How this weblog is run

by Michael Alderete on 1/16/2005 · 2 comments

As I have been working on this site, I’ve visited quite a few other weblogs run by WordPress, and occasionally see something that I’d like to know how to do myself. A little widget here, a list of related posts there, a cool show/hide trick somewhere, etc. Cool things, but nothing that says how to do them. So, if anyone ever has that thought about my site, here’s the info. (This is really of interest to WordPress users only, but hopefully it’ll be useful, and other WordPress users will do the same.)

First of all, I’m running WordPress 1.2.2 (and all of its prerequisites, e.g., Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc.). After installing WordPress, the next thing I did was install the Kubrick template, which replaces the default index.php, wp-comments.php, and wp-layout.css files with new versions that use a much more attractive layout, design, etc.

Then I tweaked the fonts in the CSS file (I’m using Trebuchet for the body copy, and Georgia for the headers), moved a bunch of things around (like the syndication feed links), and deleted other things (like the monthly archive links) inside the index.php file. And I encoded my e-mail address with the Automatic Labs Enkoder, to protect it from spam harvest bots.

So far, none of this is rocket science, or hard to figure out what I did. A few of the less obvious things.

I have the Textile 1 plug-in, which is part of the WordPress 1.2 distribution, turned on (it defaults to off), which converts straight quotation marks and apostrophes to curly versions, double-dashes to “em”-dashes, etc., to make the text a little prettier. This improved typography and ease of formatting is one of the major reasons I switched to WordPress.

I changed the default format for permalinks (configured on the Options » Permalinks screen of the administrative console), to duplicate the link structure used by my old weblog software. Then I manually added a dozen additional rewrite rules to ones generated by WordPress, to handle all the different kinds of permalinks people were using with the old software. The details of all this will get its own post eventually.

For articles where I show only an excerpt on the front page, I am displaying a word count in the “Read the rest…” link. This is done with the Words In Post plug-in (which I hacked a little bit so it would work in the the_content() call in index.php).

On the permalinks pages, I use Binary Bonsai’s plug-in for Dunstan’s Time Since to do the relative dates (“posted X days, Y minutes ago”).

I am using the Related Posts plug-in to display links to posts which may possibly be related to the current post. I initially wasn’t happy with the related items it was finding, but I modified the plug-in’s code to slightly change the way the it uses keywords, and it seems to be doing a bit better at finding posts that are genuinely related.

For a really trivial tweak, I’m using the Nice Categories plug-in, which basically just adds an “and “ to the list of categories a posting is filed under in the metadata section at the end of the individual post page. (This is a perfect example of how I can spend a couple of hours dicking around on this site, with little visibly accomplished.)

I was using the Staticize Reloaded plug-in to do automatic caching of the web pages, but that caused problems with the relative date, and I haven’t converted that to use a JavaScript version of Time Since yet, so I’ve got Staticize turned off for the moment. But it’ll go back on in the future.

To control comment and trackback spam, in addition to filling WordPress’s built-in comment moderation watch list with almost 2000 keyword and IP addresses, I’ve got two plug-ins enabled, Kitten’s Spaminator and ThreeStrikesSPAM. So far, no comment or trackback spam has made it through. Knock wood.

That’s it for now, but I’m sure there will be more later…

Mark J January 16, 2005 at 10:34 pm

Just so you know, that “curly quotes” stuff is done even without the Textile plugin. WordPress has its own “Texturize” function that does it.

For a really trivial tweak, I’m using the Nice Categories plug-in,

I thought it was trivial too when I wrote it… it has been surprisingly popular! It’s just one of those little “human touches” that brings it all together. ;-)

Alderete January 16, 2005 at 10:41 pm

Mark, yes, Texturize does some nice automatic formatting. Textile does other things, making it easy to add HTML formatting without actually embedding HTML into the posts.

And I completely agree with you about the human touch; when I spotted your plug-in, I immediately downloaded, installed, and turned it on. Just to get the word “and” in there, like it should be!

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