WordPress? Easy? If one pays up . . .

Wordpress is nice, plugins help until you REALLY need them. Then, they all ask for coins. Stark comparison with FOSS world.


Hello!

I started to re-do my old website, and selected WordPress as to-go platform. Last time when I did an overhaul Dreamweaver was all the rage! Beautiful times! Everything was static, you own the code, menus worked, no phone/tablet rubbish back then!

What worked well

Ok, times change, I took some tutorials, walked the path of Starter templates [Do I really need them?], Elementor, selected Astra as theme and started to hack around.

Added a few pages, figured out how to add a custom image under each menu (as a transparent background) add pictures, format text, add preformatted text, customize it with css.

Any frictions? No. Maybe Elementor + Astra are the best free options around. Don’t know. Not really in the mood to do an extensive comparative study. Those tutorials that I followed, suggested these solutions. Some say Jetpack (Elementor alternative) had few free features than Elementor. Who knows? Also, keep in mind that when smb boost 999+ themes, sometimes it means that these are THE ONLY themes and they can’t be customized as one see fit. Hard burn on blog.

LaTeX

LaTeX works, but I am not THAT happy with editor integration. Using the double $ sign, triggers the renderer: $$z_{n+1}=z_n^2+c$$

Writting a shortcode directly in Elementor text editor? \(e^{i\pi}=-1\). Renders them inline. 

Equations written with shortcodes [adding a shotrcode block in Elementor] have to be centered “by hand”. Besides that, they break the writing flow. Below, adding a shortcode with an Elementor block.

\(F(t)=\int_{-\infty}^{\infty}e^{-2\pi i t x}dx\)

The editor does not preview the equations, one must “publish” the paper and view it in browser. I guess is enough for few blog posts. Heavy math, will stay in PDFs/Jupyter Notebooks.

Equations were rendered after installing MathJax plugin:

MathJax-LaTeX plugin

Google Analytics

A bit of friction here, walked the path of deriving a custom theme and adding the script in PHP. Apparently [I did not confirm this] some plugins disable some of the default Google Analytics capabilities? Ex MonsterInsights allow file download monitoring only in paid versions. Google boasts this feature, for free! We will see if GA counts the paper downloading.

Maybe Lite version would plug the script and no-questions-asked and GA pages would track them, but why risk it?

Blogs – partial fail

Everything went really south when trying to add some lousy posts! The rigidity! The lack of options! HOW can I add a header image? How can I make the title a bit to the right? Change something? Nope! Must pay up!

I tried:

How to create custom single-post templates in WordPress

https://getflywheel.com/layout/create-custom-single-post-templates-wordpress-how-to/

Then, moving on to:

My template has NO NEW button. Stuck. 

Tried to add that magic function, it does not work. Well , let’s search for something that allows one to edit themes!

Found a theme that allows a lot of customization:

https://pcm.wordpress.org/themes/avant-garde/

Fail. It broke the whole site, the “edit site” function was pretty primitive, no nice menus as in Astra [apparently Astra generates those options] but there is a New button in Edit Post section.

Fiddled for a while there, did not figure out how to tinker my web back into shape. Failed to customize the template [I wanted a certain image as a background for the header]. One failure after another, I removed the theme. Back to Astra.

Next stop:

Post Custom Templates Lite

Well then, ok, I have the custom template, can be applied but, at least in this Lite version is too rigid. I managed to add a spacer so the blog title/content won’t overlap with the menus, but adding a nice background? Well, I hacked a bit of CSS but no luck. Some other parts of the css covered my background image. 

Too little change to add a new plugin. On the plus side, I could reorder title/author/date, but no chance in changing font size or color for the heading!

I did not tried these on Landing Pages but I am afraid that there will be another world of pain, there, too!

Meta fail:

How can I control the content loading from another site? Ok, nice feature, add a link on a single line and some preview is shown. But zero control? TBD . . .

Something worked in blog posts

That is, customization of the “Blogs” page. Elementor has this page under tight lock.

Welcome Premium Plugins! 

Premium Addons for Elementor

In free version, I have a nice collection of widgets that will display my blog posts! Added one, and moved on. I will tweak it later, when I will have more content.

Conclusion?

WordPress is nice for static editing. Move to “hot” areas like blogging (and probably eCommerce) and you have to pay $$. Popular plugins tempt you with something, enough to hook you, but that’s it.

To be updated once I will get going with landing pages, syntax highlight for code snippets and other goodies!

Also, very important note: I am no frontend engineer and I don’t like much frontending around. So don’t take this as an ultimate guide! Just a small peek under the struggles one faces while setting up WordPress.


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