Thematic Version 0.3

Thematic version 0.3 is ready. If you’re upgrading, stuff moved. That’s beta for you—but don’t worry, I’ve made things better. Here’s what I’ve gone and done.

  • Added a 3 column stylesheet
  • Cleaned up the post meta and separated it from the comments section following popular convention (and probably breaking stylesheets)
  • Prettified the sliding meta panel with a photoshop-y G.I. Joe handle (it’s like Snake Eyes designed it!)
  • Added an option to control the position of the widget area that shows up between the post on the index page—a great place for promoting something important
  • Added a print stylesheet that should undo any unprintable styles you add to your theme.

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How To Add Gravatars For The Post Author in WordPress

Now that Gravatar support is part of the WordPress core adding them into your WordPress theme is easy. Adding them to your comments has been documented. How about adding them to your post titles to highlight the comment author? Within the loop? That’s fairly easy too. Here’s the code:

<?php echo get_avatar( get_the_author_email(), '80' ); ?>

Pretty simple, huh? get_the_author_email outputs the post author’s email and the “80″ is the size of the avatar image in pixels (you can change that). How this will look depends on how you use it; where you put it in the theme (it has to be in the loop!) and how you style it.

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How To Build WP-PageNavi Into Your WordPress Theme

WP-PageNavi, from Lester “GaMerZ” Chan, gives you an awesome upgrade to your WordPress post-page navigation. Instead of the typical “Older Post/Newer Post” links, you get “Digg-like” pagination. Like so:

Wp-PageNavi Sample

Very cool. But what if you want to incorporate it into a WordPress theme for release? How do you style it when the instructions tell you to modify the plugin files? Good questions. I’ll tell you how. Continue reading

We Need To Kill The Sidebar

It’s time for the WordPress sidebar to go, and all mention of it to be wiped out from existence. I’m not talking about the visual idea of a sidebar on your blog. No. I’m talking about the WordPress function get_sidebar() and the use of the term, Sidebar in the WordPress admin. This way of thinking is obscuring the vision of WordPress designers and limiting the potential of your blog theme.

Here’s why: A sidebar doesn’t have to be a sidebar. Continue reading

A WordPress Theme Structure with Meaning and Possibility

Continuing work on my next theme, Thematic, one thing I want to get out of the way immediately is the structure, or skeleton, of the thing. The outer structure of any HTML+CSS document is where things usually go bonkers and the last thing I want is for my markup to make things worse when I update versions. So, that said, here’s the basic divisions of markup, which I’ll follow with some of my thinking. I’m hoping we can start a conversation over this—and I’m totally up for a raging debate over my non-transcendent approach to this—so give this post a quick scan and see if you can add your two cents. The more the merrier. Continue reading

Coming Soon: My Personal WordPress Theme Starting Point

I will soon be releasing the hacked-up version of The Sandbox that I’ve been using as a starting point to develop free and custom themes. For free. On Google Code. As an open source project. Since I have different goals than the Sandbox creators (and not as much skill!) I won’t call my changes improvements but they are changes you may appreciate:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • A grid-based starting point
  • CSS Reset and Typography based on Blueprint
  • Markup allowing even more CSS madness than The Sandbox
  • Theme Options
  • More Page Templates
  • More widgetized areas
  • More Microformats
  • Popular Plugin Integration

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A Proposal for Theme Management in WordPress

The handling of plugins in WordPress 2.5 is perfect. It’s superb. It’s easy. It’s cake. But now that I have cake, you know, I want to eat it too. I’ve got a proposal for how upgrading of themes should be handled in WordPress 2.6 (or whenever) using a .org theme repository. Maybe more like a couple of ideas. But watch out! My first item is going to be somewhat controversial amongst theme authors.

Use WordPress Theme Options to Store Footer Text

What prevents people from upgrading their WordPress theme? Changes they’ve made to the theme file. Ignoring changes made to accommodate plugins, there’s really only one spot a theme user would really want to change and have no apparent control over in the admin area: the text in the footer. Theme authors should hand over that power.

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A Better Spot for The WordPress Meta

One of the first things many new blog owners do is remove the Meta section from their sidebars. Great idea. The Meta information is almost completely useless. And I’m not the only one that thinks so.

The Meta section includes some admin links like “Login” or “XHTML Valid.” While those links might be useful for the owner of the blog, they offer no value at all for the reader. The next time you set a WordPress blog up, start by removing the Meta section from the sidebar. Daily Blog Tips

But you know what? It’s only almost completely useless. It has two great functions; it gives you a link to your admin area from every page and it lets you logout from your blog. Pretty handy when you’re on a public computer. How can we fix this up so we don’t look amateurish and still retain the useful functionality? Easy! Conditional tags and Javascript.

Well, kinda easy. If you want to implement this on your blog you’ll have to do some fiddling around with your theme. No guarantees that the following technique won’t make your site explode.

Here’s what we want to do. Only show the login block to logged-in users and while we’re at it take the whole thing out of the sidebar and put it somewhere really useful: in a sliding panel that drops down from the top of the page with a click, wherever you are on the page.

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The Future of WordPress Themes 2008

Hey There! If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out The Future of WordPress Themes 2009 after you’re done reading 2008′s predictions. It’s a good read.

When I predicted the downfall of premium WordPress themes I immediately began to think of the future of WordPress theming in general. Where was it headed really? And if I really wanted to know, who should I ask? Well, if you want to know where WordPress themes are headed in the future, these are the kind of people you want to ask—and the people to watch. And wow, am I glad I asked.

Here are 11 people committed to thinking creatively about WordPress themes and what they mean. These are some of the people who will carry and lead WordPress theming into 3.0 and beyond. Some of these people will set the agenda for the future of WordPress themes. And this is what they think it will look like. Continue reading

The Future of Premium WordPress themes

It’s prediction time: The Premium WordPress Theme phenomenon has approximately one year left before collapsing entirely, leaving a rather large hole between completely free WordPress themes and custom themes $1500 and up. If you’ve got a “Premium” WordPress theme waiting in the wings I advise releasing it sooner rather than later. As in, now.

Before I explain myself let’s get one term straight: Premium. I’d rather use the compound “pay-for-use” because more often than not “Premium”, when it comes to WordPress themes, simply means “it costs money” and not “of superior quality”. This isn’t true for everyone of course. But it is certainly true of some (and will increasingly become true of more as the market becomes saturated).

Alright, that out of the way let’s get on with the doomsday WordPress theme market scenario. This week theme designer Justin Tadlock released a jam-packed WordPress-as-CMS style theme called “Options“. The download package is just a mess—in the best way possible; Justin’s got extra widgets, sub menus, javascript tabs, page templates and integration with popular plugins and web services, all wrapped up in a fairly clean design ready for customization. Way to go Justin.

Oh, and Options has one more feature. It signals the end of the Premium WordPress theme market.

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