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Fixing the Thesis Theme for Wordpress MU

Updated on February 16, 2010

WARNING: Technically speaking, this hub is going to get a little technical!

"Everything Wordpress does... with the added ambiguity about how to pronounce its name!"
"Everything Wordpress does... with the added ambiguity about how to pronounce its name!"

Wordpress MU ?

Everyone in the blogging world has heard of Wordpress. Wordpress MU (or WPMU) is simply the "Multi-User" version. It enables you to have multiple blogs on the one domain.

Functionally, and coming from a non-technical perspective, it is not too different from the standard Wordpress.

I've installed it on a new domain that I've got with aspirations of creating a small online community in my home city of Perth, Australia. The idea is to get people blogging and make some new friends at the same time.

Thesis Theme

I've been looking around for a great Wordpress theme that is versatile and at the same time optimized well for SEO. Consistently in my research I've started noticing more and more prominent bloggers using the Thesis theme. I tend to think that these guys know what they're talking about.

It looked great in its basic form but I've also seen some great customizations. The downside was that it was not free. Ever the entrepreneur and dreamer, I forked out the cash for it for use on my blog and I'm really loving it. It's sleek and elegant and Google loves it!

Note: You can only use the Thesis theme on one blog, unless you've purchased the "developer" option (which is a bit more expensive). For me, I wanted to use it only on the main page of my site and not offer this particular theme to the bloggers that sign up (as that would breach the license).

Check it out (see above link) - it's pretty cool! Look at other people's customizations.
Check it out (see above link) - it's pretty cool! Look at other people's customizations.

Thesis was not designed for Wordpress MU

I was a little bit disappointed at first when I read that. Not that the theme looked bad or anything when installed on Wordpress MU, but when I went to the page where users can "register to sign up" for a blog, it looked kinda wonky.

The issues:

  • The registration box was aligned to the right.
  • It didn't show the header and footer of the theme.
  • It displayed differently in the Firefox 3.5.7 browser to Internet Explorer 8.
  • Internet Explorer 8 even displayed an error where Firefox didn't (something about line 7 in "compatibility.php").

What to do?

On the Wordpress MU site, it reads "code is poetry" on the bottom right hand corner. What?! Well, fine if it's HTML code but I wouldn't know where to begin with PHP.

I searched the net all week and tried different things to no avail. One person had posted a job on a freelancer site to customize the signup page, offering up to $100 for it.

My old friend, Mr Google, was letting me down. Who else could I turn to but twitter?!

WPMU Tutorials

I got a response back from @andrea_r who runs a WPMU Tutorial website. He pointed me to his page:

I'd seen that solution during my research but the plugin failed to load for me, or perhaps I wasn't using it properly. Was I supposed to replace the file instead of my sign up page? Neither worked.

I did however come across another page which put me on the path to freedom:

Starting off with Andrea's solution (have a read of it before you continue), I just winged it from there as described below. This solution solves 3 out of the 4 issues listed at the start of this hub. I still haven't got my header and footer to show, but at least the sign up page looks half decent. I use an FTP program (like FileZilla) to get access to my online files.

(By the way, if you have a solution on how to get the header/footer to show on the Thesis theme, please let me know. Keep in mind I'm not a programmer!! Thanks)

Changes to style.css (Thesis file)

The style.css file is found in your Thesis theme folder.

e.g. /yourwebsite/wp-content/themes/thesis/

I added the following line of code to Line 43 under the "global elements" section (but I think it can be placed anywhere really). I added a comment after it so I can easily locate and delete this change later on.

.widecolumn { width: 450px; border: 3px solid #aaa; padding: 5px 5px 5px 5px } /*---:[ added by Marco for signup page ]:---*/

Changes to wp-signup.php (WPMU file)

The wp-signup.php file is found in the root directory of your domain

e.g. yourwebsite/wp-signup.php

Change #1

On Line 31, the code starts with function wpmu_signup_stylesheet() {

and there is a block of code beginning with

<style type="text/css">
.mu_register { width: 90%; margin:0 auto; }
.mu_register form { margin-top: 2em; }

Before the closing tag </style>, cut and paste the following code:

.widecolumn .entry p { font-size: 1.05em; } <!-- added by Marco -->
.widecolumn { line-height: 2em; }
.widecolumn { padding: 2px 5 3px 5; margin: 5px 0 0 350px; width: 600px; }
.widecolumn .post { margin: 0; }

The basis for this code was taken from Andrea's plugin file and modified slightly. Once you've got it in there, you can muck about with the padding and width to your liking.

Change #2

A few lines after the </style> tag there is a line that reads:

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

Change "content" to "body" (to match the reference in the Thesis theme style.css sheet) - so it now becomes:

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

Changes to compatibility.php (Thesis file)

The compatibility.php file is located in your Thesis theme folder.

e.g. /yourwebsite/wp-content/themes/thesis/lib/functions/compatibility.php

In Internet Explorer 8, I got the "cannot modify header" error which referred to this file. Ironically, it looks like it relates to compatibility with IE8!

Find this code at the top of the file:

function thesis_ie8_compatibility() {
$browser = $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

if (preg_match("/MSIE 8.0/", $browser) && !is_admin())
header('X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7');

The only way I've managed to get around the problem is to simply comment out that entire block of code so it looks like below:

/*---:[ function thesis_ie8_compatibility() {
$browser = $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

if (preg_match("/MSIE 8.0/", $browser) && !is_admin())
header('X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7');
} ]:---*/

Changes to launch.php (Thesis file)

Now, having made the changes to the compatibility.php file, another error is created which refers to the launch.php file. We'll need to fix that too.

The launch.php file is also located in your Thesis theme folder.

e.g. /yourwebsite/wp-content/themes/thesis/lib/functions/launch.php

To remove the error created when you disabled the code in the compatibility.php file, you need to go to the launch.php file and find the following two lines of code toward the bottom.

// Handle IE8 compatibility.

Again, comment it out so it looks as shown in the four lines below:-

// Handle IE8 compatibility.

Quite simply, removing the coding that relates to the theme being compatible with IE8 allows it to display correctly in IE8. Go figure!


~~ Check out the Thesis Theme for Wordpress! ~~


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    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      8 years ago

      thanks marco. i'll have to check out your site at wordpress. i'm not as familiar with the community there, and using wordpress is so much harder than hubpages, but there are some nice themes. hmmm, i see you have wordpress for dummies! How convenient.

    • profile image

      Hector H 

      8 years ago

      Cool man, i visited your site and i saw your thesis installation running along with MU and i was really pleased with your results. Thats exactly what i was looking to do with my site. I'm really happy its possible.

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia

      Hi Tony,

      No there doesn't seem to be any issues upon upgrading to Thesis 1.7. Yeah, there didn't seem to be much help out there (or it is too technical), which is why I wrote this article. Thesis 1.7 has some better features in it, making it much more customizable. Good luck.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Kristina, did you ever finish writing this tutorial?

      I noticed your is working great with no issues. Where there any problems with Thesis 1.7 when you upgraded?

      Anything else I should know before my leap into the unknown?

      figure this out fully? I'm looking use MU with Thesis and there doesn't seem to much help out there other than your article which still mentions some unfinished business.

    • Artamia profile image


      8 years ago from GTA, Canada

      • Thank-You, Marco, for helping and enlightening the masses. (o;)

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia

      Haha, nice one! I'll give it a C++ :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Marco - Lots of good info but I think I'm suffering from WPMU overload. So I'll go get a cup of JAVA, have a MAC for lunch and take a break while looking out my WINDOWS.


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