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blog.gkaindl.com » Spring Cleaning

blog.gkaindl.com

nerd nouveau

Spring Cleaning

It has been exceptionally quiet on my blog (read: no posts) for the last two weeks. Well, one reason for this is that I’ve been pretty busy with other projects. The other, much more interesting reason is that I’ve been working on a new theme for the blog… And here it is!

Obviously, I’m a very big fan of simple aesthetics. I wanted to do away with the typical blog-layout of a centered box and a header image. While the design still conveys the “blog”-aspect nicely, I don’t think it’s screaming “WordPress” in your face (Not that I have any problem with WordPress blogs, I’m just a bit irritated by its default looks, which are incidentally what’s inspiring many of the third-party themes).

I’m very happy with the way my new theme turned out. The clean and simple, yet still refined appearance is something I can identify a lot more with than the default theme mashup I’ve been using before.

As far as the sidebar is concerned, I’ve chosen to implement the link list (or “blogroll”, as it used to be called) in a way that only selected links will appear in the sidebar. There’s a special page that contains all the links in a tidy list instead. This way, I can add as many links as I want to without cluttering up my sidebar, while still having the ability to give a few selected links that additional exposure of appearing in the sidebar. I’m very happy with the taming of the sidebar as it’s doing away with one of my biggest annoyances of typical blogs: Ever-growing sidebars with gigantic link lists.

Another thing that really bothers me about WordPress’s default theme is the page navigation: As soon as you’ve created a few hierarchical pages, it starts looking a bit weird, relying only on indentations to represent hierarchy. Using indentations is probably not a good idea if the space is already limited in the comparably narrow space of the sidebar. Frequent ugly and unintended line-breaks are the result. Additionally, all pages show up in the sidebar at any time, even those pages that do not need to be exposed at all times because they are sub-pages of a certain parent page and do not have much meaning out of this context. For example, the “Version History” page only makes sense in the context of the “App Update Widget” page.

For this reason, I’ve created a dynamic “navigation” bar between the blog title and content. Depending on which area of the blog you are viewing, relevant information will be displayed. For example, you always get the “pages” menu, containing all page-names as well as a link back to the blog homepage. If you are browsing blog posts, you get information about the post you are currently viewing as well as some utility links and a list of the 5 most recent posts. However, when you are clicking on a page name, the navigation bar will contain hierarchical boxes for all parent pages of the current page as well as to the direct child pages. This allows for a “drill-down” experience when browsing the pages. In order to make it easy to see which page you are currently viewing, the current page title will always appear highlighted.

Consequently, I have an implicit mechanism to implement “sections” rather than pages now. For example, when you click “_downloads” in the navigation bar, you are taken to the download page, which in turn contains links to its children pages. Similarly, you do not get links to the individual downloads if you are not on the “_downloads” page. Instant site sections while still following the WordPress “page” model!

The search box and the site information at the bottom of each page owe a lot to the beautiful Hemingway theme. However, rather than using the footer for link lists or the such, I only put a quick “about” section there, as well as a Javascript-enabled anti-SPAM mechanism through which a visitor can obtain my email address. In fact, my email address is completely obfuscated in the script file as well, so that a SPAM bot can not scrape it even if it is Javascript-enabled. To get the email address, you have to answer the question (or de-obfuscate the relevant Javascript snippet, which would require even more intelligence).

Oh, just to give my nerdery the exposure it deserves, the new theme also validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 2.1! I’m also aware that not everybody may be a fan of small font sizes, but I took quite some efforts so that the layout doesn’t break if you enlarge the font size in your browser. It may not look as cool anymore, but the layout should stay intact.

Making my own theme was pretty important to me as I’m certainly someone who isn’t too fond of out-of-the-box solutions. Call it a shallow sense of individuality, but the idea of using a theme that I cannot really identify with on a site that’s having my name on it was really starting to bother me. Conversely, I’m already feeling inspired to write posts more frequently and regularly, now that the new theme is up and running.

1 Comment

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  1. Deprecated: Function ereg() is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/google-analyticator/google-analyticator.php on line 445
    Alan
    wrote on Apr 16, 2007 at 17:33

    Coincidently there is a new Mac-like WP theme available which addresses the “sidebar clutter” issue. Not only can sidebar stuff be re-ordered via drag & drop, but contents can be collapsed and expanded…

    http://www.ndesign-studio.com/resources/wp-themes/itheme/

About

Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

I like to write about everything that matters to considerate technology enthusiasts, but humbly retain the right to go off-topic from time to time.

My posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Contact

You can reach me by email if you have something to say that's not related to a blog post or that you don't want to have publicly available as a comment to a post.

However, you'll have to prove that you are human! Even though I personally like robots very much, I'm less of fan of SPAM. It's just a simple riddle to solve, but a SPAM bot won't cut it!

To get my email address, take the word before the .com in my domain name first (Hint: The word you are looking for starts with a "g" and ends with an "l"). Next, simply attach @mac.com to this word.

Boom, there's my email address. Simple, isn't it?

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