Archives For Web Dev

New Theme

November 24, 2008 — Leave a comment

On of the great things about using Wordpress as a content management system is finding new themes to change the design of your website. Each time you change the design you get a fresh set of challenges. No theme is perfect, so you get to spend time fixing the details that drive you crazy, but in the process, you allways learn something. Bear with me while I slowly debug my new theme – colored paper.

Look at this Google trends search comparing the terms “wiki, blog, music, movies”. It would appear searching for music online is in decline (but there is a definit Christmas time bump as people fill there new iPods and laptops with movies and music). But look at the steady climb of blogs and wikis, they are almost as popular now as online music (the term MP3 follows music but is lower).

Blogs

So what’s the deal? Why are blogs and wikis so popular? Are they really as popular a search term as music and movies? To try and find the answer I looked at the cities and countries where the data comes from. Blogs are dominated by the French and Vietnamese?

The word blog returns 3,510,000,000 results worldwide on Google (that’s 3.5 Billion with a B). My research (consisting of asking Google “blogs popular in france”) returned this article. Although it is already 2 years old, it asked the same questions and reports that users of France’s most popular blog spent over an hour there on average versus just 12 minutes in the US.

French blogs stands out in other measurable ways. They are noticeably longer, more critical, more negative, more egocentric and more provocative than their U.S. counterparts, said Laurent Florès, the French-born, New York-based chief executive of CRM Metrix, a company that monitors blogs and other online conversations on behalf of companies seeking feedback on their brands.

“Bloggers in the United States listen to each other and incorporate rival ideas in the discussion,” he said. “French bloggers never compromise their opinions.”

Wiki

Wiki appears to be crazy popular in Japan. Just look at these results:

Let’s ask the same question. First some anecdotal evidence, like this article about a Japanese government official caught doing something he should not have been on the internet…editing wikipedia articles about the robot toys known as Gundam?
I love this quote:

“The agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam,” ministry official Tsutomu Shimomura said.

The agriculture ministry verbally reprimanded five other bureaucrats who contributed to entries on movies, typographical mistakes in billboard signs and local politics. The six employees together made 408 entries on the popular Internet encyclopedia from ministry computers since 2003.

Test

One term I that myself use a lot is the word “test”. When ever think my internet connection may have been lost, I open my browser, and just to make sure I’m not looking at a cached version of google, I type test. I figured I was not the only one so test is pretty high on google’s rankings. The suprising thing is where it is popular.

Note that I graphed it versus, xp and jobs. Both of those show new year increases (one for new christmas computers, the other for new years resultions I imagine).

But look how steady test is, which fits my theory that the term “test” is used to actually test google. Now look at the regions:

The Germans are not only number 1, they dominate with the top 5 cities. What is going on here? It does fit the sterotype.

If you want to have a local development version of WordPress (or any other local development platform for that matter), the best way to do this is to install Server2go. This lets you have a simple, portable version of the database (mySQL) and the web server (Apache) that you can run locally and copy with all your folders, or give to others to run…

Why do this? Because otherwise, getting to the point where you can start developing themes or plugins is a pain.

I consider myself a well rounded developer. I don’t play favorites. That means, from one day to the next I may find my self in php, coldfusion, or java. I build prototypes using ext.js framework and also have local versions of Joomla, Conflunce, MediaWiki, and even Websphere portal with WCM, and SAP Portal (I keep those beasts locked away in a WMWare enviroments). But VMware is overkill for something as light Lose Weight Exercise as WordPress.
Here are the steps for setting up a local WordPress dev enviroment with Server2Go.


  1. Download Server2Go – there are several versions. To pick the right one, check the requirements of the software you want to run. Since I want to run wordpress – I look at it and downloaded this one - (only ~23MB – nice).
  2. Extract it somewhere (you can move it later) and and launch the server2go.exe. this starts the server. Any time you want to work in in, just launch it. If you want to change the way it works (like launch firefox instead of IE, edit pms_config.ini file.
  3. Server2Go will launch IE for you and show the default screen. Now we have to create a wordpress database. So click phpMyAdmin under tools on the right.
  4. In the Create Database feild type “wordpress” (no quotes) and press “Create”.
  5. Download the WordPress package and unzip it into the htdocs folder in your server2go folder.
  6. In your browser type: http://127.0.0.1:4001/wordpress/
  7. Follow the instructions onscreen – click the create wp-config.php button, then “let’s go”
  8. Type “wordpress” (no qoutes) into the Database name feild and submit.
  9. Then you see this and that’s it! WordPress should now be installed.
  10. Once your in wordpress, you can download themes from the internet and unzip them to the themes folder. Once you do, you can see them on the Design page in the wp_admin.
  11. I like to find a theme that is close to what I want and modify it. Once you find one you like, create a site in dreamweaver and edit the theme from there. You can save changes to the php files and css and see them in immediatly on the site by refreshing.

Datejs is a simple, fast and very powerful way to add a date picker to your site that accepts all sorts of relative date strings and turns them into standardized date objects. The user can type any think like “tomorrow” or “last November” and Datejs will translate that string into a date format you can pass through for server side processing.

http://www.datejs.com/

Google is planning to release an application programming interface for its Google Trends program, according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. She also said the company would make it possible to download data from Google Trends into spreadsheets. Mayer said she couldn’t provide a time frame for either action.

Google trends has become an valuable tool for me in comparing the popularity of everything from HDTV sets, websites, software, and presidential candidates to vacation spots. I can’t wait to see what kind of mash-ups the web community creates.