Tag Archives: downloads

Update 6/25/09: I’ve updated the script to include a number of suggestions made in the comments. The new script supports multiple files, up to 20 URLs can be created at a time, and a brief note can be attached to each key. If these features sound useful, please check out the new post at:

Protecting multiple downloads using unique URLs.

A client asked me to develop a simple method for protecting a download (or digital product) by generating a unique URL that can be distributed to authorized users via email. The URL would contain a key that would be valid for a certain amount of time and number of downloads. The key will become invalid once the first of those conditions is exceeded. The idea is that distributing the unique URL will limit unauthorized downloads resulting from the sharing of legitimate download links.

In addition, once the key has been validated, the download starts immediately, preventing the visitor from seeing the actual location of the download file. What’s more, the file name of the download in the “Save as” dialogue box isn’t necessarily the same as the file name of the file on the server, making the file itself pretty much undiscoverable.

How it works

There are five main components to this system:

  1. the MySQL database that holds each key, the key creation time, and the number of times the key has been used
  2. the downloadkey.php page that generates the unique keys and corresponding URLs
  3. the download.php page that accepts the key, verifies its validity, and either initiates the download or rejects the key as invalid
  4. a dbconnect.php file that contains the link to the database and which is included into both of the other PHP files
  5. the download .zip file that is to be protected

Place all three PHP scripts and the .zip file into the same directory on your server.

The MySQL database

Using whatever method you’re comfortable with, create a new MySQL database named “download” and add the following table:

CREATE TABLE `downloadkey` (
  `uniqueid` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
  `timestamp` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
  `downloads` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '0',
  PRIMARY KEY (uniqueid)

The downloadkey.php page

This page generates the key, creates a URL containing the key, and writes the key to the database. Never give out the location of this page – this is for only you to access.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en">
<title>Download Key Generator</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<meta name="author" content="//ardamis.com/" />
<style type="text/css">
#wrapper {
	font: 15px Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
	margin: 40px 100px 0 100px;
.box {
	border: 1px solid #e5e5e5;
	padding: 6px;
	background: #f5f5f5;

<div id="wrapper">

<h2>Download Key Generator</h2>

// A script to generate unique download keys for the purpose of protecting downloadable goods

require ('dbconnect.php');

	if(empty($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'])) {

	// Strip off query string so dirname() doesn't get confused
	$url = preg_replace('/\?.*$/', '', $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']);
	$folderpath = 'http://'.$_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'].'/'.ltrim(dirname($url), '/').'/';

// Generate the unique download key
	$key = uniqid(md5(rand()));
//	echo "key: " . $key . "<br />";
// Get the activation time
	$time = date('U');
//	echo "time: " . $time . "<br />";
// Generate the link
	echo "<p>Here's a new download link:</p>";
	echo "<p><span class=\"box\">" . $folderpath . "download.php?id=" . $key . "</span></p>";

// Write the key and activation time to the database as a new row
	$registerid = mysql_query("INSERT INTO downloadkey (uniqueid,timestamp) VALUES(\"$key\",\"$time\")") or die(mysql_error());

<p>Each time you refresh this page, a unique download key is generated and saved to a database.  Copy and paste the download link into an email to allow the recipient access to the download.</p>
<p>This key will be valid for a certain amount of time and number of downloads, which can be set in the download.php script.  The key will expire and no longer be usable when the first of these conditions is exceeded.</p>
<p>The download page has been written to force the browser to begin the download immediately.  This will  prevent the recipient of the email from discovering the location of the actual download file.</p>


The download.php page

The URL generated by downloadkey.php points to this page. It contains the key validation script and then forces the browser to begin the download if it finds the key is valid.

// Set the maximum number of downloads (actually, the number of page loads)
$maxdownloads = "2";
// Set the key's viable duration in seconds (86400 seconds = 24 hours)
$maxtime = "86400";

require ('dbconnect.php');

	if(get_magic_quotes_gpc()) {
        $id = stripslashes($_GET['id']);
		$id = $_GET['id'];

	// Get the key, timestamp, and number of downloads from the database
	$query = sprintf("SELECT * FROM downloadkey WHERE uniqueid= '%s'",
	mysql_real_escape_string($id, $link));
	$result = mysql_query($query) or die(mysql_error());
	$row = mysql_fetch_array($result);
	if (!$row) { 
		echo "The download key you are using is invalid.";
		$timecheck = date('U') - $row['timestamp'];
		if ($timecheck >= $maxtime) {
			echo "This key has expired (exceeded time allotted).<br />";
			$downloads = $row['downloads'];
			$downloads += 1;
			if ($downloads > $maxdownloads) {
				echo "This key has expired (exceeded allowed downloads).<br />";
				$sql = sprintf("UPDATE downloadkey SET downloads = '".$downloads."' WHERE uniqueid= '%s'",
	mysql_real_escape_string($id, $link));
				$incrementdownloads = mysql_query($sql) or die(mysql_error());
// Debug		echo "Key validated.";

// Force the browser to start the download automatically

		$file = real name of actual download file on the server
		$filename = new name of local download file - this is what the visitor's file will actually be called when he/she saves it

   $file = "actual_download.zip";
   $filename = "bogus_download_name.zip";
   header("Cache-Control: public, must-revalidate");
   header("Pragma: no-cache");
   header("Content-Type: " . $mm_type);
   header("Content-Length: " .(string)(filesize($file)) );
   header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="'.$filename.'"');
   header("Content-Transfer-Encoding: binary\n");


The dbconnect.php script (database connection)

This is the PHP include referenced by both scripts that contains the database link.

// Connect to database "download" using: dbname , username , password 
    $link = mysql_connect('localhost', 'root', '') or die("Could not connect: " . mysql_error());
    mysql_select_db("download") or die(mysql_error());

This file will almost certainly require some editing. You will need to specify a host name for your MySQL server and a MySQL username and password in that file at mysql_connect('localhost', 'root', '') so that you can connect to the database you’ve set up. It’s extremely unlikely that your production MySQL database will be installed on localhost with a user “root” and no password.

That’s all there is to it. Whenever you want to give someone access to the download, visit the downloadkey.php page. It will generate a unique key code, save it to a database, and print out a URL that you can copy and paste into an email or whatever. The page at that URL checks to see if the key code is legit, then checks to see if the code is less than X hours old, then checks to see if it has been used less than X times. The visitor will get a descriptive message for the first unmet condition and the script will terminate. If all three conditions are met, the download starts automatically.

The WordPress function wp_get_archives(‘type=postbypost’) displays a lovely list of posts, but won’t show the date of each post. This plugin adds each post’s date to those ‘postbypost’ lists, like so:

Add dates to wp_get_archives

Add dates to wp_get_archives


  1. Upload and activate the plugin
  2. Edit your theme, replacing wp_get_archives('type=postbypost') with if (function_exists('ard_get_archives')) ard_get_archives();

The function ard_get_archives(); replaces wp_get_archives('type=postbypost'), meaning you don’t need to specify type=postbypost. You can use all of the wp_get_archives() parameters except ‘type’ and ‘show_post_count’ (limit, format, before, and after). In addition, there’s a new parameter: show_post_date, that you can use to hide the date, but the plugin will show the date by default.

(boolean) Display date of posts in an archive (1 – true) or do not (0 – false). For use with ard_get_archives(). Defaults to 1 (true).

Customizing the date

By default, the plugin displays the date as “(MM/DD/YYYY)”, but you can change this to use any standard PHP date characters by editing the plugin at the line:

$arc_date = date('m/d/Y', strtotime($arcresult->post_date));  // new

The date is wrapped in tags, so you can style the date independently of the link.

How does it work?

The plugin replaces the ‘postbypost’ part of the function wp_get_archives, and adds the date to $before. The relevant code is below. You can compare it to the corresponding lines in general-template.php.

	} elseif ( ( 'postbypost' == $type ) || ('alpha' == $type) ) {
		('alpha' == $type) ? $orderby = "post_title ASC " : $orderby = "post_date DESC ";
		$arcresults = $wpdb->get_results("SELECT * FROM $wpdb->posts $join $where ORDER BY $orderby $limit");
		if ( $arcresults ) {
			$beforebefore = $before;  // new
			foreach ( $arcresults as $arcresult ) {
				if ( $arcresult->post_date != '0000-00-00 00:00:00' ) {
					$url  = get_permalink($arcresult);
					$arc_title = $arcresult->post_title;
					$arc_date = date('m/d/Y', strtotime($arcresult->post_date));  // new
					if ( $show_post_date )  // new
						$before = $beforebefore . '<span class="recentdate">' . $arc_date . '</span>';  // new
					if ( $arc_title )
						$text = strip_tags(apply_filters('the_title', $arc_title));
						$text = $arcresult->ID;
					echo get_archives_link($url, $text, $format, $before, $after);

The lines ending in ‘// new’ are the only changes.

So you want the date to appear after the title? Edit the plugin to modify $after, instead:

	} elseif ( ( 'postbypost' == $type ) || ('alpha' == $type) ) {
		('alpha' == $type) ? $orderby = "post_title ASC " : $orderby = "post_date DESC ";
		$arcresults = $wpdb->get_results("SELECT * FROM $wpdb->posts $join $where ORDER BY $orderby $limit");
		if ( $arcresults ) {
			$afterafter = $after;  // new
			foreach ( $arcresults as $arcresult ) {
				if ( $arcresult->post_date != '0000-00-00 00:00:00' ) {
					$url  = get_permalink($arcresult);
					$arc_title = $arcresult->post_title;
					$arc_date = date('j F Y', strtotime($arcresult->post_date));  // new
					if ( $show_post_date )  // new
						$after = '&nbsp;(' . $arc_date . ')' . $afterafter;  // new
					if ( $arc_title )
						$text = strip_tags(apply_filters('the_title', $arc_title));
						$text = $arcresult->ID;
					echo get_archives_link($url, $text, $format, $before, $after);


Get the files here: (Current version: 0.1 beta)

Download the Ardamis DateMe WordPress Plugin

Apricot is a text-heavy and graphic-light, widget- and tag-supporting minimalist WordPress theme built on a Kubrick foundation. Apricot validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict and uses valid CSS. It natively supports the excellent Other Posts From Cat and the_excerpt Reloaded plugins, should you want to install them.

WordPress version 2.3 introduces native support for ‘tags’, a method of organizing posts according to key words. Apricot has been updated to use this native tag system. The tag cloud will appear in the sidebar and the tags for each post appear above the meta data.

I used Apricot on this site for over a year, making little tweaks and adjustments the whole time, so the theme is pretty thoroughly tested in a variety of different browsers and resolutions. While the markup is derived from the WordPress default theme, Kubrick, I’ve added a few modifications of my own. I’ve listed some of these changes below.


  • Title tag reconfigured to display “Page Title | Site Name”


  • Post title is now wrapped in H1 tags
  • Metadata shows when the post was last modified (if ever)
  • Added links to social bookmarking/blog indexing sites: Del.icio.us, Digg, Furl, Google Bookmarks, and Technorati
    I’ve published a fix for the Sociable plugin, which I’m now using instead of hard-coded links
  • If the Other Posts From Cat plugin is active, the theme will use it
  • Comments by the post’s author can be styled independently


  • Displays the page’s last modified date (instead of date of publication)


  • Displays the full text of the latest post and an excerpt from each of the next nine most recent posts
  • Native support for the_excerpt Reloaded plugin, if active


  • Displays tag cloud, if tags are enabled


  • If no results found, displays the site’s most recent five posts


  • Displays the site’s most recent five posts


  • Archive and index page titles + blog name wrapped in H1 tags

Screen shot

Apricot - A WordPress theme by Ardamis.com

Search engine optimization

Apricot takes care of most of the on-page factors that Google values highly. It places the post’s title at the beginning of the title tag and in a H1 tag near the top of the page. It is free of extraneous markup and the navigation is easily spiderable. It generates what I think is a pretty logical site structure from the various post and category pages, though I have yet to study the effect of the new tagging system.

I’ve had a few top-ranked pages with this and other structurally similar layouts. Your mileage with the search engines may vary, but the layout uses fundamentally sound structural markup, which should give your site a good start.


Download the theme from http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/apricot or from the link below.

Download the Apricot WordPress Theme

What if I want to use an image as a header?

Lots of people would rather use a graphic as a header, including me, but the WordPress guys insist on each theme uploaded to http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ display the blog title and tag line.

If you want to replace the blog title and tag line with an image, download this zip file and follow these instructions (also included in readme.txt).

1. Make a PNG image, name it “header.png” and upload it to the /wp-content/themes/apricot/images/ folder. It should be 800px wide by 130px tall, or less.

2. Replace the original Apricot theme’s header.php file with the header.php file from this folder.

Download the Apricot Image Header

I’ve written a WordPress plugin that will convert the page title and post title to ‘title case’ capitalization. Title case is also often referred to as “headline style”, and incorrectly as “initial caps” or “init caps”. Title case means that the first letter of each word is capitalized, except for certain small words, such as articles, coordinating conjunctions, and short prepositions. The first and last words in the title are always capitalized.

This plugin may be useful if you’re trying to give the titles on your site a consistent appearance, but it’s no substitute for writing a good title. There are way too many exceptions and rules to make a simple script behave correctly all of the time.

The plugin is smart enough to not capitalize the following:

  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for)
  • Prepositions of four or fewer letters (with, to, for, at, and so on) (limited)
  • Articles (a, an, the) unless the article is the first word in the title

But the plugin isn’t perfect. It won’t capitalize an article that is the last word in the title. It fails on subordinating conjunctions. It conservatively de-capitalizes only some of the prepositions, hopefully reducing the chance of incorrect behavior. For example, it leaves the word over caps, because over can be an adverb, an adjective, a noun, or a verb (caps) or a preposition (not caps), and determining how a word is being used in a title is really beyond the scope of a humble plugin.

The plugin requires you to edit it for certain product names, like “iPod”, and cool-people names, like “Olivia d’Abo” or “Jimmy McNulty”. It’s not savvy enough to know that acronyms, like “HTML”, should be all caps unless they’re used in particular ways, such as in the case of “Using the .html Suffix”, unless you tell it. That said, editing the plugin for these particular words is very easy.

Even with all these limitations, it beats using CSS to {text-transform: capitalize} the titles or just applying PHP’s ucwords() to the entire thing. But I’m guessing that dissatisfaction with one or both of those two methods is what brought you to this page in the first place.

On the upside, it capitalizes any word following a semicolon or a colon, e.g.: “Apollo: A Retrospective Analysis”. It also capitalizes any word immediately preceded by a double or single quote, but only if you haven’t bypassed WordPress’s fancy quotes feature.

How it works

The plugin first finds all words that begin with a double or single fancy WordPress quote and adds a space behind the quote. It capitalizes all of the words in the title with ucwords(), then selectively de-capitalizes some of the words using preg_replace(). It then uses str_ireplace(), a case-insensitive string replace function, to correct the odd capitalization of certain other words. Finally, it removes the spaces behind the quotes.

The code

This is what the code looks like. It should be pretty easy to follow what’s happening.


function ardamis_titlecase($title) {
		$title = preg_replace("/&#8220;/", '&#8220; ', $title); // find double quotes and add a space behind each instance
 		$title = preg_replace("/&#8216;/", '&#8216; ', $title); // find single quotes and add a space behind each instance
		$title = preg_replace("/(?<=(?<!:|;)W)(A|An|And|At|But|By|Else|For|From|If|In|Into|Nor|Of|On|Or|The|To|With)(?=W)/e", 
'strtolower("$1")', ucwords($title));  // de-capitalize certain words unless they follow a colon or semicolon
		$specialwords = array("iPod", "iMovie", "iTunes", "iPhone", " HTML", ".html", " PHP", ".php"); // form a list of specially treated words
		$title = str_ireplace($specialwords, $specialwords, $title); // replace the specially treated words
		$title = preg_replace("/&#8220; /", '&#8220;', $title); // remove the space behind double quotes
		$title = preg_replace("/&#8216; /", '&#8216;', $title); // remove the space behind single quotes

		return $title;

add_filter('wp_title', 'ardamis_titlecase');
add_filter('the_title', 'ardamis_titlecase');



Download the plugin, upload it to your site, and activate it.

Download the Title Case Capitalization WordPress plugin

Further customization

The plugin won’t alter words written in all caps or CamelCase. You could use ucwords(strtolower($title)) to convert the entire $title to lowercase before applying ‘ucwords’. This may fix instances where someone has typed in a bunch of titles with the caps lock key on. But you’ll then have to compensate for words that should be all caps, like ‘HTML’, ‘NBC’, or ‘WoW’, in $specialwords.

An alternative using a ‘foreach’ loop

It’s possible to do something similar using a foreach loop. This isn’t as graceful, in my opinion, but I suppose it’s possible that someone may find it works better.


function ardamis_titlecase($title) {
	$donotcap = array('a','an','and','at','but','by','else','for','from','if','in','into','nor','of','on','or','the','to','with'); 
	// Split the string into separate words 
	$words = explode(' ', $title); 
	foreach ($words as $key => $word) { 
		// Capitalize all but the $donotcap words and the first word in the title
		if ($key == 0 || !in_array($word, $donotcap)) $words[$key] = ucwords($word); 
		if (preg_match("/^&#8220;/", $word))
			$words[$key] = '&#8220;' . ucwords(substr($word, 7));
		elseif (preg_match("/^&#8216;/", $word))
			$words[$key] = '&#8216;' . ucwords(substr($word, 7));
	// Join the words back into a string 
	$newtitle = implode(' ', $words); 
	return $newtitle; 

add_filter('wp_title', 'ardamis_titlecase');
add_filter('the_title', 'ardamis_titlecase');



Thanks to Chris for insight into the preg_replace code at http://us2.php.net/ucwords. Thanks to Thomas Rutter for insight into the foreach code at SitePoint Blogs » Title Case in PHP.

This post was written in 2006. As of WordPress 2.5 (released in 2008), a new seplocation parameter has been added to wp_title. This allows you to reverse the page title and blog name in the title tag, in much the same way as I have described in this post. The page at http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/wp_title provides this example:

<title><?php wp_title('|',true,'right'); ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></title>

I’d recommend using it, instead of the admittedly complicated instructions below.

Getting the title tag just right in WordPress isn’t as easy as it ought to be. Currently, a popular title syntax for SEO purposes shows the page’s title, followed by a pipe separator, followed by the site’s name. In practice, this preferred syntax would appear as “Page Title | Site Name”. For whatever reason, the default theme in WordPress has this order reversed, so that each page’s title starts with the blog name, followed by a » separator, some useless clutter, another » separator and then the page’s title. The instructions below will help you optimize the title tag to take advantage of the prefered method.

The code for the default WordPress title tag, which is found in the “header.php” file, looks like this:

<title><?php bloginfo('name'); ?> <?php if ( is_single() ) { ?> &raquo; Blog Archive <?php } ?> <?php wp_title(); ?></title>

It seems like it should be an easy thing to clean up. We remove the unnecessary “Blog Archive” stuff and then switch the two title template tags, putting <?php bloginfo('name'); ?> behind <?php wp_title(); ?>.

Our title tag code now looks like this:

<title><?php wp_title(); ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></title>

But if you make this obvious change and reload one of your blog’s post pages in your browser, you’ll notice that the separator, which is inextricably part of the wp_title template tag, wants to be in front of the page title and is now the very first character in your browser’s title bar, resulting in something like “» Page Title Blog Title”. Furthermore, we are missing a desired separator between the page title and the blog title.

Let’s first do something about that initial separator. The wp_title tag we’ve been using so far, <?php wp_title(); ?>, is abbreviated, meaning that there are some options that are being allowed to fall back to their default states because we haven’t specifically provided otherwise. Changing the behavior of the wp_title separator is as easy as manipulating these options in the unabbreviated wp_title template tag. The full tag, including the options, looks something like: <?php wp_title('sep', display); ?>, where ‘sep‘ stands for whatever separator you want and display is either “true” or “false”, depending on whether you want the title displayed. For example, if you want to use the pipe symbol ” | ” to appear at the beginning of your post title, you would use: <?php wp_title('|'); ?>. (The display option defaults to “true”, which is what we want here, so I’ll omit that part in the future for the sake of brevity.)

This fiddling with different separators works just fine when the elements of the title are in the default order, but when we put wp_title at the beginning of our title tag, we get a separator as the first character in our title. We don’t want a separator in front of the Page Title, so we will use the ‘sep‘ option described above to tell WordPress to use an empty string (represented by the absence of text between two quotes) as the separator, like so: <?php wp_title(''); ?>. This is the preferred method for removing the leading separator from the wp_title tag. Now the code for our title tag looks like:

<title><?php wp_title(''); ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></title>

This title will cause your browser’s title bar to display “Page Title Blog Name”. We are getting closer to what we want.

Without explaining exactly how it works, let me just offer you an optional line of code to selectively add or omit a separator between the Page Title and the Blog Name as appropriate for each page: <?php if(wp_title(' ', false)) { echo ' | '; } ?>. Place this line of code between the wp_title and bloginfo template tags, as so:

<title><?php wp_title(''); ?><?php if(wp_title(' ', false)) { echo ' | '; } ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></title>

Reload the page again, and your title bar should show you exactly what we want, “Page Title | Blog Name”, without a leading separator. Any page without a Page Title, the home page, for example, will just have “Blog Name” in the title tag. Everything up to this point is explained on the WordPress Codex page dealing with Template Tags/wp_title. For most users, this is as far as one wants or needs to go to achieve the desired result.

Further optimization

But… if you’re really humorless about clean code, there’s more to be done. If you view the source code of these pages, you’ll notice that there are a handful of spaces after the opening title tag and before your Page Title. Yikes. Lucky for you, I like my code to be tidy and am also pretty interested in SEO, and for both of these reasons, albeit in unequal parts, these leading spaces in the title tag are unacceptable.

There are three ways to make WordPress close up the spaces whenever we declare an empty string as our separator, as in: <?php wp_title(''); ?>. The first method requires editing a file in the WordPress core. The second method is accomplished by adding a few lines of code to your theme’s ‘functions.php’ file. The third method uses a simple plugin.

Using any of these methods to remove the spaces will also remove the separator that WP wants to add between the year, month, and DD.MM.YY date of the titles of the monthly archives. So if your separator was a pipe symbol, they looked something like: 2006 | December | 17.12.06 | Ardamis.com and after removing the spaces they will look like: 2006 December 17.12.06 | Ardamis.com

Method 1 – the core file

This method involves hacking a core file. This is the most direct way to get the desired result. It basically corrects the problem the moment it happens.

For WordPress version 2.2

The file we want to edit is: \wp-includes\general-template.php. Open it up and find the following lines (beginning at line 224):

$prefix = '';
if ( !empty($title) )
	$prefix = " $sep ";

Add the line if ( $prefix == ' ' ) { $prefix = ''; } below the block, so that the block now reads:

$prefix = '';
if ( !empty($title) )
	$prefix = " $sep ";
if ( $prefix == '  ' ) { $prefix = ''; }

Method 2 – functions.php

If you’re not comfortable editing a core file, and if you don’t want to install yet another plugin, this method will also work. Open the ‘functions.php’ file in your theme folder and add the following lines. Depending on your theme, functions.php may already contain some PHP code; that’s ok, just tuck this in at the end. The first line of functions.php should be <?php and the last line should be ?>. If those lines don’t exist, add them and then add the following code between them.

function af_titledespacer($title) {
	return trim($title);

add_filter('wp_title', 'af_titledespacer');

Method 3 – a plugin

If plugins are more your speed, you can get the same results with my Despacer plugin.

Download the Despacer WordPress plugin

Utilizing the changes in the template files

We can now remove the separator and the annoying blank spaces on an instance-by-instance basis by specifying an empty string as the separator, as so: <?php wp_title(''); ?>. By way of example, to hide the separator and remove the blank spaces, a “Page Title | Blog Name” title tag would look like:

<title><?php wp_title(''); ?><?php if(wp_title(' ', false)) { echo ' | '; } ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></title>

If anyone finds a better way of arriving at this result, preferably entirely within the template files, please leave me a comment, or post to the WordPress support forum.

You may notice that one poster to the WordPress forums suggests that the search engines don’t care if there is white space in a web page. While I agree that the search engines and browsers don’t have any problem parsing pages that contain chunks of white space, a gap at the beginning of the title tag looks very unnatural to me. No human would intentionally add a bunch of blank spaces to the beginning of the tag, and it’s generally understood that for SEO purposes, a page that looks handcrafted is superior to one that looks like it has been slapped together by a script. This may not be a problem now, but Google and the other search engines are constantly working to remove spam/garbage/scraped sites from their results, and they may one day use weirdly unnatural artifacts like this to identify them.