RedStar v2 WordPress Theme
So I thought since we’re gearing up to re-release the site I’d spend a little time talking about our lovely WP theme. Our goal was to create a throwback to one of the earliest themes on our website, “RedStar”, which as you might guess featured a rather prominent red star.
It also, much to the dismay of others, featured some rather politically motivated photography… in fact many of our themes did. We decided that, in the interests of a wider audience, we’d do away with that – plus we couldn’t find a good high-res photo that was copyright free and I’m not quite rich enough to pay for stock photography.
So instead, I took a high-res photo of the GU1 “Extreme” graphics board out of my Indigo2, and based the theme off of that. You can just see the tip of the SGI logo under the top of the star on our header.
We started coding a theme from scratch, but decided in the end to just hack up a pre-made one. We borrowed “Arthemia” from Michael Hutagalung, and pretty much just reversed the color schemes. Rather than roll new images for the rounded edges, we decided to make use of CSS3’s blossoming features… after all, Google’s trashing IE6 so that gives us an excuse to as well. The great news is that it should degrade gracefully for the most part, which was always important to us.
As time goes by we’ll be ripping out more of the IE6-based insanity from the theme, cleaning it up and making it lighter and faster. I’m sure it’ll take us quite a while to find all the little stuff that’s buried in it, but the results will be worth it.
Eventually we’ll likely release it under the terms of the GPL (not my favorite license, but the license to WP and Arthemia leaves us little options) once we feel the code is clean enough.
We use Flickr, so we ditched the thumbnailer included in the script – TimThumb. However, it we were to use it, we would likely turbocharge TimThumb with aggressive caching.
Social Media Icons
In order to speed things up, we decided to take the “sociable” icons included with the theme, throw them away, spruce the icons up a bit with a couple of free icon sets (Social Media Mini and Social Media Bookmark, courtesy of FindIcons) and then merge them into a CSS Sprite.