WordPress Shift

WordPress is a fantastic open source blog. It moves easily from Windows to Linux and is self-contained, except for its linkages to the database (MySQL). I don’t use it myself – I installed it and used it for a while but only experimentally – as I like using my single Plone installation for blog-like postings. But I am working on a freelance project and am using it as the underlying application for the site. It’s been interesting to get into some additional areas of the application.

When I installed it myself, I tweaked the theme (skin) a bit but otherwise left it as is. Since the site I am working on involves a bit more, and is hopefully more of a marketing tool than my home site, I’ve been getting further into it.

The WordPress site is remotely hosted and I initially installed it in a subfolder of the site. Bad move. When I changed my mind and tried to shift it up, I ended up getting “header error” messages. The message was:

Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by etc.

and I couldn’t find any useful help on the Web, which was unusual. I realized then that, in shifting the content, I’d reset the permissions from 755 to 644. Once I’d reset the permissions, I was back in business.

I like the simplicity of the Kubrick theme but ended up taking one provided by the host and customizing it. I took the left column and threw it to the right, and made some other changes to the overall theme. Like many themes I’ve found, there appeared to be problems in the CSS (missing semi-colons mostly) that meant I would sometimes get odd results unrelated to another change I’d made. I finally walked through the entire CSS file and fixed all the minor problems I found.

I also installed a trio of plug-ins to make the site go beyond a basic blog, all available free from the WordPress site. They are:

  • Lee Kelleher’s Category Cloud Widget which grabs your WordPress categories and display’s them on the sidebar, with relative size based on use on the site. It’s a nice way to get visitors into a particular topic.
  • Lester Chan’s WP-Polls, which puts a quick poll on the sidebar. I like how easy it is to customize it – there is a full page of sub-templates, which allow you to determine what appears in the results, font sizes, etc. Nice granular control!
  • Event Calendar, which is a nice combination of event minder and calendar widget. I need to spend more time working with this, but it certainly looks promising and has done all that I expected so far. I need to understand better how to add events.

I like WordPress in particular because it blurs the line between a blog like Blogger and a more complete content management system. You can use static pages to supplement your more active blog postings, and plug-ins extend what the overall site can do. And you can’t beat the price!

    David Whelan

    I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.