[wp-hackers] Theme structure

Paul Menard paul at codehooligans.com
Wed Jun 11 18:28:00 GMT 2008

I think everyone starts thinking about building a management panel  
after a couple dozen WP themes. The concept is root in our need to  
make things as efficient as possible while providing ease of  
manageability to the user. I myself have been guilty of trying to  
build a generic theme engine based on blueprint where I can control  
the number, position and width of columns, header footer information,  
color, images and all that crap.

The problem you run into is you are needing to tweak your theme for  
each 3rd new client because they want something you didn't include or  
think of in your original theme engine design. Before you know it you  
are spending more hours tweaking your theme engine then it would have  
taken to built the simple theme from scratch in the first place. And  
because you don't want to eat the hours you try and pass these 'extra'  
hours to the clients. Pretty soon your rates are putting you out of  
the competition.

Worse than all this, you have created a beast of a theme engine that  
has to run through more queries then WP on it's best day just so the  
theme can pull together the information it need to dynamically build  
it's layout.  And this causes even more server load.

Katie mentioned some good example of theme with control panels you can  
deconstruct. I've added a few more.

K2 - http://getk2.com/
Anaconda - http://anaconda.taragana.net/flexible-3-column-anaconda-theme-for-wordpress-released/

On Jun 11, 2008, at 1:12 PM, katie sexton wrote:

> Not sure I really understand your idea.  You would want to allow more
> "interactive" smart editing of any template?  How would people use a  
> text
> editor to "add" things without knowing html?  For some reason I am  
> imagining
> people cracking open their interactive theme editor and typing "More  
> like
> apple.com, please" and hitting update.  Most themes abide by basic
> conventions but as far as div names, structures etc. there is a lot of
> variation.
> Stuff like left/right sidebar, single column, colors is pretty easy to
> change in a specific theme.  Check out hemingway theme
> http://warpspire.com/hemingway/ for an example, or this blog post  
> about
> creating a theme with options
> http://theundersigned.net/2006/06/wordpress-how-to-theme-options/.
> On Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 1:19 PM, Alan Baljeu <alanbaljeu at yahoo.com>  
> wrote:
>> I'm working on building an interactive theme editor.  The idea is  
>> that the
>> editor would enable definition of various layouts, and support  
>> styling.  The
>> goal is to enable relative novices to design their own theme, then  
>> if they
>> find cool stuff somewhere and put it in with a text editor, then  
>> the theme
>> editor will still be able to work with the modified files.   
>> Obviously, not
>> every change can be accommodated, but I'm thinking to cover certain  
>> "normal"
>> changes.
>> At this point, I'm just working out the concept.
>> First though, I want to understand better the structure and  
>> conventions of
>> a theme.  Obviously, WP generates HTML files using PHP, but in  
>> general
>> people could do all kinds of wacky things in PHP.  I was wondering  
>> if there
>> are solid standards about how a page comes together.  For example,  
>> are
>> functions usually expected to create balanced HTML, or is it common  
>> to
>> produce unbalanced code that must be closed off by another  
>> function?  For
>> example, get_header() generates HTML which is incomplete without  
>> calling
>> get_footer().    In cases like this, I could just pair off the two  
>> elements,
>> and allow arbitrary stuff to be added between..
>> How much can a not-totally-stupid editor attempt to understand the
>> structure of a document?  What are the gotchas to watch out for?
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