Playing with SEB’s templates.

No, not on the live site. I’ve set up a test blog with some old SEB content in it and I’ve been working on porting the old template over from ExpressionEngine. So far I’ve got it working pretty well albeit with some differences between them, but it’s still not quite ready for prime time.

The good news is that I’ve learned a helluva lot about how WP handles themes and it’s not quite as horrible as I first thought. The documentation I’ve found out there is for shit, the WP Codex is a pain in the ass to wade through, but by looking at the original WP default theme I’ve been able to piece together the basics and get it working. I do have to say that WP’s templating system is more powerful, if somewhat more confusing, than it first appears to be. The fact that you can make a Child Template, which uses a pre-existing template and just replaces the bits you want to replace, is amazingly powerful and allows for Theme Frameworks to be developed.

The bad news is that I’ve learned just how shitty a web designer I am. The old SEB templates were a hack job when I made them and they only get worse when I re-hack them to work in WP. Both the index and comment pages are working so far even if they are a tad uglier than before, but I’m sure I’m missing some of the hooks that would make integrating some plugins easier. It’s a lot of work and it makes me wonder if I shouldn’t just figure out how to do a proper Child Theme or make use of one of the frameworks already out for WP.

Either way, I won’t be sticking with the Atahualpa theme we’re using right now. Despite how customizable it is it has some serious quirks that I’m not happy with. For example it makes its own custom fields on every entry containing the title for single pages, multi-post pages, and meta information. It does this for reasons I cannot fathom and it does not like it when I use double quotes in titles as a result. I also think it may be interfering with the operation of the various Twitter plugins I’ve been trying to use. Lastly there’s no easy way to add comment previews in with the template as it stands. So despite how flexible it is, it has to go.

I’ve played around with the Sandbox, Thematic, and Hybrid frameworks, but the documentation for them is, again, sadly lacking. Figuring out how to change them so they look like SEB’s old theme has not gone well, but if I keep plugging at it I may be able to come up with something that works. With any luck I’ll figure out which way I’m going to go — do it all myself or make use of a framework — soon and get something a little more familiar back in place before too long.

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