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WordPress 2.7 Is Cause For A Reformat

This is just a heads up that when WordPress 2.7 is released, I will be reformatting my WordPress installation to get rid of the fluff that may be stored in the database and start off from scratch. I’ll once again audit my use of plugins and only install the ones that I think are necessary. Also, if you haven’t noticed already, I’ve changed the design of the blog a little bit because for starters, adding one more step to the post publishing process in the form of filling out custom fields is a drag. Secondly, I think the reformat as well as the simplified theme will finally help this site load quickly than it has before. Not sure what is causing the slow page loads but I am determined to figure it out.

I’ll also be modifying the theme to take advantage of threaded/paginated comments. I’m pretty stoked about 2.7 as I think many WordPress users out their will be blown away by it.

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Jeffro2pt0 Now On WP 2.5

Better late than never! I have upgraded the blog from 2.3.3 to 2.5. The upgrade went very smooth with the exception of one plugin, that being the Berri Technorati Incoming Links plugin which modified the admin panel in 2.3. The plugin caused things to break in the new admin panel. After deleting that plugin, everything is back to normal and appears to be functioning just fine. I’m really digging the new look and I can’t wait to get into the back end and widgitize the hell out of my dashboard.

While I have your attention, let’s take a look at last months Poll results. I asked the question, When Would You Upgrade To WordPress 2.5? The results are listed below:

Poll Results For March 2008

Surprisingly, a large number of you chose the option to upgrade as soon as possible. While ASAP might of been too soon, the rest of the majority decided to upgrade at least a week within it’s release.

Now that 2.5 is here and available for the world to digest, this months poll question is: What Do You Think Of WP 2.5? Be sure to leave your mark and vote for one of the options given to you. I’ve noticed that more and more of you are participating in the poll. Thank you very much!

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WP 2.5 Due In 22 Years

WordPRess2.5in22Years

Good to see that someone has a sense of humor! How old will you be when WordPress 2.5 is released? I’ll be 46!

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WordCamp Dallas This Weekend

The week has finally arrived where I can tell folks that I will be going to Dallas to attend WordCamp this weekend. WordCamp Dallas is an event that was orchestrated by Charles Stricklin, host of the WordPress Podcast.

WordCamp Dallas

Tickets cost $20.00 each and are still available. The event is located at the George A. Purefoy Municipal Center 6101 Frisco Square Blvd Frisco, Texas 75034. The first day of the event is on Saturday, March 29 and begins at 930AM and lasts until 5PM. Sunday, the event begins at 9:30AM and ends at 4PM. There will be an ATTENDEE only event that will take place on Friday evening. So be sure to purchase a ticket ASAP so you can get the 411.

For all of the information regarding the conference including links to register and purchase your ticket, visit the official Dallas WordCamp website.

Looking forward to meeting Ronald, Ptah, Lorelle, Matt, Cory of iThemes, Charles, and the rest of the gang.

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Two New Ways To Get WP News

I got word of two projects today which may be valuable sources of information dealing with WordPress within the near future. The first is called WPSource.com. WPSource.com is an aggregation website that displays the 5 most recent headlines from major players within the WordPress community. The site features a fancy drop down animation once a headline is clicked.

WPSource Screenshot

A small excerpt from the post is displayed with a read more link at the bottom of the excerpt. When you browse to WPSource for the first time, it takes a little while for the page to load which can’t be blamed fully on the domain itself as it’s pulling the 5 headlines from outside sources. Even though this is a work in progress, I would like to see either fav icons of the site listed along side the headlines or some other images to really give the site some spice.

Our second contestant is adii who is building a community oriented project which will be a WordPress magazine which will highlight content from the thought leaders within the community of WordPress. The types of content that will be aggregated include: general and misc WordPress news, themes, designs and designers, plugins and development.

WordPRessMagazine Project

As you can already tell at a glance, both projects are circling around to the same conclusion but displaying the results in two different ways. Even though adii does not have a public demo, I can already tell you that I enjoy seeing the aggregated content displayed in this fashion versus WPSource. If the ability to subscribe to the specific categories will be possible in this iteration, I’ll have it give this design bonus points as it will help me condense these feeds into my Feed Reader.

When I look at this design mockup, I sometimes feel confused by where the post is being aggregated from. However, I enjoy the fact that this design will place more importance to the favicon as it’s use and importance has gone through the floor.

As it stands, WPSource is farther ahead in development as they at least have a working demo/project online that works. However, once the Magazine project comes online, it will definitely give WPSource a run for it’s money. One nice thing about both of these projects is that they are aggregating content from a wider variety of members within the WP Community instead of aggregating the usual suspects which Planet WordPress already does. May the best project win!

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Jeffro2pt0 Featured On WP-Premiums

Jeffro2pt0 Image

A few days ago, PJ notified me that this blog design was featured on WP-Premiums.com. So far, the design has a total of 8 votes with an average rating of 4 out of 5. According to PJ the reason this design was chosen to be included in the WP-Premiums gallery is as follows:

I was so impressed by your great customization of the Shifter theme that I’ve featured it on WP-Premiums.com. I’m sure that your design will be an inspiration for others who are planning to design or customize their own WordPress-powered websites.

Thanks goes out to PJ for adding this site design to the gallery. Thanks also goes out to anyone who has rated this design on WP-Premiums, I really appreciate it. A last round of thanks goes out to those individuals who worked with me on their own time to provides suggestions and critiques to enhance the design. If you haven’t checked out WP-Premiums before, I highly suggest doing so as it’s a showcase of what people have been able to do to their premium themes outside of the norm. For example, my favorite design right now in the showcase is the blog of Robin Malau.

This showcase would make for a good place to get inspiration from if you are looking at designing a WordPress theme.

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Some Forum Changes

ChangesToTheForum

I’ve recently made some changes to the forum. I decided to hide a majority of the forums and stick with the WordPress section for now. I admit, I’ve been lackluster in posting to the forum because there is only one Jeffro2pt0 but about 200 things and places I need to be. If you haven’t yet checked out the forums, please register an account and participate within the community.

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Contribute To WordPress Contest

ThemesClubLogo

Thanks to Small Potatoes of WPDesigner.com I have 50 free accounts to give away to his special WordPress themes club. This club only cost $5.00 to join but guarantees you at least 12 WordPress themes. Considering the themes that SP has already developed, this is a very affordable way to gain access to some premium quality WordPress designs.

However, you will have to earn a free membership by participating in the Contribute To WordPress Contest.

The rules are simple. The first 50 people who leave a comment describing a UNIQUE way of contributing to WordPress will receive a free WPDesigner theme coupon. When I say unique, I mean, don’t copy and paste something into the comment field. Come up with something on your own.

Ok, go ahead and let the imaginative juices flow.

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Jeffro2pt0 Almost Goes 3pt0

In case you haven’t noticed, this site has gone through a complete revamp. New look, new logo, new focus. What you are seeing on this blog is thanks in part to a theme system that I came across while spending over a month looking at various themes. The theme system is called Shifter. Shifter has been a dream come true for me. As I noted in Episode 7 of the WordPress Weekly podcast, I have had a good amount of experience using Joomla. One of the best things I enjoyed about Joomla was the amount of customizations that were built into themes. What I mean by customizations is that, themes had what were called User Module Positions that were built into the theme. You could place a plugin in a specific module, you could move the modules around, ect. Talk about freedom.

If you were to take a look at the current state of WordPress themes, you would realize that no one out their is truly taking advantage of Widgets. Most of your themes come with two smashed together sidebars that can contain widgets. That sucks. For themes that have widget like areas above the content and within the footer bar, these are usually hard coded functions built into the theme, meaning you have to play with the code to change or replace these parts of the theme.

Shifter changes all of that by making the best out of widgets. Take a look at the following screenshot:

Shifter module Positions

Take a look at all of those sections of the site that are outlined in red. These are all widgetized areas of the theme. This means, customizing the look of your content on your site becomes a drag and drop affair, not a code editing nightmare. Keep in mind that WordPress allows you to place more than one widget into a widgetized area on a website. This fact alone should be enough to perk your interests. This is the primary reason why I purchased this theme. As far as I can tell, there are no other WordPress themes that offer this type of functionality. I’ve been wondering why more themes don’t have more widget areas built within them. According to a recent interview I did with Shifter, they told me it was rather difficult to get all of these widget areas to play nicely within the theme. I suppose that was my answer.

Asides from being in Widget heaven, this theme is almost completely editable by selecting various options within the themes admin menu.

ShifterSettings

This is only a sample of what you can edit without touching a line of code. Within this screenshot, you can see options that allow you to adjust the resolution of your blog. The choices range from 750, 950, 974 pixels and 100% which is full width. You can choose whether you want the first sidebar to display or the second. You can also choose which size you want those sidebars to be. The check box areas are something that reminds me of Joomla yet again. These options give you even more flexibility as they allow you to decide which particular sections of WordPress where the sidebar will show up. For example, if I only wanted a particular widget area to show up on the home page, but not anywhere else within the theme, I would select the HOME option and nothing else. This means you could load up your front page with content while keeping the single page views nice and clean.

Be sure to check out the Shifter Video which explains how to configure most of the options contained within the Shifter theme system.

Words of warning. I made the decision to edit away at some core files contained within Shifer in order to achieve the look you see on this web site. This means it will be a pain in the rear for me to upgrade. I suggest you don’t edit any of the core files if you get this theme. However, if you feel as though you will stick with a certain configuration of Shifter, I’d say go for it. But try to keep core hacking down to a minimum.

Conclusion:

Shifter is not cheap. It’s priced anywhere from $79.95 for a personal license to $999.95 for a Developer License with licenses in between. However, because this theme is more than just your average theme, my $80.00 was very well spent and I believe I’ve gotten every penny’s worth and more. There are so many different combinations of widget/content layouts that come with Shifter, you truly are purchasing a WordPress themeing system out of the box.

You can try out the Shifter theme for free by signing up HERE which will net you a subdomain. In fact, if you don’t want to spend money on Shifter, you can actually move your entire blog to GetShifter.com and use it as if it were WordPress.com. If that sounds like a plan, you can check out more info HERE.

The bottom line is this. As it stands, there is no theme out there that I came across within the past month that offers anything close to what Shifter does. Right now, everything is magazine based and even premium magazine themes and freemium themes have nothing on Shifter. I hope that Shifter serves as an example of a new trend in WordPress themes. That is, a trend towards these customizations that take place in the admin panel through options rather than coding. A trend towards using the true power of Widgets. And a trend that empowers the end user to have things look the way they want, without having it hard coded for them.

If you are interested in obtaining a legit, personal licensed copy of Shifter, please show me your interest my leaving a comment. I am thinking of doing a contest on WordPress Weekly where Shifter will be the prize. I’ll go ahead with the plan if there is a good amount of interest amongst you.

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Its Not So Bad

Have you seen the WordPress 2.5 backend lately? Chances are, you have and perhaps the chances are even greater that you didn’t like what you saw. As for myself, I enjoyed the more modern look with the exception of the color scheme used. All of the color shades appear to be a bit too bright for my liking which ends up giving the backend a washed out look to it. But the features and enhancements to the UI such as the tagging and media uploader have impressed me.

The three major complaints that folks seem to be having with the redesign are these: not being able to rearrange the sidebar in the write panel, ungodly amount of scrolling, and the color scheme. The good news is that March isn’t here yet, so perhaps things will change before then. The bad news is, these are all valid complaints. I personally have to admit that the current Write Post panel within 2.3.3 is much easier and nicer to use than the one in 2.5. The ability to bring things up to the top of the sidebar which you use most often, just about eliminates the need for scrolling. If the WordPress devs add this functionality back into 2.5, they will kill two birds with one stone. People will be able to modify their write panel, solving the scrolling issue while this will also help to diminish the waste of white space.

But if 2.5 is released as we currently see it, based on the reactions I’ve read so far, many people will be displeased. In fact, some people are threatening not to upgrade unless a classic admin panel option is installed or a plugin makes the backend look like it does now. I think that is stretching it a bit and all you’re really doing is hurting yourself by not upgrading. But the fact of the matter is, WordPress is Open Source, and that means that a high demand for something, usually encourages developers to churn out a solution.

So what could this mean? Well, if you recall a post that was made on WeblogToolsCollecion.com not too long ago, you’ll see that there are about a dozen or less admin themes available for WordPress. I believe the number of admin themes available is so low because the current WordPress administration area actually fits the bill for so many people that only the ones who truly dislike it, want to change it to something else. However, in WordPress 2.5, we may see a change in the tide. If the dis satisfaction continues or grows once 2.5 is released, we may see admin themes being released as much as we see frontend themes. This means an awesome amount of choices for backend designs might arise out of this issue which I believe isn’t a bad thing.

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