Categories
Blog design Open source

Announcing Brighthouse-WP theme for WordPress

I’ve finished Brighthouse-WP, my WordPress port of the Brighthouse theme for Typo. Brighthouse is a simple two-column theme that reminds me of the design of the Signal v. Noise blog. Brighthouse was designed by web interface designer Richard White for the Typo blogging platform.

I spotted the theme when I checked out the features of SlimTimer, an online service that allows you to keep track of the time you spend on tasks. When I saw Richard’s blog, I immediately knew that it was a design that I wanted to implement here. It was a good thing that Richard packaged his theme for download.

I downloaded the theme, converted it to work with WordPress and made a few changes such as increasing font size and placing the search box on the sidebar instead of the header. It took me several days but I was finally able to validate the theme. It wasn’t that hard as the original theme was XHTML valid, I invalidated it when I started chopping it up into different template files.

Categories
cebu news Journalism Work

A fire, a map, and a WordPress theme

Fire gutted the landmark Plaza Fair building early morning Tuesday. Reports say the fire caused P20 million in damages. The blaze broke out just as we were finalizing the day’s newspaper issue. We no longer had time to include the story in the issue.

But I admit it was tempting to copy Michael Keaton in The Paper-the whole “Stop the press!” bit. Of course you couldn’t do that in Sun.Star Cebu, our printing plant is kilometers away and if you needed to “stop the press” for a late breaker, you’d either have to call or text the plant manager. Somehow texting “stp d prs” isn’t as dramatic as barging into the plant and screaming the words.

The fire was visible from our office canteen, two blocks away (check photos and map below).

Categories
Blog design Blogs

Segregating trackbacks from comments in WordPress

In most WordPress themes, trackbacks aren’t segregated from regular blog comments. This is fine but if you get a lot of trackbacks in a post, it gets in the way of the arrangement of comments.

For a long time, I just used WordPress’ stock comments template but at the back of my mind, I had listed the segregation of trackbacks and comments as something that I would be implementing in this blog and the theme that I’m finalizing. Last week, however, my post on using Dreamweaver to modify a WordPress theme got a lot of trackbacks and I saw the need to separate these notifications from regular comments on the post.

I didn’t have to search for a solution because I had already bookmarked this post by web designer Rachel Cunliffe. Just copy the code she posted in her blog post and paste it into your WordPress comment loop in comments.php. Replace the code in comments.php starting at <?php if ($comments) : ?> until <?php endforeach; /* end for each comment */ ?>, don’t replace the entire code in your comments.php or else you’d encounter errors.

Categories
Blog design Blogs Highlights

How to edit WordPress themes using Dreamweaver

It has been more than a year since I used Dreamweaver to design a site. I’ve mostly been running sites using PHP-MySQL content management systems (CMS) and depend on the thousands of ready-made themes and templates to control the site design. For the occasional static page, I use Nvu for visual editing. But after reading this article on SitePoint, I wanted to try using Dreamweaver to edit one of the templates I’m using.

WordPress, like most PHP-MySQL CMS, uses template files to control the appearance of websites. The webpage is assembled from several PHP files controlling specific aspects of the site like the header, sidebar, main content and footer.

To use Dreamweaver to edit or customize WordPress themes, you need to combine these different PHP files into one page so that you can immediately view, while editing the codes, how the page would appear.

Categories
Blog design Blogs Highlights Open source

How to create a WordPress theme: A guide for the design-challenged non-geek

I love minimalist designs with great colors. No, that isn’t accurate, make that: I now love minimalist designs with great colors. I used to love putting everything but the kitchen sink in my blog template, hence my previous fascination with three-column themes-to get more screen space for buttons, listings, banners and what have you.

I’ve gone through a lot of WordPress themes, customizing one after another. I decided to simplify my blog design after buttons and stuff that depended on other services and servers delayed loading of my blog pages. I also thought that the clutter of having all these buttons and stuff was getting in the way of the content, and the AdSense clicks. My current minimalist design proves me right on this one.

When I set out to use a minimalist design, I had planned on choosing one of the hundreds of ready-to-deploy WordPress themes out there but at the back of my mind, I had this plan of eventually creating my own theme. I went through designs submitted to the Open Source Web Design site, hoping to spot a great one and then getting a link to the WordPress port of the template. I did spot a great-looking minimalist design, Plain 1.0 by James Koster, but I couldn’t find a WordPress port. I liked the design so much that I decided to attempt porting it to WordPress myself.

I found turning a CSS-based design into WordPress theme to be easy. I am not a geek and I do not have formal training on CSS, HTML or PHP. What I did was I read up on CSS in sites such as MaxDesign. I also went through the WordPress Codex, reading about template tags and files and while I was porting the theme, I went through the template files of themes like K2 and Phoenixrealm to look at how its coders did things.

Here are the steps I took in turning the Plain 1.0 design template into a WordPress theme.

Categories
Blog design Open source

Pieces of WordPress theme code: a repository

The great thing about open source is that you can build on what others have done. In my quest to port an open source web design into a WordPress theme, I’ve used bits and pieces of WordPress theme code that have served me well in previous designs.

I am posting these pieces of code here so that this post will serve as the repository in case I need to customize another theme. Please feel free to suggest additional code bits so that I can add it here. Just post it in the comment field and enclose it in code tags.

Categories
Blog design Blogs Highlights

Creating my own WordPress theme, but not from scratch

I’ve just finished initial work on turning an open source web design into a WordPress theme. I had set out last week to attempt creating my own WordPress theme and offer it for download to anyone who might be interested in using it.

I browsed through the designs submitted to the Open Source Web Design site for inspiration and when I found Plain 1.0, done by James Koster, I decided to just use it and port it to WordPress. Plain 1.0 is a great-looking minimalist design that makes use of a lot of white space. It was XHTML compliant before I started working on it.

I’m no geek but that’s what’s great about open source, you can build on what others are doing. I found turning a ready-made design into a WordPress theme surprisingly easy, with the help of the extensive documentation in the WordPress codex. I also went through some of the open source WordPress themes I loved and used pieces of code from it for the design.

Categories
Blogs

Upgraded to WordPress 2.0.2

I was in the middle of editing the new theme I’m using when I read the announcement of a security release for WordPress. Version 2.0.2 contains bugfixes and security fixes.

Matt Mullenweg said in the version announcement: “The problems addressed are unannounced XSS issues privately discovered and reported to the WordPress team.”

The announcement doesn’t say, though, whether the security issue is just with the recent WordPress 2.0.1 release or this is something that exists even with previous versions. I upgraded this blog to the latest release last night, and the upgrade went without a hitch: back up all files, change theme to default one (which I left unedited) so that calls for plugins that will be deactivated wonít spew out errors, disable all plugins, upload new files to overwrite existing ones in the server (I used to delete the files but WordPressí upgrade guide says you can just overwrite the old ones), run upgrade.php and Iím now using WordPress 2.0.2.

I checked my site and everything seems to be okay. I edited a post and again encountered a bunch of errors.

WordPress database error: [You have an error in your SQL syntax. Check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near ” at line 3]
SELECT post_id FROM wp_post2cat WHERE category_id =

A quick search using the error phrase (which I should have done weeks back) showed that the errors that I wrote about earlier were caused by the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin I was using. I promptly upgraded the new plugin version and the errors are now gone. Back to blogging.

Categories
Blogs Personal

How not to blog

Keep changing themes. I was in the middle of a blog post an hour or two back when I spotted a link to the excellent Alexified WordPress theme by Alex Ling. The theme made me stop writing and I promptly downloaded it, edited stuff and used it for this blog.

I still have to put my photos page back up (updated: it’s now up). I’ll probably spend the next day or two customizing this theme. And I thought I got over this theme-change cycle a few months back.

Categories
Asides

Back to K2

I changed themes last night, reverting to the latest version of K2. Phoenixrealm, the WordPress theme I used prior to the current one, is a great minimalist WordPress theme but I missed having a proper blog header.

Iím still customizing the theme and tidying up things here and there. The photo page, while functional is a bit broken, with the sidebar getting pushed to under the main content.

And, as you can see in this post, Iím posting asides again.