January WordPress Codery

During January, WordPress is running a Bloganuary theme. The idea is that, to get people blogging again, WordPress will send out a prompt that people are to write a post about that day, and they’re supposed to use the prompt and the bloganuary tag.

I signed up for this, but the first week of January was also my deadline week at Diamond, so time, energy, and mental space were at a premium. I didn’t keep up with it, meaning to come back to it. Then, over the weekend I didn’t feel well, partly from the week’s deadline pressures, partly for other reasons.

My left ankle is feeling a little bit better today. It’s a bit more mobile than it was, it’s not as stiff, it’s easier to stand, walking doesn’t completely make me want to scream out in pain. I should be fine by the weekend.

Note to self: Be sure to hydrate, to the edge of excess, on deadline weeks!

I spent my weekend’s WordPress time under the hood, so to speak.

For the past several years, I’ve been using the Shoreditch theme, which originally released in 2016. (Here’s the announcement post.) I made a light child theme for it that gave it more of a magazine-style presentation on the front page, but otherwise left it alone.

From time to time I’d think about changing, look at themes to get ideas, maybe play with code for a day or two, then I wouldn’t. There wasn’t anything wrong with what I had. It wasn’t flashy. It did what I wanted.

Over the weekend I decided to see about doing at least a little refresh.

A series of themes, all based on a theme called Varia, were released in 2019. These themes were made to be Gutenberg-ready — in other words, ready for the WordPress block editor — which Shoreditch was not. These themes don’t really exist outside of WordPress.com; none of these, not even the Varia base theme, have ever been released for self-hosted WordPress sites. They’re available from Automattic’s GitHub, but they won’t really be found otherwise.

Still, from time to time I’d take a look at them. I thought Stratford was promising. It wasn’t that different than what I had. Similar look and feel. And what I noticed was, under the hood, the code was very similar. My main concern about moving was rebuilding my old page templates, but the code was basically the same — the template tags were consistent, the structure was consistent. It took a little bit of work, maybe an hour, to get my front-page template for Shoreditch to work with Stratford.

But then, I thought, since Stratford is a child theme of Varia, then the same thing should work with the other Varia child themes, of which there’s like twenty. And perhaps I’d like the look of one of those twenty better.

So, I took some time, went through them all, and gravitated towards Alves, named, presumably, for Alves, a village in Scotland.

I spent about six hours working on code and files, doing some unusual things along the way, breaking things pretty badly. The result is basically what I had before, but a little newer underneath. Most people might not even notice.

I might not be done, though. I’m working on a new front page. It’s coming along well, and if I like it I might roll it out.

Or I might not. It’s not uncommon for me to work on a WordPress project, finish, and change my mind.

I’m not sure if that crazy idea worked yet, though. I’ll have to finish first and test it. In principle, it should work. It’s not so much crazy, though, as it’s old. The Spider-Man themes kinda gave me the idea.

January just seems to be when I work on coding projects, though the last two years it was eBooks rather than websites. (eBooks are just webpages packed in a container.) Two years ago, I worked on The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes (which I am still very proud of, even if no one will see it), and last year I worked on something else. The month’s not young any more, but there’s still time to work on a new eBook project.


A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh is now public domain in the United States, and this delightful bit of whimsey appeared on Twitter over the weekend:


Don’t let the inviting image up top tempt you; it was actually pretty cold today. I think the high temperature here was twenty degrees today. I poured out some water on the concrete outside my apartment and it was frozen in mere moments. Oops!

Published by Allyn Gibson

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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