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Sandbox designs competition announced

  1. Last Friday the Sandbox Designs Competition was announced.

    This competition is being administered by me, Scott of Basically the competition is strictly based in design and will be for CSS style sheets for the Sandbox theme, much like Alex King's WordPress CSS Styles back in February of 2004.

    So 2004 was a long time ago. A century in the world of blogging.

    Basically designs have two months to create and submit designs. First prize is currently US$500. Second is US$300. Third is US$200. There will also be a number of runner-ups, who may receive honorariums or cash prizes, depending on sponsors.

    Anyhow, you can get all the details at Sandbox Designs Competition and there are also Sandbox Forums open (just started yesterday) so any competition- or Sandbox-related discussions should go there.

  2. Thanks to Scott and the folks at Automattic for the theme and now, for the competition.
    One question: can we base our entry off a blog? The instructions at plaintxt imply that we need to download the Sandbox theme and install it. Of course, this is not possible at
    To ask it another way: is Sandbox, as currently available at, CSS-compatible with v0.9.1?
    I should have checked this before making my rather enthusiastic post:

  3. Hi Andrew.

    You've got a question, so that's great that it's here. But if you have any competition-specific questions in the future, please head over to the Sandbox Forums. Cheers.

    Anyhow, Andy will be rolling out an update to the Sandbox to all users very soon. Don't worry, both the 0.6.1 and 0.9.x versions of the Sandbox will exist simultaneously and separately so that not a single persons style sheet is broken until they've had the chance to update.

    There are quite a number of CSS class changes/improvements to the core of the Sandbox, so you I strongly advise against starting with 0.6.1. I just don't want to create any extra work for you.

    Now, anyone can compete in this competition, regardless of whether or not they have a blog on, a hosted WordPress install, etc.

    Because you really, really want to do your designing on a local install of WordPress. It's faster and you will be much, much more productive.

    Basically this means installed a mini-server on your computer (Mac or PC) and then running WordPress there. You can do all your designing locally. I strongly encourage you to do this as well.

    There are lots of tutorials on how to install WordPress locally, a sample of which you can grab at

    So yes, the competition and available to absolutely anyone. The real benefit to users and what makes this comp different than all the previous theme and plugin competitions, is that after the competition finishes, all the designs will be CSS and images only, so anyone with the Custom CSS upgrade will be able to use them.

    Let me know if that helps. ;-)

  4. Scott,
    Yes, that does help. The following statements are very clear:
    - you really, really want to do your designing on a local install of WordPress
    - after the competition finishes, all the designs will be CSS and images only, so anyone with the Custom CSS upgrade will be able to use them
    My new question is: what happened to my post on the competition? It's vanished from my blog. I'm particularly glad that you commented on it, since that shows that I really did post it.

  5. Whoa, that's weird. You're post did vanish. You didn't accidentally save it as a draft or something like that? Maybe during the comment-moderation process?

    Yeah, using a local WP install to design with is so, so much easier than doing it online. When I first started designing for WordPress, and PHP-based Web apps, I did it all online without knowing better. I wish someone had told me, hey, you know, you can just install this on your computer. :-P

    Back to the problem at hand, if your post really did vanish, you might point this out to support. Ugh. Let me know how that goes.

  6. Can you find it using the Dashboard Manage page? I noticed a glitch with the servers maybe three quarters of an hour ago.

  7. I find for the initial stages it's easiest to save a static html copy of the template with dummy content, work with that, then test it on a working install once the basics are in place. Simply because my local server doesn't play well with my AV software and it's a hassle switching it off and on again if I need to go online to check something.

  8. @Wank: That's a fine technique and would even be faster (no response times) than using local server. Just mind the dynamic classes.

    I'll be making some excellent dummy content available over on the comp blog later today, which will be useful for those for whom it will be useful. Just to help folks get a wide array of content to utilize those delicious dynamic, semantic classes.

  9. Re the mystery of the missing post... I did contact support. Mark told me that it somehow got turned into a draft. I (re)published it, and it's back on the blog now, with the same URL, and with Scott's comment still attached.

  10. That's cool. Scott, wank and sunburntkamel have also blogged it.

  11. Ah! a draft. That has happened to me a number of times, so I suspected that.

  12. Um, guys. Hate to be a pain but we've been told by staff that theme design contests were not allowed here in the forums. We've gone though this a couple of times now.

  13. Apologies. I did a search before posting and didn't see anything (either way) so I blazed ahead. No hard feelings if this gets zapped. :-)

  14. I'm going to leave this up to staff. Kind of surprised we haven't heard anything from them today actually.

  15. This contest is okay - I stuck the post.

    Themes produced from this contest can be used here so if there's anywhere that this should be announced and have people take an interest then it's here :)

    And to anyone not sure about css - use the codex link above and install WordPress in your computer. It's easy. I wrote this one -

  16. I'm glad to hear that there's a contest. What I hope we bloggers gain from it is: at least one "girly" 3 column wp-MU theme that validates, with a customizable header and with all the following page templates: Default, Archives, Author, Contact and Links.

  17. Sweet. I'm always relieved when I'm found not be a problem.

    The Sandbox works with wp-MU and it has all those page templates you mentioned, timethief, except for Contact. That's for the pluginers.

    Maybe you have a girly three-column buried in you, yearning to actualize itself as a CSS design for the Sandbox? Perhaps? ;-)

  18. Mark, thanks for confirming that this contest is I think that the problem with discussing theme competitions here is that we can't edit the PHP+HTML that make up the bulk of a theme here at
    But this is a CSS competition. I expect it to have the effect of boosting Custom CSS upgrade purchases here at

  19. I'm always relieved when I'm found not be a problem.

    Must be married.... :)

    Sorry for the confusion.

  20. I'm sure a lot of people will come up with some really nice designs.

    I imagine this will be something like CSS Zen Garden.

  21. @Andrew: Remember the basis of Web standards is the separation of content and presentation. For the design aspect of theme development, you shouldn't need to edit the PHP files. For theme development, that's different.

    Custom CSS upgrade or not, if this comp was a theme competition, users would be left out. So yes, it's good for Automattic. But it's also good for a whole lotta users.

    @drmike: On the nose. Wednesday is our three-year anniversary. :O

    Er, I meant :D

  22. @swallick
    I'm not in the least bit interested in learning css ... lol

    I love the appearance of the Zen Garden site :) Faded Flowers is my kind of theme.

  23. After submissions close, the accepted designs will be available on the Sandbox Designs Live site, which is currently sporting the default (naked) Sandbox look. You'll be able to preview the designs there. But no refreshing to change a skin! It's all CSS! Click-bang-change! Ala CSS Zen Gardens.

  24. it seems like andy had better get cracking on putting the updated version here on anyone who's waiting for it is down to 6 weeks (from 8). Either that or entrants should have the option of specifying the version of sandbox for their entry.

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