BlogStarter

What is BlogStarter?

BlogStarter is an emptied out WordPress theme that I use as a starting point for custom themes. It is based on the default theme, is compatible up to WordPress 2.8.6, and should work with all plugins that are properly coded to work with the latest version of WordPress.

Back when I worked on my first WordPress sites, I was always starting with either the default theme or branching off from the last site I did as a starting point. The problem was I found myself deleting and removing extra code, extra lines of CSS, or even worse, leaving in all kinds of extra lines that just made for a messy site, 404 errors with missing images.

It was slowing down each project and really making it difficult to go back and edit old projects because the code was all over the place.

So I sat down and hollowed out the default WordPress theme, taking out all the images, all the styling, everything I wouldn’t ever need, while maintaining all the working parts and standard HTML structure of a working WordPress site. Then I reorganized the CSS so that I could easily get to font colors, background images, page width, etc. There are really only a few settings that I was tweaking on each site so why dig through pages of code to get to it?

Changes from Version 1.0

After the last 6 months or so of using the first version of BlogStarter, I had been noticing some little things I missed and had put together a list of simple functions I wish I had to make life easier on myself.

With the Release of BlogStarter 2.0, there are HUGE changes and improvements:

  • I have removed the two-column version.
    • It is (for now) only a one-column theme, but is easily adapted to two if needed.
    • I found it easier to just add in a sidebar than to maintain two separate starting point themes.
  • Added some custom functions
    • Instructions are included in functions.php
    • list_tweets() – Easily add latest tweets for any user, anywhere in the theme.
    • get_slideshow() – Adds a fading slideshow, any size, that automatically reads any folder of images.
    • make_sidebar() – Even easier declaration of dynamic sidebars
    • get_flash() – Easily embed a flash file, any size.
  • Cleaned up the CSS
    • There were still some extra styles that I was constantly deleting. Now they are gone.
    • There were a lot of standard WordPress classes (for comments, searchforms, sidebars, etc.) that I was constantly adding to style.css. Those are now listed with empty {} brackets.
    • Reorganized a little, to make it even easier to edit.
  • Switched out the drop down with the powerful superfish dropdown.

A full list of changes is included in changes.txt in the theme folder.

Installing the Theme

  • Place the ‘Blogstarter’ folder and/or ‘BlogStarter OneColumn’ in ‘wp-content/themes’
  • Log in to yoursite.com/wp-admin and activate the theme.

Customizing the CSS

  • To edit the CSS, you only need to to touch ‘style.css’.
  • Most of the CSS is in ‘style/css/default.css’. It is just a basic starting point. I started with the default theme, took out all of the images, re-organized all of the styles, and brought the most needed styles to the fore-front for easy editing.
  • The most used CSS is right in ‘style.css’, right at the top so you can easily adjust fonts, colors, layout, etc.
  • You will see that body, #page, #header, #content, and #footer all look for background images in the folder ‘style/images’.
  • They all use a naming convention so that ‘body’ has ‘bg_body.jpg’, ‘#page’ uses ‘bg_page.jpg’, etc.
  • Simply uplaod images with those names and they will show up in the site.
    • You only need to edit the CSS if you want to use a .png or some other format.
    • As of version 2.0, you also have to un-comment the images in style.css. Leaving references to images that don’t exist in the CSS cause 404 errors and slows down the page load.
    • You may need to change whether they repeat or how they are aligned. I have them all set to ‘no-repeat top center’ for ease of adding standard, fitted images.

Full Instructions

A full list of instructions is included as a readme.txt in the theme folder.

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