Friday, July 24, 2009...8:00 am

3-column, Widget-ready Pressrow

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Warning: intense WordPress geekery ahead

The headline above will mean nothing to most readers. But there will be a little niche of WordPress nerds for whom it will cause a tiny thrill of excitement.

Anyone who has made it to the footer of one of these posts will have seen that I am using the popular Pressrow theme created by the prolific and talented Chris Pearson.

But I plan to move this blog over to self-hosted WordPress – and Pressrow isn’t available in the suite of themes (or designs) that’s on offer over at WordPress.org. Curses.

No! There it was on the web ready for download. Fantastic.

Only problem (and here we’re getting really geeky): it was written in 2006 and so wasn’t compatible with WordPress Widgets. They’re the bits and pieces in the sidebar that show you the most popular posts and recent comments.

So I spent a happy evening copying and pasting PHP code from a WordPress tutorial to try to make the theme work. And broke it. No sidebar, no back-end admin area. Sometimes no front page at all. It was, in web parlance, an epic fail.

Until – a breakthrough. Thanks to “28-year-old Sydney-based slacker Dan” for creating a three-column version (which I actually prefer). And thanks also to The Blog Herald for an excellent tutorial on fixing the sidebars so they run WordPress widgets that actually works.

End result – a working three-column development blog, running widget-ready Pressrow. Now all I have to do is run the columns each side of the main post instead of both on the right and play around with the CSS.

This, of course, doesn’t really make me a coding genius. More like a small child banging rocks together randomly and then being astounded at making fire. But still.

And when it’s all sorted out and the updated Pressrow theme is finished, I’ll post it on the blog so any Pressrow fan who fancies it can download it. It’ll sort of be my bid for a tiny slice of internet immortality. Sadly.

[UPDATE: Here we are on the brand new, self-hosted www.freelanceunbound.com – and here, for your pleasure, is my ever-so-slightly janky 3-column, widget-ready tweaked version of Pressrow. Download away and use if you’d like. DISCLAIMER: It’s a little flaky in handling images (it doesn’t like captions, for example), and I’ve been having problems with Gravatars. Also, you’ll need to assign a number to your top navigation pages to make them run in the order you’d like. But maybe that’s normal..]

3 Comments

  • Simon, why not just get yourself an oven-ready theme that does work in WP 2.8 (I assume you’re working in that now) and then adapt the CSS and replace some of the elements?

    A lot easier than playing around with code…

  • Hmm: “Adapt the CSS”. You say that as if it would be easy…

    Yes – it’s a bit of a toss-up. But I would have to do a lot of CSS work to get an existing three-column theme to look right. This way has been more challenging but less actual work. Also, I want to learn PHP – so this is a good project to get into it.

  • Funny, I’ve spent the last few days struggling with very similar problems. There is a self-hosted version of the wordpress.com theme I use, but the theme doesn’t allow certain features I consider essential. And the widgets that are supposed to fill the gaps don’t work as advertised.

    Diving into to the CSS and .php code is do-able in theory, but is much too time consuming. I lost most of the week-end learning the tools all over again. I was determined to do it myself, at least this time, so I know what I’m talking about when I get someone else to do the job later. But there are other time pressures, so… who knows.

    But it’s so good to hear I’m not the only person going through this.

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