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Two Months…

It's such a relief to have fixed something that has been bothering me for like three weeks. I can get very, very anal retentive and obsessive compulsive about certain things and this styling issue was seriously driving me mad...

So, two months ago today, I essentially launched this website. After years of saying I was going to do it, only to lose interest and move onto something else, I actually followed through with this project. Um, go me or something.

In the last two months, I have gone from basically knowing nothing about WordPress from a backend level (the last time I even test installed it was like pre 1.5), to being able to successfully help other people use it. I’m by no means a WordPress Rockstar, but for two months I think I should at least get to open for a band that’s kind of popular. Truth be told, I’m writing that out to kind of reassure myself because when I get frustrated when I struggle with getting something to work the way I want it to work, I really don’t think in terms of, “you’ve used this system for two months total” — I guess because I’m usually a fast learner and because I have certain expectations of myself to become proficient very, very quickly. Especially if it has anything to do with technology.

Anyhoo, it is fitting that today is the two-month anniversary of my site because I just solved two styling issues that were bugging the bejesus out of me. Ever since I updated my theme, I’ve had an issue with the styling of my blogroll. To be clear, this is NOT Chris Murphy’s fault — in actuality, the pretty link only scheme with a CSS description tag would be more than suitable, except for one thing: Safari has issues with displaying certain types of tooltips and I don’t know or care to know enough about how it works to try to fix it. Plus, I kind of like having the descriptions on my blog roll itself.

See, basically what happened, from what I can tell, is that when WordPress moved to 2.3, they deprecated the old blogroll linking system. So when Chris updated his theme, he changed the mechanism of calling up the link list to reflect that. Unfortunately, one of the issues with the new link system is that if you want to style an image and a description in the same “linked” state — it like doesn’t work. So getting my blog roll to look the same as my “recent comments” and “recent posts” boxes was pretty much driving me insane.

In the wee hours of the morning, after tearing my hair out, I was finally able to get it looking like I want it to look. It doesn’t look identical to the other sidebar modules — again, WordPress makes that kind of impossible — but it looks close enough and it is infinitely better than what it was before.

I’ve also restyled the CSS for my Twitter plugin and again, it might not be perfect yet, but it is significantly better than it was before and I actually like it better than any of my other attempts at styling.

Oh — I feel I should post an update to my spam-plugin woes: Akismet was updated and the update seemed to fix the whole, “we’ll auto-delete your comment tables without even asking” bug. I briefly switched back to Akismet because Defensio’s accuracy rate is not completely reliable, but then Defensio updated, so I switched back again. I’d be willing to just use Akismet because I do think it is more accurate, I just don’t feel like I can trust it not to delete my comments or prevent them from being viewed in the Dashboard.

And finally, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit this site in the last two months and for all your comments and e-mails. The fact that people willingly subscribe to my RSS feed or regularly visit my site still kind of blows my mind, and I thank you for visiting my tiny corner of the web.

Out!

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7 people have left comments

Sean - Gravatar

Sean said:

Yes I feel your pain! I inherited some very very broken CSS when I found my theme and it took a while to get it right. Not to mention the trouble of dealing with various plug-in authors’ own CSS schemes that you have to backward-engineer into the theme. My biggest issue with my current theme is the fact that it uses CSS and tables together; I’ve been trying to get away from tables all together when it comes to layout. What issue are you having with the blogroll sidebar issue (you mention “it’s impossible the way word press works” or something to that effect)? You can always dig into WP source and make it work the way you want if you don’t like it. I had to do that on a couple of occasions, which is why I still have much trepidation to complete the WP upgrade to 2.3.3 (though I went in an manually patched the security holes). Let me know what you don’t like about your blogroll and what you want it to do and perhaps I can cook something up!

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 4:53 pmQuote this Comment
Christina - Gravatar

Christina said:

Sean, Thanks for your offer — I’m actually pretty content with how the blogroll looks now (finally), but here was my basic issue: I wanted to use the same hover affect and CSS styling that I’m using for “recent comments” and “recent posts”, however implementing that would probably require me to actually alter the core WP code, and I’d just rather not go there. The central problem is that when WordPress deprecated get_links_list and replaced it with wp_list_bookmarks, some of the styling behavior changed. Specifically, having both an image and a description appear together is impossible without hacking the core files — which ruins a big part of my whole hover-over effect (because it is an image in the CSS tag). I could ultimately deal with that, but the big thing is that applying a link to the description and the title seems to require something more than I’m willing to dedicate, thus I had to create a new listing class for bookmarks and tweak it so that the CSS would look appropriate. It took reading through the Codex, old forum posts and antiquated documentation (that’s WordPress’s biggest flaw, I know it is Open Source, but the documentation, especially for deprecated and replaced changes are hard to come by and the old stuff is usually mixed in without being cited as incorrect as of version whatever) to figure this out and although I think that if I independently declared some parameters in the PHP using get_bookmarks, I could achieve the styling I want (because those parameters could then correspond to an existing listing class in the CSS), I’m a little too new to WP to really feel confident in pulling it off effectively.

Plus I solved the problem, and I’m happy with it.

But major word for the styling issues with plugins — and that’s without even discussing widgets. The them I’m using isn’t widget compatible out of the box, though I have figured out how to make it so, but it isn’t worth doing that because I have to custom style all the CSS anyway so I might as well just make my own PHP wrapper.

Have you tried just updating WordPress using SVN? That would absolve a lot of the upgrade trepidation stuff — but from what I could tell, only 3 files were changed in WP 3.3 anyway, the xmlrpc file and two other things. 2.5 will be out soon enough, and that’ll be the time to bite the bullet.

Interesting that your theme is using tables and CSS — yeesh. I actually almost used that theme (that theme designer does some really attractive work) before I discovered Chris’s awesome Lemon Twist and decided to modify the colors.

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:05 pmQuote this Comment
Jay - Gravatar

Jay said:

Well, for just 2 months you’ve covered a lot of ground. 🙂

I took your twittered advice on the paste from YouTube and it turns out… it works. Heh. What tripped me up was when I went back and edited posts and the xhtml filters or some other gremlin altered my post entry input.

Now I’m looking at the different ways to push a post directly and not involve the WordPress native non-plugin-ed Write editor. I’m guessing your using a client or a plug-in for writing posts?

I tend to be a “watch and wonder how someone did that” kinda WordPress user.

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:18 pmQuote this Comment
Christina - Gravatar

Christina said:

Jay, There is some sort of MAJOR bug in WordPress that is totally fucking up any editing you do do via the WordPress Write menu in Firefox and Safari on the Mac (Safari gets the worst of it) and in IE 7 on Windows. Something happened and the line breaks and other stuff, it just started recently, but it’s further proof that the WordPress web write tool is total shit.

MarsEdit is really, really great for Mac and Windows Live Writer is actually a good program for Windows.

Glad the YouTube thing was able to embed — aggravating that editing via the Dashboard screws stuff up,

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:23 pmQuote this Comment
Sean - Gravatar

Sean said:

Jay,

The way to get around the YouTube embedding problem temporarily anyway is to simply disable the rich text editor under “My Profile -> Use the visual editor when writing.” Then you can go and get everything just the way you want it; I struggled with getting the embedded code to live within a div tag until I did that. Save it and never ever look at it again unless you have the text editor disabled; it will fuck up the code again!

Posted on: February 26, 2008 at 6:41 pmQuote this Comment
Jay - Gravatar

Jay said:

Christina and Sean: Thanks for the validation and confirmation. I’m going to just suck it up and drop the WP web interface for posting unless I am completely desperate.

Posted on: February 27, 2008 at 3:56 pmQuote this Comment
Stephen Ristich - Gravatar

Stephen Ristich said:

Hey you! Been a damn long time…things look like they’re going well for you. I’m very happy to know that 🙂 So, I need to amalgamate my blogs into one service and not feeling like paying for my own domain, so I need one that will host. Do I go with Blogger or WordPress?

Oh, and you seriously need to spam my facebook wall…it gets lonely.

Posted on: March 28, 2008 at 9:10 pmQuote this Comment