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Podcast: Building your own custom engenu skins

This is the second installment from my conversation Saturday night with Scott Cowan.

In the podcast linked below, we discuss the procedure to be followed in order to build your own custom engenu skin.

What’s a “skin”? It’s simply the visual theme for a particular engenu installation. If you work with the default engenu skin, your sites will look like this one. But here is that same site on our weblog devoted to historic and architecturally distinctive Phoenix homes. And here it is on our main Phoenix real estate web site. The same HTML code is used at each site. The difference in the way the pages appear is inherited from the skin.

In the course of the discussion, I reference a BloodhoundBlog post on page geometry. It might be worth you while revisiting that page during the podcast.

If we get very lucky, Cheryl Johnson will listen to this podcast and translate it into more-helpful instructions.

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Related posts:
  • engenu Epiphany #1: Folders become pages
  • Demoing engenu: Building a web page, building that page into a web site, adding more content to that web site, reconfiguring the site, building a PDF site and repurposing standing content
  • Podcast: Installing engenu on multiple domains

  • 15 comments

    15 Comments so far

    1. Cheryl Johnson February 23rd, 2009 7:07 am

      Well, I can’t pass up an opportunity that! But hold on a little while, I’m still recovering from my latest Adventures in MU-Ville. :-)

    2. John Kalinowski February 23rd, 2009 8:10 am

      Greg- As I follow the engenu project, I’m struggling with one big question, and I have to believe other readers are too. Do I really need engenu?

      I’m not being critical at all, I’m just trying to figure out why I need to get elbows-deep (OK, maybe armpits) in learning advanced server, FTP, and coding skills if I can use readily available tools?

      I built my entire site with the Thesis theme for WordPress. I’m creating custom websites for my listings, and the process seems fairly simple. I have an html template saved on my PC, and each time I have a new listing I just paste the template into a new page using the WordPress dashboard. I fill in the unique info for each property, go to Google maps and copy the code for that address’ map, and I have a new page. I use a free plugin called NextGEN Gallery to create the slideshows, which only requires me to FTP the files to the proper folder on my server.

      As far as adding something to every page on my site, I can just use the sidebars, and insert any sort of widget or simple code that appears on every page, including my blog section.

      Doing it this way, I also don’t have to worry about creating a new skin for my site, as someone’s already done the work with the Thesis theme. I listened to the above podcast, and it seems only those with serious software skills could ever address that portion, but why bother when there are easily editable themes available free online?

      One problem I do see with my method is that as I get to where I have hundreds, or ultimately thousands, of WP pages, I don’t think I can manage them all through the WP dashboard. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if there’s a free plugin available that simplifies that process.

      I’m sure engenu has many advantages over the usual WP method(s) but I don’t think it’s been presented as a workable solution for most Bloodhounds to ever get involved. The one thing missing is some sort of step-by-step, visual guideline to getting started. Maybe even an engenu slide show of screen shots to guide us through the process?

      What are the main advantages engenu offers over the above process, which seems to work well enough that it’s keeping me from jumping into engenu? Thanks! – John

    3. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2009 8:31 am

      > What are the main advantages engenu offers over the above process, which seems to work well enough that it’s keeping me from jumping into engenu?

      Briefly, for now: Depending on how you set things up, dozens or even hundreds of new pages an hour. As a solution to Realtors’ publishing needs, WordPress is a workshop, entirely appropriate in many circumstances. engenu is a factory, designed for mass production with minimal labor. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t do a site like this in WordPress — you simply couldn’t afford to commit the labor. The question is not, “Do I or do I not want to deliver that much work product?” The question is: “If I do want to deliver that much work product, how can I do it without going broke?” The answer is engenu. As with everything I talk about here, I built it to solve my own problems. If you don’t see a need for it, that’s okay. I’m not charging you for it. But engenu permits a level of productivity and control that you cannot obtain with any other web-publishing software.

    4. John Kalinowski February 23rd, 2009 9:16 am

      Got it. Any chance at the video or slide show guides, maybe on the engenu site? Thanks!

    5. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2009 9:25 am

      > Any chance at the video or slide show guides, maybe on the engenu site?

      I’ve been planning to do a screencast, showing how to build and rebuild and rebuild a site like this.

    6. John Kalinowski February 23rd, 2009 12:52 pm

      Greg- Do you need to obtain special permission to photograph the homes you toured and post them on your site? Seems like you would need it from the seller.

    7. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2009 1:45 pm

      > Do you need to obtain special permission to photograph the homes you toured and post them on your site?

      They’re all lender-owned. The next person to object will be the first. When we draw attention to owner-owned houses we get permission (and we only do vacants). To get a call back from the lister of an REO is a miracle by itself. We just don’t worry about it.

    8. Cheryl Johnson February 27th, 2009 5:37 am

      OK. I listened through twice.

      First thought: Someone ~please~ give poor Scott a cough drop! :-)

      Then, Greg, please let me know if I’m on the right track here:

      1. I’m going to go to one of my non-engenu sites, one with a theme/appearance that I want to import over to the engenu site.

      2. At the index page for the non-engenu site, I’m going to copy the source code, and chop out extraneous stuff.

      3. Then I’m going to copy and paste various snippets from the non-engenu source code into various engenu component files.

      Anf finally, for Scott, this is the code/text editor I have used practically forever: http://www.adobe.com/products/homesite/productinfo/overview/

    9. Greg Swann February 27th, 2009 7:57 am

      > 1. I’m going to go to one of my non-engenu sites, one with a theme/appearance that I want to import over to the engenu site.

      No, you’re going to move engenu to that site. The idea is to make engenu pages that mimic the appearance of the pages you’re already making.

      > At the index page for the non-engenu site

      Doesn’t have to be the index page. With WP sites, it can be easier to work on a new, blank WordPress Page — already a lot less chaff to cut away.

      Take a look at the BTP skin I made for you coming on a year ago. That one was a bear, because the body area of the page was defined by a bunch of image files that I had to edit and replace. It’s worth your while to start with a simpler geometry.

    10. Cheryl Johnson February 27th, 2009 8:29 am

      >>>start with a simpler geometry.<<< You got that. I was planning on working from a modified “copyblogger” theme.

      OK. Revising my summary:

      I am going to look at the source code of a NON-engenu page.

      I am going to copy and paste various chunks of that code into various engenu component files: engenupageCap.php, enegupageTop.php, engenupageMid.php, engenupageBot.php, etc.

      Looking at what you did at BTP: Yes I see.

      The engenupageCap.php file, for example, contains standard header.php code.

      The engenupageCap.php file for an unbranded skin contains an encoded string.

    11. Greg Swann February 27th, 2009 8:49 am

      I’ll send you an unencoded set, as well.

    12. Cheryl Johnson February 27th, 2009 8:53 am

      Of course, I should now shut up until I’ve noodled around with it for a bit … but I’ll go ahead and ask anyway.

      Why work from the source code? Why not just work from the theme files? For example, copy the code from the theme’s header.php file into the engenupageCap.php file?

    13. Greg Swann February 27th, 2009 9:02 am

      Try it and see what happens. I don’t know that it won’t work. I know that the way I described it does work, with some effort.

    14. Rob March 2nd, 2009 9:15 am

      Greg…

      I am stoked that some sort of video tutorial is coming, no matter if its just a slide show.

    15. engenu Epiphany #1 | QUEEN OF KLUDGE March 9th, 2009 5:49 am

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