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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

A long overdue revamp of my site

February 6, 2007

I’ve finally had the chance (over this past weekend) to update my site a little. After fiddling with a few ideas that I had I got to thinking that I’d just grabbing a free theme and that working off of it would help save me some time, effort, and a whole lotta headaches. It turned out I was right and I’m pretty satisfied with the result. Here is a general overview of how I went about this specific version of cdevroe.com.

First, I grabbed a modified version of Cutline and made my own little tweaks (which I’m not quite finished with yet). Obviously I changed the way the headers work and brought back my featured headings in order to highlight certain posts randomly. I’ll be adding many more banners over time, since there are ton of posts that should be highlighted. I’ll be doing a little more of this by creating a “random note” area in my right-most sidebar soon.

I also edited the way that the sidebars work. I wanted a 3-column layout to allow me to pull in my flickr photos, some posts from Viddler, ChanceCube, and The uber geeks, as well as a place that I will soon be putting various other collections. However, I wanted to have only 2-columns on my single entry pages because I like having the width for things like photos. Also, some of the pages (like the new diet page), have 3-columns, while some only have 2-columns.

On the frontpage you will notice the latest posts from the other sites that I write on (mentioned above). This section is powered by BDP RSS Aggregator. Obviously I could have built this type of functionality myself but after seeing how well thought out this WordPress plugin was – it made the decision to use it very easy. BDP RSS Aggregator does far more than what I am using it for, and if you are looking to syndicate some feeds on your WordPress powered site, I highly recommend you looking into it.

My most recent Flickr photos, on the frontpage, is powered by FlickrRSS. Since BDP RSS Aggregator has so many options, I could have technically used it and ended up with the same result, but I chose to use something that was specifically built for grabbing my photos from Flickr. Obviously Flickr’s API could have been used for such a task, but all I really wanted was a cached list of my 4 most-recent photos, and using the API would seem like a little overkill. FlickrRSS does an excellent job, is easy to configure, and has just the right number of options. Another plugin that I highly recommend.

For my recent comments I’m using a highly modified version of the recent comments plugin. I’ve added support for Gravatars and a few other options that it didn’t have out of the box. Once I clean up the code I hacked to get it done I may submit the changes, but since it is reliant on someone using the Gravatar WordPress Plugin (site currently under repair as of today) too, I may not. If you want this, just give me a shout.

For my archives I’m using Justin Blanton’s Smart Archives plugin. I like my archives simple, and this plugin allows me to have just that. I see now that its been updated recently, so I may have to get me a fresh copy.

For my keyword tagging I can’t do without the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin – which in my mind is the best keyword tagging plugin for WordPress. It allows me to use MarsEdit to write my posts and put my keywords inline – which has increased the accuracy and ease of searching quite a bit too. There are many benefits to using this plugin.

I’m using Shaun Inman’s Widon’t plugin to help clean up the straggling words on my post titles. This layout doesn’t succumb to these problems as much as the last one did, but this plugin is handy nonetheless. Plugins that work completely behind the scenes and yet make such big differences in your site should really be applauded.

My feed is being delivered through Feedburner via the Feedburner WordPress plugin by my friend Steve Smith. It is all transparent to you on your end, but to me it adds a nice little layer that allows me to pull some nice stats on how many people and who are subscribed to my site’s feed. If you are using Feedburner and WordPress, this plugin is a must have.

Obviously I’m using ChanceCube‘s Slugger plugin to help me never to see WordPress’ administrative area as well as HappyPals to take advantage of my XFN relationships in my links. I also have Mike Stickel‘s Simple Countdown plugin installed and activated, but you’ll have to wait till the weekend to see why. These three plugins have become indispensable for me in how I publish, Slugger the greatest of these. I could never stand using WordPress’ admin (or any administrative area that I’ve seen) to write my blog posts. I’m happy I don’t have to anymore.

I think I covered pretty much everything. Poke around, if you see anything outta whack just let me know. Other slight tweaks will have to wait till the weekend as I have a fairly busy week this week.

Oh! For those of you on the diet that have recently been contacted by me (which most of you have, and if you have not then it probably means you’ve been fairly active in the dieting area over the last few months) – I’ll be updating everyone today or tomorrow but suffice to say that Tuesday begins another 20-week (minimum) run of updates. More soon.

[tags]cdevroe.com, redesign, shaun inman, wordpress, plugins, chancecube, mike stickel, slugger, happypals, simple countdown, ultimate tag warrior, justin blanton, smart archives, flickrrss, gravatar, recent comments, bdp rss aggregator, viddler, theubergeeks, cutline, theme, steve smith, feedburner, flickr, api[/tags]

[slug]cdevroe-v0207[/slug]