On Tweaking Hemingway

My experiment with Hemingway continues!

The Hemingway theme has a couple of interesting things going for it.

Number one, it’s not under any sort of active development. The latest version — 0.19 — was released nearly twenty-four months ago.

Number two, there’s absolutely no support for it. The download page has dead links to support fora.

So, if you’re going to play with Hemingway, you’re on your own. 🙂

And what can I say? I’m a compulsive tinkerer. It’s like at work when I decided I’d write one little Word macro to make one part of my job a little easier. That went so well, I wrote another. And another. Then I had a whole library of macros. And then I started rewriting older macros because I thought the code was garish. I haven’t written a macro in at least two months; I can’t think of anything I really need to macro-ize at the moment. Yet, I still feel the itch to tinker.

I’d added “Previous Post” and “Next Post” links to internal content pages. If you’re looking at an individual post, and you want to see what I wrote previously or next, there on the side are links. And I’d also added “Related Posts” — if you’re reading about Captain Jack Harkness, maybe you’d like to read other things I’d written about Captain Jack Harkness.

I took this another step. I’ve added a “Random Posts” link. Because I’m a random person. 🙂

I don’t know that the “Random Posts” link will get much use, but maybe someone will think to themselves, “Yeah, I want to go to some random destination, and open this blog at random.” That’s actually a problem with blogs — books and magazines you can flip through at random, but blogs aren’t conducive to that.

The other thing I did, and it’s something that will likely never make a difference from the end-user standpoint, is to widget-ize the footer.

Hemingway is from an older era of WordPress design, when sidebars and footers were coded by hand. You wanted something in your sidebar? You had to open sidebar.php and put in a php call.

Widgets changed that. Now, blog owners could rework their sidebars without having to touch a single line of code. Just put a plug-in in the right directory, and then there was a drag-and-drop interface to customize the sidebar to the user’s content. Originally it was a plug-in, then it became part of the WordPress core code.

Hemingway had a similar system. It’s called the “BottomBar.” Same idea — users can drag-and-drop “blocks” to customize the footer area of their blog. But it couldn’t use Widgets. And Hemingway blocks wouldn’t work as WordPress widgets, either.

So I wrote a little bit of code. I can now define my footer area with blocks, widgets, or some combination thereof.

As I said, it’s something that the end-user — that being readers like you, of course — will never, ever, ever notice. Look at my footer area now, and you’d have no idea that some of it is defined as blocks, and some is defined as widgets.

Hemingway has turned into a fun platform to play around with on the back-end. But is it serving the needs of my readers? That’s more of an open question. With posting every day, content disappears faster. It’s possible that good ideas are getting missed.

In the short-term, I’ll run with Hemingway. And then look at how well it’s serving in a few weeks, once I have some hard stat numbers to look at.

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