Aside from daily tinkering of Ruby on Rails application, both for work and play, I have to serve requests that involve other scripting languages such as PHP and Python. PHP is the least of my favorites, but since its still the most widely used scripting language, in which more and more non CS grads have been so boastful of knowing, then I still go ways to cater to such applications. Love of Python is another thing. Its as beautiful as Ruby is for me, and as strict as how I tend to live my life. wink

As of the moment, I have a project running in PHP which was built using Smarty, though is not yet deployed on client's public server. Aside from this, I am also happily supporting several Wordpress powered blogs. I don't choose the themes, but I do have an input on whether its a good choice or not. We have completed customization of two of these blogs and was working on the last one yesterday. The chosen theme was IndoMagz2. Of course, I immediately uploaded the theme for use. After that was the anticipation of other stuff to be removed or added.

I couldn't have reacted negatively if I didn't have to go through the codes themselves to make some tweeks. At first glance, it looked just like any other magazine type wordpress theme. Blocks of elements are organized in the left and right columns of the layout. Although, I quite believe that three columned layouts are far better in information exposure, I don't have anything against using two columned layouts. I even thought that the layout was neat looking and the default banner would have really suited the new blog we were fixing. It was called "Ugaling Pinoy" which translates to "Filipino Attitudes" or even "Filipino Characteristics".

After a series of tickets have been filed to me for resolution, I needed to open up the codes of the theme and make the actual tweaking. I started out with the homepage. Several requests were to totally remove the functionality that the theme offered. Well, of course, nothing is impossible. Only time is the variable for every request. The quality and standard must always be fixed. This is where the real misery started.

I suddenly felt like I wouldn't really be tweaking the theme, but throwing it away altogether! But this was not the request! I only have to change some parts to get it going the way it was supposed to.. but this was not my case. I was dismayed to see its code was nowhere close to premium value!

I took the liberty of defining "premium" via Google search. Among the varied definitions of premium were:

  • the amount that something in scarce supply is valued above its nominal value; "they paid a premium for access to water"
  • having or reflecting superior quality or value; "premium gasoline at a premium price" -
  • The amount by which a bond or stick sells above its par value. -
Oh, and the quality was nowhere close to what I have expected! And here, I have to make my own test to prove to myself that I have not misjudged the quality of this product. Wordpress has already formed a group effort of identifying which themes deserve the limelight. Not only to put a few above the rest, but to create models for a good quality theme. At Themes Preview, they quantify the good qualities of each theme into three groups: gold, silver and bronze with a distinct list of criteria used for judging. Let's try to do the same for this case.

I run the validator and I get errors

I run the validator and css passed

guess, what? no support.

IE6? Good thing, yes.

Firefox compatible? Good thing, yes.

Gravatar supported

Auto adjustment within the sidebar is also a failure

I adjusted the default post image to something larger than the post area and it passes

Floating content within post area is okay, but the style is not good. Photo is not padded.

Proper image alignment doesn't work. I tried to force alignment values to no avail.

Proper sidebar heirarchy fail

There are others more that exemplify that this premium is nothing better than any other free. Despite the guide that was downloadable from the site, there were items that drew more negative comments.

  • The theme was not tested on the latest version. It only supported up to 2.6.x.
  • The only way to make changes to this theme was to directly edit the code. Which was kind of hard for the normal, average blogger.
  • The code for the home.php alone was about ~185 lines. This is quite huge considering that Wordpress and PHP is already modular.
  • Though the styles passed the validation, it wasn't semantic enough. The naming of the styles were not intuitive enough nor is it reusable anywhere outside the name context.
  • Not all posts may have a photo. The theme doesn't support this complexity. Instead, it forces you to put a photo there unless you'd rather see the default "missing photo thumbnail".
  • The code was not properly indented. Not readable.
  • The link for support on the themes management page did not go to the correct page. Instead, they have a forum for the support where as of the moment had only three (3) posts. I wonder how else I can get support for this?
I really can't say its simple. Nor can I say its clean (for it should be clean inside and out). Its customizeable alright, but only if you can survive reading the jungle-like code. I definitely wouldn't recommend using this.

Watch out for what becomes of Ugaling Pinoy soon. We won't be using Indomagz2 theme anymore, rest assured.

UPDATE 2012 July: is no longer active.