Overdue for a thorough going-over of the Hosting FAQs, but before I dove in, wanted a clean publishing back-end for them (I’ve been maintaining them through phpMyAdmin out of laziness — the thought of building yet another CRUD back-end fills me with dread). Also wanted to build in a search engine for users. Flirted with the thought of making the FAQs a Movable Type site, but decided to try something new and employ WordPress as a CMS instead.
Quickly realized that hacking an existing theme to match the current templates was more work than it was worth. Started from scratch with the theme docs and built a fresh theme from raw ingredients – no content on index page, entries grouped by category, no comments or RSS, clean URLs. About half a day’s work, and I had a clean CMS. Another four hours to clean up all the content and write a couple new FAQs (Managing Mail Quotas and Traditional FTP), and we’re live.
Interesting to learn how template inheritance works in WP – it’s not at all obvious from studying template code which parts of a site will be handled by which templates. For example, a link to a content page will be handled by the index template unless a single.php template is present, in which case the exact same link will be handled by that template instead. And so on. Unintuitive at first, but it’s part of what makes the system so flexible.
Biggest hangup was in trying to properly format content that included HTML or PHP snippets (text formatting options in Movable Type are much better at handling this kind of thing). Solved with Priyadi’s Autoescape plugin.
Anyway, an interesting learning experience. Also currently working with another WordPress site: Dan Gillmor recently launched the Center for Citizen Media out of the J-School, and I’ve been working with him on that.