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The Coraline layouts (and the Mullenweg-Pearson dispute…)

Coraline is a revamp of the deleted Cutline theme. Its most notable feature is its five layouts: one to three sidebar widget areas plus up to four (optional) footer widget areas.

Layouts 1 & 2: “Content-Sidebar” & “Sidebar-Content”

Coraline layout 1 Coraline layout 2

Primary Widget Area (P) – width 234px
Footer Widget Areas (not shown) – width 364px

Layout 5: “Sidebar-Content-Sidebar”

Coraline layout 5

Primary Widget Area (P) – width 204px
Secondary Widget Area (S) – width 204px
Footer Widget Areas (not shown) – width 217px

Layouts 3 & 4: “Content-Sidebar-Sidebar” & “Sidebar-Sidebar-Content”
(Second image corrected: the one shown in Appearance > Theme Options is wrong.)

Coraline layout 3 Coraline layout 4

Featured Widget Area (F) – width 450px
Primary Widget Area (P) – width 229px
Secondary Widget Area (S) – width 180px
Footer Widget Areas (not shown) – width 217px


Little background story

A. The original designer of Cutline and Pressrow is Chris Pearson. Pearson is also the designer of Thesis, an acclaimed template system for self-hosted websites, and is now involved in a dispute with Matt Mullenweg (owner of WP) over Thesis and the GPL licence. You can listen to a joint interview here:
See here too:

B. The Pressrow footer up to the day of that crisis:

Pressrow Chris Pearson

The Pressrow footer from then on:

Pressrow No Chris Pearson

C. August 9: Cutline suddenly replaced by Coraline (an unprecedented move, resulting in lots of complaints in the forum from users who found their blogs changed —and their widgets missing— without warning). Official excuse: Cutline “launched four years ago”, “the state of the art in themes has advanced quite a bit since then”. (Then it occured to them that some other themes are even older and dropped the first phrase, leaving the other one to read as if the state of the art has advanced since their announcement…)

D. ?


Update Oct. 2010 – back to layouts…

Same five layout options in the newly introduced zBench theme. Widths as follows:

Layouts 1 & 2
Primary Widget Area (P) 263px.
Layout 5
Primary Widget Area (P) 186px. Secondary Widget Area (S) 184px.
Layouts 3 & 4
Featured Widget Area (F) 263px. Primary Widget Area (P) 104px. 
Secondary Widget Area (S) 107px.

Footer Widget Areas 186px (regardless of layout).

Update Nov. 2010

Same five layout options in the newly introduced Pilcrow theme. Widths as follows:

Layouts 1 & 2
Primary Widget Area (P) 229px.
Layout 5
Primary Widget Area (P) 204px. Secondary Widget Area (S) 204px.
Layouts 3 & 4
Featured Widget Area (F) 450px. Primary Widget Area (P) 230px. 
Secondary Widget Area (S) 179px.

Footer Widget Areas 479px.


Update Dec. 2010 – back to little background stories…

As expected, Pressrow removed too (replaced by Pilcrow).

So maybe it’s time for another little story: copies Drupal theme
Apparently when Matt asks someone something, someone must comply or his name wiped from the face of the earth; but when others ask Matt something, then things are different…



44 thoughts on “The Coraline layouts (and the Mullenweg-Pearson dispute…)

  1. They should have email addresses tied up to each person’s themes. They should then inform people directly when making such drastic changes. Or at the very minimum, they should send a dashboard broadcast to those who are directly affected (they don’t skip broadcasting the renewal of paid upgrades, do they).

    WP suffers from their casual start up attitude. It still feels like a one-guy shop even though they have become huge and times and attitude of people have changed.

    Posted by AA | August 10, 2010, 16:28
  2. They should… (Have you seen what’s going on in the forum since yesterday?)

    “they don’t skip broadcasting the renewal of paid upgrades, do they”: a masterstroke!

    “still feels like a one-guy shop”: unfortunately sometimes it feels like a one-spoiled-kid playground.

    Posted by Panos | August 10, 2010, 16:48
  3. Panos,
    Thank you for posting this.
    The forums have been simmering, and with reason. I think people would / will be even angrier if / when they realize the nonsencical reason for the whole business.

    Posted by Tess | August 10, 2010, 18:31
  4. I guess I don’t understand why MattCo still have a problem with Pearson since he basically caved and GPL’d Thesis minus the CSS and images.

    Posted by Dave Bonta | August 10, 2010, 23:48
  5. Even though they decided to pull Cutline and introduce Coraline, they should have blogged about it *first*, which keys an announcement in every.single.Dashboard on If users had been forewarned, they could have: A. Backed up their text widgets B. decided for themselves whether they wanted to switch to Coraline or another of the 99 other available themes rather than having it forced on them. Just saying…

    Posted by Jennifer | August 11, 2010, 00:46
  6. @Tess: I posted twice in the forum about the real reason – can’t do it in every single thread.

    @Dave: I suppose it’s enough that Pearson dared disobey…
    Can you link to something re the “caving”?

    @Jennifer: Of course. (But they shouldn’t have pulled Cutline in the first place.)

    Posted by Panos | August 11, 2010, 01:06
  7. Panos,

    Yes, I understand. I introduced your link a few times in the forums {(tx 4 post) again} , but I was at work today waiting for our clunky (today) interface with our site to work so I did not have much time. Just picking off easy questions as I usually do: top of the head stuff…

    This is a good thread in the forums:
    I’ve asked in the moderators’ blog, or more accurately, said that I hope the replacement of PressRow will be done more thoughtfully… And while I don’t want to spread rumors, at least one h.e. confirms it will come to pass.

    I will be sure to post something there about that good thread. Richard made a very nice wise wonderfully succint worthwhile post there.

    But I’m a lowly scullery maid there, being a provisional moderator who can’t do much more than an ordinary volunteer. Could may be that TPB (the powers that be) will send me home after this audition?

    Hubby wanting to talk: must go!!

    best 2 u

    Posted by Tess | August 11, 2010, 03:59
  8. Panos: I have already left: my blog is now 1-and-1 hosted at – but it took me all day and I still have to sort out the themes there. Incredible, nohw unprofessional these WordPress kids behaved. No more WordPress dot com, ever: I have learned from this.

    And on the up side, from now on I, not they, benefit from my blog’s advertising.

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 05:49
  9. I think that longstanding users of should know by now that user opinion carries little or no weight in the decision-making process here, the exception being the rumble over the change in The Journalist theme, which was also a peremptory change.

    So, as the decision was already made by TPTB to remove Cutline, they should have learned a lesson from user reaction to the change in The Journalist and handled it differently. They didn’t.

    As both Matt and tsp have said in their own separate ways, both in the forums and elsewhere, if you don’t like it or don’t want messing with your blog, you need to self-host. If you stay here, you leave yourself open to whatever decision TPTB may take tomorrow. Simple as that.

    Posted by Jennifer | August 11, 2010, 12:03
  10. @Tess: Yes, Richard (and Jennifer, and AA above) suggested what could/should have been done, and I wonder why WP didn’t think of any of that. Or did they? Lately they seem bent on pissing people off…

    @Michael: Agree, completely unprofessional kids behavior in this case – considering both what they did and why they did it. We’ve seen more of this attitude in the forum.

    @Jennifer: Yes, unfortunately it’s as simple as that. But then they should at least cut the crap about how they care for and listen to their customers.

    And the first thing I thought when I read Lance’s sticky was: let’s see, will you handle Pressrow any different?

    Posted by Panos | August 11, 2010, 14:35
  11. @Jennifer: forgive me for not knowing that this is the way it is. Matt and co seem to think we spend our days in their forums and reading their blog posts. We don’t.

    It’s unacceptable behavior. Analogous to me going downstairs to suddenly finding my car painted yellow because Mercedes-Benz has a dispute with the blue dye maker, and then being told “we blogged about this on”.

    Well they’ve lost me. I am transitioning to the new hosted site. Hey, at least I’ll be able to run ads now.

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 14:46
  12. @Michael: As I mentioned in your blog, the real dispute is over Thesis, not Cutline (and Pearson sold Cutline to another company years ago). So it’s even more ludicrous than your car-paint analogy: more like you find your Mercedes replaced by a Volvo because your car dealer had a dispute with Porche…

    Posted by Panos | August 11, 2010, 15:16
  13. Indeed.

    Matt Mullenweg responded to me last night and the response is basically “how much were you making from your blog anyway” and, in response to my “you should have told me”.

    “Our blog has over 40,000 subscribers via email, and every post is pushed to your dashboard via the “tips” box, since we’re a blogging company it’s generally the way we communicate things. “

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 15:21
  14. Hi Michael,
    Your site looks really good. What a lot of work you did in such a short time! When I first saw you in the forums, I wasn’t sure you would follow through: you know, not clicking through on the links to Chris’ site right away. But after reading some of your blog, it’s obvious you know what you like and mean what you say.

    Not to make it sound as though you have “passed on” but you are in a better place…

    (do Canadians do those euphemisms?)


    Posted by Tess | August 11, 2010, 15:24
  15. Hi Tess! Yes, I am happy with so far. It took all day! But am now in need of finishing it… need to figure out how to allow email subscriptions.

    And I need to resubscribe all my subscribers once that is done. And I need to find a good theme there: twenty ten is “ok” except for the way-too-large font.

    And especially, I need to figure out how to get site stats. Google analytics? But there are so many options.

    So all in all this will take me a week.

    But yes, I am in a better place, having passed on… and yes, Canadians certainly do use the same euphemisms!

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 15:29
  16. Ah, just like in the forums: should have refreshed…
    I’m sure you realize that you should keep some bit of your blog on for a bit, so you can redirect your readers to the new site?

    And if you are concerned about the stats apparently there are some you can find where you can set your counter to start at a number you want. Presumably the # you had when you left wp.COM?

    Posted by Tess | August 11, 2010, 15:31
  17. @Tess: indeed, I plan to run both blogs in parallel this week, then by Saturday, assuming I have by then figured it all out, put more, large notices on the .com one to go to instead.

    The stats: good tip, thanks. The biggest issue is going to be figuring out which plugin to use. There seem to be a few dozen options.. and they all say they’re the best, not surprisingly.

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 15:34
  18. @Michael
    stats! all are the best?
    there has to be The one!
    I am surprised you can’t tell which one!

    I think you are coming out of this very well.
    Best 2 u

    Posted by Tess | August 11, 2010, 15:40
  19. I know, isn’t it incredible? Surely all the inferior ones should agree, and should tell us! :-)

    And thanks – I do appreciate the kind comments.

    You know, you turn these things to advantage. What I am doing now. And, I suspect, what a lot of other people have done. I am sure WordPress will be fine without me, but I do hope the wp guys will have learned from this!


    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 15:45
  20. @Michael (re Matt’s response): Typical Matt! How much you were making is absolutely irrelevant, and the part about the dashboard tips is practically a lie, as the announcement was made the day you found your blog changed:

    ( If you’re patient, you can enjoy more Matt here: )

    Posted by Panos | August 11, 2010, 15:56
  21. And if you’re patient, you can also listen to the Matt/Chris interview and check how many times Chris had to point out “that’s not what I said” or “that has nothing to do with what I said”.

    Posted by Panos | August 11, 2010, 15:59
  22. If only I had time! Two jobs today, and the transition to is going to take me many more days to fully implement. Images upload at the wrong size. No email. Theme not good yet. Need to figure out how to get old media back (1000 images; transfering with the old posts did not work). And so on.

    So I have work to do. All through this I will be humming “matt.. mattt… matt…” under my breath!

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 16:03
  23. And the announcement says “new theme”. It does NOT say “we’re killing an existing theme”. Why on earth would I read an announcement about a new theme when I am delighted with my existing theme? They are/were obfuscating.

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 16:04
  24. Ah yes, the announcement itself is yet another piece of trickery: it says “this will be a replacement for the Cutline theme, which we’re phasing out” (emphasis mine). “Will be” the day it’s no longer “will”…

    Posted by Panos | August 11, 2010, 16:09
  25. Trickery indeed. Oh well, as Caroline said, I have turned this to advantage. Live and learn. Now I manage my own: if I do something wrong I can only blame myself. and I am going to have fun with all the plugins.

    Now if I could only find a copy of the cutline theme! The downloadable one is not working for me: functions that do not work, no meta tags, many other small issues. The one they had on WordPress was perfect….

    Posted by Michael Willems | August 11, 2010, 16:14
  26. @Michael-nothing to forgive. My comment above was aimed more @AA @Panos @Dave and @Tess and we do actually tend to be fairly active forum inhabitants. Look around and you’ll see we’ve had some lively discussions about recent changes.

    Good luck in your new home!

    Posted by Jennifer | August 11, 2010, 21:56
  27. O.K., Matt has just blogged about why the split license wasn’t enough, and why it’s necessary to keep pissing on Chris Pearson (who, to be fair, does strike me as being an even bigger jerk than Matt):
    Interesting to hear hime talking about apologies and contrition:
    “Even though Thesis has done the bare minimum not to be sued for its license violation and the code it copy/pasted from WordPress, lots of folks including myself still have a bad taste in their mouths from the episode, since there was no apology or contrition shown (like a donation to the WordPress Foundation, which would be a drop in the bucket compared to the millions Thesis made while breaking the GPL). But I think it’s best to focus on the positive.”

    Posted by Dave Bonta | August 11, 2010, 22:17
  28. Oh boy… “Thesis has done the bare minimum not to be sued for its license violation”. Translation: my bullying finally had an effect. “Lots of folks including myself still have a bad taste in their mouths”: How about the taste in the mouth of the thousands of Cutline users? And further on: “Unfortunately, the switch had a bug that broke widgets for some sites”. That’s the only problem he can see?

    As for Pearson, he’s got a bloated ego but at least he doesn’t resort to irrelevancies and to twisting the other party’s arguments like Matt habitually does.

    Posted by Panos | August 12, 2010, 08:24
  29. Neither have I – I have an aversion to Coraline, for obvious reasons. (I’m going to have the same aversion to the successor of Pressrow.)

    Posted by Panos | October 4, 2010, 02:05
  30. Despite my dismay at the way Cutline users were forced onto Caroline, I must admit I’ve adopted it for one of my projects where we needed a double sidebar, and I’m pretty satisfied with it. I like the way images scale down — I’ve never used a flexible-width theme before because of the problem with how images are typically (not) handled.

    Posted by Dave Bonta | October 4, 2010, 02:40
  31. @Panos,
    Yes, and next is Journalist? (and didn’t you mention a couple of others in the forums the other day?) Actually I messed up that question as well as the Coraline one—2 mistakes in one day—because it was so disconcerting to see the theme missing w/o a heads-up.

    Aside from the mis-handled business/non-sensitivity-nonsensical etc issues, that theme is jarring. The light blue unvisited links in the sidebar look okay on white (sort of) but horrible on many other colors. I checked one blog from someone in the forums. She had a orangey-salmon-pinkish background which made the blue text vibrate. Like a migraine.

    Posted by Tess | October 4, 2010, 04:17
  32. Of course my remark had nothing to do with the actual pros and cons of the theme, just with the kindergarten antics associated with it. Like most themes, Coraline has its strong points and its weak ones.

    Themes no longer available to new users: Pressrow (we know why), Journalist 1.3 (why?), Sandbox 0.6 (why?) and Sandbox 1.1. Maybe they’re removing the older versions to make the “Cutline was four years old” excuse seem more plausible?

    Posted by Panos | October 4, 2010, 11:07
  33. I still those 4 themes available in my Dashboard under available themes. Shouldn’t they be there?

    Posted by Jennifer | October 4, 2010, 20:04
  34. I still *see* those 4 themes… (too late for coffee and too early to go to sleep).

    Posted by Jennifer | October 4, 2010, 20:05
  35. I first posted the news here:

    You can still see those 4 themes in the dashboard of your existing blogs, but you won’t see them if you start a new one. I found it out when I set up a blog for a friend.

    Posted by Panos | October 4, 2010, 21:08
  36. Ah. New blog or new account?

    And is Kubrick still available?

    Posted by Jennifer | October 4, 2010, 23:55
  37. New blog (3 year old account).

    Kubrick available.

    Posted by Panos | October 5, 2010, 01:57
  38. Right. And Journalist is not “available” any more. Unless to someone who is already using it.

    Isn’t Kubrick ancient? not in terms of Greeks or Chinese, but web-wise?

    Posted by Tess | October 5, 2010, 03:51
  39. Yes Kubrick’s ancient (older than Cutline). That’s why Lance edited out the initial “Cutline is four years old” excuse in his sticky.

    By the way, the fact that they lied about the reason why they killed Cutline then edited the lie to make it less blatant shows that they know the kid was misbehaving…

    Posted by Panos | October 5, 2010, 12:36
  40. Oh dear reading this post and many comments, I thought Matt was a thug à la Microsoft: “Give me your work and scram”.
    Most of you don’t seem to have paid any attention to what Matt says in the interview, or rather you don’t understand what free licence is all about:

    WordPress is built on the license of a GPL that has enabled hundreds of thousands of people to build amazing businesses off it. All it really says is that you can do whatever you like but anything built on top of the GPL must be GPL itself.

    Chris can sell anything under GPL or any other free licence, so what’s the obstacle? Is sharing such a big trauma? Don’t millions of developers work hard to produce libre software that’s usually free as in free beer? According to Richard Stallman, none is starving.

    However, I would rather reproach Matt for not being always true to libre software, as WPcom doesn’t support many open formats: ODT (text) only is allowed alonside PNG which is lossless. OGG has been recently introduced, which is a very good thing.

    I think WPcom is the best blog platform even if it has some drawback. If you want full freedom, host you WP blog. We can make our voices heard, I’m sure, when we complain about matters which have something to do with libre software and open formats since this is basically what WP is made of. On the other hand, people want so many gadgets, are so unaware of the need for independence in blogging as in software, that WPcom often adds features which aren’t true to the principles of the Free Sofware Foundation (drafter of GPL ).

    Finally, I think WPcom should try to make their bloggers aware of free licences and libre software. But then they would certainly lose some popularity.

    So, go over to Google blogs or such platforms if you like where you’ll never hear of any decision made because all decisions are made well away from the bloggers or the forums.

    –Happy user of Coraline

    Posted by libre fan | February 16, 2011, 12:34
  41. Thanks for the comment. But you will notice that I didn’t write a single word on the actual subject of the dispute: I’m neither qualified to pass verdict on that nor interested in doing so. What I criticized is Matt’s reactions: you quarrel with someone, so next day you remove his signature from one of the themes he has designed and you order your employees to create replacements so you can trash both of his themes? To me this is mean and petty, and completely irrelevant to who was right and who was wrong in the dispute or to whether the replacements are good themes or not.

    Posted by Panos | February 17, 2011, 01:12


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