computer was infected with four different viruses/trojans. Now that’s scary, and makes me wonder at the state of the vast majority of the computer population.

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I’ve been tinkering away on a WordPress plugin idea I’ve had, and it’s now finished and available for download.

It’s a bit of a complicated plugin to explain fully, but the core effect is very simple: it is an expandable pattern matching script engine. Phew, what a mouthful!

Basically it means that you can insert patterns into posts, or have patterns applied to dates, titles, even the whole blog. These patterns can contain variables and functions that, when InScript processes them, will insert or manipulate the data as the page is being generated.

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A theme to call my own

So after all the articles about creating themes I finally got round to finishing my own. After much pulling of hair I also made it work in Internet Explorer. Really, the pain that browser puts people through is unreal. Roll on IE7.

Anyway, I’ve tried to rearrange the layout so as to make it not look like Kubrick. The front page has a full-width lead article, followed by three smaller articles, and finished off with a list of titles. A single page post uses the full-width of the page. This was all designed to give maximum space for long articles. The CSS is also print-friendly.

The comments have been filtered so all ‘real’ comments are grouped separately from pings and trackbacks. A little bit of JavaScript hides the pings until clicked open. I think having many pings on a page really puts people off from commenting, not to mention looks really ugly.

I’d really appreciate any feedback, especially with regards bugs and problems. I’ve tested it in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera, so I hope this means it will carry through to Mac browsers.

Oh, and there’s a giraffe at last!

Printable theme guide

A lot of people have asked for a printable version of my WordPress theme dissection and so I’ve been beavering away and have now released a PDF. This has been fully revised and expanded, and weighs-in at just over 1MB.

In a further fit of productivity I’ve also made a version available to buy from the online publisher Lulu. The guide is the same, so you can download the PDF and print it out yourself, but you also have the option of ordering a professionally printed and bound copy. As more of an incentive, the Lulu version has an extra chapter including my guide to installing WordPress on your own computer, as well as extra bookish things such as content pages etc. There’s also a full-colour durable cover – just like a real book!

Full details of this, and the PDF, can be found in the WordPress theme guide section.

Dissection of a WordPress theme: Part 4

In previous guides we have concentrated on the building blocks of a WordPress theme. A basic design structure has been defined, followed by enclosing header and footer elements, and finished off with a navigational panel. While important aspects of any blog, they are secondary to its main purpose: the content.

In this fourth and final part we carefully dissect the process of taking content from WordPress and arranging it on screen. Attention is paid to the alternative methods of grouping this information, from the multiple posts of the front page, to search results and archives.

We will look at how WordPress distributes responsibility for this work, and how everything is tied together with the all-seeing all-knowing construct known as ‘The Loop’.

By the end of this guide we should have a fully working theme and enough WordPress experience and knowledge to extend our theme beyond the basic design presented here.

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A change of host

I’ve decided to change my hosting company.

I am prepared for a lot of pain and suffering, but so far it’s going rather smoothly. This wasn’t some well thought out decision, but rather a fit of activity after becoming frustrated with the averageness of GoDaddy, my current host.

Finding a decent host is a real chore, and I came to this conclusion pretty soon the first time round. The internet is flooded with copy-cat hosting companies who are mostly resellers that buy bandwidth from real companies. Even their websites all look the same, with identical prices, identical features, and identical hidden setup fees. This makes me both weary and wary.

This is the internet so you’d think it would be easy to find a decent website with reviews of the companies. But no. Most of the companies have tied Google up in loops with their link farms. A search for ‘web host review‘ returns an immense number of fake review sites, each ranking the same hosting companies. It’s quite a sickening misuse of the internet. I shall refer to this collective as The Many.

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Dissection of a WordPress theme: Part 3

Personalising a blog can require patience and perseverance. There are times when it seems a fruitless task and the blog absolutely refuses to do what you want, despite your best efforts. There are many sources of information on the internet, but it can be hard to locate exactly what you need.

One of the simplest solutions is to look at other people’s work and see if you can make use of their ideas. This is the third part in a series of articles concerned with the dissection of the default WordPress theme, Kubrick. The hope is that walking through this theme may provide help for your own blog or, at the very least, open up new areas of research. After all, there is no shortage of information out there.

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