It’s time to get all wide-eyed and get started on my August project- to recast the ds106 Assignment Bank into a wordpress theme that would have the functionality built into it for people to create other kinds of sites with the same features. The first step was to create the development site, which shall remain in the wide open so you can watch it grow/implode — it is live now with nothing on it at http://bank.ds106.us/. The code will go soon to github as well.

The things that need to be done are:

  • Pull out a lot of things that are hard coded (the types of assignments, etc) and turn them into theme options. This would mean you can fill in the names of things like “Pastry”, “Algebra” and have them appear as main types of assignments.
  • Create other theme options, like even figuring out of what they are called “Assignments” should be customizable, a logo field to upload, CSS options like icons for the assignment types, options to allow new assignments to be set to published or draft
  • Cleanup or re-do the theme style. What we have now is built from a 960css grid theme, but there is a pile of slapped on CSS that might need untangling. The other option (and how I might be leaning), si to start with a clean Bootstrap theme — I just hosted WP-Bootstrap which would be cleaner, and use its grid layouts and menus to cross over from the current site.
  • Sort out how to reduce the plug-in dependencies – what will need to stay is:

    The theme would check for these on its admin page and insert reminders to install.

    Plugins I hope I can code out the dependencies on include (the fewer dependencies the better IMHO):

    • Gravity Forms – awesome plugin, but $$, used for users to submit new assignments. I think I can code in the form, it just needs to create custom content type posts out of the form submissions. Also used to submit an example that can be added that is not retrieved through syndication.
    • Custom Post Type UI – creates post type / taxonomy for submissions, I can code this in pretty easily.
    • Flexible Posts Widget -not too sure where used, I think for the front page bottom widgets
  • Things to add (maybe) not present now include:
    • A feature on each assignment to flag or comment on- a way a site user can indicate there is a problem or perhaps something in appropriate about something submitted (might just enable the comments field to handle this)
    • An ajaxy listing for the examples listed for each assignment, in case it gets really long
    • Some sort of rating for these examples, so they can be sorted bu perhaps most viewed and/or rated, a way to bubble the better examples up.

That’s a rough list for now; if there are other features you think might be worthy, let me know!

The next thing I will mull is to start this with some dummy content, so it is empty, or to port over all of what is in the assignments site and retrofit it with the new engine… I lean to the latter as it is a good test and it has the variety of content. Plus, we can then use it.

Anyhow, stay tuned here as I will try and document the process, tagging things building106.

Time to get all GIFfy eyed

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. This sounds pretty wonderful. A DS106 in a box would be a powerful tool for folk to pick up an run with. I can see this being very useful here in Scotland for schools _if_ we get an improved wordpress setup from our national intranet (currently horribly hobbled old version of wp).
    And this is going to be on github for picking up!!

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