After months of brain bashing, I’ve finally figured out how to retain a front page slider on my Minimatica themed WordPress photography portfolio with only four posts and still use the theme’s native blog. If you’ve read my Unofficial Minimatica Users Guide at PhotoHow2.com you’ll know that I was using a link to a blog set up on a subdomain, but I always thought of that method as a compromise. Minimatica’s blog looks great, but I never could figure out how to add blog posts without adding new windows to the front page slider.
But after another long round of searching the WordPress and OneDesigns.com forums for clues, and after subjecting my Minimatica test site to various plugins (if you’re running a Mac I highly recommend setting up a local MAMP server to test changes to your WordPress site before going live), I finally found Michael Clark’s Ultimate Category Excluder, and everything clicked. After excluding the “blog” category from the main page slider (or the “front” page) and labeling blog posts with the same category and a quick trip to Appearances>>Theme Options to change the Gallery setting to “Blog,” it was over. Time for a beer.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other methods I tried, in case you’ve tried to set up your website in the same way and don’t know why it didn’t work.
The first clue I followed appeared on Brandon Anderson’s website, Brandon Anderson’s Node On The Net. His site was designed exactly like I wanted mine. Clean and zen-like in its minimalism. Easy to navigate. His blog post on restricting the slider to certain categories sounded promising, but his code didn’t work. I’m assuming it has something to do with WordPress updates. Drat.
Then I found a Minimatica theme support topic at the main forum. I recognized the the code that Brandon had used, and that there was a lively discussion going on around only allowing certain items to appear on the front page slider, but again no dice (even after adding a snippet of code offered by Daniel, Minimatica’s designer). Again, all of the posts appeared pre-update, so I figured the problem with the code went too deep for me to decipher.
On page two of the forum discussion I found a reference to a plugin called “WP Filter Post Category” (I don’t want to provide a link because this one broke the test site). I try to avoid plugins whenever possible, even though monkeying with code is not my forte. I’ve always felt like plugins were dangerous, break things, and might possibly contain malicious code. Still, I was desperate, and, once again, I was only monkeying with my test site.
Here’s what I did. After downloading WP Filter Post Category directly from Plugins>>Add New, activating it, and navigating to Settings>>WP Filter Post Category, I selected “featured” under Page>>Default Post Page and then just after saving the settings I noticed a note at the bottom of the plugin editor. “WordPress 3.1 introduced some changes that broke this plugin. In fact the shortcode stopped working. The plugin still works with WordPress 3.0.5 but if you need it for WordPress 3.1+ please upgrade at Filter Posts in Pages”
No problem. Tried it. Fail. For some weird reason the plugin seemed to kill the option in Settings>>Reading that allow you to select static pages. Those options just disappeared.
I checked out the provided link, but it took me to a page with the dreaded words, “Trail Version.” I know that code developers work hard on this stuff, but I just didn’t want to get that invested in figuring out this problem.
In the end the solution just came to me serendipitously, as solutions often do. Months of struggle seemed to waft off into the ether like a thin thread of smoke. Lifehacker ran an article recently about how problem solving is sometimes improved by drinking and not getting enough sleep. I’m just sleepy, I promise.