In which I edit a theme, again

So, with the upgrade to WordPress 3.0 and picking a new theme, all the old tweaks I made are gone. It was probably for the best as I documented my changes halfheartedly to the point where if my theme stopped working, I wasn’t going to be able to remember what tweaks I made. I did discover one tweak that I needed to do immediately. I love to check my stats, I’m a stats junkie, I want to know how people found me and what they read when they arrive if they found me via a search. I clicked on a page that was viewed only to discover that it was the most unusable page I’ve ever seen. All the archive, category and a sundry pages displayed the title, tags and categories of the post along with the first 40 characters of the post, not 40 words, 40 characters. My poor readers had to click on each link to each post to see if it was relevant to what he/she wanted to view. I can’t stand it, if I search for something on a blog, I want to see the complete entries for my search because I’m unlikely to discover the info I need in that small portion of the post. I could help my readers by creating a summary of each post in the excerpt field when I create a new post, but why do I want to do that for what amounts to a chronicle of my random thoughts? The answer is, I don’t. So off to The Codex I went. Luckily for me, the theme I am using today is being used my others so I was able to find the solution because someone else already asked for it. I did a quick snip and replace to accomplish a much easier format for my readers.

My friends, if you need to fix a theme, child themes are the way to go, but if you discover on the fly that something isn’t working and you haven’t made your child theme yet, the codex is a wonderful tool as long as someone else asked and someone else answered. I understand that it can be difficult to get an answer if your question is too specific and largely won’t benefit others.

siggy

P.S. Next time I say I’m tweaking the theme, remind me to just make the child theme, too many more tweaks and I won’t remember what I’ve done.

In which I finally fix a theme

The more time I spend digging around themes, the more I learn about WordPress, PHP, and CSS. I am consistently downloading themes that don’t work correctly with my Gallery2 plug-in. Don’t confuse this with the new, built-in WordPress gallery. This is the independent application with a plug-in that powers my photos page. With few exceptions, the themes I download consistently break the footer on my photo page or the sidebar on my library page generated by Now Reading. I really like the current theme, Fall Season 1.1, but the footer on the photo page was not playing well with the plug-in. For a while, I wanted to blame the two previously mentioned plug-ins, but they both play well with WordPress Default theme. That fact lead me to the logical conclusion that the themes are broken. I have also started to “fix” the themes that don’t come with dynamic (changeable) sidebars. I downloaded Fresh Editorial today looked to be dynamic when I grabbed it, the proper code was in place for the functions file, but was absent in the sidebar file. I think I understand why, it was a bit complicated to make the sidebar look the same after updating it, but with a little tweaking, it would be possible. I have chosen not to spend more time on it at this point, as their site doesn’t support FireFox 3 so i am unable to leave comments unless I visit their site with Internet Explorer. See comments for why I was unable to leave a comment. I also found a wonderful Christmas theme, Winter Red. Winter Red will need tweaking as both the library page and the photo page are seriously out of whack.

All this to say I think I am the only one getting anything out of metablogging, but in the hopes that someone else using WordPress and these themes happens to search for how to fix things, I’d like to have an answer for them.

The wonders of GIMP

GIMP is a GNU image manipulation program, does that explain enough? Probably not, it is a graphic editing/creating program that is available free for Windows, Linux and Mac. Last night while surfing for holiday WordPress themes, I went to wiki to find out a list of all the holidays in the US and happened upon a site for free and paid PhotoShop tutorials. So I followed one of the tutorials using GIMP and created the above graphic. Since I didn’t find as many themes as I had hoped, one for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Winter, and St. Patrick’s Day, I decided that I would create a few graphics to substitute in current themes. Unfortunately, when I created the above image, I did so in a rather small resolution in case I didn’t like the result, so I can’t enlarge it. So now I need to redo it all, grr, in a larger size.

siggy

And there was much rejoicing!

The more I write, the more I tweak the categories, so I’ve added website as a topic, since I write about it more frequently than I should. In an effort to customize the experience as this site is viewed, I’ve been working fast and furious. If you read this through an rss feed, you won’t see what I mean, but my ramblings may still be entertaining for you.

The series function works reasonably well. I can’t remember what the other theme and version of series did that was so horrible, but it seems to be fine here. I finally rooted through the code of this theme, hemmed, and fixed the three columns in the bottom bar and tweaked the “tweak” plugin. Originally, the bottom bar called for three columns, one for my blogroll, the blogs I read and want to share with you. I actually read way more than that, but these are the ones I want associated with my main page. The second column in the bottom bar was supposed to house recent comments. I don’t want to come across as despondent, but let’s face it, I don’t get comments, which is not a problem-just an observation. Back to the point, this theme called for recent comments to be in this mysterious middle column. I refer to it as mysterious because it never appeared. I could see the code and understand mostly what it was supposed to do, maybe. It wouldn’t do it. If I deleted it, the bottom bar would completely break. I would guess that it is either an old command no longer functioning the same in the newer WordPress or I don’t have enough comments to make it work. When I looked at the screenshot for the theme, there was no middle column either. The third column displays and displayed the last x number of posts, which I tweaked early on. The third column, however, was showing itself in the middle and the last column was sadly empty. No longer! I tweaked it, made a new bity icon and placed the calendar there so that I have several methods for posts to be navigated.

I also tweaked the theme so that links in the posts are a bit more visible. Unfortunately, it affects the series formatting as well, so I decided not to underline them. The series of 4 titles underlined with spacing close looked odd and spreading out the list would only look weird as well. Compromises must be made or I will edit this theme to the point where it is no longer the original.

I am also experimenting with the sidebar photo options. I don’t like the icons that accompany the tool, but I like the ease of use for navigating picture directories. Then I can delete the photos index page, it was functional, but not pretty and I would forget to update it.