My WordPress theming wishlist

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Effective January 1, 2010, this site does not use Drupal and instead uses only WordPress.

As I’ve mentioned here ad nauseum, I use both WordPress and Drupal for this website and though I’ve managed to find a WordPress theme similar enough to the Drupal Garland theme, it’s still a pain in the neck to use both technologies. I would like to switch to one or the other and simplify my life, which is a fine resolution with 2010 just days away.

Here are some of my considerations:

  • Two MySQL databases need to be maintained and backed up.
  • Two installations and updates need to be maintained. WordPress is much easier in this regard.
  • While the themes I use for each system are similar, they are not exact.
  • The Drupal theme is visually nicer and provides good default CSS for printing. The WordPress theme does not come with printing support.
  • There are fewer than 20 Drupal pages in production use on my site.
  • There are more than 3050 WordPress blog entries and more than 3040 comments.
  • It would be stunningly non-trivial to import the WordPress blog entries into Drupal and create redirects for links to those blog entries.
  • WordPress themes are stunningly blog-oriented and seem to think that pages should pretty much just look like blog entries, though I think they pretty much want to look like static web pages with their own widget sets, if any.

Numerically it would appear that if I could figure out a way to get those 20 Drupal pages into WordPress and look good, then I should do so. This would involve just a few redirects that I could hand construct. After that’s done, I could delete the Drupal installation and just use WordPress.

Note that I’m talking about an existing website with a very large WordPress blog. If I were starting from scratch, I would definitely consider Drupal for it all, though I would wait to see exactly what Drupal 7 is going to look like.

The major problems regarding moving WordPress over mostly involve themes. Once everything is in WordPress, I want the freedom to change to new themes, so while I could hack a theme to do exactly what I want, I know from previous experience that ultimately that’s a dead end. I need to stick to pre-designed themes and (mostly) only use the customizations available within them.

Therefore, respectfully, I would like to see the following added for building standard themes for WordPress:

  • Separate widget configurations for posts and pages.
  • For three column themes for posts, a way to have two columns for pages since they typically have longer content and don’t need as many widgets referring to comments, archives, etc. This might be able to be done using custom page templates.
  • A standard admin page option that allows including a link to a CSS file with custom definitions. I know there are plugins that can help here, but it should be in the core.
  • Default CSS printing support built in that gets rid of sidebars, headers, and so forth.
  • First class CSS printing support in the best themes.
  • A visual editor that does not discard things like iframes.

Handling mobile users thematically in a smooth way would also be great, but I’ll take the above!


  1. Tarski might fit the bill for you, or perhaps a nicely designed child theme for Thematic.

  2. @bob_sutor I appreciate your angst about a uniform theme across WordPress and Drupal. I’ve come to terms with maintaining two platforms with themes that don’t match.

    I put days into customizing a WordPress theme with two right sidebars because changing colours is a lot easier than modifying column loading order in CSS (e.g. I had previously modified a theme based on Piefecta, coming to understand that we still had to bridge IE, Firefox and Safari. In the end I realized a lot of style sheet writers were using CSS hacks, and it was easier for me to just modify a separate CSS for IE6 (which still doesn’t work perfectly).

    Add onto this the mobile considerations (i.e. WordPress Mobile Edition) versus mobile modules on Drupal, and everything gets hugely complicated.

    I personally am continuing my parallel WordPress and Drupal paths because watching the evolution of two of the most active open source communities is educational. There isn’t a single way to do open source (just as there isn’t a single way to do themes).

    I maintain blogs not only on my own personal domains, but on WordPress.COM , where there has been a lot of interesting progress over the past year (e.g. the P2 theme that I’m using on the IngBrief microblog. While I have a few quibbles with P2 (e.g. I don’t like the truncation of text to create a permalink), I’ve also done enough theming that I’m not looking forward to burning weeks of time (again) on form rather than content.

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