WordPress Site Models

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WordPress serves as a web publishing platform and Content Management System (CMS). There are a variety of layouts and site organizational structures to choose from when setting up a WordPress site. These are known as site models.

There are three core site models: blog, static, and hybrid.

There are pros and cons to each one. Let’s look at each one.

The Static Site Model

Site model example of a static website, each page on the site a separate web page - graphic by Lorelle VanFossen.In the old days, websites consisted of static web pages, one web page for each article. Today’s CMS platforms like WordPress offer the same static feel and structure as a design decision.

The challenge of using WordPress as a static site takes a little thinking around the whole posts verses Pages and categories verses tags content organization options. In general, most static sites will never use posts only Pages.
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How to Set and Manage Excerpts in WordPress

Example of a post excerpt on a multiple post pageview in WordPress with the continue reading link.There are three types of basic pageviews on WordPress: front page, single post or Page, and multiple posts. These are the different ways that content is presented within a WordPress site.

A single post or Page pageview shows the entire content. A multiple post pageview (multi-post) may show the full content of each post or an excerpt.

Most WordPress Themes automatically display excerpts on specific pageviews such as Archives, Categories, Author, and Search, but leave the decision to show the excerpt or full post on the front page of the site up to the user.

By default, WordPress displays the first 55 words of a post as the excerpt length.

This tutorial covers how WordPress handles excerpts. Continue reading

The Basics You Must Know About a WordPress Theme

code wordle - group of words that are synonyms and types of code.In 2005, WordPress became modular separating the design and architecture from the core programming code.

Today, a WordPress Theme contains files called template files that hold the architecture of the site and template tags, code that initiates actions within the site and data from the database. The design is applied through a stylesheet, holding the instructions for the colors, images, and look and feel of the entire site.

This tutorial covers the basics of the structure of a WordPress Theme and standard customization options.

The Structure of a WordPress Site

WordPress Example site featuring the layout basics of header, content, sidebar, and footer.Like all websites today, a WordPress site contains a background area, header, sidebar(s), content area, and footer.

The background area is considered the canvas that the site’s structural and design elements rest. It is usually a solid color, pattern, texture, or a design that does not overwhelm the rest of the content and design elements.

The header area content is set from within the WordPress Administration Panels through the Settings > General for the site title and site tagline.

The header art image is set from within the Appearance > Custom Header Image. WordPress now permits a wide range of images and image sizes to be used as the custom header image, and permits some level of cropping and positioning.

The sidebar(s) contain navigation, information, and design elements that complement the site’s purpose and content. In WordPress, this information is held in WordPress Widgets, modular content elements that can be moved around in the various sidebars, footers, and occasionally the header area. These are accessed and modified in Appearance > Widgets.

The footer is located at the bottom of the site. It usually features the name of the WordPress Theme and its author to give them credit, and the words “Powered By WordPress” with a link to or . It may also feature footer Widgets accessed through Appearance > Widgets > Footer.

The content area holds the content of the page depending upon the request of the user to view the front page, a Page, a single post, a search, categories, tags, author posts, archives, and other multiple post pageviews. Continue reading

Web Page Annotation and Markup on Live Web Pages

Teaching web publishing with HTML, CSS, WordPress, etc., and working with clients, I long for the ability to just look at a web page or PDF and draw on it. Point out what works, what doesn’t, editing notes, and somehow share it or preserve it. Or make notes. To scribble a note that says “I need to remember this” or “this is cool!”

Well you can.

HongKait offers “Top Web Annotation and Markup Tools,” a huge list of tools that allow you to annotate – write on – web pages. You can highlight sections, draw on them, doodle, whatever.

You can instantly share or save your annotations.

Think of the possibilities. You are working on a WordPress Theme with a client. They can scribble on the page making notes while you are chatting about it on the page at the same time.

Developing a WordPress Plugin? Imagine running tests with this with this level of collaboration. “What if I over it over here? How does this look to you?”

Layers is a tool that allows you to have a conversation on a web page with annotations and image shows the conversation and graphics.In one example, Layers, the tool allows you to add sticky notes, tweets, maps, videos, and images on web pages. Comments can be public or private. You can invite others to participate in an ongoing discussion of the web page to make it highly collaborative. Oh, this so is going to work out nice for students and clients.

Some of these are online apps, some are downloadable programs, and others are web browser extensions and add-ons. There are tons to choose from.

I’m going to use some of these in future classes to markup homework assignments, labs, etc. And what until my clients see these. Wow!

Most Common Database and Programming Errors

WordPress, web database, and web designers need to pay close attention to these two articles from TechRepublic: “Five common programming mistakes” and “Five common database development mistakes.”

The first one deals with the most common programming mistakes, a few I’ve done myself. UI craziness and variable naming inconsistencies will often eat up my time as I resolve their issues.

The second article on database development mistakes addresses many of the issues I and others have with dealing with other people’s work. A missing mistake that should be on the list is a lack of inline documentation, the notes a developer should leave to not only remind them of what happened here and why choices were made, but informs future fixers of what is going on. Without these, we have to read the code like a book, and not everyone writes based upon readable standards. We spend too much time playing detective for the simplest of fixes.

A comment in the first article really caught my eye and sums up so much of what causes problems with the code.

This isn’t the tool’s fault — the error is between the keyboard and the chair. On the one hand, it speaks volumes about the quality of these tools that I trust them so much that I lost a lot of my vigilance; on the other hand, it is still my fault that I allow convenience to turn my brain off entirely. I have learned to slow myself down when using code completion and take the extra second or two to ensure that I have made the right choice.

The biggest problem is what is sitting in the chair – remember that next time you start blaming.

Tutorial: Tools for Evaluating and Testing Web Pages

There are many online tools, web browser extensions, and add-ons to help you evaluate and test web pages. We will be talking about web page validation later, but you can use these tools now to become familiar with such tools and how to integrate them into your web browser.

Most browser-integration tools are browser specific, compared to online tools which sit in web pages, accessible through any browser. Browser-integration tools include extensions, add-ons, and bookmarklets.

How to Add an Extension or Add-on to Your Web Browser

To add an extension or add-on tool to your browser:

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Tutorial: How to Inspect, Edit, and Save a Web Page

This tutorial from the HTML Fundamentals Class I taught at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, is a guide that will show you how to:

  • View the source code of a web page.
  • How to save a web page to your computer
  • How to view a saved web page on your computer
  • How to open a web page in your text editor
  • How to view the CSS/Stylesheet for a web page
  • How to inspect the HTML and CSS of a web page
  • How to view and edit a web page at the same time

To begin this tutorial, have your web browser and text editor open on your computer. It does not matter which browser or text editor you are using. The process is basically the same.

How to view the source code of a web page

  1. Go to a web page such as the test page for the class, Welcome to Lorelle VanFossen CTEC 122 HTML Fundamentals Class on the Clark Web Server.
  2. Right click on an empty space on the web page and choose View Page Source or View Source.
  3. The resulting popup window (or tab) will show you the underlying HTML structure of the page.
  4. You may save this to your hard drive or go back and save the entire web page to your computer.

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Links and the Anchor HTML Tag

This is a tutorial from the HTML Fundamentals Class I taught at Clark College in Summer 2012. It applies to HTML and WordPress.

There are five basic forms of links on a web page.

  1. External Links
  2. Internal Links
  3. Jump Links
  4. Image/Multimedia Links
  5. Email Links

Link Basics

Links are the gateway to the web, the interconnected parts of the web that allows a web user to easily move from document to document.

A link consists of the following HTML tag structure.

<a title="Link to article title." href="http://example.com/article.html">Anchor Text</a>
  1. a: The HTML Anchor tag.
  2. title: It is required by US federal law and international law that all links have a descriptive title property. The value text must describe the destination link in a way that will inform the user of what the destination material is about and help them decide to click through. It should be no more than a few words and written in sentence form, a simple instructional form such as “Link to article on links.” This is read out loud by screen readers.
  3. href: The Hypertext Reference is the destination link. In general, it is typically an absolute link written with the full http: address such as http//example.com/article.html.
  4. Anchor Text: This is the text which the HTML Anchor tag wraps around. It is the visible element of the tag on the web page.

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Cleaning Up Your HTML and CSS Code

Dirty Markup interface for cleaning html, css, and javascriptTeaching HTML Fundamentals at Clark College in Summer Quarter 2012 was a step back into history and a good learning lesson for me about teaching but also about HTML.

I’m sharing a lot of the tutorials and guides I created for the class here which you can find in various categories but specifically under the HTML tag.

I’d like to share with you one of the great tools I uncovered. It’s called Dirty Markup and describes itself as the “Tidy and Beautify your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code tool.”
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Tutorial: Tidy Your HTML and CSS Code

The following is a tutorial for the HTML Fundamentals Class for Clark College. The information pertains to all web design, development, and WordPress fundamentals in WordPress Theme and Plugin development.

There programs designed to "tidy" your HTML and CSS into a format that meets typical standards for code layout. These take hard-to-read markup (code) and clean them up into a consistent format.

These tidy programs will not fix your broken code, but they may identify errors to help you fix it yourself.

Example of Tidy HTML cleaner before and after

Tidy programs were originally created by Dave Raggett to help clean up the HTML code. HTML TIDY now supports HTML5 and HTML exported from Google Docs, Word, and other publishing programs.

There is now a community supporting TIDY and you can learn more on TIDY Sourceforge Project.

There are also CSS TIDY programs. These work the same as the HTML versions. They include: CSSTidy and CSS Formatter and Optimiser/Optimizer (Online).

TIDY is available for cleaning up online or offline, and is incorporated into many text editors and programming editors. it is available for a variety of operating systems and in different programming languages such as Java, Perl, and Python.

To use these, follow the instructions provided by the developer. Always save a backup of the original file, called "about.bak" or something similar, just in case.

For online versions, it is as simple as uploading the file to be cleaned or pasting the file contents into the form. Copy the cleaned code and paste it into a copy of the file name or create a new version of the file and rename it to the desired name.

Learn More About TIDY

WordPress and PHP

I had the honor of being a guest speaker for the PHP class at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. The following is the slideshow presentation and references and resources mentioned during the presentation.

WordPress Codex PHP and Programming References

Other WordPress and PHP References and Resources

Testing Broken Posts

The following is a test for my students to detect code errors. It features Lorem Ipsum based upon the cult television show, Arrested Development.


Let ‘Em Eat Cake

No… but I’d like to be asked! I’m half machine. I’m a monster. Get me a vodka rocks. And a piece of toast.

Meat the Veals

I’m half machine. I’m a monster. I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it. It’s called ‘taking advantage.’ It’s what gets you ahead in life. Really? Did nothing cancel? Whoa, this guy’s straight?

  • I’m afraid I just blue myself.
  • Steve Holt!

Meat the Veals

There’s so many poorly chosen words in that sentence. He’ll want to use your yacht, and I don’t want this thing smelling like fish. But I bought a yearbook ad from you, doesn’t that mean anything anymore? Well, what do you expect, mother? I’m afraid I just blue myself. No… but I’d like to be asked!

Good Grief!

Really? Did nothing cancel? Michael! We just call it a sausage.

  1. We just call it a sausage.
  2. I’m afraid I just blue myself.
  3. We just call it a sausage.
  4. I’m afraid I just blue myself.

Mr. F

There’s so many poorly chosen words in that sentence. Whoa, this guy’s straight? That’s what it said on ‘Ask Jeeves.’ We just call it a sausage. No… but I’d like to be asked! I care deeply for nature.

Exit Strategy

Well, what do you expect, mother? I’m afraid I just blue myself. I don’t criticize you! And if you’re worried about criticism, sometimes a diet is the best defense. Bad news. Andy Griffith turned us down. He didn’t like his trailer. Bad news. Andy Griffith turned us down. He didn’t like his trailer.

Guy’s a pro. Get me a vodka rocks. And a piece of toast. I’m a monster.

Really? Did nothing cancel? There’s only one man I’ve ever called a coward, and that’s Brian Doyle Murray. No, what I’m calling you is a television actor. It’s a hug, Michael. I’m hugging you. Not tricks, Michael, illusions. No! I was ashamed to be SEEN with you. I like being with you. There’s so many poorly chosen words in that sentence.

How WordPress Boots Up: A Step-by-step Examination of the WordPress Loop

Theme.fm has a series of three articles on how WordPress boots up, how it moves through the process as a visitor lands on their first page on your site and a step-by-step look at the WordPress Loop.

  1. WordPress Internals: How WordPress Boots Up
  2. WordPress Internals: How WordPress Boots Up Part 2
  3. WordPress Internals: How WordPress Boots Up Part 3 – Theme.fm

As a visitor lands on a web page on a WordPress site, the browser begins the process of loading the visitor request to view a specific page. On that web page, there are codes that instruct WordPress to pull information from the site design files called WordPress Theme template files, from WordPress Plugins, from the database, and other code requests to literally build a viewable page instantly for the visitor. These articles dig deeply into how WordPress code works with all the various programs and options to generate that page.