I’ve been quite busy the past few weeks doing improvements to this blog. I have used the twenty-ten WordPress theme that I was never very happy with. Not a big deal, anyway. The content is much more important. But the biggest complaint that I had was with an endless list of plugins that I installed over the years to achieve minor features that could be otherwise part of the default theme.
Almost a month ago I started a big revamping of the site. I did not want to re–engineer another theme so I went forward with my old one. I had two things in mind: to make it more flexible for the growing content (will get back on this in a sec) and to get rid of most of the plugins. I am not a PHP guru, but I have some knowledge, at least sufficient for the task at hand.
This being said, I hate plugins. First of they, they inject all kind of things, functions, calls, APIs and comments that I really don’t want to have. Secondly, many are poorly designed and poorly tested and crippled by a sub–mediocre maintenance cycle. Many core WordPress updates break compatibilities and plugin authors do not bother to update them anymore. Lastly — but not the least — I believe I am a control freak and I don’t want to let it go to some uncontrolled code creeping into. While I understand plugin development is mostly a pro–bono, for fun activity, and I also understand the lack of motivation (to some extent), I also had some very unpleasant surprises even with plugins that offer commercial versions and paid support. I will not trash any of them here. It is not in my nature to trash or mock or bully. But at a one moment I had enough: when redirects started to play tricks on my admin login enablements, and caches did not want to get deleted, when deleting spam comments became impossible via the dedicated “Empty Spam” button, I decided it was the time to get rid of all these plugins, put on paper a list of features that I could not live without and develop these myself. So this is the list of enhancements.
I have added two more taxonomies. I found out that the default categories (or, as named here, topics) and tags are not enough. Some posts here have a sequential logic, it makes sense to read them one after another. Although I can create some categories and assign these posts, I did not want to end up with tens of categories and hundreds of tags that would make navigation impossible. So I created the Series taxonomy which is exactly what suggest: series of posts, related to a specific topic, for example NSOutlineView tutorials or other subjects.
Another taxonomy is dedicated to the projects, for example my USB–controlled PSU, or the Dummy Load: all documented activities within the realm of these are grouped by Projects taxonomy.
Better navigation (hopefully)
There are some Related Posts plugins but I don’t want to use them. I’ve made my own YARPP–mockups, each single entry type (or post) will display additional navigation information related to posts from same series or projects:
Any post within a series will display a yellow banner with a link to the bottom of the entry where, alongside usual categories (topics) and tags, a tabbed box will provide links to posts from same series. Same will happen with posts from projects taxonomy, but I am still in the midst of organising them so it will appear some time in the future.
Other changes are less visible: SEO, code optimisation, caching, extensive admin features etc. All done after deleting the plugins (and cleaning the mess they leave behind in the database !!!).
That’s it for now. I hope my visitors will find it easier to use, navigate and find whatever they might find useful here. And, again, I’d be very happy to answer to any of your comments.