From Spirit to Connections

Was running the Spirit Theme for WordPress ever since I upgraded my blog to WordPress 1.5.

The theme is a very good three column theme and does have a nice look to it. However, the markup it uses is a very complex mix of divs and thus maintaining and modifying it was an even greater pain.

Was always on the lookout for a three column theme and so never bothered to check out two column themes, until I stumbled upon Connections.


Connections is a two-column layout theme by Patricia Muller. A very nice color scheme. Someday, I may sit down and probably modify it to another scheme.

The theme is simply excellent and the header of the car goes very well with the name of my blog :)

I loved Spirit mainly because of its functionality. It makes proper use of the templating features offered by WordPress and I very much wanted to infuse the functionality of Spirit into Connections.
So, I took out my copy of Notepad++ as well as the inbuilt theme-editor of WP and got hacking :)

Some of the things I changed about the theme are:

  • Modified the Sidebar template to make it similar to Spirit. As in, a single sidebar file for all the pages. It uses WP’s conditional tags to load the uncommon parts of the sidebar. Also added my feeds, associate links and miscellaneous stuff. See Variable Sidebar Content.
  • Also modified the header and footer templates so as to remove the redundancy across the Main, Page, Archive, Post, Search etc. templates. So, in the future if I want to change anything in the header, I need to update a single file and not all.
  • I added the 404 template to catch 404 errors. (I wish WordPress incorporated the other errors as well!)
  • Modified the CSS file to add what was needed for my plugins and also added a whole set of settings to make the Live Calendar melt into the rest of the site.
  • Created Archives and Links template for my Archives and Links page obviously, as in Spirit. Deleted the date.php which is the date template used when a date is queried
  • Also created another template I called Pages with Comments. I felt the need to let my visitors comment on my plugins and hacks, while preventing them from commenting on other pages like the About and Rules pages. I couldn’t use the normal Pages template mainly because it didn’t display the comments form. Also, didn’t want to add the comments form to it, as then it would display across all the pages, which is what I didn’t desire. So, that is where the Pages with Comments template came into the picture. Now for pages where I would like to enable commenting, I use the above template. :)
  • Created a keywords.php file to incorporate Jerome’s Keywords.
  • Updated the Comments template, so that the comments form is only displayed for Single Post and Pages with Templates pages. Used the is_single() query to display the Related Posts, Print and Mail icons only on Single Post pages, as the latter two only work for posts and not pages.
  • Added the code for a favicon.ico in the Header. Check out your browser address bar now
  • Lastly, modified the footer to add WordPress, Spam Karma and Bad Behavior statistics.

I don’t really know if I can release the modified version of this theme (of course a more generalized version), but will contact the author and see if I have permission to do so.

Patricia has now created a Connections options and customizations page. Have already posted there and have released the modified theme as Connections Reloaded.

This entry was posted in Blogging, Connections Reloaded, Themes, WordPress

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