Unfortunately I haven’t read anywhere as near as much in 2014 as I did in 2013. It seems 2014 was the year of short stories and horror. I ingested a lot of Lovecraft and Poe this year but feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface as far as those authors are concerned. I’m not satisfied yet. I’ll be reading more in 2015 for sure.
So, here’s what I accomplished in 2014, a meagre list, but here it is none the less:
Pretty much all of it. Poe and Lovecraft both create such intense, chilling atmospheres in their stories. I was familiar with it already of course, but despite it’s brevity, The Tell Tale Heart remains one of the best things I’ve ever read. The Black Cat and The Color out of Space were also personal highlights.
I struggled with Bleak House. I chose which Dickens novel to read next carefully and was sure I’d picked a winner, but for some reason I found it difficult to get into. Perhaps it was just too out-of-keeping with my ‘short horror story’ theme for the year. I’ll revisit Dickens soon.
Fahrenheit 451 didn’t quite live up to it’s billing for me either. I love dystopian stories so that surprised me. I think this might have just been a case of over-hype though as it was definitely enjoyable, and I would recommend it. But 1984 it was not.
I started A Room with a View but didn’t finish. It just didn’t grab me after the first few chapters so I chose not to pursue. A mistake?
Isn’t it funny, sometimes the most critically acclaimed things are those that leave us most unsatisfied.
As I already mentioned, I’m not finished with Poe / Lovecraft. I have a couple of Stephen King novels on my reading list as well. Gerald’s Game was good, but not great. I need my King fix but I fear I’ve read his best work and will be forever chasing that high!
Beyond that, I’ll be playing it by ear… maybe it’s time to continue the Culture series with The Player of Games…
I’m excited to announce that Storefront, a WooCommerce theme I’ve been working on for the last couple of months is now available for download.
The WordPress theme space has historically focused on quantity over quality, ourselves at WooThemes included. Storefront represents a distinct fork in that strategical road.
The purpose of Storefront is simple – to be the only theme you need consider when building a WooCommerce store. Having a large catalog of themes presents customers with a difficult and potentially confusing decision before they even start setting up their store. We hope that Storefront will remove that friction and help make setting up shop that extra bit easier.
Making a theme that will suit all stores is difficult – they’re all unique and have their own set of requirements. To tackle this we’ve mirrored the WooCommerce approach of keeping the core product lean and mean. The functionality included in Storefront core is functionality that we believe everyone using the theme will use. Additional features are available as extensions. This allows store owners to pick and choose the features they need which results in a more streamline codebase in production. This consequently aids performance, security risk and generally makes the site more manageable.
Arguably the best feature of Storefront is it’s price; free. It’s available for download right now at wordpress.org. We also have a public repository open at GitHub where we encourage developer feedback and involvement. A thriving and passionate community has evolved around WooCommerce which helps improve the product on a daily basis. That community is a significant factor in WooCommerce positioning itself as the most popular eCommerce solution on the web. We hope to nurture a similar community around Storefront.
In terms of development, Storefront core is lean and mean, based upon Automattics own Underscores starter theme. This is the platform that all themes on wordpress.com are built upon. There’s a whole bunch of developer friendly hooks and filters baked in for good measure which makes customising Storefront via plugin or child theme a breeze. There’s also integration not only with WooCommerce, but with several customer facing WooCommerce extensions like Bookings and Wishlists. These integrations have been scrupulously prepared by the same folks who are working on WooCommerce core so you can be confident that it has been done properly following WooCommerce best practises and coding standards. This makes Storefront a great starting point for any WooCommerce project.
At the risk of this post becoming a wall of text, I shall say no more. I’ll close by simply asking you to download Storefront and start playing around with it!
Today, WooThemes turns 6 years old! To me, it feels like Woo has been around forever. I’ve followed every step of the journey since the company was founded in 2008 and since joining in 2011 the time has flown by. I’m privileged to work at this amazing company with fantastic people.
To celebrate this milestone all of our staff are dedicating half the day to giving back to our lifeblood, the platform without-which none of this would have been possible; WordPress. That’s 40 people giving roughly 160 hours total!
Whether it’s submitting patches to core, releasing free plugins, updating docs, diving into the support forum or releasing free themes, we’re all getting stuck in and doing our bit to help make WordPress a little bit better for everyone using it.
As for me, I’m releasing a Highwind child theme that has been sat unfinished on my hard drive for months. I’ve polished it up and submitted it for review by the theme review team just now. Hopefully it will be available in the .org repository very soon.
Clear Tranquil – a Highwind child theme
You will be able to read about what the rest of the team has contributed on the Woo blog in due course, so keep your eyes peeled there to see what we’ve all been up to.
P.S. we’re also running a mega 24 hour 50% off flash sale. If there’s any Woo products you’ve had your eye on, now’s the time to make it yours! Use the coupon woo-turns-six today (July 9th) to enjoy the discount.
Update 11.08.2014 – Clear Tranquil now available to download at wordpress.org
1.2.2 is not a major release but it includes a neat little feature that I thought I’d blog about.
Since introducing the Content Background Colour option, it bugged me that when the content background was a different colour from the main background, the header and footer still spanned the full width of the browser. It looked wrong.
Setting the content background to a different colour caused the header to ‘overflow’ that content area.
Sitting down and thinking about this I came up with a very simple solution. In Highwind 1.2.2 there’s a query in the body_class filter which compares the background & content background colour settings. If they match the header / footer span full width. If they don’t match, they don’t. Et voila!
Now the header image is cropped appropriately.
There’s a few other tweaks and fixes as well. Read the full changelog here.
In typography, “rag” refers to the irregular or uneven vertical margin of a block of type. Usually it’s the right margin that’s ragged (as in the flush left/rag right setting), but either or both margins can be ragged fonts.com
I’m a true nerd for all things typography and have often been known to bore Hayley by pointing out typefaces I see in the ‘real world’.
The level of detail Mark Boulton discussed in his 24 ways article this year really got me going (well worth a read if you’re a fellow typo-geek). And I was delighted to find, as I read on that Mr Nathan Ford had put theory into practise and written a nifty little script to address the typographical violations outlined in Marks post which can harm readability.
My immediate reaction was “I need to add this script to Highwind and our starter theme at WooThemes.”
But no. A big theme for me late 2013 (and continued into 2014) is the separation of code in our products, themes & plugins alike. Adding this script to one theme (which would then become 2, 3, 4 themes) makes no sense from a code management perspective. The theory is generic enough to be applied to almost any web site so duplicating code multiple times would only end one way; badly, with lots of my hair torn from my head lying on the floor. A plugin makes much more sense in this regard, as it does for so many other features we find ourselves building for WordPress these days.
And so, WP ragadjust was born. Catchy name, right? It’s by far one of the simplest plugins you’re ever going to see / use. Essentially all it does it enqueue a script with some filters for the customisation thereof. But the little things can make a big difference and for me, readability is just about the most important facet of a web site.
Good typographic design — on the web, in print; anywhere, in fact — relies on small, measurable improvements across an entire body of work.
So what exactly does ragadjust.js do? Put simply, it addresses each of the violations outlined in Marks post elegantly via the insertion of non-breaking spaces where appropriate. The result is improved readability.
So enjoy! You can install WP ragadjust from the dashboard by searching ‘wp ragadjust’ and you can even contribute on github if the mood takes you. You can also download directly from wp.org:
I’ve always loved reading, but since buying my Kindle Paperwhite around this time last year I’ve found myself reading more and more often. During 2013 I’ve managed to crunch through 18 books. Not especially prolific I concede, but considering there’s a couple of monsters in my completed list I’m fairly proud of the achievement. Continue Reading…
As any Apple customer knows, the pleasure of owning one of their products begins before the first press of the power button. Apple has ploughed millions in to R&D, working tirelessly to make every part of ownership a pleasure, from ordering on their website (or in store) to unboxing, all the way through to recycling. This enhances the overall ownership experience and helps nurture their cult following. Apple have truly lead the way in demonstrating that the ownership experience is not restricted to the use of a product, but in building a meaningful relationship through service and support as well, every step of the way.
The devil is in the details as they say, and sometimes the small things often overlooked can make a big difference. In a recent HipChat discussion with some of my colleagues at WooThemes I questioned why our changelogs looked the way they did. The way we chronicle changes, while efficient is not particularly easy to read or scan. It’s been a little bugbear of mine for some time so I thought it would be good to engage the team and see if we could improve them at all.
WordPress 3.8 is just around the corner (scheduled for release in December) and with it comes a brand new admin interface built upon the ‘top secret’ MP6 plugin.
In this re-skin a lot of attention has been paid to making all graphic elements HiDPI (retina) friendly by use of an icon font. The benefits of using a font instead of bitmaps for this purpose has long been discussed & accepted so I won’t go in to details on that here. All you need to know is that Icon Fonts are awesome.
What this post is here to do is explain how you can use this new utility in your WordPress themes or plugins, specifically on the frontend.
Upstart is a clean and simple theme featuring a flat design.
We’ve received a lot of feedback on our themes recently and one thing that stood out is that people feel a lot of them follow a very similar design pattern and therefore look very closely related to one another. So for the overall aesthetic of Upstart I really tried to think out side the box – literally – and give our customers something they haven’t seen before.
The homepage features a slider which dynamically resizes to fill the browser window on page load. So whether you view the theme in a small window or a large one you’re always immediately immersed in whatever content is in that slider.
Several sections of content break out of the standard page boundaries to fill the screen too. The blog and shop pages hit you with wall to wall content delivering a patchwork quilt of imagery.
There’s a more standard layout on single posts / pages with one exception; there’s no sidebar. A controversial decision perhaps, but removing the sidebar increases focus and readability.
Anyway, I hope you folks like this theme. We’re working on some pretty big changes with our themes behind the scenes and there are exciting times ahead!
Time for a CSS Snippet! I’m working on a theme that requires a content divider formed by strips of different colours. Kind of like a rainbow. This is fairly easy to achieve using a hr with some css applied to the before or after pseudo class:
Unfortunately the box shadow size cannot be set using percentages, but this works OK for now.
Some time ago I teased that I was working on a p2 child theme. Well, that child theme is now available for you to download and use!
I built the theme initially for use at WooThemes. We love p2 but a number of people were clamouring for better responsiveness and a few little features that are missing from stock p2. After some testing and tweaking we felt it made sense to make the theme openly available. So that’s what we did.
Houston is available from the WordPress.org theme repository and can therefore be downloaded directly from your Dashboard. Just search for ‘Houston’ (and obviously make sure you have p2 installed as well).
In addition to p2 Houston offers;
All new design with refreshed layout and typography.
Fully responsive – browse on any device and see an optimised UI.
Additional widget region beneath the post box.
Inline reply link making it easier to reply to posts.
It’s time for another WooCommerce plugin! This one introduces a nifty little feature that I’ve seen showcased in several ThemeForest themes. However, I always felt it really should be a plugin rather than a theme feature. And so, the WooCommerce Product Image Flipper was born.
It’s a very simple plugin really. It takes the first image in your product gallery (excluding the featured image) and displays it (along side aforementioned featured image) in product categories / archives. This secondary image is revealed on hover.
WooCommerce Product Image Flipper reveals a secondary image on hover.
This plugin is perfect for displaying shots of clothing and allowing the user to flip it over to see it from the back (hence the name). There are probably many other useful applications as well though
The plugin has been engineered for flexibility so that you can easily remove default fields or add your own without touching core files. You can read more about these customisations, and how to contribute on the FAQ page.
Strap yourselves in, it’s time for a ground-breaking WordPress snippet. </sarcasm>
Today I wanted to include a popular jQuery plugin in a theme I was building so decided to check if the script was bundled in WordPress core. Turns out it wasn’t, but I noticed another script which is, that I didn’t expect; Masonry.
Masonry is a really fun script for arranging blocks of content based on available vertical space.
So that means you can call masonry in your plugin / theme without actually including the file in your assets.
Unfortunately it’s a pretty old version (2.1.05) but there’s a ticket on Trac reporting that issue. There’s no milestone set, but hopefully we’ll see masonry updated soon.