It’s spring, which is traditionally known as a good time for cleaning. In our digital age, it’s only natural that a proportional amount of time be dedicated to the cleaning of digital things, i.e. internet blogs. After someone special suggested it to me, I decided to merge my old blog – which contains the pictures I took in Japan in 2006 – with this site.
While that blog was hosted on this server, I didn’t really have full creative control – I made it using Blogger, which is a Google company nowadays (surprise!), and they had changed tons of things since I last logged in. Not to mention that I had forgotten the password long since. 😛
So after the usual administrative stuff was done (WordPress update, plugin updates, database backups), and I had found a way to organize the pictures properly, I spent the last few hours with replicating the old posts. The result is quite nice in my opinion. If you feel like revisiting (my) Japan, feel free to do so here, at the first post in the series.
Also, this is not an April fool’s joke.
Another year has passed, I’m returning again to look after my website… and boy, this doesn’t look good at all. Literally. After running to get confirmation from my girlfriend, the verdict is clear: this website’s style has aged, and it hasn’t aged well. Not only is it green, it also looks totally 2007. Which, coincidentally, was when I designed it.
It's the Hulk!
So I decided to overhaul everything, starting from scratch. First, some backend maintenance needed to be done though. Since update 3.2, WordPress doesn’t support MySQL4 databases anymore. I think I already had had the choice to use a MySQL5 database when I started this, but I can’t for the life of me remember why I chose to make do with the older version. Hence, I had to migrate the old database to a new version before I’d be able to do any design work.
That done, I really did start from scratch. The current version of WordPress comes with the theme Twenty Eleven 1.2, and I used that as a basis for what you can see now. So far I’ve only modified some of the PHP templates and fiddled a bit with the CSS. I’m sure I’ll do a lot more before I fall into the next hiatus which’ll surely last until next year’s summer. 😉
Today I spent at least five hours working on my WordPress theme. I haven’t really done much programming in XHTML/CSS in the past year, so it took quite some time to get into the code again. The stylesheet for the layout was a complete mess, and while I updated the WordPress software to 2.8.2 last saturday, some of the PHP files in my theme were “leftovers” from the old version. You get the picture.
After what I did today, the stylesheet looks much better, and major parts of the XHTML are way cleaner than before. As a result, the code validates again properly via the W3C Markup Validation Service. Now, let’s have a look at what changed for someone who visits the site.
I did a complete overhaul of the metadata for each entry (time and date of the posting, categories, tags and the link to the comment area), so the distinction between the actual post and the metadata appears clearer. The same was done for the metadata in the comment area, aka the single post page. This went along with some cleaning up of font sizes, colors, hyperlink behaviour and of course lots of wrestling with the infamous paddings and margins.
The second, big change concerns the comment area. I’ve tweaked all the forms (the input fields for name, e-mail and website, as well as the input area for the comment text), and brought the formatting of the actual comments in line with the rest of the site layout. Last but not least, I implemented support for Gravatar icons in the comments. Since WordPress supports this since version 2.5, it was only a matter of adding some PHP to the comments template. Visitors who already signed up with Gravatar and uploaded an image will now see it appear next to their comments.
After today’s programmathon, there’s not all that much more to do. I might tweak some small things here and there, but don’t expect any revolutionary changes in the near future… unless I decide to rebuilt the layout from scratch on a whim. 😉
Since I’ve never really done much here since I built the original site, the WordPress version I was using was pretty old already. Today I finally got ’round to taking care of that, and it seems I was successful: the “news” page is now running the latest WordPress version, 2.8.2, and thanks to the new update routine, upgrading should be much easier in the future.
On the administrative side, there’s the new WordPress content management system/dashboard which makes quite a few tasks more convenient to handle for me. On the visitor’s side, there’s not much new at the first glance. However, you might notice the overhauled sidebar, which is now widget-enabled for more compatibility if I decide to add new sidebar items in the future.