The observant may have noticed that the look of this site has suddenly got rather gaudy. There is a good reason for this - I've been creating a WordPress theme which I want to be as flexible as possible. I.e. a 'bare' theme, which can then be styled easily with css. I know these themes already exist, but I wanted my own, m'kay?

The reason for the gaudy colours? Testing. I wanted the default colours to be fairly obvious, with each main element being distinct so that I could be sure that I had the no typos in the CSS selectors.

I'll leave the theme running for a little while, I'd be interested to hear about any usability issues (other than the horrible colour scheme).

The theme should be fully widgetised, it should have comment threading, avatars and so on.

The theme should be fluid and resize gracefully, as screen width reduces, the images reduce whilst keeping aspect ratio.

Things I know I want to fix - some of these are purely 'behind the scenes':

  1. I want, at most, one sticky post on the front page. At the moment, it'll put any number on.
  2. I want to have a tags page which shows the tag cloud.
  3. Behind the scenes, the entry formatting uses the same template, called when needed by index.php and archive.php. I need to get the single.php template to use this as well in order to minimise maintenance (requires some 'if' statements).
  4. Do I *need* single.php and archive.php once I've done that?
  5. Author pages, ideally automatically pulling in gravatars.
  6. Decent 404 page
  7. The comment form gets screwed up on a narrow screen and doesn't resize gracefully. I don't know why.
  8. I want the theme to be accessible. I.e. Good for screen readers and the like. I have no way to test this however, so if you know anyone with a screen reader, please do point them in this direction and ask them to comment (or, pass on their comments should it *really* be unusable).
    1. Is the order of elements okay?
    2. aural stylesheet hasn't been done, for me, that'd be coding without testing - I would want a sheet though!
    3. The tags/related tags stuff - does there need to be a way to, ideally optionally, skip that for screenreaders.... I wonder how (without introducing new screen cruft)
  9. I'll then package up this rough theme for release, create a duplicate and change the look and feel to customise it. If I find that I have to customise anything other than a stylesheet, I'll need to amend the 'raw' theme.

Things I'm unsure of:

  1. I've appended categories to tags (with a different class for styling)
  2. Do I want to keep the related posts thing? It relies on a plugin, so isn't essential for the theme (plugin may be disabled as a recent update caused a problem behind the scenes... I hope I remember to remove this sentence when fixed, but I've couched it as a conditional just in case)

Wordpress - The Big Change

WordPress is undergoing a big change right now, it's upgrading to 2.7. Behind the scenes a lot is different, so much so that 2.6.5 to 2.7 seems like an understatement. It feels like a major revision, it should be 3.0. Anyhow, I've taken the plunge with release candidate 1, and from now on I should be able to upgrade automatically with a click.... that is great if it works, and very scary if there is ever an upgrade bug (can you imagine the support forums?)

Everything seems different.... everything is different. It'll take a while before I'm comfortable with the changes, but I'll get there.

Something I want to do is write up a new theme for the website from scratch as the current theme is one cobbled together from pre-existing themes. To write a theme from scratch will, for me, take time - and that's the issue. I also do need to go through and tag all the old posts - that takes time as well!

If anything looks broken, please do let me know.

Load Errors

I've been having CPU Load errors of late. I don't know why this is - something to do with SQL requests, but it's very frustrating. I can only assume that something is over-zealous in the SQL calls. Therefore, I've removed any plugins that weren't immediately needed, removed things like the calendar (which to my mind is just 'cruft' - who cares if a post went out on the 3rd August? Aren't people more likely to use the search box?)

One thing I found was that the database backup script ran on both murky.org and the backup domain simultaneously - this was killed with extreme prejudice!

Plan for the future:

  1. Continue to tag old posts.
  2. Remove/Reduce categories so that I have a few main categories only
  3. Work a new theme which I've done from scratch - I have my plans, but this isn't a quick thing.
  4. In the age of decent search engines, do I really need archives which are date based, category based etc? Should I not redirect data based links to some other archive, allowing for fewer cached pages?

It's possible that one cause of CPU load is the tag editor I'm using behind the scenes - it accesses many posts at once - so it's possible that the CPU load thing might sort itself out once this task is done - or when I limit the number of posts edited at once!

It could be that there's something much more fundamental and the host itself is just not up to the task of running a low-traffic site which has WP SuperCache on it. In which case, I may have to change hosts. Up until the last few days, this hasn't been a problem though, so hopefully removing a few database lookups, and tagging fewer old posts at once might make things play nice again.

Either way, Argh! Don't just tell me that there is a high load, tell me which scripts are responsible!

Number 10 and Wordpress

Number 10 has modified their site to use WordPress, and it does look good. At first.

Unfortunately, they're not using the full power of WordPress - I note in particular that comments are switched off for everything at the same time that they're talking about 'dialogue'.

What I find particularly amusing is that the first, most obvious link on their homepage, which promises us "Number10TV" and the ability to "watch the PM’s introductory film." gives this result:

I think the phrase they need is 'Whoops'.

Epic Fail. Says it all really.

Original heads-up from ocaoimh.ie

When starting from scratch (as opposed to migrating a site over from another URL or software system), there is really little excuse for broken links in WordPress, especially when you're paying developers to manage it for you. Hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, manage it quite comfortably.... and there is especially no excuse for a broken link on something that takes up half the screen on the homepage - the first thing people see.

Update: The 404 has been fixed.