How to add a sidebar in Twenty Eleven theme

A few weeks before the WordPress 3.2 general release came out, we linked up a beta copy of the Twenty Eleven theme with a download link so our readers could preview it on pre 3.2 sites.

And no doubt many of you have updated to WordPress 3.2 by now. And some of you may have noticed that Twenty Eleven for whatever strange reason doesn’t have a sidebar widget area on the inner pages?!

It’s one of those “what were they thinking?” questions we like to cynically ask.

Kevin Muldoon and Bart Surminski to the rescue as Kevin outlines around 4 steps to easily add the sidebar to Twenty Eleven theme on his site. This could be a great exercise if you’re a confident beginner who wants to hack a theme for the first time.

But if you just want the modified theme pre-baked, there’s also a link by Niraj in the comments section of that article so you can grab a copy of the theme with the widget enabled.


Try it: Twenty Eleven beta theme

We’ve had some readers ask us if the new Twenty Eleven (the successor to the Twenty Ten) theme will work with older versions of WordPress 3.x and after doing some light testing, we’re happy to report that it does indeed seem to be fine.

So we extracted the theme from the WP 3.2 3.3 beta and below is a link to a recent copy of the Twenty Eleven theme that should work with WordPress 3.1.x. As always when using beta software, we recommend installing the theme on a “sandbox” or test site and not on your live or mission critical site.

Download: Twenty Eleven beta theme

Update: WordPress 3.2 is out so we recommend that you update your older version and get the newest 2011 theme as a part of the package. Just go to your WP admin dashboard and click on the 3.2 update notification at the top of the page.

Quick Impressions of WordPress 3.2 beta

WordPress 3.2 is coming soon – sometime in late June. So here are some of our thoughts and preview of it in no particular order on the latest beta version. By no means is it meant to be an in-depth review – for a more thorough look at 3.2 beta, check out WPMod’s review. Note that things may change between now and the final 3.2 release.

Once you login to WP admin, you’ll see there’s a whole new look to the whole admin system. Our “nitpicky” take is that the some of the proportions aren’t as well thought as the current 3.1x releases. By proportions we mean the sizing of certain text and images relative to each other.

Wordpress 3 2beta menu The new admin vertical navigation bar now uses less space so more usable area is saved for the rest of the page but upon first impression it’s not as pretty as the current release. On the functional side it does show which module you happen to be in much more clearly with a right pointing arrow.










The other big change is the full screen post/page editor now has “distraction-free” writing with a minimal set of toolbar icons. The toolbar will also fade away once you start writing something. It’s very “zen-like” and great way to focus on creating content.

As for the new Twenty Eleven theme itself, we think it’s a great evolution for the default theme. There are a ton of widget areas which should make content areas really easy to populate. Wordpress 3 2beta widgets

One of our main concerns was that it seems to have a lot of vertical spacing between the navigation bar and page title.

Wordpress 3 2beta page title

We also ran very quick tests with the NextGen gallery, Enable Media Replace, and Autoptimize plugins, all which seemed to work without a hitch. We ran these plugins through their paces by creating a gallery, overwriting an image, and seeing if the CSS/HTML were optimized. Basically these plugins seemed to work and didn’t crash the site. It’s not an extensive test but we were able to see the basic functionality was in good shape.

So that ends our quick look at WordPress 3.2 beta. Stay tuned for more in the upcoming weeks.

In-depth preview of 2011 WordPress theme

Our friend Kevin at WPMods has written a great review of the new Twenty Eleven WordPress theme that’s included with WordPress 3.2 beta. It’s not a giant leap forward but it has some nice features that would have been normally been reserved for “premium” commercial themes a year ago.

If you’re interested in trying out 3.2 and Twenty Eleven theme, you can download it here at the release archive at Scroll about 85% of the page down to find “3.2 beta” versions.

After downloading the ZIP file, you can then upload the extracted files via FTP to your WordPress hosting directory and as always, make backups of everything first. Also never update a live or critical site with a beta release. And did we mention, back everything up first and do this at your own risk?

Update: we were inspired by Kevin’s article enough to take a look at WP 3.2 and Twenty Eleven for ourselves and write a quick review about it.


New WordPress All-in-One Plugin JetPack: Our Review

Well, it’s only been about 8 hours since Automattic released an arsenal of all-in-one WordPress plugins called Jetpack. After trying them out for the past few hours, we’ve arrived at this conclusion: If you add these to existing live sites, you may run into some compatibility issues with existing plugins.

Example #1: On one of our sites running Platform Pro theme, the sidebar disappeared entirely. We had to delete the cache in WP Super Cache to get the sidebar back.

Example #2: We also had one site running the popular Sociable for WP 3.0 plugin, which seemed to cause problems with the ShareDaddy module (for obvious reasons) with the end result of missing icons. In the end, we turned off Jetpack on all our sites until we know things are ironed out.

Our Conclusion
It’s interesting that Matt & company have chosen to go the “shotgun” approach route to extending WordPress’ functionality right after the 3.1 release. Some of the plugins aren’t new to the community – for example “After the Deadline” has been around in stand-alone form for a while. We’re not surprised that when someone “mixes” (installs) a lot of new functionality into an existing WordPress installation, there are some hiccups, especially if you have other plugins running. I am sure the WordPress crew tested it as much as possible, but there’s nothing like code in the “wild,” as they say.

Update: If you’re using the Sharedaddy module either alone or with Jetpack, be sure to check our tips and tricks for it here…

Update 2: If you’re having problems activating Jetpack – getting an error message connecting with, check out a great debugging thread at which includes many fixes and workarounds.

WordPress 3.1 feature: Updated export

We just tried out the new export plugin in WordPress 3.1. Here’s how it looks like including the option to export navigation menus. A cool update is the export XML file now appends the name of the site to the file name instead of just including a date.

So did the navigation export work? We transferred the content from one Thematic site to another Thematic site and it did not seem to work. We’ll try it one more time and update this post later.

Update: We got the imported navigation menu working by going to Appearance -> Menus and selecting the imported menu as the primary menu.

Thoughts on WordPress 3.1

We think WordPress 3.1 is a nice intermediate upgrade with neat new features such as: internal page/post linking (reviewed one post below), sortable columns in post/pages, admin toolbar in the front end, streamlined content editor (some options are now hidden), post formats, new network admin UI for MU, “overhauled” import/export including support for navigation menus, and more!

There’s also new stuff under the hood for post formats, custom content types, and advanced taxonomy queries.

We think initially these concepts and ideas are not going to be understood by a lot of content creators and blog publishers but in the long run it will help power WordPress behind the scenes to become a full-blown CMS.

Scribu has a great explanation in plain English about custom post types and new search capability will affect your WordPress site’s ability to handle and manipulate a lot of content.

WPMods’s Pippin also has a good article explaining on how 3.1’s new multiple taxonomies will help content creators filter content for readers.

Also the WooThemes ninjas are promising something new and exciting tomorrow that will take advantage of custom posts, so stay tuned.

If you want more 3.1 coverage and information, be sure to visit these sites:

WordPress 3.1 feature: Internal Linking

Here’s a quick look at what should become of one of the more popular features of the new WordPress 3.1 release, internal linking.

Wp3 1 internal links
To link something to another page or post, in the editor, simply highlight some text or picture, click on the link icon in the toolbar, the new lightbox dialog box will come up, then click on the arrow for “Or link to existing content” to reveal the keyword field, and finally type some keywords. Results for both pages and posts show up dynamically as you type them.

The keyword don’t have to be in the title of the post or page, I am guessing it probably uses the same site search database. Once you see the post or page you want, then just click on the item you want to link to and click on “Add Link.” Done!

Update: a friend of ours pointed out the internal linker only shows currently published posts and will not show posts dated to publish on a future date. A manual workaround is to copy/paste in the permalink URL of the future post into the field at the top of the dialog box.

WordPress 3.1 “Reinhardt” is available

Wordpress v3 1

WordPress 3.1 is out, if you haven’t seen the notice at the top of your WP admin, click on “Dashboard” at the top left and you’ll see “updates”, where you can start the update process. We’ll have a quick review later today.

You may have noticed this 3.1 release was originally code-named “Django” but that conflicted with the name of another open source CMS, so it’s been renamed to “Reinhardt.”

Official news at

Keep track of all your WP sites with a dashboard

If you’re a hardcore WP proponent with a lot of WordPress sites under your control, WP Status Dashboard can help you keep an eye on them. This self installed app can display all your WP site status on single page with the following stats: search engine indexable status, WordPress version, and number of plugin updates available. You could make this dashboard page one of your default browser home pages every time you launch your web browser.

This app costs $20 at CodeCanyon. It requires a bit of technical knowledge – you’ll need to know how to setup a MySQL database file. It’s too bad that this app itself is not built with WP to make it really easy to use.

Get it: WP Status Dashboard