Happy Black Friday

I’m finally sitting in a Starbucks on my laptop and doing some writing. Welcome to 2010. Yeah, I’m running a bit behind. I had to fight my way through a line non-existent Holiday-cup protesters. Did anyone other than headline writers really care about that?

What Have I learned already? I’m suffering from trackball withdrawal. I miss a second big monitor, but I’ll live. The wifi here is crazy fast. 55mbps down, 10mbps up! The food and drinks are not as expensive as I was thinking. There are reasonably priced drinks and food on the menu, just don’t go straight for the premium items if you’re going to be hanging out a while. I think it’s good etiquette to buy something occasionally. I think they might frown on bringing a sack lunch.

I trying to learn to live without my Logitech Trackman Marble Trackball. This is not a random recommendation. After I upgraded my computers away from being able to use my U series Wacom tablet(circa 1997) my trackball is the oldest working piece of hardware I’m currently using. I’ll note that it doesn’t look like Logitech has updated that trackball. There is a good reason for that.. I think it’s perfect as it is. I think I should by couple and put them away just in case something happens to the one I have. This is what one looks like after about 10 years. Yes, I wore off the finish!2015-11-02 10.46.52

New Theme: Part 3; Building the Framework.

My first step is to remove the style.css content leaving the theme registration.

Theme Name: mrtwebdesign
Theme URI: http://underscores.me/
Author: Matthew Taylor
Author URI: http://mrtwebdesign.com
Description: My own theme.. for me.
Version: 1.0
License: GNU General Public License
License URI: license.txt

This theme, like WordPress, is licensed under the GPL.
Use it to make something cool, have fun, and share what you've learned with others.

 mrtwebdesign is based on Underscores http://underscores.me/, (C) 2012-2013 Automattic, Inc.

Not very exciting. But I’ll be using this file for CSS overrides if needed. I’ll generally just try to customize the Foundation files in place.

New theme: Part 2, The nuts and bolts.

I need a solid start to my theme. I’ve tried starting with twentyten, twentyeleven and twentytwelve. Not a bad place to start.. but I want to make sure I get away from the styled elements of those themes. I could start with a premium framework.. but I want something really lean and flexible. I am happy to add my own custom functions as I need them. So the starting point I selected is a starter theme: underscores.  or.. ‘_S’ by Automattic.  Yup.. by the same people that are behind WordPress. You won’t find Underscores in the theme archive.. it’s not a complete theme. Just the beginning of one.

For my CSS reset I’m ripping out the one used in Underscores and using Normalize.css that comes with Foundation.

I’m using Foundation for responsive layout. I’ve been using Twitter Bootstrap. What first caught my eye about Foundation was the extra control I have over the layout for narrower displays.  I was ready to try something new.. but this was a great chance to learn it outside of a client project.

Here is a list of my current tools:

  • Underscores by Automattic
  • Foundation by Zurb
  • Sass – css pre-processor(handled by Codekit)
  • Codekit – for.. a bunch of stuff! can’t live without it.
  • Sublimetext 2 – code editing(Solarized – dark color scheme)
  • Xampp – local server for developement
  • Tower – version control
  • Transmit – FTP
  • Browserstack for device testing

Next post: Part 3; Building the Framework.

New theme: Part 1

I’m writing the mutli-part article in the hopes that it may help other designers and developers with their projects. I’ve always believed it’s about the follow-through on a project. It’s not about secret methods and tricks to get things done. It’s about hard work and well-considered decisions.

Not all themes are the same. Themes should be different because each is being build to fulfill a specific function and conform to a clients needs. For a common blog WordPress offers over 1,700 themes for free. There are also a multitude of premium themes out there that cater to many different markets. Blogs, online stores, online magazine, reviews, hobbies.. and so on.

I’m building a theme for my own website. This can be tricky.. it’s not easy being your own client. Luckily I have some guidlines in mind that should make the decisions about features a little easier. My immediate goals are:

  • get the first version up quickly
  • a portfolio custom post type
  • demonstrate modern web design techniques
  • elegant design with a solid UI

This could describe a lot of themes clients ask for. One of the primary differences is how and why I have the first item listed. There will be many iterations of my theme because the theme is going to be built to help grow my web design business. I get work through oDesk and by word-of-mouth, but I really need to start doing more to get clients directly. It may seem silly that my own website isn’t where I started in the first place.. but that is another story. There is also a common problem that I hear stated by a lot of web designers and developers. “Who’s going to pay me to build my own website?” Nobody, of course. Then you have to decide.. do I give up client work to build my own website? At some point.. we all do.

Next post: The nuts as bolts. Actually selecting parts and putting them together.