One Step at a Time

I’ve just finished my second round of major edits to the site. I’ve done away with the stock Kubrick images and replaced those with some of my own. For the most part, the site’s rendering and layout is all being done via CSS. Except for the headers there are no pictures, and there are no tables to speak of. This comes with its own challenges, namely cross-browser functionality, but the code cleanliness is worth it.

The more I use WordPress, the more I become aware of just how much I was missing out on with bBlog. I don’t want to bad-mouth it, but man, bBlog’s features are almost nothing compared to WordPress. Then again, the last version I really used was 0.7.2. Installed in my old blog site is bBlog 0.7.6, which had made some marked improvements over the 0.7.2. I won’t get into details since I don’t plan to become a bBlog expert (at least not anymore, since I don’t have to in order to do what I want), but if you’re looking to try blogging software and don’t want to use WordPress for some reason, I might recommend bBlog. (Then again, I might also recommend Blogger, since it’s so easy to use. Like anything, it all depends what you want to do with it at the end.)

Like I predicted in a previous post, I started to become very familiar with WordPress’ theme editing functionality. What you see right now (as of 31 July 2005) is almost entirely a product of that tool. I was able to edit the PHP files that made up the theme and the stylesheet, as well. (Although I didn’t notice whether there was an Internet Explorer-specific stylesheet or not.) Except for the images, everything was done via that tool, and the images only because I didn’t want to have to redefine a few variables in the header.php file.

What I did to get the template looking like this
To turn the Random Images template from what it was to what I have here, I did the following:

First, I wanted multiple columns across all pages. That’s because I like for navigation to be available on all pages of the site. To do that, I simply coppied all the files from the All Columns Kubrick theme (also by Michael Heilmann) to the Random Images directly, except header.php and style.css. (Or the images, of course.) That gave me what I wanted. In addition, I also got a little bit of a bonus from that, since the page navigation buttons are part of header.php, and defined in style.css. (Yae!)

After that, I edited the sidebar to my liking, switching the position of the Categories and Archives, adding a Google AdSense box (click on a link… right… now!), and doing the whole “About Me” thing. (Really, does anone care about that?)

Then came time for the big change. I wanted to see what the site would look like without images so I yanked all the image file information from the header.php file. (It’s a very well documented file, so if you happen to be using Kubrick, take some time to read through it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.) The result wan’t half bad. I wanted a different color scheme, so I looked around for imspiration. It wasn’t long before I found John Hesch’s blog, sporting one of the most unexpectedly nice color schemes I’ve seen. His site is simple and clean, which is exactly what I wanted here.

Now, in real life, I’m the type that likes really strange and somewhat annoying color combinations and styles. If anything, my tastes are anything but simple. But for the website, I wanted something that looked professional, but not something too boring. Something that looked good, but wouldn’t cause seizures. I found that at Hesch’s blog.

I tried my best to copy his style, but I was — and still am — having massive problems with the CSS code to make the page nav bar do what his does. (He uses a table there, I believe, which makes the job a lot easier. I’m trying to do all this without tables, so that’s not an option I want to consider.) Instead of spending a zillion hours tyring to figure that out, I decided to put the header image code back into the header.php file. I put the “body” and “#header” code back in (and nothing else), and decided to start using my own images.

Now, in the Random Image theme, there’s a part of the theme near the top where a variable, num is defined as rand(0,9). (This means that wherever the variable num was called by PHP, a random number between 0 and 9 would take its place.) I changed that to (0.2) and put in my own images, kubrickheader0, kubrickheader1, and kubrickheader2. Once the images were in place, the theme was set to go.

That said, I’ve fnished revamping the look and feel of the site for now. I’ll try to get that dark yellow banner think working, and I’ll probably tweak the CSS a bit more, just for looks, but overall I think I’m done with this for the moment. (The rest of the stuff I can do during my lunch breaks at work. Now that I don’t need an FTP client to work with the code, I can do what I need to do when I can actually do it.)

If you have any questions regarding this “theme”, feel free to conact me here. Once I get it just how I like it, I’ll probably turn it into a full-blown, installable theme and share it with the WordPress community. Until then, it’s play time.

(Actually, it’s sleep time. It’s 5:30am right now and I should really be in bed. I have church tomorrowin a few hours.)

I got the yellow bar working! For information on HOW I did it, just take a look at the stylesheet and find #pages and #pages a.

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