Redesign ‘007 has hit the site, it’s first form known as Ashes. In time I plan to add its alter-ego, Frost. For now though, let me provide a quick write-up on what has changed beyond the obvious aesthetic shift.
The site continues to run on WordPress, but now utilizes the new hotness that is version 2.1. The upgrade is most significant in the speed increase for building and delivering the pages that you see. The connections to the database have been vastly improved which translates into faster load times. Rejoice!
I have begun to apply tags (information labels) to individual entries to improve the classification of my content without expanding my categories to the nth degree. This cloud displays the tags I have used on my site and provides a rough visual representation of how often each has been used. I’ve also added the capability to search by tag for those who are interested. At this point I have only added tags to a small fraction of the 900+ entries on this site, but the number will improve over time.
Syndication Feeds Powered by Feedburner
I’ve updated the entry and comment feeds on this site to use Feedburner as it provides some great statistics and functionality beyond the standard feed set up. If you subscribe to my main feed, you will now see a daily summary of new links added to my Ma.gnolia bookmark list. The process was surprisingly smooth, especially with the help of Steve Smith’s Feedburner plugin.
I love Ma.gnolia, and am very active, managing several groups, including those focused on Web Design and Austin. With my recent integration of my Ma.gnolia bookmarks you can see an up-to-date list of the sites that interest me. Even better, when browsing archives, you will see bookmarks specifically related to that archive’s topic. If you use Ma.gnolia, please add me as a contact as I’d love to see what you bookmark as well!
I’ve used browser detection to serve up browser-specific pages and style sheets for a number of years now to avoid the use of CSS hacks. This site design is no different, though I no longer use the BrowserSniff class, having switched to Browscap as it does a great job of avoiding the “the limitations of get_browser() and… offers methods to update, cache, adapt and get details about every supplied user agent on a standalone basis.”
The headers displayed in the sidebar and used to present each entry’s date and comment count on the home and archive pages make use of sIFR 3 (beta at the time of writing), providing me the ability to use the font I want without forcing you to download a ton of images.
Modifications to WordPress Core and Plugins
The majority of changes revolve around modifications made to HTML output by WordPress or its plugins to add the nice tool tip functionality you see throughout the site, most especially visible in the side bar.
I modified the HTML output to the browser in order to add tool tip capabilities.
Previous Posts Plugin
I changed the Previous Posts plugin in a couple of ways. First, I altered the function, allowing me to pass values for markup to be used before and after each line of output and the ability to set a minimum and maximum value. This has given me the ability to show the five most recent posts throughout the site, while ensuring I don’t show duplicates on the home page, which will show the five most recent plugins that aren’t displayed on the page already. I also modified the output to implement tool tips and grab comment counts to be used within the tips.
Amazon Media Manager
I added a new output format to AMM in order to use the tool tip functionality.
I’ve modified the Ma.gnolia plugin to use the tool tip functionality and made changes to the output format of the date. I also included a link to my Ma.nolia account. I may well adopt this plugin as its creator, Barry Price has stated that he won’t be updating it.
Recent Comments Plugin
Recent Comments is another plugin modified to make use of tool tips.
SilverSpider Play List
I added another output format to my recent song list package to make use of tool tips.
I am reviewing each post on the site to clean up old formatting issues, many due to the period in which I used Markdown (a mistake, I really should have kept to HTML). So, individual posts will look nicer in time, though I am specifically not updating the content as I do not want to inadvertently re-write my own bits of history.
The overarching goal of this redesign was to ensure the site stays fresh. As the archives show, I often go through periods where I don’t post to the site. Yet, during that time I am actually pretty active in various spots on the Net. This redesign adds focus to the conversations that occur on the site (please add your comments to this and other posts) and my interests, as can be seen in the recent bookmark, music and reading lists. While the Web is a often a one-way medium, it doesn’t have to be. So, welcome to the site, please jump into a conversation!