Goodbye, TypoXP; Hello, Barthelme; Welcome Back, WP-Syntax; Tag, You’re It

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been putting in some work on this blog lately.

Amid all the tweaking, one fact became obvious: I was going to need to make significant changes to the TypoXP theme to get it fully compatible with post-WordPress 2.3 releases.

I thought long and hard about that. I really like TypoXP and I wanted to stick with it as long as I could. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided it made sense to move on to a more recent theme.

Once again, it came down to two choices: Barthelme and Fluid Blue. In the end, Bartheme won.

The primary benefits of these themes over TypoXP are that they are wider.

TypoXP was designed with a fixed width that kept 800px-wide monitors in mind, because two and a half years ago, when it was first released, a sizeable number of Web users used smaller monitors.

Today, most visitors are going to have monitors at least 1024px wide; less than 5 percent of visitors to this site use 800px or narrower monitors.

That was going to be the real bear in updating TypoXP. Going through the pages and replacing legacy template tags would probably take all of an hour. But resizing all the DIVs, recreating the sized backgrounds and getting everything to line up properly again was clearly going to take the better part of a couple days.

To my thinking, as much as I like TypoXP, I’d be a fool not to spend a couple hours looking through the WordPress themes directory for something that I might like as much, if not more.

Keep It Simple

My taste in Web design is, in a word, Spartan. Less is more, especially when less means more attention to aesthetic. Yes, there are many pretty Photoshopped Web sites. And yes, there are even one or two Flash Web sites that are pretty and functional.

But for the most part, the more art the site has, the worse it is in terms of both form and function.

Fortunately, I am not alone in this view; there are many simple, well-executed themes available at the directory. I winnowed the first list down to eight candidates, uploaded them and took a look.

Barthelme By A Nose

Six themes were quickly removed because they either did not render my content well, or they clearly needed extensive theme edits to suit my tastes.

Fluid Blue and Barthelme were left, and my inital choice was Fluid Blue.

But I ran into trouble trying to get ordered lists and unordered lists to look right in Fluid Blue. I spent about an hour trying to get the comments.php and style.css files to work for me, and I made some headway, but it became clear I was probably going to have to rebuilt comments.php with new styles to work the way I wanted.

No thanks, I thought; not when Barthelme is that close a competitor. So it won out in the end.

I made a few small changes to the styles and a couple changes to the template pages to render items more to my taste, and now I am very pleased with the new look of the blog. I’ll probably edit it some more in coming days to better fit my desires.

sytaxhighligter Wears Out Its Welcome

As I worked on the site this week, my regret over changing from WP-Syntax to syntaxhighlighter grew. The final straw came when it kept breaking W3C CSS and XHTML validation as I was testing new themes.

So, I decided that I was wrong, going back to WP-Syntax wouldn’t be too agonizing — at least, whatever work went into restoring it wouldn’t be as annoying as running a plugin that throws script, XHTML and CSS errors at every opportunity.

Basically, I had to run five SQL queries to get WP-Syntax working again:

# remove name="code" from all pre tags
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, ' name="code"', '');
# change class= to lang= in all pre tags
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, 'class=', 'lang=');
# convert all &lt; entities back to <
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, '&lt;', '<');
# convert all &gt; entities back to >
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, '&gt;', '>');
# change all references to xhtml to xml in pre tags
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, '"xhtml"', '"xml"');

I am sure there are a number of blog entries that are messed up as a result of this change. I’m going through the blog now, looking for them, and will hand-fix them as I find them.

If you find a problem post I haven’t noticed, please drop a comment on it to let me know; I really appreciate it.

Tag Time

Simply put, I had way too many categories for a blog with as few real topics of interest as this one. In truth, using tags on my posts, rather than subcategories, makes far more sense for finding related content.

So I used the exceedingly convenient categories to tags function in WordPress to remove all my subcategories and a couple primary categories, and killed off a few subcategories that, as a result, were no longer needed.

I have to confess that I had a general ignorance of the power of tagging, and rather than bliss, I was mildly irritated by them. But now that I understand their power, I can’t believe I didn’t use them the moment they became available.

And, Of Course, Sociable Edits

The Sociable plug-in was the genesis of all this work so, of course, I wound up editing it some more.

I won’t go into details, but the gist is, I removed the fieldset tags that looked good on TypoXP and used the built-in sociable.css stylesheet to make the icons appear the way I wanted.

One thought on “Goodbye, TypoXP; Hello, Barthelme; Welcome Back, WP-Syntax; Tag, You’re It

  1. Kathy A. Graff

    Barthelme is one of my favorite but I find many clients dislike the more simple but elegant themes.

    I followed the link in your Yahoo! Answers profile, am enjoying reading your posts.

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