Archive for the 'Dabbler Notebook' Category

Experimenting with Themes

Some of you have likely noticed that I’ve been changing the look and feel of the website. Since I’m still dissatisfied, you can expect the experimentation to continue.

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Bureaucratic Whimsy

When I began this journal, my main purpose was to document the things I did for a living. I wrote these work-triggered essays so for about a year, then stopped. A few months later, as I moved the site to a new server, I removed most of the work-related pages, leaving only a handful of job-related pages which didn’t directly touch on my job. I always planned to recover and repost the removed pages at some future date, and have now done so. They can be found in the site’s Bureaucratic Whimsy category. A few have minor edits, and I’ve added an occasional explanatory note. Please be aware that all names (except mine) have been changed, though in most cases the identity will be obvious to folks who worked with me.

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Dabbler Migration

That recovery could have been automated, but I chose to review the individual postings. While there’s some pain in this recovery method, it gave me the opportunity to reread everything, rework a few entries, and check the links on the recovered postings. While I don’t regret the effort, I’m pleased to have the little sub-project complete. Now I can make time for more obviously-interesting activities.

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WP Themes: Lessons from Gangway

Within the past week I’ve called LightCMS “well-crafted” (Sreejith is a code artist), Cutline “workmanlike” (Chris Peterson’s a problem solver), and ModernPaper “delightful” (Brian Gardner’s unusually disciplined). Although they’re very different in detail, all use the same basic CSS vocabulary for describing the document. Since I don’t follow the CSS discussions, I don’t know what standards someone’s trying to enforce, but I’ve read enough code in my life to have preferences. CSS is a rather spare coding language, but you don’t need to look at many stylesheets to learn that there are a variety of coding practices (normally I’d call these “styles,” but that would be confusing), and that some of those practices are more readable than others. Gangway’s style sheet fails the readability test.

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WP Themes: Lessons from ModernPaper

Behind the scenes, there’s a slight surprise; Gardner’s used the Home.php page the way most theme designers use Index.php, and Gardner’s Index.php is used like most designers use Single.php. (That realization sent me to the Template Hierarchy, where I convinced myself that the design decision makes sense, though it’s unconventional.) Opening the files to examine the code is delightful: Gardner writes clean, compact, and obvious code, uses XHTML tags as they’re intended, and organizes things well. Needless to say, his CSS files are similarly impressive.

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WP Themes: Lessons from Cutline

Cutline is beautiful, but it’s not the answer I’m looking for. Your mileage may well vary, because this is a very attractive theme; unfortunately, it runs up against some of my strong preferences.

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WP Themes: Lessons from LightCMS

The big danger with templating languages, whatever the environment, is the temptation to build something really complicated. LightCMS avoids this. The great strength of this theme is its simplicity: There are just a handful of template files, and a simple CSS template controls the screen layout by doing really obvious things in a delightful, well-organized fashion. Understanding this one’s simple; it’s a good place to begin exploring WordPress, and could well be a useful skeleton for building something more elaborate. I might return to this one when I’m ready to implement my final design.

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Moving Dabbler to WordPress

Joan says: “Whatcha been doing all night?”
“Moving Dabbler’s Journal,” I replied.
“So you’re going to start writing again?”

I’ve done this before….

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Examining Dabbler

Now cycle back to the top of the page and remind yourself that the essays about work are the reason for the website. I’ve quite certain that these readership levels don’t justify the effort and the risk those essays entail. While I could address this in a number of ways, I’ve decided to reclaim the time and put it into another activity.

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Visited by Visions

If there’s any one thing yesterday’s note demonstrates, it’s that Bureaucratic Whimsy is not a traffic magnet. None of the most popular pages on the site are about my job, and none of the common searches find those pages. That’s an issue I expect to discuss next week.

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