Building with WordPress: From sketch to prototype to company website in 5 hours

Aside from being a good blogging tool, WordPress is also a lightweight content management system that can be used to run such diverse sites as news or magazine publications, personal and organizational websites.

I recently started accepting paid web development work and website management. Several weeks back, I bought a domain, (from the Bisaya word for staging ground), and created a static HTML page as placeholder because I did not have time to configure WordPress to run the site.

Building with WordPress FROM SKETCH TO WORDPRESS DESIGN. The steps I took from planning a site to deploying a custom WordPress theme for it using Yahoo UI Grids Builder, Aptana, and Bluefish.

But when one of my projects was about to go live, I needed to quickly build Tugkaran because I already placed a link to it in the footer. I spent whatever time I could spare from newsroom and web development work building Tugkaran, 30 minutes or so here, an hour there, a few minutes here.

It took me five hours to go from sketching the site on paper, protoyping the design in HTML, and setting up WordPress with the custom theme. The site was designed “live.” Developing it locally and then replicating the work in the server would take more time—which I didn’t have.

The Tugkaran website still needs a lot of work but it will do for now. I’ll polish it when I have more time. If you want to study the files I worked on, you can download it at the end of this post.

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From here on, Heron

Today, the new Ubuntu Linux version—8.04 the Hardy Heron—will be released. I have been using the beta or test version for the last two weeks and have found Ubuntu to be easier to use and install and its whole computing experience better than ever.

I had initially decided to stay away from using the beta version—the amount of updates you have to download on the run-up to the final version can be huge. I had several urgent tasks and didn’t want to deal with regularly updating my laptop.

Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron HARDY HERON running on my MSI S260 laptop. Click to enlarge photo.

But Chin Wong made me do it. The devil, in turn, made him do it, or at least that line kept playing in his head as he installed the beta version in his desktop computer. During the installation, he had problems with sound in his system.

A day later, however, he posted a fix to the problem.

That broke my resolve to stay away from the Hardy Heron beta and proceeded to install it, as opposed to upgrade, in my MSI S260 laptop.

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New Aptana IDE version makes Linux installation easy

I use Aptana whenever I have to edit a web template or convert one to a WordPress theme. Before I found Aptana, I used Dreamweaver. I wrote a post earlier on how to use Dreamweaver to edit edit WordPress themes.

Aptana in Linux EDITING WITH APTANA. Porting an open source web template into a WordPress theme using Aptana. Here, Aptana is showing a preview of the design. Click on photo to view larger image.

When I found Aptana, however, I dumped Dreamweaver. I found Aptana, an open source integrated development environment or IDE, to be a better tool to edit CSS and HTML files. I sometimes use it to edit WordPress .php theme files although my editor of choice right now is gedit.

While Dreamweaver is easier to use for non-geeks like me who are not as adept in coding, using Aptana allows me to improve my HTML and CSS skills. You can’t drag things around to re-arrange web page elements as you do in Dreamweaver. You have to do the changes by code.

When I migrated to Ubuntu Linux in my laptop, I knew I had to install Aptana or else I’d have to go to my Windows desktop to work on web templates. Installing Aptana in Windows is painless. You just need to download the installer package and run it.

In Linux, installation used to be complicated, at least for non-geeks like me. To install previous Aptana versions, you need to execute a couple of apt-get commands, CHMOD the installation file, and then set environment variables. When I first read the instruction, the first thought that formed in my non-geek brain was “God, please let there be a .deb file somewhere.”

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How to convert any web template into a WordPress theme

Among blogging applications, WordPress probably has the largest number of great-looking themes to use. Still, there are hundreds of free and even open source web templates not yet converted to work with WordPress. Knowing how to make this themes work with WordPress broadens your choice of design to use for your blog.

Converting a web template is fairly easy if you take the time to learn how to do it. I wrote this guide for someone like me a few months back — eager to use a great looking web design and yet not knowing how to start converting it to work with WordPress. If you want to view a video tutorial on how I turned this open source web design into this WordPress theme, click here for the blog post.

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Turning a web template into a WordPress theme: a video tutorial

Knowing how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme broadens your choice of designs to use for your blog. I created this video tutorial for someone like me a few months back: eager to attempt turning a great looking open source web template into a WordPress theme but not knowing how to start. If you want to read a tutorial based on the screencast, click here.

For the screencast, I turned this open source web template into this WordPress theme. The video tutorial ends with the creation of the different WordPress theme files. The part when I activated the theme, tweaked it, and fixed errors wasn’t captured as I ran out of virtual memory. I just included notes on the tweaking after the screencast below.

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