…and I selfishly would like to keep it that way for fear of widespread adoption, but author Adam Walker Cleaveland deserves praise and recognition for his fine work. Prior to my search and conversion to Cleaker I was using 3ColumnK2 which is a mod of the ever so popular K2 theme which I still use for other sites. I decided to switch for a few reasons.

  • I was having IE6 compatability issues where the sidebar was wonky and didn’t appear properly
  • didn’t like being at the mercy of the modder to update based on newer K2 releases
  • I started having some issues with the Sidebar Modules embedded in the latest K2 and once again didn’t want to be at the mercy of K2 for SBM upgrades
  • I was bored

My search for Cleaker took a while. My requirements for a new theme were:

  • 3 Column with content on the left followed by 2 sidebars on the right
  • Flexibility to change the overall theme width as well as the columns
  • Support for Widgets (hence Sidebar Modules)
  • Navigation buttons in header based on Pages
  • Ability to have a custom header image
  • Looked good

This was a pretty time consuming process but in the end it was worth it. Cleaker met all of my requirements and then some. The first step was to prepare by porting over all of my existing theme customizations necessary to Cleaker. I’m pretty good about keeping a text file that identifies every customization I make to my theme along with details and the actual code. These items include content from third party services like Google Analytics, code necessary for plugins, scripts for widgets etc. I highly recommend you do this as it can be a nightmare trying to remember where all these pieces are without them being documented. So edited the templates necessary as well as created all the sidebar modules necessary.

After finishing that process I began to concentrate on remaining issues. Currently I’m having layout problems I haven’t gotten around to with my Slickr plugin which I use for my photos page as well as with my Lifestream plugin for my Lifestream page. I’ve been too lazy to fix them as I struggle nightly whether to work on content or design and content usually wins. Not a huge deal and not the fault of the theme.

Next up was customizing the theme a bit for my liking. As I began to dig through the style.css file I was very happy to see that it was lined with helpful commenting. The main thing I wanted to do was modify the column the overall width of the theme as well as the columns. For anyone else interested it is easily done by editing the style values below:

#wrapper – changed width to 1000px
#header – changed width to 1000px
#content – changed width to 550px
#sidbarRight – changed width to 170px
#sidebarLeft – changed width to 150px
#footer – changed width to 971px
ul#Nav – changed to 1000px

There was still one more step necessary for these column changes to work and that was to modify the “contentbg2.gif” & “header.gif” images. Since I was increasing the content column and extending the overall width of the theme, I needed to move the seperator and add to the right side of contentbg2.gif.

Cleaker contentbg2.gif modified

I also had to increase the width of my header.gif image from 900 to 1000 pixels

I made some other changes too such as incorporating the blockquote style which I liked more from K2 and changed the font weight to bold for the headlines. I will probably play with the color scheme and make some other changes as well in the future.

I am very happy with this theme and urge others that are looking for a great looking, and easily editable theme, to give it a try.

My modified version of Cleaker 2.1 Widgetized is available here

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