In the four and a half years since I started blogging, the tools available for that futile exercise have dramatically improved. After a few months experimenting with other blogging platforms, mostly of the hosted variety, I settled with WordPress in early 2006 and have never had any reason to regret that choice. It’s the most powerful, flexible tool by far and because of its popularity, available tools to customize it are almost endless.
The main gripe I had until now was the relative ugliness—in my fastidious eyes—of the WordPress off-the-peg themes: the fact is that the vast majority of humankind, including bloggers, don’t have the same tastes as I have. I didn’t know anything at all about CSS, PHP or HTML back then, so I had to ask developers to help me design several themes. In the process, I gradually learnt enough to start writing my own code. So, since I was getting bored with the theme I had been using since mid-2008, a heavily-modified variation of the very astute Derek Punsalan’s remarkable UnStandard theme, I decided the time had come to create a theme from scratch, which took me about three days and which I enjoyed a lot. I started from a stripped-down version of the WordPress template structure with everything removed (literally no CSS!) except the essentials, a rather neat idea of Dan Philibin: his blank WordPress theme is the best of those that I have seen when I was looking for one.
Rather than my traditional combination of TextMate [i] and CSSEdit, I decided to use Coda, which I had played around with when it first came out in 2007 but hadn’t liked back then. The current version is much improved, though still has the occasional bugs, and a lively community of developers have started writing plugins for it, which is always a sign that an application has reached maturity.
I wanted the new site to be less of a blog and more of somewhere where I could share all my more important online activity, meaning mainly Flickr and Twitter in addition to the blog, since Facebook is a place where I only befriend people I know in real life. While the previous version was already a step in that direction, I’ve now gone further and switched to a static front page, which is something WordPress can handle gracefully without ceasing in any way to be a blog.
I’ve tried to work hard on the details, such as providing better search results, a reasonably explicit 404 page, coding menus and sidebars so that they adjust on-the-fly depending on the page displayed, etc. Because the CSS, PHP and HTML are much lighter than on my previous site, this version should also load faster. Such is the advantage of minimalism.
I promise to try and keep up with posting more regularly, which is something I have been saying for four years of periodic non-blogging rut phases. But you can always add me on Twitter if you crave for more frequent news._______________
- rather irritatingly, TextMate hasn’t seen an update in the past two years, though. [↩]