Sandbox Theme Impressions

While I was in San Francisco for WordCamp, I met up with the Automattic gang, and got to watch them work their magic. Andy Skelton was kind enough to give me a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming Sandbox theme. Actually, I was there when they launched both Sandbox and the new WP Upgrades section, which allowed people to pay $15 a year and edit their theme’s CSS. Andy begged me to examine the HTML of the theme. I nagged about a few double-returns and a few trailing tabs and trailing spaces, but the main stuff he wanted me to see, the CSS classes, was very good. “Holy crap!” I exclaimed, when I saw that each post was tagged with its month, day and year of posting, as a CSS class, “you could have posts made on a holiday look different from other posts!” Andy grinned, slyly.

There is much to explore in the theme. If you know your way around CSS even a little bit, you’ll find that your Sandbox CSS can be customized to the point of making conditional things like if ( !is_single() ) get_footer(); obsolete. You can do it all in CSS. This makes things easier for Automattic: it’s much easier (although still tricky) to purify CSS than it is to purify PHP. Sandbox (and widgets, lets not forget), give your blog a lot of flexibility.

As you can see, I’ve been having a little fun with it myself. My basic idea here was “if the WP.com admin bar is always going to be there, why not make it go with my site?” Andy called it “the admin bar theme.” I’m not really done with it, so stay tuned.

Now here’s a challenge to all you CSS jockeys out there. Can you modify WP.com’s other themes to use the Sandbox HTML? I know people have been working on doing Kubrick and K2 with Sandbox HTML. Let me know if you convert any other themes. And if you’re working on a new WP theme, try using the Sandbox HTML. If you can’t get it to work, let Andy or Scott know what’s lacking! Heh, you know it’s a good thing when even the WordPress Wank can’t really find fault with it.🙂

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