Thematic 0.5 Ready for Download

Thematic 0.5 is ready for download. I’m not sure why I’ve held on to this one for so long. I guess I’ll have to just hurry up with 0.6 then, won’t I? Here’s a list of some of the most notable changes.

  • Removed the link to the IE8 Javascript library. It seemed, after all, to be a bit of bloat that Thematic just didn’t need (but I’ll show you how to add it back in below)
  • I added a new grid background to the images folder (960_grid_12_col_21px_height.gif). It’s the same grid I created for ThemeShaper when I did the latest redesign. Now it’s yours too.
  • Thematic is now fully translatable and localized (I’d forgotten about one errant “By” in previous versions). Indeed, it even includes a Français translation by Michaël Foussard. Merci, Michaël!
  • Probably most exciting of all, I went and did an SEO audit on Thematic (the definitive guide to WordPress SEO was a big help). And I’m mostly, pretty, 99.9% certain that there’s not much else I can do to optimize it. But prove me wrong, please! I want Thematic to be the best it can be.

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Check out WPLover

Have you subscribed to WPLover yet? It’s one of my favorite WordPress blogs. Interesting news and opinion on WordPress that is often rarely mentioned elsewhere; short and to the point. It’s just what it needs to be. Check it out.

If you’ve got any favorite WordPress blog-gems of your own, lets hear about them.

How I used a WordPress Child Theme To Redesign My Blog

Problem: You want to take advantage of WordPress Parent-Child Themes but you want more control than is usually afforded through CSS alone. What about adding a Favicon? Or a link to a custom stylesheet for IE fixes.? Or editing the menu? How do you do that without messing around with the original Parent Theme?

Solution: You do what I did. I had this exact same problem redesigning ThemeShaper to take advantage of my WordPress Theme Framework, Thematic. I’ll tell you how I solved it and give you a better idea of the power of the functions.php file in WordPress Child Themes.

When you’re done reading this post you should be well on your way to taking full advantage of the power of WordPress Child Themes and redesigning your blog the smart way—leaving the original parent theme files untouched.

And if you haven’t heard about WordPress Child Themes before, make sure you take a look at my post on How To Protect Your WordPress Theme Against Upgrades. I go through a quick primer on them and how to get started using them (along with some useful tips on using Plugins).

First, Make a Functions.php File

Currently, only two overriding files are recognized in WordPress Child Themes, style.css and functions.php (unless my proposal for 2.7 makes it in). You can do a lot with CSS alone but with functions.php your theme can interact with WordPress just like a plugin.

First things first: make a file in your Child Theme folder called functions.php and add the PHP opening and closing tags to the first and second line (<?php and ?>) using your favorite text editor (I use Smultron). Make sure you don’t have any extra lines before or after these tags. We’re going to be inserting the following snippets of code on the lines in-between these tags. Now you’re ready to make your WordPress Child Theme sing.

… not literally, of course. That would be annoying. Continue reading

A Revolution in Theming: WordPress Theme Frameworks

WordPress is exceptionally easy to Theme—but it can be better. WordPress can be a smart little CMS for most websites—but it can be better. How? WordPress Theme Frameworks.

A while ago I asked a whole bunch of smart people what they thought the future of WordPress themes would look like. I also asked the whole WordPress community (also very smart) to think about a new default theme for WordPress. It’s putting those two things together that’s led me to the following statement:

The future of WordPress theming is in Theme Frameworks. If WordPress included three or four theme frameworks—not default themes—in the core it wouldn’t just be the easiest CMS to theme, it’d be the smartest.

Thinking of Theme Frameworks as something different from Themes could be revolutionary. And they don’t have to be included in the WordPress core to change how we think of WordPress themes. But take a look at my proposal for powering-up Child Themes in WordPress 2.7 and some of the current benefits of using them. And while you’re at it, check out Thematic.

Thematic is my own personal WordPress theme framework that I’ve released to take advantage of all this. Sort of an über-theme that puts the best of everything in one place so the core of it will never have to be messed with. It really leverages what you can do with WordPress themes: everything that needs to be changed is either an option (even the footer credits!) or a widget, leaving customization to the CSS in a Child Theme.

And that’s Customization that’s easy to make—for developers and enthusiasts—since the Thematic CSS is modular. The Reset, base Typography and Plugin styles have been separated from the basic look and ready to be used independently by Child Themes.

What do you think about WordPress theme frameworks? Sound Exciting? I think so.

How To Protect Your WordPress Theme Against Upgrades

Problem: You’ve finally found a theme you like but you want to modify it. The modifications are pretty simple but what happens when you want to upgrade the theme? Do you really want to go through all those files again hunting down the changes? Don’t you wish you could just upgrade and be done with it?

I’ve been there. I’ve done everything the wrong way at least twice. Learn from my mistakes. Here’s the right way to modify your theme and protect it against any future upgrades. And don’t worry, it’s really simple. As it usually turns out, WordPress is ready for us and has done most of the heavy lifting.

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Hide all your links

Want to concentrate solely on typography and foundational structure while you’re designing your next WordPress theme? Hide all your links. Make them black. Get rid of the underline and make them blend in. Destroy all visual evidence of hypertextuality. Show no mercy as you attack the lists and paragraphs and headings that shore up your content and don’t let anything distract you from your end goal: typographic excellence.

Assuming you’re starting with a white background and black text, CSS makes it relatively easy to exterminate anchors with extreme prejudice:

a {
color:#000;</code><code> text-decoration:none;
}

There. Now go make something beautiful.

While you’re at it, try hiding your header and sidebar in The Ultimate WordPress Theme Test.