If you look around you can see that I’ve switched to the new theme that I’ve been developing over the weekend. It’s made with love and I’m glad I was able to get a working version ready for tonight.
I don’t have many details ready to share at the moment as I am a little tired and my brain is slowly grinding to a halt…but rest assured that a thorough run-through on how the new theme was developed will follow.
I think this theme is a nice improvement over the previous theme. If not in style, then definitely in readability. That was the focus and I think I achieved my goal.
For now please enjoy the new theme. If you see any weirdness let me know.
The theme around here is feeling a little stale to me. I’ve started working on a new theme for this blog, using WordPress-Skeleton as the base for the git repo and the Bones theme as my theme’s starting foundation.
So far I’ve been enjoying both immensely:
It was easy to move my git repo to use this format (you can see the commits required here). The primary reason I moved to this structure was it returned the power of development back to me as opposed to being completely at the whims of WordPress.
Now WordPress is in a tidy gitsubmodule and all my custom content (theme) is in its own folder and isn’t affected by WordPress upgrades.
One thing I haven’t yet decided how to manage is plugins: should I control which plugins I use and commit that to the repo, or do I let WordPress manage that? Anyone have any thoughts?
Bones WordPress Theme
I haven’t yet fully dived into Bones but so far I’ve enjoyed the clarity of its comments and the strong base it provides. The default HTML structure is semantic and intuitive and I’ve had no confusions when it comes to structure.
bones.php file was the one that managed those tasks. I’m chalking this up to my naivety when it comes to WordPress theme development, as up until now I’ve only worked on child themes.
For my own development pleasure I added grunt to my Bones theme, making it easy to use SASS and LiveReload. I opened an issue on the Bone’s GitHub page to add that work to trunk however I may just have to suffice myself with an additional blog post (oh the horror ).
I hope to get the new theme in Beta state in the near term so I can switch the blog over to it and then enjoy applying updates as I dev.
If you want to watch while I work all updates are going to be pushed to the
new-theme branch of my public harrywolff.com git repo.
I’ve just updated the permalink structure of the URLs for this blog.
Previously I was using the ‘month and name’ configuration for each post, i.e. this post would be “/2012/05/post-name”.
My main problem with this structure was the impersonal tone it set for each post. Rather than each post being unique, important, and self-contained, the numerical structure set a very ordered tone for the posts. That being that each post was sequential and the order held some importance, when in reality that was far from true.
Keeping the URL scheme as just “/post-name” will now put the focus on the content and not the blog as a whole. Often-times I update posts and at that point I always ask myself, “Should I update the URL as well?”. Also I find it much more important to know when a post was last updated than when it was first created. Look to a theme change to reflect that desire.
On a technical note I used the following post by Yoast to help with my URL migration. This way old URLs won’t point to dead 404 pages and users will still be able to see the content they requested.
Well, look what we have here!
If you would be so kind as to look around you’ll notice that this blog has a new paint of coat. This paint of coat is one that I’m particularly happy with as it’s the first WordPress theme I’ve used for this blog that I created myself.
I shouldn’t take all the credit. This theme is still a child-theme of the already excellent Twenty Eleven theme (which was the theme I was using previously). However this child-theme has enough design of my own making that I feel comfortably calling it my own theme.
But wait! There’s more!
Along with creating this new theme I’ve also begun to develop it openly. You can view the source code for this theme on its GitHub page. Any changes that you see appear on this blog will appear in that repo. Watch it for fun, or ignore it for glee.
There’s still a few things left that I need to do with this redesign. I need to add a few more splotches of color (somewhere, not really sure where) and also fix up any other styling issues that might pop up. But I was so eager to start using this theme that I figured there was nothing to lose by switching over to it today.
In case you’re curious I grabbed the background repeating pattern from Subtle Patterns. It’s a great design resource to add just that right hint of flavor to the background. I might try a few different backgrounds but for now I’m quite pleased with ‘furley_bg’.
Also I’ve started an important practice while developing this theme: using a local dev environment. This is awesome for two very important reasons:
- Any changes I make to my local environment don’t affect my live blog.
- The workflow is much, much faster. Since all files are local the time it takes to refresh the page to see how my changes look is close to nil.
I’ve also kept my ‘wp-content’ folder out of my local WordPress installation. It was getting lost amidst the rest of WordPress files so I moved it into my root directory, which you can see in my GitHub repo.
I followed the information given here on how to move your wp-content and you can see how it looks in my wp-config.php file on my repo. This made the entire dev process much more enjoyable.
And as they say, a happy dev is a productive dev.
The old saying goes, ‘the clothes don’t make the man’, to which I reply, ‘Yes that may be true, but they certainly don’t hurt.’
For instance, take this blog. For the past few months I’ve used one theme that – while not ugly – wasn’t the best looking theme in the world. The readability of the text could have been better, the page elements were too close to each other, and (despite originally desiring) there was far too much white space.
When I chose to that theme my process for making my decision was to look for all the features that I wanted. That list remains largely unchanged: the theme must be clean and minimalistic while making it easy to read the content – be it text or visual.
The main problem of looking for a theme in this way is that most themes seemed to fit my requirements. I found it very easy to convince myself that most themes I found fit my requirements. This process wasn’t efficient and caused me to deliberate much more than necessary.