New lick of paint

30 September 2007

So, if you occasionally drop by the website, you might notice there’s a new lick of paint around the place. Nothing too drastic on the surface – under the hood was more drastic. is now running on WordPress 2.3, after a long hiatus on 2.0.x (due to the way the site worked). I’m now relying way less on hacks and custom plugins, and way more on the core codebase. Tagging, for starters, is now native. That’s nice.

I’m also using categories a bit more effectively – you’ll notice some main ones on the right, there, and I’m looking to focus my writing around these topics, I think. It’s a long job to go back and recategorise four years of posts… but I’m going to do it, somehow! In the meantime, if you fancy re-orientating yourself around the site, the new-look archives might hint at what’s going on better.

There’s been all manner of WordPress jigerring, too – mainly around the way the breadcrumb-header works, and how each category colour-codes a lot of its posts.

I’m pleased with the new look. I’m afraid I’ve not tested it in IE6/7, yet, and I’m sure there will be a few rough edges around the place. Let me know if you find any. I think the only one I found was, in my tag migration, everything got tagged as “holiday”. Oops.

So, this blog (for its sins) is running on WordPress 2.0.5. That’s a bit out-of-date. The main reason is because it has all sorts of jiggery-pokery to make it work the way I want – a tagging solution based on Jerome’s Keywords that was modified when I moved to 2.0; all sorts of template hacking to make the beautiful breadcrumb trail at the top you see work.

I’ve resisted upgrading due to the hell that was hacking plugins and templates into future versions of WordPress. Until now, that is. WordPress 2.3 (finally) introduces a proper tagging solution – entirely separate to the “categories” system. Well, not quite, as we’ll see – but it finally means that the architecture of is now entirely possible within WordPress itself.

Of course, now you’ve got to convert your custom tagging solution to the new schema. I’ve written a small script to do this for myself – only took about an hour, and that’s mainly because I was exploring the schema, and my PHP is a little rusty. Of course, now I know a reasonable amount about how tagging is implemented in WordPress 2.3, and felt I should write this up properly, so that anybody else converting custom tagging solutions might save themselves some time.

Continue reading this post…

New lick of paint

20 November 2006

You might notice a new design and layout for this site flickering on and off for the next few days. I’m just bringing some final tweaks to bear, you see, and ironing out some wretched IE bugs. It’s all part of a way to encourage me to write a bit more. Again.

So for now, please bear with me. The links are now on the righthand side; if you’re really, really interested in them, it’s probably easiest to be subscribed to my feed, where you’ll get everything.

Impending upgrade

10 November 2006

The comment-spam on this site is really getting out of control; it’s never seeing the world outside, but I’ve got about 700 comments in moderation to deal with. Looks like it’s time to upgrade to WordPress 2.0.5 (from 1.5.2).

Of course, that requires fixing plugins that are crucial to this site but no longer in development. And it requires altering the theme. And writing scary scripts to migrate my post_meta table. Which have all now been done.

And, hey, when you’re having to do that much messing around in PHP, you may as well redesign, right?

Upshot of this is: I’m going to upgrade this site at the weekend, so a few things might end up changing a little, and if you notice said changes, you should shout. The old design will probably stick around for a bit, whilst I polish the new (very simple) one off. And then I’ll ram that live too.

At some point after that, my post about “wrestling with wordpress”, written when I started looking into this process a few months back, will see the light of day. I really don’t want to have to mess with it again. It’s very unpleasant…

Where I’ve been

19 June 2006

It appears that I’ve been AWOL for a little while. For that, and many other things: apologies.

It appears to have taken a while to decompress from Reboot and get things back on track. The to-do list floating above my desktop has not really got much shorter for a few weeks now. Even though I’m making my way through it, there always seems to be new stuff that needs adding. Also, the stuffy heat is contributing to a lack of both sleep and energy, so maybe that’s why I’ve been posting here less.

Still, I have been doing a few things behind the scenes. My Flickr stream has seen a lot of updates recently, and you’ll probably have noticed the string of links filling the blog up. As ever, they provide rough hints to where my brain currently is.

One thing I’ve been working on is… redeveloping this blog. Boring, I know. But the last time I redesigned, the purpose was to get me writing again. It kind-of worked, but it was also an experiment at developing a truly generic WordPress theme (which almost succeeded). Now I want to make something just for me (although, it turns out that it shares some aesthetic sensibilities). At the same time, it seems like a good enough resaon to upgrade to WordPress 2.0. That’s a story in itself, I tell you. I’ll write more about the technicalities of redeveloping it once it’s launched; there’s a post in the works on patching tagging plugins, the ups and downs of upgrading and the hell that is wp_rewrite, and also another on faking “offset” with the WordPress Loop. Until then, expect to see this place updated soon.

Other things I’ve been working on: a moderately-sized Rails project, on which I’m sole developer and designer. It’s going quite slowly, due to the concentration it’s now demanding – I’m at the “complicated” part of the development, when things go beyond CRUD, and also start demanding the final templates – so there’s been a big diversion into XHTML work. Still, this is also the stage where it gets *really* satisfying. I’m not going to be able to opensource the project as it stands, but there’s at least one plugin to be released from it, not to mention some useful experience. I’ve currently been adding fragment cacheing, which has been most satisfying – both (relatively) simple and elegant in its implementation.

We’ve also been busy at work, having finally launched Nature Network Boston in beta. There’s still some work that needs to be done there – on my part, fixing the microformats (again, more in the future) and tidying the HTML output – but it’s great to see it in “the wild”, as it were. Out of that, I’ve got an article I’d like to write for this site on “Rails from a design team perspective” – there’s an existing “Rails for Designers” piece on the web doesn’t quite cover the ground I’d like it to, or in enough details, so, you know, rather than whinging, I thought I’d write my own. Expect to see that in a week or two.

So, in short: expect to see more, longer content here. I need to get back into writing, and it seems sensible to start by writing up the stuff I’ve been doing that others might find interesting – or at least want to correct me on. In short: this place is going to be revitalised. I’m looking forward to the challenge I’ve set myself.