Preparing for a long-time-coming upgrade

After squashing a showstopping bug, I’m finally ready to upgrade my theme to the newest version and hopefully jump start its development, on my own if necessary.

The Keyboard Parade
Image by theopie via Flickr

I’m finally preparing to upgrade my theme to the latest version (ie the next part in my ongoing attempts to upgrade) as I really should finally start using wordpress widgets. Unfortunately the theme seems to be unmaintained at the moment and the author MIA since April this year. Also the theme still hasn’t been moved to the shiny new official WordPress repository which tells me that Nalin must have lost all interest in it.

Hopefully I’m wrong. I’ve sent him an email and left a forum post asking to add to the repository and allow me to pickup the maintenance if he’s not interested anymore. If he doesn’t come back to me, I’ll unfortunately have to fork it in order to make it compatible with newer version of WordPress and to merge the changes I’ve made into it for others to use. We’ll see.

Some of the things I’m planning to add/modify are

  • Support for the new way of styling so that it works properly with Zemanta and builtin alignments.
  • Option to enable drop-down menus for the header (as you see above) through suckerfish and possibly superfish in the future.
  • More options to tweak.
  • Widgetize the single-post sidebar to allow some content in the generally empty area on the left.
  • Hardcoded support for the various plugins I’m currently using. So for example, if you install emo-vote, there code will already be in your theme to activate it but nothing will be visible if the plugin is missing. I will probably add support for tweaking these plugins in the options page as well.

And that’s for starters. Fortunately I see that the community around this theme is still alive so I’m guessing I’ll be getting more ideas for addition from there as well.

I’m still running my old theme since I managed to debug the suckerfish issue a few minutes before I left for work today, but now that my biggest hurdle is resolved, I’ll soon my changing into “fresh clothes” so to speak.

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Theme Upgrade Fail

I never understand why upgrading to the newer HemingwayEx is such a hassle. This is the second time I’ve attempted it now (once more on 1.0) and I just now gave up.

What is happening is that I get the theme to work, I can change the colours just fine and switch to finally using widgets, but for some reason I can’t get the suckerfish dropdown to work and I keep running into various other problems (like my gallery losing its theme etc).

It wouldn’t be such a great problem if I knew where to start but what is happening is making me scratch my head. Specifically, even drop-downs start to work once I put the code in, they get hidden behind the background. That is, I can see the dropdown menu appearing (the top of it) but its somehow placed behind the main content and even expanding the navigation does not make it appear. Grrr

Anyway, it’s too much bother to figure out what is causing this so I’ll stay with my current version which still seems to be working fine. I will however attempt to widgetize it and perhaps upload it as a different version from HemingwayEx. I’ve aready created a sourceforge page for it (waiting approval still) and then possibly more people might be willing to help.

It only annoys me that I spent so much time on it and I still couldn’t get it to work as the current version.

FSDaily Sidebar

It was proposed to me by a member of FSDaily to add their new sidebar to my site. Apparently a few of my posts have hit their front page and that drew their attention 🙂

In case you don’t know what FSDaily is, it’s a nice digg-clone which focuses on free software issues. A good alternative since now that digg is heavily sponsored by Microsoft there are fears of conflict of interests (and also digg has become way-way to popular imho).

So I said, why the hell not and dived in. I didn’t want to put it in my horizontal sidebars above and below but thought that this might be the perfect candidate to fill up my empty sidebar on single posts. Unfortunately the way the theme is formatted, it means that when I write something long, there is nothing to see on the left other than the initial information above. I was thinking of a way to fill this and as luck would have it, I got this proposal.

I think I will create special page template that I will use for short posts and in there I will not put anything in the sidebar. However on longer posts it would be worth filling that lonely and empty part with something. Perhaps I should diversify even more and create different page templates for different content. For example, on pages where I talk about religion, I could put the atheist blogroll, and on the ones I talk about Free Software, I can have the FSD along with other related stuff.

Still, I will need to ponder on this. The best thing to do would be to widgetize my single-post sidebar and have it easily updated. I just need to figure out how to widgetize.

Oh, well. Tell me what you think 😉

PS: It is ironic that, had I left this post in the original version, you would not not able to see the sidebar on this page. This is because I’ve recently modified my theme (I’ll write about it later) to dynamically expand the sidebar items depending on the word count of the current post. Unfortunately since this was a really short post and in order to see the FSD item you need at least 400 words, it stayed invisible. My solution? Write this post script 😉 . As a matter of fact, I needed a post script with at least a 100 extra words which easily makes this the largest one I’ve ever written 😀