Theme Change Coming

THIS is another housekeeping post. It’s quite all right to ignore it. Who cares about a blog’s nuts and bolts? For those who are still reading, here’s the news:

The ten million or so blogs that are hosted here at WordPress.com have a choice of about 100 appearance themes to use. If you’ve visited some of the others you’ve probably seen a sampling of what’s available. We think a lot of them look ghastly, but they have a following.

Early on we tried almost everything that was then available until we settled on what we’re now using. When new themes are announced, we preview them, but we’ve never found any reason to change. We like our current theme’s white background — blogs with white type on a dark background should be outlawed. We also like the font (with serifs) and the relatively uncluttered look — at least it’s uncluttered compared to some of the others we’ve seen.

But we’ve just learned that a few days from now the WordPress management is going to drop this theme and we’ll automatically be switched to another. We’ve previewed it. It’s similar to what we have now, but it’s not quite the same. The background is still white and the font looks the same. It can be jazzed up a bit, but the default appearance is as simple as the theme we’re now using. Those are the main things we care about, so we’re not grumbling too much.

The new theme automatically puts a blog’s tagline (ours is: “Conserving the Enlightenment values …”) below the blog’s title, so we’ll have to revise our header pic to remove the tagline which now appears there. We stuck it in the header pic only because the theme we now use doesn’t display taglines, so that feature of the new theme is actually a welcome fix. When the tagline is removed from the pic the portraits will be a bit larger. We may have to re-jigger the whole thing if it’s no longer the right size. Not a major problem.

The new theme may create some odd formatting problems. We’ve already been in touch with staff to clear up a few issues that would have messed up things at the bottom of all our posts — the copyright notice and the social networking buttons. We think those items have already been fixed, but we’ll probably find some others.

We’re told that keeping the current theme isn’t an option, so we’ll struggle along with whatever the WordPress management decides to do. We expect that things should be about 95% the same, but we can’t yet be certain. If it turns out to be really bad we’ll switch to a completely different theme — there are a few decent ones to choose from — but that shouldn’t be necessary.

There will be a brief period when we’re diddling around with whatever options the new theme offers. We’ll counting on you to be patient as we figure it all out.

We’ll find out more in a few days when the changeover is made. Life is full of minor annoyances. This one is no big deal.

TECHNICAL ADDENDUM

Below is an example of a typical “normalized” blockquote from one of my articles. It comes from this post, dated a few days before the change to Coraline. I used a blockquoted paragraph to quote someone. The writer I quoted had put the phrase “secret aim” in italics, and so did I:

Giving Lauri Lebo the benefit of the doubt on this score — she seems bright enough — the only explanation for her outburst must be that she thinks Discovery supports critical thinking on Darwinism with the secret aim of providing a path for something wildly different, incompatible and contradictory — namely, for creationists to teach the Bible as a science text book.

After the change to Coraline I noticed that “secret aim” was no longer italicized. When I figured out the fix I applied it, so now it works:

Giving Lauri Lebo the benefit of the doubt on this score — she seems bright enough — the only explanation for her outburst must be that she thinks Discovery supports critical thinking on Darwinism with the secret aim of providing a path for something wildly different, incompatible and contradictory — namely, for creationists to teach the Bible as a science text book.

For an example where the italics code isn’t also within a pair of “strong” codes, here’s an example from this older post. The book title, “Signature of Controversy,” used to appear in italics:

The debate is raging; the controversy is real. Read Signature of Controversy and judge for yourself; each response contains links to the original critique in question, making it easy to follow the contours of the arguments. As the book’s editor, David Klinghoffer, writes in the Introduction …

Now I’ll replace the “em” codes with the “fix” I’ve discovered, which does the job (here):

The debate is raging; the controversy is real. Read Signature of Controversy and judge for yourself; each response contains links to the original critique in question, making it easy to follow the contours of the arguments. As the book’s editor, David Klinghoffer, writes in the Introduction …

But my original post still has the “em” problem. Only a tweak to the Coraline theme can make “blockquotes” behave as they did in the Cutline theme.

[End of technical addendum.]

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Theme Change Coming

  1. Actually Curmy, you are too blame that I chose wordpress for my blog. I love good typography and simple-but-useful designs. Other blog services are mostly ugly, with few nice and smooth themes (you have to work hard to find them). But this one has an abundance of nice and tidy. You are right that light letters on dark backgrounds should be against the law, and wordpress has those too.

    Anyway …

  2. Gabriel Hanna

    Keep the serifs, whatever you do–fonts are much more readable with them.

  3. gmhentropy says:

    Actually Curmy, you are too blame that I chose wordpress for my blog.

    I already have enough sins to weigh me down. Now this …

  4. You don’t have to wait until they drop the bomb next week. The new theme is available already.

    What I don’t think they’ve counted on is the large number of blogs using this theme. I did a quick search on Google for blogs using Cutline with new posts in the past 24 hours. The results were astonishing! 43K+ That’s a lot of backlash to deal with! Maybe they’re hoping no one will notice. 😉

  5. Jennifer says:

    You don’t have to wait until they drop the bomb next week. The new theme is available already.

    Right. I was thinking of making the switch over the weekend, so I’d have time to tinker with revising the header pic, which is inevitably going to be necessary. A lot of bloggers are going to be surprised, but I really don’t foresee a lot of problems. The new theme they’re going to switch everyone to is pretty close to what we’re using now.

  6. I decided to make the theme switch now instead of waiting for the automatic changeover. It’s not bad at all! White background (which I can change but probably won’t); the main font still has serifs; and overall there’s no more clutter than before. Observable changes:

    1. The tagline isn’t in the header pic. It’s now below the blog’s title.

    2. The header pic’s portraits are larger than before. (Whoopie!)

    3. Blockquotes are handled better. That vertical line that used to appear in their left margin isn’t part of this new theme.

    4. The only annoyance is the drop-down menus for the links to pages above the header pic. Those sub-pages are topics that are already linked in the main pages, and they’re not indicative of everything that’s in those pages. They’re just for a few over-flow items, so their featured appearance in a drop-down menu is misleading. If I can turn off the drop-down menus I’ll do it.

  7. Thanks to some helpful people in the WordPress support forum, the drop-down menu problem has been solved. I don’t have any other gripes.

    I note a couple of oddities, which aren’t problems: First, there’s a bit more spacing above and below block-quoted material than with the old theme. And second, the links in the right sidebar aren’t underlined as they used to be. I’m already used to it, so the theme change is completed.