Creating An Archives Page In WordPress

In my most recent blog design I’ve created a single page for all of my post archives. Previously, I had links to my monthly archive pages in the sidebar. After blogging for about 14 months, this list became a little bit unwieldy. My solution was to move the entire archives section out of the sidebar, and into its own page. The archives page is now more prominently linked from the main navigation bar.

Unfortunately, doing all of this in WordPress is not quite as straightforward as one might hope. Now that I have mine all set up, I figured I’d post a walkthrough of how to set up something like my archive index page.

Get A Plugin To Do the Dirty Work

Unless you’re interested in writing the PHP code and MYSQL queries to retrieve all of your archives in an organized fashion, a plugin is the way to go. After a quick Google search, I found the SRG Clean Archives plugin. This plugin is quite nice I’ve found. It’s realatively easy to implement and also (and importantly), it’s also very easy to modify to fit your site design.

The plugin will give you a list of all your post titles, organized by month. There is also the nice feature where the post titles begin with a post date. Check out the clean archives demo page for an example.

Simply install the plugin like any other normal plugin and then activate it.

Set Up the Archive Page In WordPress

The next step is to set up the actual archive page in WordPress. There is a tutorial in the WordPress codex about how to do this called Creating An Archive Index. I’m just going to briefly outline the steps here.

archives.php

Open your archives.php file. If you’re using a basic template, then this file probably already exists. If you’re using the default Kubric theme, your archives.php file will look like this:

<?php
/*
Template Name: Archives
*/
?>

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">

<?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/searchform.php'); ?>

<h2>Archives by Month:</h2>
    <ul>
        <?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly'); ?>
    </ul>

<h2>Archives by Subject:</h2>
    <ul>
         <?php wp_list_categories(); ?>
    </ul>

</div>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

As always, I would suggest making a backup of this file before changing anything. Now modify the archives.php file to look like this:

<?php
/*
Template Name: Archives
*/
?>

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">

</div>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

If you’re using your own template (like I am), then you may need to either update or create the archives.php file to make sure it is consistant with your blog design. A good starting place for this is to simply copy your single.php file to your archives.php. Now, delete the entire “loop”.

Note on Page Templates You can create any kind of page template you want. All you need to do is insert the following code at the very top of your PHP file.

<?php
/*
Template Name: template-name
*/
?>

Make sure your archives.php file starts with these lines, or else you’ll be banging you head against the monitor trying to figure out while ‘Archives’ isn’t listed as an option in the Page Template dropdown menu. Believe me, I speak from experience.

Create A Page In WordPress

Now have to set up a plain old page in WordPress.

  1. Login to the WordPress Admin area
  2. Go to Manage -> Pages
  3. Click Create a new page
  4. Enter an appropriate title. This will be the title of your archive index page.
  5. Leave the content area blank
  6. In the Page Template box, select Archives.
  7. In the Page Slug box. Type something suitable as this will be the permalink for your archives page (http://www.your-blog-name.com/page-slug/).
  8. Click Save.

Now obviously, you have to create a link to your new archives page. We already set it up, complete with the URL. Yours should be in the form of http://www.your-blog-name.com/page-slug/. Just make a link to it somewhere on your site.

Call the Plugin

As you’ll notice, our fancy Archive Index is empty. In order to get all of our archives in there, we have to use a simple PHP function to call the SRG Clean Archives plugin.

Open your archives.php file again. Find this section of the page:

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">

</div>

Now add the following PHP function to call the plugin:

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">
    <?php srg_clean_archives(); ?>
</div>

Save the archives.php file and refresh your browser. You should now see a nice list of all of your archives.

Customization

As I noted earlier, the SRG Clean Archives plugin is nice because it’s easy to modify if you want to. The Clean Archives website is well documented and the plugin contains a readme file explaining this as well.

The default style for SRG Clean Archives is to output the month and year, surrounded by <strong> tags. You might want something else, like a list or header tags.

To change this, open the srg_clean_archives.php file in your plugins folder and find the following line:

 echo get_archives_link($url, $text, '','<strong>','</strong>');

Modify the strong tags to suit your needs. For example, mine now looks like this:

 echo get_archives_link($url, $text, '','<h2 class="archivemonth">','</h2>');

You can find more information about this on the SRG Clean Archives plugin website.

SRG Clean Archives also provides you with class names so that you can style list however you want in your CSS. I’ve added the following styles to mine:

/* For Archive page */
h2.archivemonth {margin:30px 0 0 0;padding:0;}
    h2.archivemonth a:visited {color:#9db550;}
ul.archivelist {border-bottom:1px #ddd solid;list-style:none;margin:0;padding:0;}
    ul.archivelist li {border-top:1px #ddd solid;}
        ul.archivelist li a {display:block;padding:2px 0 0 20px;}
        ul.archivelist li a:link, ul.archivelist li a:visited, ul.archivelist li a:active {color:#000;}
        ul.archivelist li a:hover {background-color:#eee;color:#000;text-decoration:none;}

 

Note: I changed SRG’s default class name from ‘postpermonth’ to ‘archivelist’.

That’s All

Well, that’s pretty much it. I hope you guys find this useful. Feedback and corrections are always appreciated.

Update 2/25/09: This method was tested and works on SRG Clean Archives version 2.1. This version is old! Please check out all of the feature upgrades for the plugin from it’s home page. If you still want to proceed with my method, you can download the plugin here:

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Comments

1. Sean

Hey Alissa.

Thanks for the mention and use of my clean archives wordpress plugin. It looks really nice with your theme.

As you mentioned, I coded and commented everything really nice so just about any person with little to no programming skills can use it as well as for the advanced users like yourself who like to get into things and tweak it to taste.

Be sure you’re running my latest release 4.0.4 as there was a few things cleaned up and also an admin area security fix.

Thanks again your your use and support.

2. Bill

Thanks for the instructions: I am trying to get this working in WP 2.7.1 but get this error. Any idea of what I am doing wrong. I am using the lastest version of srg_clean_archives.

Fatal error: Call to undefined function srg_clean_archives() in /home/freegpl/public_html/wp-content/themes/stripped-mc/archive.php on line 10

3. Alissa Miller

@Bill

Ok, three things here.

1: It looks like you’re installation of WordPress can’t find the srg_clean_archives function. Whenever you get a PHP error with “Call to undefined function” in it, it means that the function couldn’t be found.

The method of calling the function I listed in this post originally is bad because in the case that the function can’t be found, a fatal error will be thrown (breaking your blog).

Here’s what it looked like before:

<div id="content" class="widecolumn"> <?php srg_clean_archives(); ?> </div>

Here’s what you should change the line to:

<div id="content" class="widecolumn"> <?php if (function_exists(’srg_clean_archives’)) { srg_clean_archives(); } ?> </div>

This way your blog will not break if the function can’t be found.

2: Now, the question is why can’t the function be found? You shouldn’t have any problems with the latest version of this plugin (4.3) and WordPress 2.7.1.

Have you placed the plugin in the correct location? Have you activated the plugin?

3: The version of SRG Clean Archives that I was using when this post was written was version 2.1. That was quite a while ago and since then there have been a lot of changes with the plugin. I strongly recommend you check out the plugin page and see if you like the changes that have been made. If so, forget my customizations.

If you really want to do what I did with the plugin, and use an old, unsupported version of it, you can download it from this link:

SRG Clean Archives version 2.1



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