I Love You WordPress, But We Gotta Talk
WordPress is a phenomenal web-publishing platform, and I love using it. Mostly. There’s one thing I seriously dislike about it though – writing posts within the WordPress dashboard. If I had a dime for every time I’ve walked away from my computer feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by this issue, there’d be an alarming shortage of dimes circulating the U.S.
First off, when I try to write something in the WordPress post editor, I feel thoroughly confined; like trying to breakdance inside a cardboard box. Not that I’ve done much breakdancing, and certainly never inside a box, but I assume it would be a rather unpleasant experience (if you happen to be a cardboard-box-breakdancer, feel free to debunk my assumption).
The other problem for me is distraction. It’s usually a challenge for me to write under the best of circumstances, but when my visual field is bombarded by the dizzying array of links, buttons, checkboxes and empty fields available in the WP dashboard, it’s like … fuhgeddaboudit.
Yes, I’ve tried some of the common tricks to overcome these problems. First, for example, I increased the height of the post box from the default 10 lines to 20 lines. You can do this in your WP dashboard under Settings >> Writing. It was a good start, but still far from optimal; just breakdancing in a slightly bigger box.
Then I tried using fullscreen mode when writing posts. This function is available only when writing in Visual mode (rather than HTML mode). It’s activated via the little, blue button on the toolbar next to the spellcheck button. With fullscreen mode, your enlarge the post editor box to cover the entire area of your screen.
That was a better approach, but it went too far in the other direction. I can’t stand to see text spread across the full width of my screen. The other problem with fullscreen mode is you have to switch back to normal editing mode whenever you want to save your draft, which I do a lot.
Windows Live Writer to the Rescue
In my effort to find a better way, I asked almighty Google to give me a solution, and of course she did (with a memory like that, Google has to be a woman). Of all the reviews and tutorials I found on the subject of “desktop blog editors, Windows Live Writer, again and again, was pronounced the cream of the crop. Here are some of the reasons why:
- It’s free.
- Easy to install and set-up.
- Allows you to manage multiple blogs on multiple platforms (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc).
- Clean, uncluttered interface.
- Complete WYSIWYG editing functionality.
- Excellent image editing functionality.
- Several cool, little extras like word count and spell check.
That’s a short list, and I also decided to do a brief screencast below to show you a bit more about it. Once you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’d suggest you run right over, download Windows
Love Live Writer, and start using it. I’m sure it’ll give you a new lease on your blogging life. It has for me.
WP-DaVinci is out latest offering to the premium WordPress themes world, and although it may not appear so on the surface, it’s far beyond anything we’ve put out in the past. WP-Davinci is our first attempt at creating a WordPress theme framework.
A theme framework is similar to a standard WordPress theme, except a framework is designed to be a flexible foundation to speed up theme development. It also makes it easier to update your theme whenever the need arises, such as when a core WordPress update impacts theme functionality. With a framework, updates can be done without messing up any custom modifications you may have made to the theme.
As I said, this is our first attempt at a theme framework, and we’re clear we have some work to do before WP-DaVinci can be considered a full-fledged theme framework. In the meantime, we want to get it into the hands of folks like you, and get some feedback on it as we continue to develop it over the coming months.
As it stands right now, what you have is a simple and elegant premium WordPress theme designed with efficiency and flexibility in mind. We’ve built in a few more options beyond what’s been offered in our previous themes, and here are some of the high points:
Multiple Page Layouts
If you take a look at the demo site, you’ll see there are 7 different page layouts, including 2-column, 3-column and full-width layouts. An added twist is that you can select your page layout site-wide via the theme settings page, or you can select it on a per-post or per-page basis from a drop-down box on the Add Post/Add Page console.
Featured Content Options
We’ve given you 3 different featured content options; a Featured Article slider, a Featured Videos slider and a Photo Galleries slider. You can add any or all the featured content to you home page (as shown on demo site), and you can also add it to an individual page or post via the Add Post/Add Page screen.
Banner Ad Integration and Management
There are several built-in banner ad sections that can be managed via the theme settings page. You can also manage the various ads on the Add Post/Add Page screen. That way, if you want a specific advertisement (different than the one set on your theme settings page) to appear on a specific post or page, you can simply add your banner ad code on the Add Post/Add Page screen when you create the post/page.
Yes, the standard Solostream theme settings page was due for a face-lift, and we gave it one. The new theme settings page is created with a jQuery tabbed navigation script to help shorten the height of the page, and it looks a whole lot prettier too (click the thumbnail to the right to get a shot of it).
Four Built-in Styles and Style Modifications via Theme Settings Page
You can see the four different built-in style on the demo site. In addition to that, on the theme settings page, you’re able to modify the look of the theme yourself. In particular, you can change the following items:
- Body background (color or image)
- Body font and link color
- Custom logo
- Navigation bars background color and link color
- Post title font and link color
That’s a brief rundown. Now head on over to the demo site and take a look for yourself. We hope you like it.
Lately, more and more people are asking us how to translate a WordPress theme into a language other than English. And with an estimated 2 billion people now online, it’s no wonder. Fortunately, it’s a fairly straightforward process, and I’ve boiled it down into 3 simple steps.
This tutorial assumes the WordPress theme to be translated has been localized using the the GNU gettext framework. In other words, the theme is ready to be translated. If your theme has not been localized, you’ll need to go through each theme file and convert all English language text into a gettext function. See here for a short description on how to do that.
All Solostream premium WordPress themes now use the Custom Menu Management function that shipped with WordPress 3.0. If you don’t have the latest version of your theme, you can download the necessary files from the Members Area (you’ll have to log in to access the files for download).
I also did a short screencast (below) to show you how the menu management system works. It’s fairly intuitive, but I’ve already had a few questions on it, so here ya go.
Why you should upgrade to WordPress 3.0 – In a word, security. The added functionality in WP 3.0 is great, but some people are happy with their current version of WP and prefer not to upgrade. It’s fine if you don’t upgrade, but it leaves you at greater risk of having your site get hacked. And I can tell you from experience, it’s no fun when your WordPress site gets hacked. So, for that reason, you should always run the most recent version of WordPress on your sites.
Now, here’s the tutorial I promised …
PART III: Plugins to Make Your Life Easier
Below is a list of plugins that I have used to harden WordPress (and make my life easier). In no particular order, they are:
WP Security Scan – Scans your WordPress installation for security vulnerabilities and suggests corrective actions.
2. file permissions
3. database security
4. version hiding
5. WordPress admin protection/security
6. removes WP Generator META tag from core code
PART II: Database Modification and WP Admin
If you’re reading this, I can empathize. It’s really a downer when you’ve realized that your database has been compromised, but hopefully we can get things working right again.
PART I: Introduction and Housecleaning
It’s no fun when your WordPress site gets hacked. I had a first-hand experience the other day when I was told by my brother that it happened to his site. After being able to successfully get it up and running again, I’d like to now share some helpful information and a step-by-step guide with all of you.
With most WordPress themes, your site navigation menu is based on your pages. For each page, a link is created in the navigation menu, and the link text is based on the title you choose for the page. This method of creating a site navigation menu is inferior for many reasons, some of which are these:
In Top WordPress Plugins for 2010 (Part One), I offered five of the best WordPress plugins I think are must-haves for your site. Lets move on to part two for five more of my favorite WordPress plugins.
6. Improve Search Engine Rankings with All-in-One SEO
By default, WordPress is a very search-engine-friendly publishing platform. Likewise, so are most WordPress themes. Whenever we develop a new theme here at Solostream, SEO is a key factor in deciding how it’s put together. Still, you can never have enough SEO for your site, and the All-in-One SEO plugin offers a set of features that can take your SEO to the next level.