Developing with WordPress

The last couple of days I’ve been aware that I’ve not posted terribly much to my blog. I’ve spent any spare moment working on the never-ending rewrite of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain website.

I’ve been using the first-class blogging/content management system application WordPress 1.5 (Strayhorn) to build the site around. It has the benefit of allowing you to store all the content of the site in a MySQL database, which makes updating the site very easy. WordPress 1.5 builds on the blogging strength of its predecessor (WordPress 1.2) by adding support for static pages too, which is what makes up the majority of the NYC site.

But last night I hit a challenge. I want the scope of WordPress’s dynamic posts capability (listing a brief excerpt of each post on an archives page) with the flexibility of its static pages capability (listing those in an order determined by me, rather than the default newest-first of the posts function). While the static pages function is powerful if I were to create a list of pages within a certain section (eg people) that is all I would get: a list of links to those pages. For example:

Gareth J M Saunders
Jane Saunders
Edmund Saunders

The posts function has a more useful ‘excerpt’ feature that would present not only a list of links to those posts, but also a brief excerpt of the first few lines of information contained in the post. Which, for a list of people associated with NYCGB, is more appealing than a sparce list of links — particularly if I include a thumbnail of each person within the excerpt. For example:

Gareth J M Saunders

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus tellus. Duis tristique, mi nec bibendum adipiscing, enim wisi faucibus purus, at pharetra ligula lectus et purus. Donec quis enim. Donec eros. Maecenas lacus. Nunc ultrices.

In the end I gave up on my search for a suitable plugin or hack, and decided to sleep on it. From the WordPress support forums it would appear that I’m not the only person looking for such a feature.

It seems to me, after a night’s sleep that I have a number of options. I either just opt for the straight ‘pages’ feature and make do with a list of dull links, with no teaser excerpt or photograph. Or I try to manufacture a layout using the ‘posts’ feature, employing a cunning use of categories to sub-manage the content, and make sure that I enter people’s details in reverse order of importance, so that the last entered appear at the top of the list (since it employs a gospel-tastic the-last-is-first order of posting).

Hmmm… I shall continue to ponder this puzzle.

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

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