Ladies and gentlemen, today’s a great day in the history of Cutline, and it really has little to do with the fact that version 1.1 is now on the table (get it here). The most excellent thing about this new release is that I’ve tweaked the theme in such a way that your life might now be easier.
I realize that with past theme updates, you tweakers and hackers out there have had a rough go of things. Adapting modified styles and sifting through stylesheets isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, so in addition to playing nicely with WordPress 2.1, finding a way for you guys to futureproof design modifications was priority number one.
Thanks to a handy little custom stylesheet solution, your CSS changes will no longer be affected by future versions of the theme. This excellent update stands at the top of the list of this release’s major changes, which you can read about below.
Cutline 1.1 Changelog
In past releases, I tried to modify as little XHTML as possible in order to simplify each update. However, as I’ve learned more and more about site development, I realized that some of my markup just made no sense semantically. Also, I felt like the theme was lacking some key elements that aid in user experience, so I figured now was as good a time as any to add those bells and whistles.
So, here are the changes that you need to know about:
- 1. Custom stylesheet to segregate user-initiated design changes
- For all you theme-tweakers out there, this is huge. I’ve appended the
<body>tag with a CSS class called “custom,” and then I’ve added a separate CSS file called
custom.cssthat you can use to implement your modified styles. You can find further instructions inside
- 2. Hacks for IE6 and 7 moved to separate CSS files
- Best practices for Web standards call for the use of conditional stylesheets to specify CSS declarations that are browser-specific. Cutline has a reputation for being squeaky clean, and strict adherence to Web standards is a must if that reputation is going to persist.
- 3. Tagline added to the header
- We might as well throw a ticker-tape parade for this one. The crowd roars. I smile. And I know a little more about your site because you’ve got a killer tagline up top.
- 4. Comments link behavior in the tags area (after a post) changed
- I thought the underline behavior looked ugly, especially when Georgia’s (the default font) 3s, 4s, 5s, 7s and 9s, which descend beneath the baseline, intersected with the underline. Okay, so I’m a freak.
- 5. XHTML elements after each post changed
- In previous versions,
<h4>tags were used to indicate the end of a post and also to create the whitespace between post listings on the front page. Semantically, this is beyond dumb, and there were also inconsistencies across different browsers in terms of margin rendering. In order to rectify this, the most obvious element to use is a styled
<hr />tag. Instead, however, I elected to use a special clearing
<div>element because it will cause less confusion for folks who might choose to change the background color of the theme (because not all browsers handle
<hr />elements the same way).
- 6. Comment numbers added to each comment, and comment permalinks moved to these numbers
- On sites with a lot of comments, I’ve noticed that people often refer to each other by comment number rather than by name. I think this is a natural and effective means of communication, and since it aids in understanding (and therefore user experience), I’ve chosen to include that feature in Cutline. Personally, this is one of my favorite additions to the theme.
- 7. Comment spacing tweaked
- With comments like the ones on this theme, it’s a constant battle to try and achieve perfect spacing. The primary goal is to maximize scannability, but it’s also important to make them as concise as possible so as to keep pages from getting too vertical.
- 8. Comment submit button now completely wicked
- The old comment submit button was a flat piece of garbage. The new one is totally cool.
- 9. CSS for blogroll adapted to better code in WordPress 2.1
- The 2.0.x series of WordPress releases generated some pretty lame XHTML when outputting blogrolls. As a result, theme developers were forced to resort to tricks or bloated CSS in order to have things display properly. In 2.1, the code has gotten a little bit smarter, but it’s still not where I’d like to see it. Either way, it works, and I was able to drop about 1kB of code from the stylesheet.
- 10. Added an Archives link after the recent post listing in the sidebar
- Being able to move easily between different parts of your site is key, and this is oftentimes most evident to the site owner, as he/she is the person most likely to traverse all sections of the site. I caught myself looking in recent posts all the time, only to find that the post I was looking for was buried deeper in the archives. Instead of getting frustrated over the fact that I now had to find the Sitemap or the Archives page, I just added a link in this location to solve the problem.
- 11. Archives and Sitemap pages updated to reflect template tag changes
- If you upgraded to WordPress 2.1 while still using Cutline 1.03, you might have noticed that your Archives and Sitemap pages either behaved strangely or stopped working entirely. This was due to the fact that the template tags I used in those versions to generate category listings are no longer supported in WordPress 2.1. Naturally, I changed the code and brought this bad boy up to spec, so now you’re good to go.
- 12. Changed the footer entirely
- The old footer sucked and was an eyesore. This one doesn’t and isn’t.
Special Upgrade Notes
Cutline 1.1 is only intended for use on blogs running WordPress 2.1 or higher. If you install this version of Cutline on an older version of WordPress, your blogrolls will be totally whack, and your Archives and Sitemap pages will crap out.
Also, if you’re looking for updated versions of the random header image generator files, you can find them here:
Finally, if you had already upgraded to Cutline 1.1 before reading this, please check your files! There’s a good chance that you don’t have the custom CSS solution described above, and trust me — this is one feature that you don’t want to live without!