Yesterday’s Thoughts

August 29, 2007

Site Redesign

As part of a larger project to clarify all my various work and personal projects, I have redesigned this site. The redesign is not 100% complete but it is well over 90% so I’m turning it wild to see if anyone else turns up any problems.

What I did

I had been using standard WordPress themes, most recently Bosco 2.0 + Widgets. This was a fine theme, clearly organized and readable, but it was a black box that I never looked into. I needed to get a better understanding of my tools to handle some future projects that I am considering.

One of the tools that I was looking into was Instiki. While reading up on Instiki, I came across this post from Kevin Lawver on how he was using S5 with Instiki.

I loved the look of Kevin’s site (I also enjoyed reading some of his presentations on CSS) so I am giving him the sincerest form of flattery by imitating the general look of his site a WordPress theme.

I pulled my WordPress install over to my home machine and went to work. I created a new template, eventually called EarthSea, by copying the Bosco theme to a new directory. I used MAMP to run a local version of WordPress, CSSEdit to modify the CSS and TextMate to modify the php templates.

It was a really nice combination of tools. CSSEdit allowed me to modify the site CSS styles as I watched. I’d change the font and immediately see the change on my page. I could change the padding on a div by turning the mouse wheel and watching it grow or shrink.

I’m still not a fan of php. Speaking as someone who has used Perl professionally for 10 years, php looks like line noise to me, but it sure is easy poking around directly in the page source.

Also, as someone who has used Emacs for about 20 years, the adjustment to Textmate is slow. I love the look and feel of Textmate, but Emacs key bindings are stuck in my fingers.

I like the way the result looks. The design is much cleaner than any of my previous sites and I think it will be easier to manage and extend.

What next

There are some pages that are missing, mostly because they are placeholders for future work I am planning. I would also like a better version of the archive page and an automatically generated blogroll. I am currently using Google Reader, but I think I want more control than I can get from a simple automated tool.

I also want Atom 1.0 feeds, instead of the current 0.3 versions. The bottom of the sidebar is a little chaotic looking with both RSS 2.0 and Atom 0.3 feeds of both entries and comments. When I get Atom 1.0, I’ll clean that up and probably just move to autodiscovery.

In general, the future direction of this blog is going to be less focused on the technical themes that most interest me — calendars, synchronization, planning for small groups, ruby on rails, application servers — and more on the personal, family and political topics. I’ll still use this as a capture point for technical details that are of broader interest, but the big topics are moving from here and to my technical blog, Cornercases.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Kevin | Aug 29, 2007 | Reply

    Cool! I’ve been struggling with a redesign of my own…. glad my poor design skills could help someone out!

  2. Ray Baxter | Aug 31, 2007 | Reply

    Thanks again, Kevin.

    I liked the straight-forward clarity of your site, and I appreciate you putting it out there.

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