random stream of consciousness, feel free to ignore

Apropos the need for a preview blog where you can see what a theme will look like without actually having to switch to it, could this be done via a one-click install of 2.1 on my own host, pulling down the themes from svn (it’s not so much that designers are incapable of learning how to use svn, btw. Just that we could really have done with some form of codex tutorial, rather than being left to the tender mercies of Google. Also, it’s sort of a big ask to expect end users to use svn rather than downloading zips) and popping in a theme switcher and some dummy content? Or would I need mu? Or would they just not work at all outside .com?

Widgets, though, would be a freaking nightmare. I don’t know how many are wp.com exclusive. And then there’s the blue navbar. And to fully emulate a wp.com environment I suppose I’d need to install snap preview. Which sticks in my craw just a little.

OK then, I’m just going to beg for you to make a theme-switcher widget that engtech could enable on http://wptheme.wordpress.com/, because the only thing missing from that site is that we can only see one theme at a time. I have no idea whether that’s technically feasible. Hell, I haven’t even checked whether the theme switcher plugins still work in 2.1, let alone whether they can be made mu-compatible.

(There, aren’t you glad I normally keep my hare-brained schemes within the confines of my own head?)

11 Comments »

  1. Andrea_R said

    I haven’t tested the themes in the svn on a regular WP install, but there’s a heck of a lot of wp.com-specific code in there. They mostly work in MU – but not 1.0, which was on the download page. (I think – fuzzy memory.) That one didn’t have the custom header code in it.

    But previewing themes is a lot easier than they’re making it out to be. Really. They could put the theme switcher just on one blog, they could also put up a dummy blog for each theme. Other MU-run setups are doing it.

  2. mark said

    I could sort out a string of theme-per-blogs.
    But I have to say that from a Support pov, this isn’t an issue. I get no requests along these lines. If I did it would be done – that’s why we have the faq – but it just doesn’t figure in what I read daily.

  3. engtech said

    Wank, I got something better for you.

    Send me your email addy and I’ll email you an export of wptheme.wordpress.com that you can install somewhere else on wordpress.com to have your own playground.

  4. engtech said

    This is a great idea, actually. I’m going to tidy-up WPTHEME and then release the Export file as testcases for WordPress theme designers… it wouldn’t even be specific to WordPress.com.

    Is there anything like that out there already? I know there’s the WP Theme Viewer stuff…

  5. Matt said

    The next version of the themes page (which may look something like this) will have a preview built-in. But as Mark said, people don’t mind playing around and switching themes, it’s fun. Mostly we just need something that’s going to scale to way more themes than we have today.

  6. engtech said

    @matt: Is there any chance you guys could add an option to the up-and-coming new theme viewer to sort by most/least popular?

  7. Root said

    Matt if you want to scale as a first step you could drop the theme image on the first view. Or go to thumbnails at least. BIgger image on hover. Whatever. I know the system was only designed to switch between Kubrick and Classic. Now it needs a rethink. Two. The text list could have a lot more technical detail in fields. eg Is it fixed width, liquid or em? Whats the functionality? Are plugins included? etc. And there could be a split twixt full themes and templates with style sheet only themes eg sandbox.

  8. adam said

    heh, while we’re having a brainstorm at this:

    i see that you guys have gone through all the themes on wp.com and added variables for background, link color, text color. i think i might be helpful if you used those values in the dashboard (like making the row for each theme display as it would in the theme, or just having a short sample text). that way the themes page would be less dependent on ginormo screenshots.

  9. @engtech: if you export wptheme then that will rock my world and the world of all other themers whose testing is inadequate due to their inability to write decent boilerplate text. My skins will be so much less broken for it, and nobody will have an excuse for not considering the effect of massive images on their sidebar anymore. Get Lorelle to plug it and it could improve the quality of WP themes across the board. It’s really good lorem ipsum. You should be proud.🙂

    @everyone else: Preview in the presentation panel is good, the logical place for it and means you can downsize the screenshots. Who’s going to do the tagging? staff, users, or will you just steal whatever tags themes.wordpress.net is using? I’d be tempted to have just a searchbox, a link to browse all themes and maybe some random thumbnails without details when the page first loads. That way people who know exactly what they’re looking for only have to load relevant images and descriptions. (Of course, if what they want is a two-column theme in blue and grey, the time saving will not be significant…)

  10. adam said

    i’ve always just imported the RSS feed from http://themes.wordpress.net/testrun/?feed=rss2

    although that’s less thorough than engtech’s. problem being that engtech’s thorough sidebar stuff won’t be part of that export file (you’d need an SQL backup for that (matt? mark?))

  11. engtech said

    Hmmm. Sidebars will be a problem.

    I think this is a good idea though, even if only two other people use it. Better quality themes help everyone.

    I was playing around with the new Blogger recently (I’m trying to do a mash-up blog of all my content online at http://techilicious.blogspot.com , something similar to http://www.profilactic.com/mashup/engtech but with the ability to style it, add javascript etc).

    I noticed that all of their themes have a changeable colour switcher that’s kind of neat.

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