TwentyTen Extended – add Color to the Default WordPress Theme – TwentyTen child theme that makes it easy to change the colors of various elements without editing or writing code. ∞
By Jeffro on March 29, 2011
I’m not sure if you noticed as much as I have but there seems to be a commercial theme sorter popping up on every corner. At least, that’s the impression I get as I’ve routinely been receiving emails lately from people letting me know about the launch of their theme sorter. The newest one to launch which has over 500 themes from 19 sellers listed with a goal to reach over 1,000 by this summer is called ThemeSorter. ThemeSorter provides different ways to browse through their listing such as color, specific niche, ratings, styles, etc.
Talk about an easy business model. There are so many commercial themes being developed by established companies with brand new commercial theme businesses opening shop every week that it makes sense to create a directory of sorts to try and make sense of everything. The directory has to be easy to browse, contain affiliate links to their respective theme authors and hope people go through you to purchase the theme. Special deals from those sellers wouldn’t hurt either.
The question I have about all these different theme sorters is which one will gain critical mass? That is, which one will end up having a community of people or users that rate and review themes similar to customers reviewing items that have purchased from Amazon? Which one will be the go-to place that has the largest and most legit listing? I’ve heard many people request that there be a place similar to the WordPress.org theme repository but for commercial themes and these theme sorters seem to fit the bill although they don’t contain any files to download. They are informative only.
If nothing else, these commercial theme aggregation sites make for a good place to get inspiration or find out what the latest designs are from the commercial theme ecosystem surrounding WordPress. How many of you have actually used one of these sites to purchase a commercial theme?
By Jeffro on March 28, 2011
How many of you are familiar with the name, Thord Daniel Hedengren? Thord is a veteran member of the WordPress community and over the past few years, we’ve seen him develop and release free themes, write a couple of books about WordPress and generally, just be a well rounded individual when it comes to the software. Those of us in the U.S. may not know him that well thanks to his location. Hopefully, this interview changes that.
I’ve seen your name a number of times, especially during my short employment with Performancing.com. Can you give us a brief background as to who you are and where you call home?
Home is where I am at the moment, which means the French Alps as I’m writing this. Most of the time it is Stockholm (capital of Sweden, Land of Kings), so we could call that my home.
As for my background, well it started out with me not having enough money to print my magazine back in the 90s, so I figured I’d give this internet thing a go. I got started publishing sites (in Swedish) out of necessity, and from there on it became a slightly unhealthy obsession. I got tired of my Swedish website empire in 2005 and sold it off, started blogging about “new media” in English, and that kicked off a freelancing career, both as a writer for various blogs and online magazines and as a WordPress developer.
Basically, I do what I want to do, wherever I want to do it. Isn’t the internet wonderful?
What got you started and involved with theme creation with WordPress?
I went from developing my own publishing software with my friends, to embracing open source. It all started with forum software actually, and the realization that open source was really rewarding as a publisher. That made me look to platforms such as WordPress, and I actually converted a fairly large website to 1.5, tagging everything with the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin. It was pretty groundbreaking back then since the site wasn’t even remotely close to a blog.
Every platform and system I’ve learned over the years has come out of necessity. I’m curious by nature, that helps, but I never dive into anything just for making a profit as a consultant or something like that. Those things usually follow by themselves anyway.
What is the WordPress situation like in your part of the world? For example, do you have meetups local to your area?
It’s been slow going in Sweden actually, we had the first WordCamp in Stockholm last Autumn, hosted by yours truly obviously, at a museum which was pretty cool. There are some photos in the Flickr group if you’re interested. Before that there have been some local meetups and such, but usually when we meet it’s not WordPress only, so to speak. We do have the #wpbar events, which I founded along with some like minded enthusiasts and agencies, but that’s basically an excuse to get together, talk WordPress, and drink beer courtesy of sponsors.
It’s getting better though, with unconferences popping up everywhere, and WordPress as such have a really strong position in Sweden. Maybe that’s why there’s been a lack of dedicated events – it’s ever present anyway.
What are your thoughts on the state of themes in the WordPress ecosystem e.g. parent themes, frameworks, etc?
Well, first of all, branding a theme as a “framework” to me is nothing more than trying to ride the hype. Seriously, every theme is a possible framework the way these things work, surely more or less suited, but I find the term misleading. I do approve of the way themes are going though, being designed with enhancements and build-upons in mind from the start.
I think parent and child themes are great, and I hope that the wordpress.org theme directory will improve when it comes to listing these. It’s in the works already, and some child themes are listed (although they need to be branded more clearly) already, so I’m pretty happy with that.
What I’m less than thrilled about is the “premium” themes. First of all, I think the word “premium” is misleading, “commercial” is a way better choice, because there’s certainly nothing “premium” about a lot of the $69 themes. You wouldn’t believe how many emails I get each month asking me if I can help them fix this or that theme they bought. There are some truly excellent commercial themes out there, and I wish the theme designers all the best, but this part of the theme ecosystem doesn’t appeal to me at all.
Oh, and I hope the roll-out of commercial themes on wordpress.com will speed up, with some general submission process soon. This invite only structure leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but hopefully that’s just Automattic trying to make sure that everything works the way it should.
Finally, I’m a big believer that themes should be GPL, and luckily the community agrees with me, at least officially.
One of the first books you wrote and published was called Smashing WordPress – Beyond The Blog. Based on reports and feedback I read on Twitter, it was a smashing success. Can you tell us how the book came about and if it’s success will lead to a second edition?
Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, 2nd Edition will be published in April this year. There should be pre-orders and whatnot available on Amazon and other fine online retailers any day now. I’m really happy to have been able to do a second edition of the book, to WordPress 3.1 obviously but also because this one looks a lot better. As far as I know, Beyond the Blog was the first book in the Smashing book series, and the publisher have continued to improve the look and feel of the books.
Oh, and it’ll be in full color this time around as well, which I’m happy with. Especially since I knew it from the start, which I didn’t when I wrote the first book. That’s why we were so shy on images in Beyond the Blog – full color wasn’t on the table until the end of the production.
For more about my books, including the one I’m writing right now, check out http://tdh.me/books/ (shameless self promotion ends now).
As for how it came to be, I wrote a blog post about WordPress as a CMS, which got some nice links and buzz. A while later my publisher (Wiley) emailed and asked if I wanted to write a book, and I said sure, sent an outline, and that was it basically. A few contracts Fedexed over the world, a small (compared to the ones I’m getting now at least) advance, and a truly hectic period of writing later, I could sit back knowing that I’d written my first book in English.
Everything good that has happened to me in the last five years or so, professionally, have started with a blog post. That’s pretty cool.
As I understand your latest entry into the print world is a new book entitled Smashing WordPress Themes. Can you provide us with a basic overview of what’s covered in this book?
The idea with Smashing WordPress Themes: Making WordPress Beautiful is to teach the reader how to develop WordPress themes. As with Beyond the Blog, I’m starting at the basics, and build up with examples of sites you can do with WordPress, how you can solve the most common issues, and so on. Obviously the book covers things like template tags and conditional tags, but what I really think is the killer is how the reader can follow the development of several themes. My goal is to get the reader to understand the tools at hand, and I try to get the wheel’s spinning in his or her head. If the reader gets ideas for sites or themes when reading my Smashing WordPress books, I think I’ve succeeded.
The table of contents, along with some other info about the book, is available here: http://tdh.me/books/smashing-wordpress-themes-making-wordpress-beautiful/
If I were a beginner not only to using WordPress but also web development in general, do you think this book would be over my head?
It might be. I usually say that if you know a bit of HTML and CSS, maybe can grasp PHP, then you can learn working with WordPress from both my books. It’s more a matter of your understanding of scripting languages (of the simpler kind) than how green you are. This one’s a tough one, I won’t tell you what an HTML tag is for example, so basic knowledge of that is necessary.
The print world moves at the pace of a snail. While the book covers WordPress 3.0.1, is it still relevant with the release of WordPress 3.1?
Sure is. Thankfully, the step from 3.0 to 3.1 wasn’t huge. I still get happy emails about the first edition of Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, which definitely isn’t up to speed, so it’s not all about featuring the latest functions you can play with. Although that’s more fun, obviously.
But yeah, it’s frustrating, this dead trees business! This isn’t the point and shoot of the web after all, which sometimes is a good thing, but not without its drawbacks when it comes to tech books.
Last but not least, as a theme developer, I’ll provide you the opportunity to tell me what the future of themes are as we progress into 2011?
I’m afraid the future is more commercial themes and fewer truly great free themes. This makes me sad, actually, because I think it is hurting the WordPress platform. I hope that child themeing will take off since that could mean more options for end users. Other than that, we’ll get more settings, themes will get more advanced, and hence often less optimized. I know I come across as negative here, but these things concern me. Overall the theme ecosystem and the WordPress community is in great shape and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ll obviously do my part on the free front as well, with Notes Blog (http://notesblog.com) releases and minor stuff besides that. Hopefully others will do the same and we can get a healthy mixture of free and paid.
I’ll stay free, by the way. That’s my way of giving back to the community.
By Jeffro on March 26, 2011
In this episode of WordPress Weekly, we discussed a large number of topics considering it’s been awhile since the last episode. I give you the lowdown on Jetpack, a new plugin bundle released by Automattic. We also talked about the road map for WordPress 3.2. I give you a pet peeve of mine for an anti spam plugin and last but not least, I give you a plugin suggestion to take quick linking to previously written content to the next level. Thanks to everyone who showed up for today’s show.
This episode of WordPress Weekly is sponsored by no one in particular but you can change that for episode 111 by visiting WPTavern.com/advertising and purchase a sponsorship of 3 episodes of WordPress Weekly.
WPTavern Makes It Into The WordPress Dashboard
A Better Way To Link To Previous Content Via Insights
Fixing PressThis On A Host Gator Account
Pet Peeve – Akismet Configuration Link
Road Map For WordPress 3.2
Automattic Launches Jetpack
VideoPress Now Supports HTML 5 Video Playback
Next Episode: Saturday, April 2nd 3P.M. Eastern
Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe
Length Of Episode: 1 Hour 2 Minutes
Download The Show: WordPressWeeklyEpisode110.mp3
Listen To Episode #110:
By Jeffro on March 25, 2011
First, let me start off by saying hello to everyone who has arrived to this post via the dashboard of their WordPress installation. Secondly, I’d like to personally thank Matt Mullenweg for not only adding WPTavern to the Planet WordPress Feed but for adding WPCandy as well. It’s funny because I remember in 2009 when WPTavern was just getting started, I wrote an article explaining why this site would never make it into the dashboard. Needless to say, my attitude and the times have changed.
For those of you brand new to WPTavern.com, my name is Jeff Chandler and this is a site focused on all things WordPress. On top of that, we also cover BuddyPress, bbPress, any project under the Automattic umbrella. You can get a sense as to what this site is about via my About page but to make a long story short, this site exists as a place to find out what’s going on throughout the WordPress ecosystem. On this site, you’ll see interviews, links, quotes, and all sorts of content related to WordPress as well as Automattc. It’s a fan based website with no affiliation to WordPress or Automattic.
There are three things I encourage you to do. The first is to register an account with the WPTavern forum which is used for support and general conversations about all things WordPress all the time. The second is to check out the WordPress Weekly podcast which is something I’m trying to get back into producing on a regular basis.
Last but not least, the third thing I’d like you to do is introduce yourself to me.
By Jeffro on March 25, 2011
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen an upgrade notice for Gravity Forms but alas, 1.5 is here. This new version incorporates a ton of new features and enhancements. Among the new features are:
Multi-Page Forms – Using the new Page Break field you now have the ability split longer forms into multiple pages or steps. We have also integrated a visual paging status bar that can be used to show a progress bar or the steps involved in completing the form.
Pricing Fields – Pricing Fields allow you to create quotes and order forms. It features integrated pricing calculations and is compatible with the Gravity Forms PayPal Add-On. Pricing Fields consist of a Product Field, Option Field, Quantity Field, Shipping Field, Donation Field and Total Field. They allow you to easily turn your form into an order form and collect payments when combined with the PayPal Add-On.
Text Counter – A visual cue to show visitors the number of characters available for use on a text area.
CSS Ready Classes – Easily create multi-column layouts using built in CSS classes. These keywords are custom CSS classes you add to the CSS Class Name option under the Advanced tab for each field.
Default Notification – One of my favorite new additions will now automatically setup an admin notification that uses the WordPress Admin email as the Send To and includes all submitted form fields when a new form is created.
There are a couple of other things added as well but you can check those out on the spiffy new GravityForms Website. I’ve been using Gravity Forms on WPTavern.com to handle my contact form for a few months now and I’m happy to say that it’s some of the best money I’ve spent. While I only use it for a contact form, the UI enables me to quickly and easily create a post submission form or edit my existing forms. So far, I’ve yet to see an alternate form solution that’s as elegant and easy to use as Gravity Forms.
Kudos to the team on their newly designed website. One of the pain points regarding their old design was that it was difficult to locate the blog part of the site. Thankfully, they’ve fixed that by adding the blog link to the top of the new design.
By Jeffro on March 24, 2011
Over the past few days, I’ve had a couple of people ask me what plugins I use to accomplish my commenting system here on WPTavern.com. I’m not a fan of using a third party system so in no particular order, here are the plugins I use.
Akismet – I’ve had no problems with Akismet taking care of spam comments on this site.
Comment Quicktags Reloaded – This plugin provides the formatting buttons to the comment form.
Filosofo Comments Preview – This plugin enables a live preview of the comment before it’s published.
Subscribe To Comments – Enables users to checkmark a box to receive notifications of new comments
WP Ajax Edit Comments – This is one of my favorite plugins because it provides a very easy way for visitors to edit their own comments. It also has built in support for After The Deadline meaning commenters can spell check before submission. It’s a commercial plugin but well worth the price.
There is one particular feature of the WPTavern comment form that makes it a little unique. For each comment, there is a Reply link. When a visitor clicks this link, something like the following shows up: @Jeffro – The @ symbol as used by Twitter means you’re replying to someone specifically. The comment number is the unique comment ID and will link to the comment being replied to so the conversation is coherent. Last but not least the comment authors name is bolded.
I have Kaspars Dambis to thank for adding this functionality to the site which was originally part of the WP Comment Remix plugin that won the WeblogToolsCollection plugin competition in 2008.
Now here is where it gets tricky. This functionality is not part of a plugin but is code that has been added to my child themes functions.php file. I don’t know where you would add this code in your own theme to achieve the same functionality but if someone could use it as a starting point and create a plugin that just does this, that would be cool.