WordPress Themes, Open Mist, Freshy

ocean mist theme screenshotSo, here I am using WordPress instead of Drupal – and I’ve been busy making sure the old Drupal blog moved successfully to this and on a new server as well. There were all sorts of considerations, including how to keep the ‘googlejuice’ so that I didn’t disappear completely off the search engines.

However, the most important thing after the technical work is to get it looking right, right?

So I began trawling through the various themes available for WordPress. After several goes I settled on ‘Ocean Mist’ by Ed Merritt – a lovely theme and some nice touches to it. I particularly like the clean lines and the page listing in the sidebar. The use of a drop down menu for the archives is genius, too. However, it still wasn’t quite what I wanted – the ‘edit’ and ‘reply’ blocks seemed too, well… blocky. I also felt that there were some cleaner themes out there that weren’t quite so busy to look at. There were also a couple of bugs in the code that meant if you were not logged in and tried to leave a comment the sidebar would shift down below the main body content area – easily fixed once you have tracked down the offending <div> container in the comments.php file (It’s the last closing tag that needs to go down one line…)
I settled on another called ‘Freshy’. This one has some seriously cool features, including a dashboard configuration tab allowing you to set the look and feel to a number of different parameters – change the header image, change the nav bar colour scheme and so on. I also prefer the additional white space and the way tags like <pre> are dealt with… nice table listings which is important if you are copying out lines of code, for example.

Ocean Mist has been updated to version 1.1 and I ought to give that a go as well – I did try, but there were some problems getting it to run. I couldn’t face working my way through the code again, but I may look at doing so in the near future.

Ocean Mist certainly has some very good qualities, but needs a few finishing touches. Ed Merritt seems to have a winning theme there, and I’d love to see it further developed.

Single Category RSS feed in WordPress

rssiconSo now having installed WordPress, it turns out that it is infinitely customisable! Oh joy… more to learn about!

The task was to be able to build a single category RSS feed that people can subscribe to if they so chose, rather than have to subscribe to all categories, or all comments. In the theme I am using the sidebar holds the category list and it was here that the code had to go.

The issue was to find the category ID and the category name and only show the link to the RSS *if* the user had opted to view all posts in a single category.

It turns out that WordPress has done most of the hard work for us, in that the functions to get the ID and name are already created. All that had to happen was to find those arguments, wrap them in an ‘If’ tag and post them to the sidebar. Once again, some gentle reading of the Woprdpress documentation got me half way there and able to manually write the code for each category… but it needed automating. And once more, Alex Blanc stepped up to the plate…

To cut a very long story short, here’s the code, entered as a list item in the sidebar.php file for the theme:

<?php if (get_query_var('cat')) { ?>
<a xhref="/wp-rss2.php?cat=<?php echo get_query_var('cat'); ?>"><?php echo single_cat_title(); ?> (RSS)</a>
<?php } ?>

This then writes the title of the category in the sidebar as an RSS link, and ensures that only that category’s posts are included in that particular feed. You can see from the code that the link is using RSS2, so you can probably amend this to be any other flavour of feed that you wish.

Moving from Drupal to WordPress

After struggling for quite a while to get Drupal upgraded to a later version I simply gave up. Sad really, as I quite liked using Drupal.

However, with some help from Alex Blanc who found the necessary scripts, I migrated from Drupal to WordPress. It wasn’t pain free, but it was straightforward enough, thank goodness.

Now, as soon as I can get all of the user details into the WordPress database then all of you who had signed up to my Drupal site should also find yourselves signed up here. What I now need to do is move the files over that I was referencing, build a couple of pages to allow them to be downloaded and finally bring in the missing images…

Hopefully it will be done before Christmas 06!

Spammers are winning

OK – a sad day. I had well over 70 spam comments put on the blog in the last 24 hours. This is probably linked to the fact that the server was hacked recently by some muppet trying to offer ringtones for download. What I am getting is an immense amount of ring tone based comments.

Every day I pretty much go into the Drupal database and delete the spam comments, but today was a hefty job to do.

Sadly then, in order to post comments, I think you’ll have to register an account. I didn’t want to do this, but I really can’t see a way around it at the moment. perhaps when the blog gets moved to a new server I can implement a better way, but moving a blog is no simple matter… for a start there is the whole issue of ‘googlejuice’ to consider. Many of my pages are linked by the server address and not the framed web URL address… which means that if I move, links that others have bookmarked will not work, Google will have to re-trawl the site and instead of appearing in the top ten for searches I’ll probably be back right at the bottom. Sigh.

If you are a spammer, or have ever been one, then congratulations. You bottom dwelling pond scum are wrecking the internet for the rest of us.

Changing Blog Software, alternatives to Drupal, Drupal to WordPress

OK – this blog runs in Drupal. It’s a reasonably old version of Drupal, and needs upgrading to allow spam filters and other features to be added in.

However, the recent server down time has thrown up a new question… should it stay in Drupal?

What alternatives are there and how easy is it to move from Drupal to a different blog software?

I’ll be looking at alternatives over the next month or so, but any suggestions or comments to get me heading along the right track are warmly welcomed. I’ll start off by looking at WordPress… anyone seen any Drupal to WordPress conversions?