I’m settling into a new back-end for this blog, and have observed a few things that I had not previously needed to pay much heed to. The first of which is the vast assortment of plug-ins and themes available for weblogs. I knew on some intellectual level that there were a lot of folks out there whipping up solutions to their individual challenges and hurdles, and that some portion of them are turning right around to share those solutions with the world. Some problems are more common than others, so a lot of redundant work is inevitable.
The problem, for a newcomer to a given set of blogging tools (I am a recent adopter of WordPress) is the location, assessment, and installation of these various solutions. Through the Plugins Codex and other resources, some of which are direct-linked from the WordPress management interface, locating plug-ins is quite simple. Simply uploading the appropriate file into the Plugins directory makes a well-written plugin exceptionally east to actually install. This leaves assessment, a stumbling block in my personal, recent experience.
Suppose you wish to use WordPress for your words, and Gallery 2 for your pictures. You’d like to integrate the two, perhaps using Gallery 2 to manage the images used in your posts. A search of the WordPress site will return a great many documents to sift through. This is, in part, because the Gallery 2 software has such a frightfully-generic name, a word likely to be used in describing other, similar software. One of the multitude of search results looks particularly promising. Alas, it links to the front pages of a variety of gallery products, not to pages that specifically accommodates pairing up with the blog.
Yet another search at the Gallery site, this time for the term “WordPress” yields a plethora of documents regarding the integration and embedding of that product with or into various other programs. From my experience as a technical support rep, I assaure you that this kind of process of breaks the will of many a would-be publisher. Hence the rise of services like Typepad. For the slightly more-advanced, services like Flickr help take the work out of it all. The temptation to just drop it all and use somebody else’s stuff is great; that’s why I use a pre-made back-end instead of hand-rolling this site anyway.
That said, I’m happy to say that the tiny snippet of code that rotates the banner atop this site was completely home-brewed. A different pic every day of the week, and a little tickle of DIY pride for yours truly.