3 Google Code Projects That Will Save Your WordPress Theme

Google Code LogoGoogle Code is Google’s hosting repository for open source projects. Got an open source project? Google Code will host it for free. Want to make a killer WordPress theme that just plain works? Then Google Code is your best friend. Three projects on Google Code will help you get your WordPress theme done right. A trinity of open-source WordPress theme development tools: Sandbox, Blueprint and IE7.js.

The Sandbox theme

Sorry, Kubrick, Sorry, K2: the blog theme you’re looking at right now is based on Sandbox. And that statement is pretty much future proof since I don’t plan on basing any future WordPress themes on anything but. The Sandbox, as we all know by now, has awesome dynamic classes (designed by Automattic’s Andy Skelton) that get added to every post, page and comment and give your CSS fine-tuned granular control over almost every tag in the markup. On top of that, almost every WordPress function and template tag is represented, making it a perfect theme to learn from. Plus, it’s just plain neat and well laid out by a conscientious perfectionist (Scott Wallick) given to revising every little thing in the theme.

Speaking of that perfectionist, how does he feel about any old theme designer and hack messing with his code? Let’s ask. Scott, how do you feel about designers bastardizing your hard work?

The best Sandbox, I’ve always thought, is a bastardized one. That’s what it’s there for, after all.

Not enough convincing? Check out Alister Cameron, The Blogologist, speaking at Wordcamp Melbourne 2007 on Sandbox Theme for WordPress.

There you have it. Start using the Sandbox as the basis of your themes today.

The Sandbox Theme on Google Code

Update: As it turns out, the Sandbox theme is dead. Well then. Might I suggest an alternate theme, also on Google Code? How about my fork of the Sandbox, that has long since transformed itself into what’s been called a theme framework? Interested? Check out the Thematic Theme.

Blueprint CSS Framework

What can I say about Blueprint that hasn’t already been said except that it either enrages web developers or makes them cry with joy? Hmm, I can probably be clearer than that. Blueprint is a CSS framework, a series of stylesheets that take care of all those little things (and big things!) that you find yourself doing over and over again. Things like resetting browser defaults, floating columns, and taming IE6. Does it work with WordPress? Of course. It’s been used to great effect by at least two WordPress themes: The Morning After and Blueprint-WP.

Want to start using it with your next WordPress theme? It couldn’t be easier. In fact, it takes only a minute (literally—I timed myself). Download Blueprint and throw the Blueprint folder into a new theme folder. Open up the template file that contains the body tag (in Sandbox it’s header.php) and give it the class container. Now, open up style.css and add the following right after the theme information

@import url('blueprint/screen.css');

Et Voila. Once you finish wiping away the tears of joy you can read the Blueprint documentation and peruse the main stylesheets and then get to work designing your next masterpiece.

Blueprint: A CSS framework on Google Code

The Ie7-js Javascript Library

I first read about Dean Edwards’ Ie7 script in Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS, (a thin book with far too many pictures of food, but important nonetheless). Andy Clarke advocates treating IE like a betamax and using DOM scripting to make it more like a DVD player. Which is where the Ie7.js Javascript Library comes in. It’ s pretty simple really, it works by magic. Add a link in your head section to the script and suddenly Ie6 supports transparency and the box model. Don’t believe me? Check out the examples page to see the sorcery in action.

Ie7 is a recent addition to Google Code, and Beta status, after sort of being stuck as an Alpha project on Dean Edwards’ personal project page for a while. As if to make up for it, you can now link to the script right from Google’s servers.

<!--[if lt IE 7]>
<script src="http://ie7-js.googlecode.com/svn/version/2.0(beta)/IE7.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

I wouldn’t try hotlinking like this on an important project (you can still download the script) but it’s still kinda neat.

The Ie7-js Javascript Library

Know of any more WordPress friendly Google Code projects? Let us know about them in the comments.

9 thoughts on “3 Google Code Projects That Will Save Your WordPress Theme”

  1. Having sandbox add all those dynamic classes to your blog, wouldn’t that put some load on your server?

    besides that, I think it’s pretty cool.

  2. Ian, great great links 🙂

    Your readers might be interested in my recent talk at Melbourne Wordcamp regarding Sandbox. I’ll let you link to it somehow, if you think it’s worthy.

    Perhaps needless to say for people who know me, but I don’t touch any other theme either.

    Now, on the Blueprint question, I am sold on the YUI Grids/Reset/Fonts set of CSS files. Do you have any strong opinion about how these stack up to Blueprint? I have in mind my own fork of Sandbox integrated with YUI (Scott has suggested I fork it)… when I eventually polish it off.

    Finally, I fully agree that Dean Edwards is a genius, even if he doesn’t reply to emails of blog comments. I use his Packer all the time.

    As JS goes, I am in love with jQuery and was delighted to see WP dump Prototype for it, however I with plugin authors would get on with replacing their dependence on Prototype for jQuery. Especially Alex King!

    Great blog, mate. You’re talking the stuff I’m passionate about (and I’m sure my site’s too busy for your eyes, much as I’ve tried to keep it visually clean!).



  3. Hey Alister, I’m glad to link to your talk. Heck, I was glad to watch it too. (Except that I disagree with you about the bare bones look of The Sandbox as-is. I’ve grown to like it—I’m weird that way.)

    Blueprint vs. YUI: A strong opinion, no. I fooled around with the YUI for a bit and felt it was all a bit opaque. With Blueprint, I grew into it. I didn’t use the whole framework right away, studying it first, adapting it for my own use, until eventually I finally used it for a quick little project that just had to get up fast. I really don’t feel like I could have gone on that journey with YUI.

    … but at the same time: quit teasing us about that YUI-Sandbox and release it already! I’ve been waiting to see that forever, man! 😉

    Glad to have you drop by, Alister. I may have mentioned this before but it’s your blog theme that got me into Sandbox and I don’t mean to make you out to be Obi-Wan Kenobi or anything but thanks for that.

    Cheers, mate.

  4. I first read about Dean Edwards’ Ie7 script in Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS, (a thin book with far too many pictures of food, but important nonetheless).

    ‘Too many pictures of food’ – made me laugh.

  5. These are excellent – ive been using blueprint and IE7 for a ages on just about every project, not just wordpress. its worth mentioniing BlueTrip which is a blend of the best bits of the best frameworks. Bluprint and Tripola….hence the BlueTrip title. Its got parts of 960 and elements and hartja too.

    for the curious…http://bluetrip.org/


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