WordPress

Quite a few years ago I put a wordpress site together.  It took a lot of effort and I could not get it to look the way I wanted it.  Then updates to WordPress and the plugins I used kept breaking the site and I finally went back to an html site.  I have been using a html editor to maintain my sites for a long time.  Then I went and bought a Macbook.

There is no decent html for a Macbook. Nothing comes anywhere close to Microsoft Expression Web 4 (MEW4 or EW4). But WordPress sites can be created on any platform with a web browser.  

I must admit I was inspired by a WordPress site I visited frequently.  Wings over Scotland is one of the most visited sites in the UK. The owner posts very regularly and I get the impression that he is much more concerned with the content of his site than maintenance of it.  The site runs on WordPress 4.7.5  so it has not been updated since around 2017 and the theme is a free one from 2009.

I can identify with this point of view.  I got so fed up with the windows updates on my old Lenovo running windows 7, that I switched off updates.  I also uninstalled my virus protection, and found the computer far faster.  I operated with no updates, no virus protection, and no problems for around five years.  Every so often I’d run Microsoft safety scanner but there were never any issues.

So I began up the WordPress learning curve again, with the idea of making a robust site to which I can easily add content.

Some folk say you can have a WordPress website up in a few minutes.  And it’s true if:-

  • You have a fair bit of experience with WordPress
  • You pick a template site, and simply change the name.

But that is not me.  My HTML site is really a series of articles, very similar to a blog. So a blog type of WordPress site was the obvious requirement.  After a lot of experimentation I settled on GeneratePress for the theme. I read it was very fast and it seems to have a lot of support. I currently use the free version.  

But I write about a whole lot of different and completely unrelated subjects so I really needed multiple blogs!.  I did not want multiple sites but I found a way to use windows categories to organise the posts.  Then using the Content Aware Sidebars and Display Posts plug in I was able to create pages and posts which only show the relevant pages – as shown on the right here.    This site, shown as a single blog is shown here.

To speed up the site I have added Autoptimize, WP Fastest Cache, and Add Expires Headers.

TinyMCE Advanced editor quirks

I prefer the classic editor to the block editors, especially for a blog, but it has some irritating habits.

  1. It is a WYSBAPRTWYG editor. What You See Bares A Passing Resemblance To What You Get. It does not pick up the fonts or colours or formatting set up in the theme.
  2. <br clear=”all” /> Is a html code which I used frequently in my html site, usually after a left or right aligned image.  On WordPress sometimes it worked, but often after using Text view to type it in, TinyMCE would replace it with <p>&nbsp;</p> as soon as I reverted to Visual view.
    Often, but not always!  I finally sussed that the break had to be inside a paragraph to work.  As I copied and pasted my old posts into this site it meant constant editing to sort this out. But TinyMCE will remove it given a chance.  
  3. I had a link going to http://tintaxi.com.  I changed it to https://tintaxi.com.  TinyMCE kept changing it back again!! I changed the link to https://rubbish, then back to https://tintaxi.com and it worked.  TinyMCE would not let me change http to https in one operation.
  4. If I was not fairly au fait with html I would really struggle with the editor.  I have to keep switching from visual to text mode to fix errors that the editor has made. It is not made easier by the horrendous formatting of the html code by TinyMCE

All in all I am now fairly happy with the wordpress site. It is much easier to read the text on a phone, but I am still on the very steep learning curve.

Update 17th Sept
I have just designed a wordpress site for another domain – Tin Taxi. It was as a long job to get the fairly simple site looking right.  But it looks not bad on a tablet or a phone. I used a block Editor (Generateblocks) for one page.  It is a pain to use, worse than TinyMCE but it does produce a mobile friendly page.  

 I kept getting nags from Google that the previous site had links too close together, that the text was too small, and that no viewport was set.  But by simply pinch zooming, all of the site could be read and reached.  I think all phones and tablets have this facility now so I’m not sure it’s s great improvement.

Update 21st September 2021

I have just found out that the classic editor will be discontinued at the end of the year.  I am starting to remember why I used to hate WordPress.

This page was originally writen in the Classic editor but I have converted it to blocks. The editor is just as bad. I wanted to get the image below centered, but this seems impossible inside a quote block.

Update 26th September 2021

Whilst checking out my site for unused files I found the error log.   It was huge and full of PHP warnings.  I queried this with my webhost and was told that this was quite normal with WordPress and just delete the log file every now and then.  

As an experiment I deleted the error log, for this site then visited the home page on another browser. Then I inspected the new error log. There were 30 PHP warnings, occupying 12Kb from a single visit to one page!  
I tried it on another site – tintaxi.com. This time only 21 PHP warnings and 8Kb.
My HTML site returned no errors.

I was an engineer for most of my working life.  The thought of deleting warnings as a matter of course goes against the grain for me. But I guess, like Boris and Covid:-

I do miss Microsoft Expression Web and simple old HTML.

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