I spent most of yesterday reading the WordPress Codex about categories. Prior to then, I had thought using categories was a nice way to simply identify what a post was about but that they were not really all that important otherwise. However, now I know that categories help form an important organizing principle for WordPress-based sites. So yesterday I created my categories for the PLP and installed two plugins: first, the Category Template Hierarchy, which adds several templates (which are PHP documents) to the hierarchy of templates that are the bones of WordPress: “In WordPress, the (X)HTML structure and the CSS style sheet are present but the content is generated “behind the scenes” by various template files.” This plugin makes a bunch of different templates that I may or may not end up using.

I also installed the Category Content plugin, which displays a list of the posts in WordPress that are in that category only on the category page that comes up when you click on a category in the menu. On this page, for instance, it shows only those posts (so far just the two) that fall under the category WordPress Sites. It’s at the right side of the page in the Related to… box. By using this plugin, I also realized that any widget—including a simple text box—can be modified to show on all pages or on selected pages of the site. This means, perhaps, that I can create a text (and HTML) widget with links to projects I have completed or examples within that category. I have to think more about this because that’s a lot of hard coding that won’t automatically update, that I have to remember to update when I add stuff. It may not be an efficient solution to how to link ongoing learning to resulting projects within a category, but it might be a first step.

(Hm. Perhaps I will need to write a plugin along the way?)

Anyway, yesterday I created a new template for a category page that shows the category name and my goal (see above). The layout of the page will be the same, but the category and goal will change based on what is clicked in the Learning interests… box at left. The nice thing: this is not hard coded at all. It uses only the category name and description that I set up once in the WordPress system for category management. I set the description to contain my goal for that learning category:

This section of my website is devoted to my professional (learning) portfolio, and so to set it up I needed to do some thinking and learning. I’m comfortable with WordPress, but I am not a programmer; I needed to figure out how to make the site do what I wanted to do, and that means I need to learn more about WordPress.
Thus, one of my goals is to delve more into the inner workings of WordPress, and luckily for me there are a whole lot of resources and tutorials out there. Last night, I spent about two hours on this question:
How can I set up sections of my PLP organized around particular subjects or goals so that I can blog about my ongoing learning experiences while also showing the projects I have or am working on as examples of the outcomes of that learning?
I started investigating WordPress page templates, but I quickly discerned that category templates would work better. That way, I create posts and identify them with categories. The menu at the left on all pages shows the list of categories, and by clicking on the menu it will show only those posts that are in that category. Sounds perfect!
However, my next step is to do some programming. What I would like to do is, for instance, is make a category like this one, WordPress Help, and not only be able to show posts like this one but also show links to specific projects or outcomes associated with that category. This means that I will need to create category templates so that when the category is displayed, the page has specific elements for that category that are different from elements for other categories. And, for my own sake, without hard coding html.
Obviously a trickier step, and one I need to investigate more. For instance, I need to determine whether some of these questions are helpful:
  • does a category template allow different, non-hard coded elements on its page?
  • does a category template allow different sidebar widgets?
  • can links somehow be coded with the categories so that they show up on only that category page?
  • can tagging help with some of this sorting?

And a big question is also, how can I set up a process so that this organization doesn’t get way out of hand?

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