Category Archives: Twenty Ten theme

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 3

More Links in the Sidebar. Since my last post (Part 2), I’ve added more good links to my sidebar. I’ve used the Link widget that comes standard with WordPress 3 and dragged it in several times with different titles. Each link group shows all the links I’ve assigned to a particular link category. You’ll find link categories in the WordPress dashboard under Links. By default all of the links you create get assigned to the link category blogroll.

Appearance / Background. I experimented briefly with the Twenty Ten Background option under Appearance in the dashboard. I selected a shade of red from the color wheel. This was pretty random but I liked it. It can be hard to be objective about your own style choices. I will be trying lots of different color options to see how well this red holds up to the competition.

Customizing the Theme. I’ve been researching the subject of modifying styles in the Twenty Ten theme and found some really good information. The WP-recommended way to change styles is with a child theme.

Child Themes. A child theme uses a reference line to take all the style information from its parent theme as its starting point. Then any additions to the child theme are overrides to the parent theme. This way, when the parent theme is replaced with a newer version, your customizations, safely stashed in the child theme, aren’t overwritten.  There’s a detailed tutorial on creating child themes at

Child Theme-Makers. Bruce Wampler has created a child theme-maker called WordPress Weaver and a version specifically for the Twenty Ten theme called Twenty Ten Weaver. These are donationware offerings. Weaver child theme-makers show up in your dashboard with checkboxes and such. They allow you to make style adjustments to your wordpress site without having to write any CSS code yourself.

I’m on the verge of installing Twenty Ten Weaver myself even though I’ve done lots of CSS work over the last 15 years. The advantage is that clicking checkboxes is faster than writing code. You can quickly try different options in the brainstorming phase and then undo a change by unchecking a checkbox.

Creating My Own Child Theme. I haven’t installed and tried Twenty Ten Weaver yet but I wanted to try a child theme. In my first experiment, I used the Otto on WordPress blog post that walks you through creating a really minimal child theme for your Twenty Ten themed blog. It just changes 1 style: the color of the title for your blog posts from black to green. In the example below, I use a dark red for the heading color and green for code.

Example. You create a new folder in your themes folder with a new text file called styles.css. And enter an @import url reference to tell wordpress to use the twentyten theme as a starting point (parent theme) then override the parent style info with anything you add in your child theme style.css file. Here’s what my child theme style.css file I called jt2010 looks like:

/*Theme Name: jt2010
Template: twentyten
Author: Janet Tokerud*/

@import url('../twentyten/style.css');
#content h2.entry-title a {color: #A81A16;}
code {color: #087F11;}

I’m stoked. Between the excellent tutorial resources I’ve identified above plus the weavers Bruce Wampler has created for us, I’m looking forward to quickly getting my blog styles the way I want. By the time you read this, I hope to have a few more tweaks in place.

Thirty Ten. There’s a child theme for Twenty Ten called Thirty Ten that gives you three columns in case you are interested. The post called Thirty Ten Three Ways gives you the choice to have the content on the left or right with two columns beside.

Update Sep 12: I downloaded and activated the Twenty Ten Weaver theme and got a really large list of style options with checkboxes in a new Twenty Ten Weaver menu under Appearance/Themes in my dashboard. The list is a little overwhelming at first glance but pretty easy to work with anyway. I found it easy to try out many different options to see what I would get. After experimenting I went back to my JT2010 child theme and am playing with that today.

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 2

WordPress 3 works really well once you get the hang of it and I found WordPress for Dummies to be an excellent guide — see more about the brand new 3rd edition below. I’m having no trouble so far running the blog which means making posts, setting up categories for posts and links and moderating comments. It all works like clockwork.

Everything is going swimmingly using WordPress 3 with the default theme: Twenty Ten. The above photo is one of the 8 header photos that comes with the theme. I’m using the theme as is with just a tweak of substituting my own photo. In the coming weeks, I will be making more changes, so stay tuned.

I haven’t tried to make any major changes to the theme as yet. I will be changing settings for type, size and color, of course. It is big fun to play with styles in cascading style sheets. It’s kind of a cross between art and programming and since I’ve taken only one art class my whole life, the chance to play with color, type, borders and backgrounds is a kick. Make sure you have a reference handy — pretty much anything can be found on google at this point when you get stuck.

The Twenty Ten theme seems really generic and clean. This clarity makes it easier to write widgets for. You get four columns in the footer area for widget material and two sections in the right column.

One demerit for Twenty Ten so far is that it doesn’t have a way to change the number and arrangement of columns the way Thesis Theme does. Twenty Ten defaults to a wider main content column on left and a thinner widgets and links column on the right. I’ve heard that it is easy to set it to have a single column. I wonder if adding a third column would require rocket science.

I’ve gotten used to a 3-column layout on my site. The extra column allows me to show my 12 most recent tweets without obscuring links and other vital information that typically goes in column 2. I’ll let you know how it goes with 2 columns. I have already seen one site running Twenty Ten with three columns. My guess is that before long a simple way to do a 3-column version of the theme will get published and be readily available.

One thing I’ve done so far is add a Blogroll. I wrote my About page which is just like making a blog post – dead simple. I’m adding links as they occur to me and have been setting up several link categories. Blogroll is my favorite. The Blogroll is where I put my favorite bloggers and blogging friends. I will add several links groups to the sidebar as I go along so that it is easier to find the kind of links you like.

As mentioned, Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s Word Press for Dummies 3rd edition was just released August 9th. Unfortunately for ebook fanatics, it is only available in trade paper so far. Buy the paper edition if you need it now. Don’t accidentally buy the 2nd edition which is dated Feb 2009. I  will post  part 3 of this series on WordPress 3 once I’ve had a chance to play a bit with the information I find in the new WordPress for Dummies book.

[Image: one of the 8 photos that comes with the Twenty Ten theme.]