Cutline Theme for WordPress

One Giant Leap for Mankind

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Cutline Premium Support Pricing

December 4th, 2008 · Release Notes

After much research, thought and deliberation, we’ve come to what we think are reasonable rates for premium support for the Cutline theme. Recall that I’ve mentioned this idea before, and it seems some folks would be willing to spend a few bucks to get quick support or fixes. And we’ve also thought about those who don’t only want quick fixes, but rather a whole slew of modifications and fixes to their Cutline-themed blogs.

And so, let me introduce our rates:

  • Email consultation for $50. We can provide technical and design-related support via email, wherein one of our designers or programmers would delve deep into your blog’s design or code, and do the edits on-site. Here we can walk you through how you can do these edits yourself.
  • Design overhaul or customization for $200. We can help with design customizations and big changes, as long as it still works within the Cutline framework (meaning no major changes to the underlying WordPress code will be done). This also includes creating custom headers and other graphics, so your site will look unique. The pricing is just enough to give our designer an incentive to primp up your site, but it’s just a fraction of the cost of designing a theme from scratch.
  • Cutline premium forum subscription for $3.99 per month. In the premium support forum we can directly respond to user/reader inquiries in a timely manner. We will still maintain the existing forum free, but this would be mostly for user-to-user discussion and support (and all content that was previously free will still remain accessible to the public).

We already welcome consultations and design overhauls–please get in touch with us through our Contact Form and we can discuss your needs.

We do hope these rates are reasonable enough. But of course, if all you need are really quick fixes that would likely only take us five minutes to do, then you don’t have to worry about paying a cent for those.

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Why Don’t Header Links Work and How Can I Edit Post Slug?

November 24th, 2008 · How To

One of the more popular support inquiries we’ve been receiving recently is why header navigation links don’t work, and how to enable or change post and page slugs. This has been discussed here before, but for the benefit of users who have not had the chance to review the previous discussion, we hope to shed some light on this issue.

Most of the time, the problem here lies with a blog’s permalink structure. Cutline was designed for use with blogs that use search-friendly URLs or permalinks. If your site uses a URL structure that looks like this:

http://siteurl.com/?p=xx

Then in all likelihood your site still uses the default WordPress permalink structure. There are drawbacks to this, and it’s mostly with searchability and user familiarity. It’s easier to recall http://www.blogherald.com/about than http://www.blogherald.com/?p=1656. The added benefit is that it makes it easier for search engines to pick up your site using keywords found in the URL.

It’s easier to recall friendly permalinks than ID or number-based ones. The added benefit is that it makes it easier for search engines to pick up your site using keywords found in the URL.

And so it makes sense to use a permalink structure that uses the post slug rather than just the post or page ID number.

And as for Cutline, the default header links (aside from the Home link) look like this:

  • http://siteurl.com/about
  • http://siteurl.com/archives

The part that comes after the URL is what you call the slug, and this is usually derived from the name of a post or page, unless you specifically edit it.

Activating friendly permalinks

To activate friendly permalinks, you go to your WordPress dashboard, and then to SettingsPermalinks. You are then given a few choices, which can reflect the date, category, name or other details specific to a post or page.

At Cutline, we use /%postname%/ which means the post or page slug comes right after the site’s URL. So a title named “Test Post” will usually have a slug test-post and a URL http://cutline.tubetorial.com/test-post, unless I edit the slug.

I usually recommend using the post category in the URL structure, as this helps by adding more keywords to the URL.

/%category%/%postname%/

If you prefer a shorter URL structure, then you can perhaps just use the /%postname%/. Some others would prefer adding the post year, month or day in the post field, but this can get messy, since in the event that you change post dates, links to the original URL will be broken. Static WordPress pages are unaffected by this, though, and their URL structures are usually the page slug appended right after the site’s URL.

Now if you’re editing the permalink structure through the WordPress admin panel, WordPress assumes your site’s .htaccess file is editable by the server. Otherwise, when you save the new URL structure, you would have to edit .htaccess yourself.

If that still doesn’t work, perhaps your server doesn’t support mod_rewrite. Check with your hosting provider if this can be activated.

You can check out this section of the WordPress codex for more information.

Editing the Slug

On latter versions of WordPress (2.6 up), the slug editing field can be found right below a post or page title, and this is highlighted in yellow, with an Edit link right after.

On older versions, the slug field can be found at the right sidebar of the post editor. The post and page slug usually follows the title of the post. So be careful when writing long titles–this also means your post slug will be lengthy. In those cases, it would help to manually edit the post slug for brevity.

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Would You Consider Paying for Cutline Theme Support?

October 21st, 2008 · Site Updates

Here’s a concept I mentioned in my previous post. While the popularity of premium themes has been growing of late, most of these require an outright purchase, which then includes some form of support from the theme author. However, some are moving towards free, open source releases (like Brian Gardner’s Revolution), and then offering paid support.

This is one path we’re considering taking.

So in this case, the theme is essentially free for use by anyone who wishes to download it. But if you find yourself facing a brick wall during install or customization, you can pay someone to help you with this. Paying a few bucks sure beats having to endure endless hours of figuring out what has gone wrong and the ensuing headaches thereafter! And paying your own designer to tweak or customize your site might be a bit expensive, unless you have designer friends who would be willing to do the fixes for you over beer or coffee (tea works for me).

While I said earlier that we’re not considering paid support anytime soon, that “anytime soon” turned out to be just a few days. Fact is, we’ve regularly been receiving emails asking for help with various matters. And while the answers to most of these inquiries can be found in the freely-available support forums I guess some users don’t have the time to search or weed through the numerous entries and responses, and would rather get a straight-to-the-point answer.

Some even ask us to directly work on their themes. We’d been glad to oblige, but in many cases, we realize that tweaks and changes would require some time to work on. And being busy folks, we do have to work out our priorities.

I’m thinking of two options here. First, we could run a paid support forum alongside the existing one, which is free. After all, we wouldn’t want to lock down something that has been open to the public for a while now. But a paid, subscriber-only forum should be able to offer quicker answers (from the developers) and possibly other value added information. Think of Hive, where established probloggers share valuable information and insights with a closed group.

The second option would be to offer direct support paid by the hour. This can be in the form of email, chat, and actual manipulation of the sites/blogs in question.

Or, it could be both.

But I would like to get users’ opinion on this first. How much would you pay for membership to a support forum? How much would you pay hourly for theme support? Or would you, at all?

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The Licensing Implications of Premium Themes

October 1st, 2008 · Release Notes

If you’re familiar with the Linux operating system, and its derivatives, you would most certainly be aware that Linux in itself is free. It’s both free in the sense that you’re free to build on the core operating system, and that much of the source code is open for anyone to see and modify. Freedom of speech free. It’s also free in that most distributions can be freely downloaded or distributed through various means. Free as in free beer.

This is the beauty of the GPL license through which Linux is released.

However, this does not preclude businesses and individuals from charging for support for Linux-related activities. For example, people can charge for installing Linux. People can charge for training your personnel in the use of Linux. People can charge for telephone, email, or chat support, and so on and so forth. So this means there is a business model that can be built on free.

And if you’re using WordPress, the very same license applies. This means that if you are to create software that is built on WordPress, then you would have to distribute it with the same license.

Does this apply to WordPress themes?

That is the question. And I think that’s the issue that has been brought about by the news that Brian Gardner’s Revolution theme is going open source.

Revolution is currently sold as a premium theme, which means you need a license to legally use it on your site (or sites, depending on how many licenses you acquire, or if you get the bulk license). Sure there are a lot of paid themes out there, but Revolution catches our eye because it’s made by none other than Brian Gardner, and it’s so darn great. And while the announcement that Revolution would shift to open source does not necessarily mean it’s because of WordPress license problem, but this is the glaring possibility that creators of premium themes are now facing.

In Brian’s own words:

I contacted Matt and Toni to see if they would be gracious enough to carve out some time to meet with us, so we could ensure that our business model was in compliance with standards set forth by the authors of the GPL license as well as with WordPress.

And commented by Thord Hedengren on the Blog Herald:

So does this mean that the current premium theme model, in which you pay for using a theme that might or might not inherit the GPL license of WordPress, is something that Automattic dislikes, and might even fight in the future? I’m reading between the lines here, and there’s been a lot of discussions around the blogosphere regarding premium themes and their legality, with no obvious consensus. While I’m not sure Automattic, or anyone else, could force a premium theme publisher to release their work as GPL just because it builds upon the GPL’d WordPress base, I personally wouldn’t want to fight about it, if it was my business model.

Premium WP themes usually come with author support. So if you paid for a theme, in most cases you are entitled to getting help from the creator. Could premium theme authors then argue that it is, in fact, this support that the users pay for, rather than the theme itself? It could be something like a subscription- or membership-based setup, where you gain XXX years support in exchange for YYY amount of money. No sir, we don’t sell the theme outright–it’s free, but you only pay for our help (now or in the future).

It’s something worth thinking about. For now, as for us behind Cutline (at least for those of us who have inherited updates and support for the theme) we’re not thinking of charging for support anytime soon. Anyway it’s part of our job to help users the best we can.

But think of it this way. Would you pay for a theme, or support (whichever way you want to look at it), if it would mean you can better implement a theme on your site, and installing, maintenance and updates would be smoother and easier?

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Using Static Header Images in Cutline Version 1.3

August 7th, 2008 · Cutline Mods

The more recent versions of the Cutline Theme use a dynamic header image, which is based on what kind of page a blog is currently showing. At present, for version 1.3 there are five default images that can be found under the /images folder as header_x.jpg (where x = 1 to 5), which rotate in random.

I’ve received several inqiuries on how to set a static page instead, either just to set one of these images as the sole static image, or to replace it with another one–perhaps an image with the blog title or a corporate/brand header image perhaps.

One solution would be to rename the image you want as the single static header image to header_1.jpg, header_2.jpg, header_3.jpg, header_4.jpg and header_5.jpg and upload these into the /images folder. That would take some space, though. While this is negligible for most people, the few milliseconds processing time it takes for the server to randomize from 1 to 5 might be a concern if you run a site with huge traffic.

The better way to do it would be to access the header file header.php from either FTP or the WordPress theme editor, and look for these lines below:


<div id="header_img">
<img src="<?php bloginfo('template_url'); ?>/images/header_<?php echo(rand(1,5)); ?>.jpg" width="770" height="140" alt="<?php bloginfo('name'); ?> random header image" title="<?php bloginfo('name'); ?> random header image" />
</div>

You will notice the part that says header_<?php echo(rand(1,5)); ?>.jpg which outputs a random integer from 1 to 5. If you wish to set any of the five built-in images as the sole static images, just replace header_<?php echo(rand(1,5)); ?>.jpg with header_X.jpg with X being the number of the image file name of your choice.

Or if you’ve already uploaded your custom header image onto the /images folder (prescribed dimensions are 770 x 140 px), you can just simply replace the entire thing with the filename of your image.

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Enabling the “About” and “Archives” Pages on Cutline

June 23rd, 2008 · How To

Hi folks. The last update on the Cutline blog was ages ago, and I feel it’s time to keep things fresh, at least to the extent that we can. Recently, we have been receiving a handful of support inquiries on how to enable the “about” and “archives” pages that come linked on the Cutline header by default. Well, the answer here should be simple as explained in one of our earlier instruction posts, and it has even been expounded upon right here, just in case your permalink structure is a bit different from what how we would usually do it.

Simply put, Cutline’s navigation bar links to the Archives and About pages will work if you have static pages published with the page slug as /archives and /about, respectively.

This means that under the WordPress admin panel, you navigate down to WritePage and then input the following:

For the archives page

  1. Title: Archives (or whatever title you want the page to have)
  2. Page slug: archives

And then click publish. The archives page should take care of itself. Cutline will automatically publish a page with your archives organized according to month and category (or tag, if your WP version supports it), as long as there is a page called “archives” and your permalink structure is set correctly.

For the about page

  1. Title: About (or whatever title you want the page to have)
  2. Page slug: about
  3. Input your desired about text in the text field

And then hit publish. For the about page, you actually need to have something in the text field or else the about page will be blank (just the title).

If you have done these and still the About and Archive pages do not appear properly, then maybe you have a different permalink structure or setup. You can resolve this by either of the following means:

First, under OptionsPermalinks you have to set your permalink structure to have the following parameter defined:

/%postname%/

So it could either be

/%category%/%postname%/

or even

/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/

or anything else, as long as the %postname% parameter is included. This ensures that WordPress calls the pages with slug “about” or “archives” when these are accessed via the header navigation links.

If you’re running WordPress using the default permalink structure, you can edit the header.php file such that you change the links to /about and /archives. Simply look for these lines:

<li><a <?php if (is_page('about')) echo('class="current" '); ?>href="<?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/about/">about</a></li>

and replace the part that says is_page('about') with is_page(##), where ## is the page ID of your About page.

And also replace the part that says <?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/about/">about</a> with <?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/?p=##">about</a> where ## is the page ID of your About page.

Note that page IDs can be found under ManagePages.

Same with the Archives page. Simply look for the line that says

<li><a <?php if (is_archive() || is_page('archives')) echo('class="current" '); ?>href="<?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/archives/">archives</a></li>

and replace is_page('archives') with is_page(##), and also href="<?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/archives/">archives with href="<?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/?p=##">archives

where ## is the page ID for your Archives page.

If these still don’t work, then perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. Drop us a line and let us help you out.

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Cutline 1.3 Released

April 25th, 2008 · Release Notes

Update – Download links fixed. Spaces, underscores, dashes, oh my. Let me know what you think of the latest edition.

Cutline is still being developed, there are always changes to make, and this time, more than any other release I think I have changed the theme so average users can get into it easier.

Remember that Archive link in the header of every installation? I have since removed it, making sure to use WordPress’ built-in page listing code, so top level pages will be displayed automatically rather than having to edit the theme.

I have also taken some advice given freely to me by Gabriel Radic on his Timbru blog, so if you like the changes, please thank him.

There are no more italics in the blockquotes, I have added some text to the 404 page, so that non-web savvy users understand where they are, and I have removed the comments link from the index page meta-data line. I have also changed the meta-data line to use a san-serif font to be easier to read.

I have also checked the theme for WordPress 2.5 compatibility and haven’t been able to replicate any issues that others have mentioned.

As always, you can find the download link on the sidebar.

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Cutline 2.1 Released

February 29th, 2008 · Release Notes

It might seem strange that a month after releasing 1.2, I am turning around and releasing 2.1, but Cutline has two very different versions. The first Cutline, which will follow the 1.x naming convention is considered the more popular one currently, but read up on version 2.x and you will see it has many advantages.

With this release, I fix some minor issues people were having, tighten up the stylesheet, and add my own flair to things. I have also removed comment forms on pages, and fixed their alignment.

If you are using the first Cutline 2.0 release, I recommend you upgrade.

Let me know if you have any issues with Cutline 2.1. To download, click the sidebar link for Cutline 2.1.

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New to WordPress? Check the WordPress Forums First

February 28th, 2008 · How To

Everyday I am getting hundreds of questions that need only one answer: check the WordPress support forums. These questions are all unrelated to the Cutline theme, and as such, I really don’t have time to answer them all. If you are unsure if you should me asking me or asking the forum, ask yourself if the question is related to the Cutline theme, or every theme. If it is related to every theme, please ask the WordPress support forum.

Creating extra page templates, learning how to use Widgets, adding additional pages, image uploading, pages not showing because you haven’t set up permalinks, all of these can be handled quickly, and painlessly by the thousands of people in the WordPress support forums.

Noticing a Safari bug in the Cutline 1.1 theme or having issues trying to find where to change the colours of the theme, that stuff comes to me.

I am in the process of recording a few screen cast tutorials on how to make the most of Cutline, and they will be coming out shortly. They will cover the most popular Cutline related questions, and hopefully solve the major issues that people are having.

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Cutline 1.2 Released

January 31st, 2008 · Release Notes

So, I have finally finished up organizing Cutline 1.2.

I have added an edit link for posts, so if you are logged in, and looking at your blog, you can easily and quickly edit posts. Cutline 1.2 supports WordPress 2.3 and above’s tags, so categories are up in the date area, and tags are in the bottom where “categories’ used to be listed. I have removed excess whitespace in the CSS in order to help decrease the file size of the theme by a little bit. I also added a max-width CSS declaration to stop images from going into sidebars in many modern browsers.

Download your favourite Cutline 1.2 version over to the right, and enjoy!

I will be working on some tutorials, and screencasts to help people with the issues they are having customizing Cutline, so watch out for those. Also, I will be working on Cutline 2.0 in February, so watch for that.

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