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We’ve had a breakthrough!

June 25, 2011, 11:53 PM

Let me tell you… I had a BIG breakthrough in the whole idea of eventually converting Schumin Web to WordPress this weekend. Take a look at this:

Schumin Web "Raven" at a very early stage

Looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? What you are looking at is “Raven”, a test site that I have set up locally on my computer. I am currently in the process of building a WordPress theme from scratch on Raven, and it is designed to look like Schumin Web. The square background is there. The logo is there. The tagline below the logo is there (though since this is Raven, it says, “This is Schumin Web’s ‘Raven’ sandbox site.”). The banner is at the top. The sections are there. And the footers are in place. The sidebar and content panels are sized the way they’re supposed to be, but I’m not finished with the middle yet. It took me hours to get this far. I’ll get the middle looking like Schumin Web later.

But this may look like Schumin Web, but it’s totally different under the hood, and that’s what makes this so exciting. This is powered by an actual content management system, and for me, that is amazing. The content will be totally separate from the design, and that means that I will never again have to port all the content over to a new template for a site redesign (do you know how much content I have?). Just slap a different skin on the whole thing and be done with it. Plus the section bar and the footer bar are WordPress menus, driven from the CMS rather than hard-linked as before.

Now of course, getting the framework to look like Schumin Web is only the beginning. There are a number of parts of the site that still concern me. Specifically, I am concerned with the Main Page due to its unique design, doing the little white nav-boxes in the photo sets, some of the archive pages that are currently database-driven, and getting the Journal together the way I want. And no kludging! Recall that I kludged the 2007 rebuild pretty badly. I was interested in speed at that time since the site was down at the time, and cut a lot of corners in bringing the site back. Then in 2010, I only kludged one spot, between the logo and the tag beneath the logo. Don’t believe me? Look for a graphic in the header called dot.gif. That area is not kludged in the WordPress version.

Then once I get everything put together properly on Raven, I’m going to pack the newly-constructed theme up and import it into “Falcon”, which is my live-test area. Then if it all still looks like Schumin Web on Falcon, that’s when I officially start porting content over from the current site and make moves towards a launch. That will be a colossal pain in the behind. Realize that this is my 1,396th Journal entry over a period of almost eight years of doing Journal entries. Unlike past redesigns, I will have to port the Journal content over as well, which will be well over 1,400 entries by the time I get to that point. By the way, if anyone knows of a good tool to automatically port a custom-designed MySQL database over to WordPress, I’d like to know about it.

The sad thing about this is that for all of the hours of work that’s going to go into this, it’s going to look like a minor interface update at best, even though there will be commenting in the Journal and an RSS feed when everything is done. But this is what happens when you split the baby. I couldn’t come up with a good design in order to do a redesign along with the conversion to WordPress, so I’m doing the redesign later. Plus, the way I figure, building the existing design as a theme is a good way to become familiar with theme-building. Once I get the hang of what I’m doing by building something that I know quite well what it’s supposed to look like, then I can get creative and come up with a brand new look.

So there you go, I suppose. Funny how just sitting down and writing a theme from scratch is what I had to do to finally get the ball rolling. I tried using the Boilerplate theme and the WP Framework themes, with the intention of using them as a base upon which to build Schumin Web, but they didn’t work out for me. Too much code to try and figure out that I didn’t design myself. Sometimes nothing beats just sitting down and rattling off some CSS of your own.

Web site: "How to Create a WordPress Theme from Scratch". This is what I used to finally get the ball rolling.

Song: Not a song, but many people might find this building quite familiar...

Quote: By the way, if you're wondering about the bird names for my test sites, those of you who went to JMU in the late 1990s and early 2000s will remember that "Falcon" and "Raven" were JMU's servers for hosting student Web sites. I signed up for space on both Falcon and Raven as a matter of course, but I don't recall ever actually using the space on Falcon or Raven. After all, I had hosting elsewhere for Schumin Web.

Categories: Schumin Web meta