Most of you probably haven’t noticed and couldn’t care less that I changed my WordPress theme again this week. But I did, and I’ve been busy behind the scenes fine tuning the code to my liking.
My previous theme was Under the Influence and I spent a lot of time trying to get it to look exactly the way I wanted. I got close, but there were a couple of things that defied my best efforts, which spring not from vast CSS knowledge but from hours and hours of trial-and-error in a sort of knowledgeable way: Hmm … h2.widgettitle? Nope … td.recentcommentstexten? No … Aha, td.recentcommentstexttop! Font-size … just another .1 em … oops! Damn. Okay, don’t do that again…
I’d made a lot of progress with Influence. Honest. Some of the really intractable stuff got punted to the WP forums, where thesacredpath is always ready to help out. In the past I’ve also gotten help from hallluke, raincoaster, panos, and timethief. I thank them for their patience, especially when, after all their efforts, I dump my theme du jour and move on to another one, guaranteeing I’ll be back in the forums asking more questions. I feel so guilty about it, I often wait weeks between questions just so they won’t think I’m using them when I should be figuring things out for myself.
Influence had a lot of eccentricities and quirks that I got tired of trying to “fix.” A choice of two different header styles had me tearing my hair when I dug into the code. The comments had an unusual hierarchy set-up that I never liked and never quite fixed to my satisfaction. (Close, though. Very close.) On main pages, its datelines appear at the top of posts, where I think they should always be, but on its archive pages, they were hidden away in the metadata at the bottom of the post where I felt they went completely unnoticed. I want dates at the top, always.
I decided to look for a theme that might be closer to the result I was trying to achieve, with less under-the-hood tuning to do. And, surprise, after a year or more in the wilderness, here I am back with good old Vigilance again. It doesn’t have footer widgets, which is great. I always write them out of the code anyway. After all, who scrolls clear down to the footers looking for information? Readers shouldn’t have to. Vigilance also does a nice job with its archive listings; it shows a list of titles and dates (the titles per page limited, unfortunately, to the number of posts specified for the front page). Most WP themes pull up all the posts in the category, in their entirety, leaving one to click on “Earlier posts” repeatedly to browse through them. The ideal presentation would be what I saw in zBench — a list of dates and titles that includes a brief excerpt or first few lines from each post. That’s a rockin’ set-up.
All these changes are not work, mind you. They are me playing, me pursuing a hobby that used to be my job. The tools and medium have changed but my interest has not.