Support » Themes and Templates » Customization is WAY too difficult!

  • I consider myself fairly experienced with customizing and tweaking PERL forum scripts, but admittedly this is my first attempt at customizing anything PHP. I thinking about running (not walking) back to PERL. I have looked into PHP forums previously, but their customization also seemed way too limited over the pretty much menu driven customization of CGI/PERL forums.
    After several days of trying to just modify other custom templates and styles (gave up on creating my own from scratch after hour one!), I have to say that this is just way too difficult for anyone who does not have significant coding experience specifically with WordPress. Am I missing something or is there just no documentation for this that is organized in a single place rather than spread out throughout a forum of thousands of messages? Does someone wanting to customize WordPress really have to get into PHP so much? Has anyone created something menu driven or WYSIWYG? It just seems like it doesn’t need to be this difficult — the PERL stuff I’ve been using for years is far more simple and easier to customize (even from day one with my experiences with PERL scripts). I was able to just dive right into PERL scripts, quickly and easily figuring out customizations, tweaking, formats, etc.
    I realize I probably sound like a frustrated and pathetic newbie, but there’s got to be a better way to allow for customization other than 20 hours of college level instruction on PHP and CSS. Is this the way all PHP stuff is? I have not really found any significant advantages of using PHP over CGI/PERL. Is there enough of an advantage or benefit with PHP that I should stick this out and see if I’m eventually hit with a dawn of realization (after a couple of weeks or so of banging my head agains the wall)?
    Thanks for any input/feedback. Sorry to sound so frustrated, but I believe I’m mainly disappointed. So many people seem to be going with PHP over CGI/PERL these days, but after this mostly first experience, I really don’t know why.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 44 total)
  • Wow, I’m sorry to see that you’ve hit such a wall with this. I started in PHP and PERL scares me, so I understand your delima.
    There is a great reference for a slew of built in functions to wordpress, and you can find most of them on the WordPress Wiki which has both a User Manual, and a Template Function Reference.
    As for getting into PHP itself, I have found that the website itself is tremendously awesome. The ability to search through available functions by typing is awesome (for example: Add to that the decent examples and user input for solving commonly brought up issues and you should have no problem getting into this.
    As far as WYSIWYG applications, I’ve never even heard of this sort of thing – got a link to some screen shots or something? Sounds interesting.

    After several days of trying to just modify other custom templates and styles (gave up on creating my own from scratch after hour one!), I have to say that this is just way too difficult for anyone who does not have significant coding experience specifically with WordPress.

    Reading this through I am wondering whether it is php that is really causing you concern. Or as you say it is about styles (and possibly layouts and positioning).
    We can certainly understand your frustration and there is no need to feel bad about that. If you could just post a slightly more focussed question clarifying what you want to do first and we can easily get you going. But the whole triangular relationship between php mysql and the index / css is very different from perl of course. Good luck and please stay in touch 🙂

    Perl scares you? Okay, I guess it’s all a matter of perspective and what you start with then. Maybe I just need to chill, realize this PHP thing is not going to be an overnight (usually late-night) learning curve, and just use a canned template/style for now.
    Thanks for the resource suggestions. I really will check them out. Maybe I’ll actually be a convert after all this is said and done, eh? For some reason I didn’t see the Wiki before — I’ll definitely be spending a lot of time there in the near future.
    As for the WYSIWYG thing, I mainly meant for designing templates/styles. Most Perl scripts handle the formatting/layout very differently from PHP from what I can tell. One Perl forum script I usually use allows for the template to be edited via FrontPage or other WYSIWYG html editor of choice. Maybe I’m just too used to being babied with that, and need to just knuckle down and get more technical.
    Thanks again!

    Well it is often a misconception that in order to get anything done in Wp you need php coding skills. This forum in part contributes to that because it is full of folks hacking the application to death – and then some.:) The default stuff though is pretty powerful. More importantly for layouts and styling there is no need to go anywhere near the php at all. It is basic html / css. That itself can be a challenge to people new to those disciplines. The choice there is to go with what you have by simply adding a style sheet , edit the index a bit or fit a new template. If you let us know where you are headed we can definitely help.
    Then by all means add plugins or do your php thing to your hearts content. 🙂

    Sorry, Root — I sincerely didn’t mean to be so vague.
    I guess my problem is definitely a style/template thing. I really want to customize WordPress to look like the rest of my website, but that is proving to be FAR more difficult of a thing than any of the Perl scripts I’m using. I have received several confirmations of sanity out on the web by seeing other people not wanting to use WordPress because “it’s so difficult to template”, but I’ve been looking for a while and WordPress definitely seems to be the best thing going in Blogs. Like I said above, Perl scripts that I’ve used allow you to edit colors and even some formatting via menu driven scripts, checkboxes for displaying certain fields (or not), etc. I don’t want to sound like a big baby though, because with Perl scripts I typically use whatever configuration function they have and then just dive right into the actual code for any modifications or customizations that I can’t do via their more automated configuration options. I am just not able to do that with PHP. Perl seems to be a far more “obvious” scripting language, whereas PHP seems a bit more cryptic.
    I guess a specific example of my frustration is that I’ve be going in circles for hours just trying to get my Blog’s description inserted under the Blog name. Then I finally get it there, but it’s not really under, it’s next to it and wrapped, and the same size font as the name or title. The header entries for some of the templates I’m trying to tweak/modify seem to be in numerical order (I’m probably not explaining this correctly due to very little knowledge of PHP), like the name is H1, the date is H2, etc. With that being the case, where do I insert the description? It just seems like (to me) that this type of basic display option should be a menu driven checkbox setting or something rather than something I have to manually insert into a template. I mean, why did it ask me for a Blog description when I first installed the script if the default template wasn’t even going to show the description? See what I mean?
    I realize this is probably a very basic problem, but if I cannot even get beyond figuring out this, I’ll never be able to get further into customization. I just felt like I was missing something basic and obvious, but I guess what I’m missing is the knowledge of PHP.

    I guess I don’t know where the HTML ends and the PHP begins. Perl scripts don’t seem to work or be designed with that type of separation. There’s usually one place to edit how the final product is going to look, and it can usually be edited in Frontpage or some other simplistic HTML publisher. Admittedly, my limits to extensive HTML coding is limited to whatever FrontPage can do for me. I’ll look at the HTML view in FrontPage and make modifications without using the WYSIWYG mode, but I’m not just going to sit down with a text editor and design a web page from scratch.
    Again, I guess this is just a new frontier for me and I need to be a little more patient. Alas! There is no Perl blog script as nice as WordPress! It would definitely make my life a lot easier!

    Mark (podz)


    Support Maven

    @internetpilot – if you could post a link to your wp page, and a link to something close to what you want, or the link and a description of how you want things moving around, it would help hugely. You won’t be short of help 🙂

    internetpilot if you knew the folks involved there is a whole stack of people queueing here waiting to help but we need your url 🙂

    Posting the URL would be no use to anyone — it’s a new domain, new site, and now just has a default reinstall of WordPress there.
    I think my issues are far more basic and preliminary. I really want to either display the Blog description under the Blog name or just insert a graphic that has the blog name and description, but there is no style that I can find that has this. I learned Perl purely by example, looking at other people’s stuff and modifying it to suit my own needs, site theme, etc. I just can’t figure out the format of the index.php, and where to put specific template tags, etc., and cannot seem to find something like I want that I can use as a learning tool. It just doesn’t seem very intuitive to me at this point, whereas things moved along a LOT more quickly for me when learning Perl.
    To further an analogy used above, if I was able to put a bigger engine in my Ford last year after owning it for only a week, shouldn’t I expect to have enough knowledge to put a bigger engine in my new Chevy that I’ve now owned for a week? In the end, they’re both cars and combustion engines…why should it be so different. I guess I didn’t expect Perl and PHP to be so different, but I guess it’s a confirmation of sanity that it works both ways — there are people who can’t figure out Perl after using PHP.
    I think part of the problem is that this is definitely not a script for a PHP newbie — especially not one who doesn’t want to use the default look of this script. I’m okay with that. Nothing annoys me more than someone without the knowledge trying to do something they shouldn’t be doing. I think I’m probably fitting that bill myself right about now.
    I’ll hang out, do some more looking around, learning, stumbling, messing things up, etc. , and see what comes of it all in the end. I’m installing this to a brand new site, and the blog will be the primary function of this new site, so it’s not like I’ll be messing up other stuff by dinking around with WordPress.I’ll post questions along the way (with URLs by that point)…
    Thanks again!

    In my last post, I don’t want it to seem like ALL I want to do is modify the name/description display of the blog — I do want to do far more extensive style tweaking, but that was just an example of a very simplistic thing that I cannot see how to do now that I’m out of my nice, comfortable Perl pond.

    I really can not emphasise too strongly the enormous benefits of getting the thing up and running somewhere even in test form in a sub directory, because that way we can see the code. By coincidence this afternoon (here) you have had three of the most experienced forum goers with WP expertise between them in every discipline you need, stacked up waiting to help, but virtually powerless to do so.
    Once we identify a specific question you will be pointed in a much clearer direction. I might add that many of us are running test installs all over trying out hacks, plugins, tweaks and generally breaking things. I must be running 15 WP installs at least 🙂

    with all due respect and understanding for your problem I have to add that the customization/styling/layout has almost nothing to do with PHP. I am not able to write one single line of PHP code: all I am able to is to copy-paste any of the template tags.
    On the other hand I do have some knowledge of html and css – and that helps, I have to admit. If you don’t mind my advice would be: forget all this “comparison” of pearl and php… just jump into learning the relation between a html tag and the referring css properties.
    Just my 2c 🙂

    oops, that was me – sorry, I forgot to log in

    Mark (podz)


    Support Maven

    Ditto with moshu.

    Well we may as well do the hat trick. But I would like to add a bit. People who are very skilled in one area of IT may be reluctant to lose *control* by asking specific questions. They want to be pointed to learning resources so they can do it themselves. That is a really understandable and admirable approach. But a few specific instances would get you into where you need to be which is the CSS.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 44 total)
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