5 Posts Tagged "wordpress dissected"

Blog Pile, Wordpress

WordPress Dissected: The Blogless Blog

It’s been a while but it is time to add to my collection of WordPress Dissected where I break down web sites I have been building using WordPress but with some moderate to severe template wrangling.

Today I present an NMC project set that is sort of a Zen Riddle. If a blog has no posts is it a web site? This is the editing area for a finished web site:

marcus-no-posts

How? Why?

The web site is made up entirely of WordPress pages, because there is nothing chronological in the site’s structure (though if we ever added a news section it would be easy). There was a reason I organized it around Pages… and I cannot remember why, but had something to do with being able to list the pages in a sidebar. I think. To be honest, the work started more than a year ago and the site sat behind a password until the grant funders for the project where ready to go public.

The site is for the Edward and Betty Marcus Digital Education Project for Texas Art Museums, a project where we worked with 28 art museum or art education programs in Texas to help them apply storytelling concepts to their collections and artists, and use the Pachyderm software to create online exhibits.

marcus-site

Blog Pile

Wrangling WordPress MultiUser

Besides manually updating six separate instances WordPress (to version 2.6) in the NMC fleet of sites, I also finally paid some over due attention to the version of WordPressMultiUser I have had up since November 2007. This tool some rustling to get it to the right version and also what had not been done in a while- making the front door.

I am hardly a WPmu guru, certainly no bavatuesday… maybe a bavalatethursdaymorning. Most places running WPmu are doing it to provide a blog hosting service, like edublogs or the crazy stuff the Rev does at Mary Washington.

My need was to have a series of separate sites hosted in WordPress w/o having to have an even bigger fleet of separate installs (Heck, maybe one day I can rope them all in under the WPmu hood). No these are all a series of online publications we have done at NMC in the lasy 8 months, all using the slick CommentPress template. Developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book, CommentPress provides a way to post a series of publication chapters as “blog” posts, but the special feature is that comments can be attached to individual chapters.

So we have things like the 2008 Horizon Report in this format as well as the text of a keynote given by Howard Rheingold on Co-Evolution of Technology, Media and Collective Action.

Until just a few minutes ago, these were separate little sites, but now I have at least a crude launch page for the entire WPmu site at http://wp.nmc.org.

Blog Pile

WordPressing Dissected: NMC Pachyderm Services

Let me join the Jim Groom Kum-Ba-Ya I Love WordPress Chorus. In this least year, I’ve rolled out 3 NMC web sites that are published via WordPress, with each one going deeper into the bowels of the templates and just more jazzed how I can bend them to my will, casting CSS, PHP, plugins, MySQL to do my bidding. This is unlike drupal, where after a year I am still trying to figure out just how the heck it works and manages information. Its still a grey murky, opaque blue gumdrop box. I am trying to summon the drupal love, and it aint happening.

But WordPress, you make me sing. In this blog post that portends to be a monster one of length, I am going to dissect a new site I worked in gory technical detail.

On each of these sites, I have started with a standard template and slowly ripped the guts apart. So far, in the stable, is the NMC Campus Observer which began as the Blix template. Then there is NMC Virtual Worlds a child of the Orange 2.0 Theme, and one where I learned to create multiple page templates, use custom fields to spawn content specific sidebars, and rolling my own database queries to get posts I really wanted. Our podcast site, NMC Conversations is probably the least modded, a few tweaks of the redoable theme.

Now the thing I also love about WordPress is there are many levels of creativity you can operate at. You can simply blog, never tinker with the templates, and easily switch out themes like a new pair of socks. That’s great; it means you are focused on the content. Or you can get way down into the guts of the engine. Now I don’t do much with widgets- I think the concept is great for many bloggers as it offers a nice amount of flexibility on what you slap on your sidebar… but in my case, I find them horribly limited and boxed in.. cause I know I can easily script my way to something better. Or you can somewhere in between- add your own graphics header, toss some specific text or web javascript code in the sidebar.

So as I get closer to the details, I remind you the stuff I am talking about is what you can do with your own code on a hosted server; while the WordPress.com service is fabulous (I used it myself this year), its simplicity comes at a price of severe lack of template tinkering. You really cannot do much there.

BEFORE:
pachyderm-old.jpg

The site I am going to talk about is the NMC Pachyderm Services web site, which replaces a static HTML tabled encrusted, hand code the navigation links” Pachyderm.org web site, which was not all that bad, but once you go to database driven template sites, it just hurts to hand code an HTML site.

AFTER:pachyderm-services-new.jpg

So I am going to talk alot about the mangling I did in the templates along with some plugins I deploy (and tweak too). I should say I go about waist deep into the CSS and full body dive into the PHP code of the templates. And for some of these sites, I make a bend away from the standard format of blog as reverse chronological series of “posts”. I make web sites, not blogs.

Some of this stuff may get nitty gritty in detail, but I am intrigued to see if I can document all the little pieces that came together for this site. To be honest, these really develop organically, and sometimes change/evolve with more content dumped in.