Last night I upgraded my self-hosted WordPress installation to version 3.2, which was officially released yesterday. I like the look of the new version, at least as far as I can tell so far. If anyone notices any strange or different behaviour on this blog which might be caused by this upgrade, or for that matter if it might not, please let me know in a comment or via the contact form.
For anyone who would like to join me in self-hosted WordPress blogging, I can recommend Jeremy Myers’ current series Start Blogging in 5 Simple Steps.
I like the look of the Twenty Eleven theme, which is the new default in WordPress 3.2. I would like to update Gentle Wisdom to use it, instead of my current Twenty Ten theme. I would customise the header to keep my current image, but in a rather deeper format so I could use more of the original.
But I discovered a fatal flaw in the Twenty Eleven theme which makes it quite unusable for me: it does not show the sidebar on single posts and pages, but only on the front page.
I repeat: THERE IS NO SIDEBAR ON SINGLE POSTS AND PAGES.
Now why on earth should a theme do that? Well, I suppose some people want a really clean view when they view a single post or page. But most of us bloggers, and that includes anyone wanting to make money from advertising, are using our sidebars to show all kinds of important or interesting things. Currently I have 22 widgets in mine. And we want, or need, these to be visible to all our readers, not just to the minority who read our front page.
Now admittedly some of these widgets could be put in the footer area, which is always displayed. Perhaps I should do that with some of my current widgets. But with many of them there are good reasons for not putting them in the footer. Advertisements and some other material need to be prominent, not at the bottom of the page where they are often not seen.
I read somewhere that it is in fact very easy to modify the Twenty Eleven theme (but presumably only on self-hosted WordPress, not on a WordPress.com hosted blog) to make that sidebar reappear. The problem with that is that, as Twenty Eleven is part of a WordPress 3.2 installation, any modifications will be automatically overwritten whenever WordPress is updated. Anyway, I don’t want to get into editing PHP as I don’t know the language well.
It would be very easy for Matt Mullenweg and his team to upgrade Twenty Eleven with a simple option to retain or remove the sidebar from single posts and pages. It would probably be quite easy for someone with the right skills to write a simple plugin to add this option. With that small addition the Twenty Eleven theme would be so much better. So give us back our sidebar, as an option. Please!