Well I have finally managed to successfully (I think) get a wordpress blog up and running and fit it in with the look and feel of my main web site. I have to say that it was not exactly a pleasant task and took way too many hours :(
The basic installation was incredibly easy - 5 minutes and I had a blog. Most impressive. However, customising it to fit in with the look and feel of my site was not so easy. I'm a Frontpage2003 user (cue the howls of derision) and although I added it to my site, Frontpage doesn't deal with PHP very well. I don't have huge amounts of time so I had to dip in and out of subjects such as PHP and CSS to try and understand the bits I needed to change. Still, somehow I managed to work out (with the help of many web sites) which bits to tweak to put my own graphics in and get the colour scheme about right. Typically, after I had done it I then found some tips on how to integrate it into Frontpage!!
I ended up creating a second, independent, blog on my site to allow me to play and test the above changes (good job as I trashed it more than once during my 'plugin playing' phase).
Next came the plugins - oh what a joyous world of goodies and nightmares. The basic software lacks a few things (see below) so I spent a fair bit of time looking for, installing and evaluating plugins to meet my needs. I tried out quite a few but either they didn't do quite what I wanted or I couldn't make them work! So far I've only added Alex Kings 'Grins' and Owen Winklers 'Adhesive' along with a hack to the quicktags/CSS (from WeblogTools) to create drop shadows on images.
The only concern I have making changes is what will happen when 1.3 appears? Will I need to redo everything? Guess I will probably have to wait and see! Is there a feature list anywhere for the new version?
My thoughts on wordpress so far?
Well, as a free piece of software it is very impressive and I can imagine the sheer amount of effort that has gone into creating it. However, it is not without its faults, but then what software is?. I guess it comes down to who it is aimed at. If it's just people that are serious coders and tinkerers with weeks to spare poring over CSS, PHP, HTML etc etc then its perfect. If the aim is for it to gain wider appeal to non geeks (no insult intended to geeks!) then it could really do with a number of improvements:
1. Posting. This needs a few major changes to include out of the box WYSIWYG editing, easy smilies (without remembering ever more complex combinations of characters) spell check and beefed up image insertion/formatting.
2. Plugins. Not all worked and some clash with others and they can be a bitch to install. When writing a plugin think very carefully about how it is installed and who the user base is. As soon as you mention inserting code somewhere you lose the non techies. Just look at the support forums!
3. Easier customisation of colour schemes. How about a simple list of screen items and a colour selection tool for each one? Beats playing with CSS and would suit the majority of non technical users.
Incorporate these and it will take over the world!
My next step is to learn about this pingback/trackback/rss stuff. Not clear what it's all about so if anyone knows where I can find out some easy to digest info let me know. I also want to see if I can somehow use it to manage lots of pictures as I have these on another part of the website (using Frontpage galleries).
Oh, and if anyone cares here is my baby so far http://www.MrSmash.co.uk/Blog