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Customizing the sidebar


Dreamweaver and WordPress: Core Concepts

with Joseph Lowery

Video: Customizing the sidebar

Let's continue our conversion of the default theme by working in the sidebar areas. Almost all WordPress themes use sidebars either on the left or the right and sometimes both. In the previous lesson changing the main content, we moved the sidebar that was on the left side of the Custom Theme to the right side as called for by our comp. In this lesson we will clean up the content of the sidebar as well as its styling. First, let's tackle the content, which is comprised of a series of widgets.
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  1. 4m 7s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 54s
    3. A word about updates
      1m 15s
  2. 15m 28s
    1. Overview
      1m 51s
    2. Creating the database and the initial site
      3m 45s
    3. Configuring WordPress
      5m 54s
    4. Establishing a Dreamweaver site
      3m 58s
  3. 20m 18s
    1. Accessing dynamically related files
      4m 12s
    2. Filtering files
      4m 20s
    3. Following links
      4m 15s
    4. Employing Live Code
      2m 54s
    5. Enabling site-specific code hinting
      4m 37s
  4. 21m 8s
    1. Adding blog posts
      4m 55s
    2. Editing blog posts
      3m 20s
    3. Adding new pages
      2m 59s
    4. Including images
      6m 59s
    5. Adding videos to posts
      2m 55s
  5. 18m 12s
    1. Understanding WordPress structure
      3m 52s
    2. Activating a theme
      7m 21s
    3. Setting up a child theme
      6m 59s
  6. 1h 29m
    1. Updating the page structure and the background
      12m 53s
    2. Working with web fonts
      4m 3s
    3. Styling a header
      11m 48s
    4. Adding header functions
      7m 40s
    5. Setting up content columns
      10m 9s
    6. Changing the main content
      5m 17s
    7. Managing the content code
      4m 48s
    8. Customizing the sidebar
      10m 32s
    9. Styling search
      7m 8s
    10. Working with search text
      5m 49s
    11. Integrating the footer
      9m 40s
  7. 27m 18s
    1. Setting up media queries
      6m 12s
    2. Customizing for tablets
      12m 19s
    3. Building smartphone layouts
      8m 47s
  8. 23m 28s
    1. Working with categories and posts
      5m 31s
    2. Developing category-driven pages
      11m 22s
    3. Changing headers by category
      6m 35s
  9. 36m 32s
    1. Adding Spry accordion panels
      17m 44s
    2. Working with Spry form validation
      11m 56s
    3. Integrating jQuery functionality
      6m 52s
  10. 11m 7s
    1. Understanding WordPress plugins
      6m 20s
    2. Styling plugin output
      4m 47s
  11. 25m 44s
    1. Customizing the Dashboard
      6m 52s
    2. Working with WordPress functions
      8m 7s
    3. Including administration interactivity
      10m 45s
  12. 13m 10s
    1. Setting up the data in WordPress
      2m 17s
    2. Adding dynamic data from WordPress to your web pages
      10m 53s
  13. 11m 38s
    1. Modifying general settings
      4m 12s
    2. Setting up users
      3m 11s
    3. Restricting access to specific WordPress pages
      4m 15s
  14. 26m 38s
    1. Exporting and importing WordPress files
      7m 9s
    2. Backing up and restoring the database
      8m 10s
    3. Transferring files
      6m 3s
    4. Testing and fine-tuning
      5m 16s
  15. 18s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Dreamweaver and WordPress: Core Concepts
5h 44m Intermediate May 27, 2010 Updated Oct 23, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Joseph Lowery shows how to combine the utility of WordPress and the power of Adobe Dreamweaver to transition existing websites to the WordPress platform. The course demonstrates how to create new blog posts and pages, customize WordPress themes, and extend WordPress editable pages from within Dreamweaver. It also covers how to add Spry elements, add and customize plugins, and enhance WordPress-stored content with Dreamweaver's dynamic pages. Plus, a chapter on responsive design shows how you can adapt your layouts for tablets and mobile devices.

Topics include:
  • Using the Dynamically-Related Files feature in Dreamweaver to design WordPress pages
  • Applying WordPress themes
  • Customizing themes
  • Adding Spry widgets
  • Adding WordPress dynamic data
  • Populating the WordPress database
  • Publishing a WordPress site
Dreamweaver WordPress
Joseph Lowery

Customizing the sidebar

Let's continue our conversion of the default theme by working in the sidebar areas. Almost all WordPress themes use sidebars either on the left or the right and sometimes both. In the previous lesson changing the main content, we moved the sidebar that was on the left side of the Custom Theme to the right side as called for by our comp. In this lesson we will clean up the content of the sidebar as well as its styling. First, let's tackle the content, which is comprised of a series of widgets.

You can think of a widget as a canned bit of coding that outputs a targeted slice of content often a series of links in a list. So in our blog_comp, which I have on the screen now, we see four such widgets, there is Search, Hot Links, Archive, and Categories. Now when we take a look at the current state of our index.php page I've got Recent Post, Recent Comments, Archives, Categories, and something called Meta as well as a search field up top.

So there are a good number of unwanted widgets here to remove them you'll need to go to the WordPress Admin area and work in the Widget section there. So let's head on over to the dashboard, and I'll choose Appearance > Widgets. On the right-hand side under Available Widget you see a collection of standard widgets that you can bring in to any sidebar. I should mention that you can also download custom widgets. There are tons available. And we will explore little bit of that world a little on in the course.

On the right-hand side are your sidebars are widget areas. Well, the custom theme, that we've been customizing, has one sidebar area for widgets. Other themes can have multiple widget areas and the widgets that you see in the sidebar widget area correspond to those widgets we saw in our Index page. So let's remove the ones that we don't need and to remove something all you have to do is drag it out. So I don't want this Recent Post so I am just going to drag that away. Same thing with Recent Comments and Meta, which we don't need.

Now there is no saving or anything like that. Once you drag it out it's gone. Let's go back to Dreamweaver, and I'll refresh the page and our widget area has been greatly reduced. It looks good. Now let's go back to WordPress, and we can start to customize our remaining widgets. Now each of these widgets can be expanded and depending on the widget itself you'll find one or more options available. Search has an option for a Title. There currently isn't one in our index.php file, but if we take a look at the blog_comp, and I will scroll up, it has a very handy title called Search.

So back to the Dashboard, and let's add in Search, click Save, and you can click Close, or you could click a little widget. Let's continue with our modifications before we go back and double-check this in Dreamweaver. So the next widget on our comp is called hotlinks, which as I've mentioned before is a collection of pages. WordPress has a terrific feature that allows you to quickly set up a custom menu and output that menu as a list of links. So let's create a custom menu first and then we'll add it for sidebar.

So I have the widget here Custom menu, and I am going to go ahead drag it right in and place it in between Search and Archives. You will notice that when I do that it says it hasn't found any menus, and it gives us a link for creating some. That's great. Let's go ahead and click Create Some. That will take us over to the menu section, which if you need to find it again is located under Appearance. So now I can go ahead and follow the prompts here and go ahead click Create menu. So let's add in a name.

I am going to call this sidebar and choose Create menu, and let's scroll down a little bit here. Now over on the left-hand side we have the ability to add in menu items, and we can either work from custom links that you see in the first widget up here, Pages or Categories. I am going to choose to work with our existing page first just to create our first menu item. So I'll select that and then choose Add to menu.

Now let me scroll back up and here you can see the page listed under the menu. So I click Save menu, and now we are ready to go back to Widgets under Appearances. And if I expand my custom menu I can see that I have an option for a title. That's good. We want to put that title in of hotlinks, and I have my sidebar as an option here. If there were multiple menus available to me, they would appear in the list, but there's only this one. So now let's click Save.

So that's saved, and as I said we can use the little gadget to close it up. Let's head on over to Dreamweaver again. I will go to my index.php page and click Refresh, and now we have a title for search. It needs to be styled and here's our Hot Links title with the menu item Conference Schedule At-A-Glance. So everything looks as expected. We can add more pages our hot links custom navigation as we build up the side. Now we are ready to start the styling. Let's take care of the headings first.

Again, let's head over to the blog_comp. So I have a big old Search and Hot Links. They are tremendously styled here. Let's find out how they are styled by using our inspect mode, and I will just go to this one area, and as I see, I don't have to go any further just hover over my search title, and I can see the rule for sectioninfo.h2. It's got a background image and white text and special font family et cetera, So let's go ahead and click once to turn off Inspect mode. Then I will right-click on the rule, Go to Code, and let's grab this particular, all these particular rules here.

I am going to copy just the properties, because I know that it goes into a slightly different selector over my index.php page. So let's use our Inspect mode to find out what that is. I will just go to the Hot Links one here. There's no rule set up for this, but if I look down at the tag selector at the bottom of the page, I can see this is not h2 tag, but an h3 tag, and that's very common in setting up WordPress widgets. They tend to use h3 tags for titles. That is located within a div of a Widget area.

So I am going to create a selector that targets the h3 tags in Widget areas and paste in those properties. Let's narrow down the files that we have here so we are just working with Custom Filter. Again, we are going to choose style.css. Now we don't need to put in sidebar.php, because there's nothing structural we have to do to work with that. So let's just go ahead and click OK. There is our two stylesheets, and we want to work with the one that's in the new Roux theme folder.

So I'll select that. And let's go down to the bottom. There's my Widget area, perfect. We are ready to put in our widget-area h3 selector, our curly braces, and let's paste our properties right there. Now again we have to adjust the path here to get rid of the going up a level. Now we will refresh the page and go to Design view, and now things are looking pretty good for our titles.

Let's skip over search for the moment and take care of the bulk of the widgets, which output unordered list. Again, we will get the rules from the blog_comp and bring them over to Roux theme style.css file. So from the blog_comp I want to take a look at using Inspect mode. Let's start with the list items and crawl up the DOM using the left arrow key. So I will click once to go up to the ul li tag, and it looks like I've got a blogPage aside ul li rule that looks pertinent. Let's go up again.

There is the same type selector targeting the ul tag. So that's definitely what we want. So I am going to go ahead and click once to turn off Inspect mode and right-click on that rule to go to code. Now let's see what we got here. I am going to go ahead and expand Code view so we can just concentrate on that and then I will press my Arrow keys so I can get back to where I was. So it looks like we've got blogPage aside ul, and that's the start of it. So let's go ahead and grab these rules.

I am going to grab the a tags as well as the links and visited and then there is a hover state. So all of that seems pertinent. I am going to go ahead and copy all those rules bring that over to our stylesheet. Again, let's just go to Code view to expand everything, and now I am going to go ahead and paste all of them in and scroll back up a little bit. Now instead of blog page I want primary selector to be widget area. So I am going to copy that.

And just there is a few rules I could use a Find and Replace, but let's just do this pretty quickly. I have copied it, and I am just using my Command+V to paste in these five or six rules to correct them. Now once that's done I'll save the page. Let's head back to Design view and click Refresh and see what's happening. All right, things are looking much neater. Again now if I rollover it, I see that I have my rules working out.

Now something looks a little bit off. Let's go back and see there is the culprit. Here is a path that I didn't catch before. So let's get rid of that upgrade path there. Let's see if there is anything else. Nope, I think that's good. Again, I'll save, go to Design view and things are looking. Here is my background pattern coming up on hover. Great. So my final three widgets are in great shape, including the hover states, and now you're ready to customize the Search widget.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Dreamweaver and WordPress: Core Concepts .

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Q: While trying to set up a Dreamweaver site, an error occurs that says Dreamweaver cannot resolve the dynamic files because the site definition is incorrect. What is causing this? This is using WAMP on a Windows 7 computer.
A: When setting up the site in Dreamweaver and creating a local testing server, make sure to point it to the folder in c:/wamp/www/ that is being used for the site. If using the same naming convention as shown in the videos, the server folder should be pointing to C:\wamp\www\explore_ca\ and the Web URL field should read http://localhost/explore_ca/, like the picture here:

Q: How do I set the password for WAMP Server 2?
A: The WAMP server does not include a password for MySQL when first installed. You’ll need to add a password by modifying a configuration text file and set up a password in the MySQL server.
Setting a password on the MySQL server:

  1. From the Start menu, enter CMD to open the command line interface.
  2. Switch to the bin directory of your MySQL folder, installed by WAMP. For version 5.1.36 of MySQL, for example, enter cd c:\wamp\bin\mysql\mysql5.1.36\bin
    Navigate within the WAMP folder installed on your system to find the proper path.
  3.  Enter the following: mysql -u root
  4. The command line for MySQL will open with a mysql prompt like this: mysql>
  5. Enter the following:
    SET PASSWORD for 'root'@'localhost' = PASSWORD('yourPassword');
    - replace 'yourPassword' with the password you want to use. 
  6. Close the CMD window.
Setting the password in the phpMyAdmin config file:
After you change the MySQL password you will have to edit the file. Here's how:
  1. In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\wamp\apps\phpmyadmin3.2.0.1 (version number may vary). 
  2. Open the file in Dreamweaver or another text editor.
  3. Locate the following line:
    $cfg['Servers'][$i]['password'] = '';
  4. Enter your password between the quotes; make sure the password is the same as the one you set in the MySQL server.
  5. Save the file.
  6. From the system tray icon for WAMP, choose Restart All Services.
  7. To test, choose phpMyAdmin from the WAMP system tray icon.

Q: After creating a template following the instructions in the Chapter 5 video “Creating a page template in Dreamweaver,” I am unable to select the template. In the video, the instructor’s page shows a heading of Template, with a dropdown menu, but my version shows only a dropdown labeled “Attributes,” and the newly created template does not appear. What is causing this issue?
A: This seems to be a bug in WordPress that occurs occasionally. Although a cause has yet to be determined, a possible workaround to get the Template option to appear is switch themes. Switching to the default theme and then back again to Explore_California should reveal the Template option.
Q: While following along with the instructions in the "Setting up a MySQL password for Windows," I encountered this error: MySQL said: "#1045 – Access denied for user ‘root’@’localhost’ (using password: NO)" What is causing this error?
A: This error occurs when trying to enter the MySQL monitor with a password for a user who has not set a password yet. In that case, removing the “-u root” part should resolve the problem.
Q: While following along to the chapter 2 movie "Using dynamically related files," I get an error message that reads: "Dynamically-related files could not be resolved because the site definition is not correct for this server." What is causing this error?
A: This is a known issue with Dreamweaver, and relates to the permalink settings in the WordPress installation. If the permalink setting is set to something other than the default, like “Month & Name,” for example, Dreamweaver is unable to resolve the dynamic files, and the described error will occur. Changing the permalink setting back to Default will clear the error.
Q: I am bit confused as to my need to use MAMP with a WordPress site in Dreamweaver. If I am going to use a separate commercial hosting site as my server, do I still need to use MAMP in my WordPress site?
A: MAMP is installed to provide an easy-to-use development server capable of handling MySQL and PHP on your local computer. It's also possible to set up MySQL and PHP servers separately, but it requires many more steps and is not as "user-friendly" as the described process. Your hosting server will have MySQL/PHP enabled on their servers for the remote live setup, but that doesn't have anything to do with developing and testing pages on your own computer.
Q: I can't find the file named commevents.php in the exercise files. I need it to set up an online database in the last chapter.
A: This is a file you create yourself when you first connect to a database. Refer to the "Adding WordPress dynamic data to pages" video in Chapter 7. commevents.php should appear in the Connections folder once you establish a connection.
Q:  In "Setting up a MySQL password for Windows", I'm getting the error "#1045 - Access denied for user 'root'@'localhost'" when testing the phpMyAdmin.

If I try and re-do the steps, I get the following error "ERROR 1044 (42000): Access denied for user ''@'localhost' to database mysql'" when I try to change the password.
A: This seems to be happening because of the combination of Windows 7 and a
new version of WampServer 2.1. Here's another approach that should work
for the new combination.

Follow these steps instead of the ones using the CMD prompt. (As a bonus, they're much easier!)
  1. Left-click on the WampServer icon tray.
  2. Choose phpMyAdmin.
  3. When the phpMyAdmin page opens in your browser, click the Privileges tab found after the Engines tab.
  4. Locate the line in the User table with "root - localhost - No..." (probably the last one).
  5. Click the Edit icon (the final item in the row).
  6. Scroll down to the Change Password section.
  7. Select Password and enter your password twice. (If you're following the exercises, enter root).
  8. Click Go in the lower-right corner.
Now follow the rest of the steps in "Setting up a MySQL password for Windows" video, starting at the 4:13 mark. This is where you use a text editor to make a change in the PHP file and restart all WampServer services when you're done.
Q:  I want to setup the practice files and site on my localhost, as described; however, I already have my current WordPress site (under development) running on my localhost. How do I run two WordPress sites on my localhost?
A:  You can easily do it by setting up another site in Dreamweaver. Just copy the WordPress files to that folder as described and establish a new database via phpMyAdmin. You can set up as many WordPress sites as you need to. The author has upwards of 80 on his system, all for different clients.
Q: This course was updated on 10/23/2012. What changed?
A: The course was thoroughly revised and uses the most current versions of both programs. We added chapters on responsive design and creating a custom administration panel in WordPress, new movies about concepts and taxonomies, and extended the Spry chapter to include jQuery, among other changes. New movies are indicated by the NEW tag next to the movie name.
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