Home > BlogTech > Tweaking, Part II

Tweaking, Part II

May 18th, 2009

Well, I broke down and spent four or five hours doing that blog-theme makeover. You probably noticed that things look a LOT different now.

What’s involved is kind of… well, involved. I don’t just want anyone’s theme, I want my own theme–but I cannot even come close to writing a whole theme by myself. So I have to find a free theme which I can then re-work to be my own theme–with my own background images, separators, styles and all. That I can do. But since nobody has anything very close to the style I like, I have to choose a theme which looks even moderately compatible, and then go into the CSS stylesheet (as well as some of the PHP templates), and change everything to what I want.

For example, most blogs have big blank areas on the sides to account for varying screen sizes; it’s easier to maintain formatting when your widths are strictly set, but it wastes tons of space on larger screens. I like to have my content fill out the screen dynamically. That involves finding the main and sidebar sections, setting them to just the right proportions, and then dealing with a half-dozen faults that suddenly appear because the theme’s designer did not intend for the sections to be variable-width. Blank areas appear in the background image in many spots, and I have to leaf through hundreds of style variables to figure out exactly which ones ore the culprits.

And that’s just the beginning. I won’t bore you with the details, but there’s a lot–getting images right, setting margins and padding, getting fonts the way you want them–everything has to be tweaked just right so it fits together more or less seamlessly.

Two major notes: First, you may notice it’s not finished. That’s what happens when you start late in the evening. It’s 3 am and I’ll deal with the minor stuff later.

Second: the blog WORKS again! The Eyelid Twitching post is back up and running, for one thing. But other stuff is much better, like category notations no longer end with a comma, and I imagine that the comments and the moderation notice for them will actually work now.

The reason for this is that the last time I chose a theme to work off of, I unfortunately chose a really bad one, one which had bad coding which broke lots of stuff. The author even built in a message that would display to Internet Explorer users but no one else, and did not give warning on the materials that such a message would be displayed. However, I did not realize this until well after I had spent six or eight hours tweaking it–after which I did not feel like going through all that again. After that, it was a case of “I’ll get to it eventually.”

So I would like to thank everyone for being so patient over the past 18 months or so, putting up with the buggy software. The new theme (iNove) seems well-built, is aware of the latest WordPress build and of CSS3, and from what I can tell is doing a great job holding this old blog up. It’s one of the most-used themes, which speaks well for it.

If you see any problems (aside from the glaring graphic glitches, like the green icons in the sidebar hiding behind text, or corners of rounded graphics not fitting right), please let me know. Especially when it comes to functional elements, like comments and notices. The graphic stuff I’ll clean up in the next day or two.


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    May 18th, 2009 at 15:45 | #1

    I had some problems entering your blog this morning: I almost give up! It could be a one off thing though and have nothing to do with your make over.

  2. Luis
    May 18th, 2009 at 17:38 | #2

    Yes, that was a web hosting problem. Their database software got screwed up and it broke the site, possibly for a few hours. When I woke up I sent in a help desk request and they fixed it in about 10 or 20 minutes. Nothing to do with the blog redesign, just a coincidence. But thanks for the heads up!

    May 18th, 2009 at 18:34 | #3

    Glad to hear that: I could enter now without any problem.

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