Shifting Daniel Jaber into WordPress

Daniel Jaber is the second choreographer and dancer I’ve done a website for. Coming from Dasniya Sommer, I was intent on messing around with jQuery again, and finding something distinctive to build his site around. The initial site, as with Dasniya, was hand-coded, relying on jQueryTools, which I discovered through Flowplayer for much of the interactivity.

Two big problems emerged. Firstly was the pain of updating static HTML. Even though I write my blog posts in this way, and have no difficulty screening out code from in front of my eyes, this way of managing a site is painful. The second big problem was the conflicts between how the content on the page was loaded and both video and images. The plan had always been to put the site into WordPress, and so I did.

The idea for using Daniel as his own background image was a fairly inevitable one, remembering when I first saw him, all piercings, blue mohawk, tattoos. I first tried supersized for this, but found it slightly heavy for just a single image. Lucky then CSS-Tricks had the perfect, all-css answer, which has become one of my favourite bits of code, being fond as I am of huge background images.

First though, I had an idea for the menu, coming from jQueryTools’ accordion tabs, with much eviscerating of CSS and some slowing down of the slide effect. This though, I could never get to work in WordPress. Much messing around in jQuery, dynamically adding classes and divs and removing them from elsewhere, I could even get it to work using an identical sidebar HTML structure to WordPress, but when I tried to use it in WordPress, weirdness ensued. I really wanted to use this though, because it’s the only accordion I’d seen with different times for the sliding effect.

But WordPress has almost everything, and I fell upon jQuery Accordion Menu for WordPress, which has very similar code, taking a couple of hours at the most to get the CSS right and working rather nice.

Of course when I added the page crossfade eyecandy, it broke again. My fault for using redirectPage.

supernaut still uses the Flash-based sIFR method for using nice fonts, but the last couple of sites I’ve been rather enjoying the combination of open-source fonts and @font-face. Not one of those beautiful new CSS3 adventure like opacity or rounded corners, even Internet Explorer 5 supported this, and lately with a deluge of options for pretty typography, it has become increasingly popular. And far easier to implement that sIFR also. Oh, the title font is Anonymous Pro, which I think is one of the most elegant monospace fonts around (also important that is has Unicode-based character set, important for things like ü and ß).

Being dance, video was always going to be lurking. I wrote about my fun with Flowplayer and WordPress earlier, and still finishing this, with bandwidth check, pseudostreaming and the inevitable full-screen option shuffling this way. I’d rather be doing this all in HTML5 though, and shall come up with a graceful degradation from that to this in my next project.

A bunch of small plugins helped me along the way also. Add From Server let me add video to the WordPress Media Libary after I’d uploaded via FTP – perfect for large file sizes, and modifying allowable upload file types meant I could get the f4v there also.

pageMash made structuring the site and reordering projects as they move from ‘soon’ to ‘now’ to ‘then’ so much nicer than blah-ing around editing the pages themselves, and PHP Execution made it possible to do the Flowplayer video cludge.

Elsewhere, Lightbox Plus for a not-overpowering image gallery, though I am still working on this. DB Cache Reloaded and Hyper Cache for the necessary site caching, as long as I don’t forget to disable them when I’m busy working. PHPEnkoder, based on my favourite Hivelogic anti-spam email encoder. And WordPress File Monitor, which is about the most useful anti-hacking plugins I’ve found.

Oh, and page crossfade! I know it’s a bit Flash 20001, but I really did want to recreate the page fade-out/-in from the original site. (Not so good if JavaScript is turned off though.)