WordPress plugin: RT Bypass Sparkling Front Page Template

Sparkling is a popuplar free WordPress theme on wordpress.org right now. It’s nice an clean, and I recently recommended it to a client. The one thing both my client and I didn’t really like about the theme is how it handles static front pages. There’s a specific template file for them with a full-width layout, that also hides the page’s title. This is probably great for some users, but my client preferred to keep the sidebar and display the page’s title.

To work around this in a way that didn’t require a child theme or modyfications to the original theme, I wrote a little plugin. All it does is call the regular page template instead of front-page.php, when a page is set as the front page.

If you’re using Sparkling, and would like to try the plugin, you can download it from Github. The plugin will work for other themes as well, but I’ve not tested this.

RT Bypass Sparkling Front Page Template

Idea: A WordPress theme for e-mail newsletters?

There are plenty of way to have “automated” newsletters sent out based on your WordPress blog’s RSS feed. Feedburner and MailChimp, among other do this, and there’s nothing wrong with those services.

However, if you’d want to write content specifically for your weekly e-mail, RSS is not ideal. High quality e-mailings usually don’t simply copy blog posts, they’re carefullt crafted by copywriters to get as much response as possible. That’s why the idea of a newsletter-theme has been floating around in my head. Here’s what I’m thinking might work…
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Creating a split menu in WordPress 3.0

For a project I’m working on, I needed to create a split menu, where the top level navigation was in a horizontal menu in the header, with all underlying content listed elsewhere on the page. This turned out to be a little harder than I had anticipated, but I managed to get it working. Here’s how I did it. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments if you see room for improvement.


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How to show each post’s date in WordPress

clockThe templating system in WordPress is very flexible, and there’s rarely something you can’t do or that doesn’t work as you’d expect. A notable exception however is the_date. Its purpose is simple enough. It displays the current post’s date of creation. But on pages with more than one post (such as on many blog home pages), something weird happens. If a number of posts on any given page were created on the same date, the_date will only show that date for the first of those posts.

In the early days of blogging, posts were usually listed by date, much like a regular, paper diary. In the old default theme that comes with WordPress a big date title is used to separate posts into days. That’s what the_date was created to do, and so it makes sense it only displays the same date once. In most modern themes however, people like the date to be among the meta data for each article, so the_date falls short.
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Obfuscate email addresses using PHP

If you want to include an email link in a WordPress template, or any other web page for that matter, its advisable to ‘obfuscate’ the address. Unfortunately, spammers scour the web to harvest email addresses, so if you simply place your address online, you’re very likely to get a some extra unwanted email. That’s where obfuscation comes in.
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Like the new look?

I’ve been meaning to redesign this blog for a while now. Most of all I wanted a better sidebar setup which would accommodate more links and wider ads widgets. In fact, the old Papertrail theme I was using has only a very rudimentary widget support, and with the recent success of this blog I needed more flexibility.

Although still a work in progress, I quite like the results so far. It’s cleaner, it uses less Flash(*) and it loads extremely fast. The design still needs work and I definitely need a better tagline (wanna help me out with that one?).
More Like the new look?

WordPress theme: Paper Trail

Paper Trail WordPress theme screenshot

I love it when business and pleasure coincide. I had to look into styling widgets today for an upcoming project, and decided to use my Paper Trail theme as test material. Turns out the markup of widgets gives you surprisingly (frustratingly) little to work with in terms of CSS. Still I managed to get the widgets to look like I wanted them to, thus completing the theme.

Paper Trail is a two column layout with fancy Flash post and blog titles.

  • It requires Flash and Javascript (although it doesn’t break completely if these are missing). If your blog targets mobile users (for instance), this is not the theme for you.
  • This is my first theme where I’ve paid any real attention to widget styling. Third party widgets may not look as intended. Chances are they will.
  • Thanks to Geoff Stearns, the use of flash will not affect search engine ranking.
  • The Flash titles contain complex algorithms that change things like line breaks and font size in order to best accommodate your post’s titles. Let me know if they act up. Using very long words in titles might render them unreadable.
  • I’ll not be releasing the source code for the Flash movies. Mostly because I’m afraid you’ll laugh at me for my poor coding skills, but also because I fear you’ll ask me to explain how they work.
  • Paper Trail was built for WordPress version 2.3, and will spend most if it’s time looking for missing things like tags on older versions (and not actually work).
  • Because of limitations in the way Flash handles dynamic text the theme supports basic Latin characters only. Sorry about that.

If you want to give it a try, you can download it here.

Test driving a new theme…

As of now, ‘m testing a new WordPress theme on this site. I haven’t decided on a title yet, and there’s tons of little stuff missing, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be releasing this one sometime this or next month. The most important thing to sort out is decent widget support. This was sorely lacking from some of my earlier themes, and instead of updating them I decided to dedicate the time to designing a new one altogether.

I wanted to use a white background to increase readability, and I’m using Flash movies to do some typography tricks that plain HTML doesn’t know yet. Other than that it’s a relatively simple theme that will be easy to modify by anyone who isn’t completely allergic to style sheets or HTML.

So, what do you think?

My themes and WordPress 2.3

I’ve been getting a lot of email asking me whether I’m going to be updating my themes to work with the new WordPress version that was released a couple of weeks ago. The short answer is ‘yes’, but there’s a ‘but’. I’m writing this from a spyware-ridden PC in an internet cafe in Bali, Crete, where I’m on vacation with my family. I’ll be back home next week and I hope to find the time to work on a new version for my themes. I’ll post the new versions here of course. Please hang in there a little longer…

Roy | October 9, 2007 | English,WordPress themes | Comments (5)
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Modified themes

Nikkocity’s modified Positive Feeling theme

One of the things I like about releasing WordPress themes is seeing what people do with them. Some just take out the credit link, other change so much I barely recognize my original work. And that’s a good thing. I try and make my themes easy to modify and do not attach any kind of license (which I know to be stupid, but I haven’t had the time to read up on things like Creative Commons).

Anyway, I liked Nikko City’s version (image above) of my Positive Feeling theme so much I thought I’d share it. They didn’t even change all that much, but seeing my layout used to sell Japanese cooking equipment made my day.