On the Coding Itch

Over the weekend, I devoted some time and energy to thinking about what I want to do with my next website. I’ve been working at the code off and on since August, going so far as to code two fully-functional blog themes that I’ll never use. And then, just as I felt really happy with the current design except for some minor tweaks (like colors, which I still haven’t nailed down), I felt this insane itch to start all over, this time coding it for HTML5 and CSS3.

Then I reminded myself of something I wrote on New Year’s Eve — “In the New Year, I want to better differentiate between good ideas that are actually good and good ideas that simply waste time.”

Suffice it to say, this is an idea that falls in the “simply wastes time” category. This “itch” to scrap the work I’ve done and restart becomes an excuse not to do something productive. I could say the same thing about coding two WordPress themes I would never use — and never intended to use — except that they were both done to 1) work out some layout design issues and 2) work out some JavaScript issues. They were progressively more challenging, if that makes sense.

This HTML5 idea? There’s nothing new there.

Still, I wanted to think about why that idea was there. And since the Deadline Hell that was the first two weeks of the month had passed, I let the ideas roll around.

And they sorted themselves out.

It wasn’t the HTML5 that was interesting me. Well, it was, in the sense that it was a shiny challenge and I do love shiny challenges so. But what I was fixating on was WordPress’ Twenty-Eleven default theme, which was coded in HTML5 and had some interesting new features like Post Formats, which are a way of defining the way in which certain content, like blog posts or Twitter-like asides or images or videos, should be formatted when they’re displayed.

Why is that important? Let’s revisit this post from Thanksgiving in which I discussed some of the design issues I was mulling over:

I’m trying to decide whether or not to use Post Formats. It’s a new feature in WordPress, one that I’m not familiar with. Post Formats give WordPress some Tumblr-like features, allowing different formatting for different types of post content. I’m going to study the Esquire theme and its implementation of the feature. The thing is, I’m not sure I would use this feature, so it’s possible that my studies here may be all for naught.

Two months ago, I had no idea what I’d have done with Post Formats.

It struck me recently why I would use Post Formats and what I would use them for.

And since Twenty-Eleven makes extensive use of Post Formats, then it made sense to rebuild the site using Twenty-Eleven as the framework underneath, which meant redoing the site in HTML5/CSS3, etc., etc.


I’m overthinking the problem, as I am occasionally wont to do. 🙂

I don’t need to scrap the work I’ve done and start again with a theme that’s designed to do a little bit of everything. (It’s a default theme, so it’s deliberately something of a Swiss Army Knife.) What I’ve designed and coded works. It just needs Post Formats.

So! What I will do is study the way Twenty-Eleven (and Esquire, which I mentioned back in November) implement the feature. Then I make that work with what I’ve done by replacing the the_content() call with however post formats are called (it looks like they take separate files) and then match it to new CSS code when and where it’s needed. I’ll also have to implement this hack to rename a few of the Post Formats that I won’t use to cover for Post Formats that I’ll need for things like “banner posts.” (Unfortunately, one cannot add new Post Formats.) The idea is to make things easy and automate certain functions.

Timeframe? Within the next month. Along with sorting out things like, oh, colors 🙂

Published by Allyn

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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