It’s official. I’ve come out with a new theme framework, and it’s time to start making some forward progress with my old themes. In this post, I’m not going to boast about the awesome new framework and all of it’s cool new features, but instead, I’m going to tackle the difficult issues I think will arise as a I start posting updated versions of my old themes on ThemeForest.
You can read here for more information on what the deal with this mysterious new framework is: An explanation of what’s happened with my theme framework
You want answers. I got ’em.
First of all, keep in mind that if you see any of my older themes that have been updated Theme Blvd Framework version 2, this means that it’s now a brand-new theme. There is no “updating” in the traditional sense of the word. I am essentially giving you a second awesome theme for free.
So, let’s just start firing off some “projected” FAQ relating to what I think is going to annoy and confuse some of you out there.
- How will I know if the theme I purchased has been updated to the new version?
- How can I get the updated version? Does it cost anything?
- How do I actually make the update after I have the files?
- Well, what if I don’t want to update to your silly new framework? What if I like the theme I purchased and want to keep it?
- What happens to my current theme settings when I update?
- Where can I now find my theme options panel after I update? What happened to all of the theme’s admin panel buttons?
- What happens to all my current slideshows and portfolios when I update?
- Why no more Portfolio Items/Portfolios? And why no more Slides/Slideshows? No more love for custom post types and taxonomies?
- What happened to all the different kinds of sliders?
- Why no more self-hosted videos? WTF? I bought this theme because it allows for self-hosted videos?
- Now I’m screwed. How can I show my client’s self-hosted videos?
- Why no more audio player?
- What happened to the contact page template?
- Why is there no more built-in SEO?
How will I know if the theme I purchased has been updated to the new version?
On all of my item pages on ThemeForest, if you scroll down towards the bottom you will see a header “Changelog” followed by a list of all version releases. If you see that I’ve posted a new version stating I’ve updated to Theme Blvd Framework 2 and link you back to this article, that means it’s time for the fun to begin.
How can I get the updated version? Does it cost anything?
Remember that, generally speaking, only items hosted on WordPress.org can be automatically updated through WordPress’s built-in update system through in your WordPress admin panel. This would include free themes and free plugins.
So, to get the updated theme (or any updated theme for that matter on ThemeForest) you simply need to login to your ThemeForest account in which you’ve purchased the theme, go to your account’s download page, and re-download the theme the same as when you originally purchased it. Now you will have the updated theme package and it will cost you nothing extra.
How do I actually make the update after I have the files?
So now you have a brand-new shiny theme you’ve downloaded from ThemeForest. Unfortunately for all your hard work in the past, this is not an “update” in the traditional sense of the word.
Because the new theme will have the same name as the old theme, before installing this new updated theme, you need to first completely delete the old theme, as it’s made up of all different files and has a completely different file structure.
After you’ve deleted the old version and said your “good-byes” take a moment to collect yourself. Then, install your new theme in the same way you’d install any new WordPress theme. Here’s a video for all you noobs: Installing a ThemeBlvd WordPress Theme
Well, what if I don’t want to update to your silly new framework? What if I like the theme I purchased and want to keep it?
To be honest, the new framework adds so much more flexibility overall, and is simply a better WordPress product. But you know what? The old theme framework worked pretty great, too.
I’m sure there will be some of you that specifically purchased your current theme based on some features that now no longer exist in the updated version. This is why I’ll be including both the new theme and last version 1 copy of the theme in every download package. So yes, everyone that purchases the theme will get two stable versions of the theme.
There is of course a big but coming here though as I use the phrase “two stable versions” very loosely. You can feel free to continue to use the old versions which at the time of writing this, all work with the latest versions of WordPress BUT I can’t tell you what will happen in the future. I *think* that most likely the current version 1 themes will continue to work through future WordPress updates in the foreseeable future, but I simply cannot guarantee that. So, for those that want to stick with the old, be warned, that you may still eventually find yourself at a crossroads.
What happens to my current theme settings when I update?
Remember, this is a whole new mission you’ve chosen to embark on, young Jedi. With every updated theme I will try to maintain similar stylistic options, however, it’s all built on a brand-new theme options framework (huge thanks to Devin’s options framework plugin there, by the way!). Once you get past the basic stylistic options, you will notice that all options have changed.
So, you will lose all of your old theme options, and you will be starting over, but embrace the new adventure; It will all turn out for the best in the end.
Where can I now find my theme options panel after I update? What happened to all of the theme’s admin panel buttons?
One of the first things you may notice after you install your newly updated theme is that none of your old theme’s admin panel buttons are in the same place. Maybe it’s all this recent WordCamp influence but, what can I say? – I thought it was time to start trying to merge my theme’s items into where they belong in the WordPress admin panel.
So, instead of just plopping my theme’s stuff down in front of you, I’ve tried to merge it all into your WordPress experience. Did that sound corny? – Psh. Lay off.
What happens to all my current slideshows and portfolios when I update?
Unfortunately, you will lose all of your slideshows and portfolios built with the old system. This leads us to the next question, which I’m sure immediately pops into your head.
If you have a lot of portfolio items and this is totally going to wreck your world starting over from scratch, you can search for WordPress plugins that will convert posts between post types. So, before you update the theme use one of these plugins to convert all of your “Portfolio Item” custom posts to “Standard” posts. This will give you a nice little starting point for when you switch over to the new framework.
I haven’t played with any of these plugins personally, but here are some I found with a quick search:
Why no more Portfolio Items/Portfolios? And why no more Slides/Slideshows? No more love for custom post types and taxonomies?
I will be the first to admit that I, like many other theme authors, was a bit hasty to start incorporating this brand-new concept of custom post types and custom taxonomies introduced about a year ago with the WordPress 3.0 release. The truth is this has been totally overused in WordPress themes over the last year.
Let’s say you create an entire portfolio of items and then switch themes? What happens? You will lose all of those custom posts. I don’t really like this. And then take into account the plethora of other issues that come into play with having Portfolio Items as some custom post type. People don’t like the term “portfolio-item” when they want something more specific. There often are random unexplained permalink issues. Why all of this headache for something that adds not much additional functionality outside of giving you a nice little warm feeling by getting to click a link that says “Add Portfolio Item”?
While I will not claim that my themes do not “lock” people in with so many of the features that I tag onto WordPress, I feel elminating the portfolio item custom post type is one small step towards preventing the inevitable “lock-in effect” outlined beautifully by Konstantin Kovshenin.
And don’t even get me started on the old slideshow system… I had a custom post type called “Slides” that you would group into a custom taxonomy called “Slideshows” which made a bit of sense. However, over time through many support conversations, there turned out to be many faults with this system. People couldn’t figure out how to put their own HTML code into make up the slides in their slideshows. Creating a new slideshow took too much time, as you had to create a slide, add a featured image, save the page, create another slide, add another featured image, save the page, group them all into a slideshow – too much navigating to different pages.
So, with the new slider manager, there is no more having to put in your own custom HTML to just have an image staged to one side or the other. You don’t have to click around through a bunch of pages. You can quickly pump out a slider and make as many as you want.
Note: But do you want to know an ironic little secret? I actually still use a secret custom post type in the background to manage your sliders. But shh, that’s irrelevant here. Don’t tell anyone!
Can I stil achieve portfolios similar to before, but with the new system?
Well, I’m glad you asked, good sir. In my opinion, you can do way more than you ever could before except for one thing. Stop calling them “Portfolios” – Now we call them “post grids” – Get it right!
I recently posted a video series that will take you the process of creating portfolios like before, but with the new system. Check it out: Creating the “Classic Portfolio” video series
What happened to all the different kinds of sliders?
Note: This question is more applicable specifically to people updating Alyeska as it originally came with 4 sliders – Nivo, Piecemaker, an accordion slider and a standard slider.
In the early HTML days we had fluid layouts, but then that became way outdated and everyone was about the fixed layout. But what about now? We now have a new concept which is a mix of the two – Responsive Web Design.
This entire version 2 theme framework is based around the foundation of it being responsive. With each and every theme, the entire theme and its inner contents will flex and bend depending on their location and the size of the browser window.
The problem is that many of the old sliders I used do not fit into this new system. Now the primary standard slider used in the framework is constructed from the basis of FlexSlider jquery plugin. For the old system, there needed to be fixed widths and heights for everything to look right. Now, with all of the flexibility the new layout builder offers, you can insert a slider into so many custom scenarios, all of which are going to have different widths. This makes the FlexSlider the perfect candidate to take on this challenge.
With that said, don’t worry; as time goes on, I will most likely add more sliders. This whole responsive web design kick is relatively new and it’s only a matter of a time before more slider plugins start fitting this mold. Even a little birdie told me Nivo is on it’s way in that direction – Birdie speaks.
And did you know that you developers can add on your sliders to the framework? I recently created a plugin that is available for free in the WordPress plugin repository. When installed, this plugin will add the Piecemaker plugin onto the theme framework’s built-in slider manager. Of course it does come with it’s limitations, which is why it doesn’t make a good candidate for being added to the core of the framework. It will not flex in width, so it can only be used up in the wide featured area of your site. And of course flash does not work on iOS, so when you view it on your iPhone or iPad I have it setup to just show the images of the slider instead of the Flash error message.
You can download this plugin for free here: Theme Blvd Piecemaker Addon
Why no more self-hosted videos? WTF? I bought this theme because it allows for self-hosted videos?
I made a bold decision awhile back to not include specific support for self-hosted videos within the version 2 theme framework and I had a feeling it would cause some frustrations among some. I’ll be honest with you – I originally only added in as a little bonus selling feature because it seemed “hot” at the time.
However, I’ve always thought the concept was a little silly. At the stage we’re at now with the amazing video hosting services out there like Vimeo (oh, how I love Vimeo!), I just can’t understand why you’d want to host your own videos on your site.
If you host a video on your site, everything is all well and good on your little shared hosting account while you’re creating your site, but what happens when the site you’re building actually gets traffic? You actually have to stream those videos from your little web hosting account. This is going to kill your site if you ever get a lot of traffic.
I know, I know. Your client is still stuck 5 years ago thinking that a video being on YouTube is the same as sending messages on MySpace. No longer does having a Vimeo or YouTube video on your site look cheap and unprofessional. These video services offer amazing video players now that function great and essentially work everywhere.
Also the old system I had setup was with Flash, and that just wouldn’t be fitting to use any more, as it wouldn’t work on anyone’s iPhone or iPad. Sure I could create some sort of HTML5 solution to integrate into the framework, but this just adds so much complexity to the such simple ways I’ve integrated videos into the different theme elements, and for what?
The truth is I’ve decided to simplify the entire process of incorporating videos into your site. So, I’ve decided to only support what WordPress supports. All videos inserted into the theme are sent through WordPress’s built-in oEmbed system and then I apply my own custom filters to the videos passed through to make them responsive. So anything you can with WordPress’s oembed, you can use in the theme, and it will be fully responsive. This includes something like 15 video hosting services.
Now I’m screwed. How can I show my client’s self-hosted videos?
Ok, settle down. I can see the smoke coming from your ears.
There really are only a couple places when using the theme that you are truly forced to abide by the theme’s videos standards.
(1) When you create a slider and you want to make a video slide, you must use a video URL formatted for oEmbed. However, you can always make your own slider plugin that incorporates your own video plugin? Or you can find a video plugin that adds a self-hosted video player onto WordPress’s oEmbed system?
(2) When you want a featured image to link to a lightbox popup, you can’t set it to link to a self-hosted video the same way you could in the past with my themes. I eliminated so much extra code by simply feeding whatever you put in for a featured image link straight through to the lightbox popup. So is it possible to do a self-hosted video? Sure it’s possible, but you need your own flash video player to link to. You can link to anything that prettyPhoto supports, which is the lightbox plugin used.
The content of your pages, content of your posts, and even elements in the framework’s layout builder all accept shortcodes. So in any of these places, you can use any kind of WordPress plugin you find that gives you a self-hosted video shortcode. My point is you still have many options.
And why no audio player?
Aw, yes the audio player debate. We were all set with our Flash audio players, but then the iPhone had to come along and not support flash. So, of course, it’s all about the HTML5 players in this debate.
If you look around the Internet, there aren’t really a lot of good, solid solutions for HTML5 audio, as most browsers still are different pages, accepting different kinds of media. See, because of our current state of the different web browsers out there all doing their own thing, to have an HTML5 audio player, you’d have to provide not just an mp3 audio file, but for each of your audio files, I’d need you to input a URL to mp3, wav, and ogg versions of that file.
So, if I had built-in audio support, it would be a lot more work for me to integrate and complicate the simple system I’ve setup for the user, and I don’t feel comfortable doing it because I wouldn’t even know how to support people in setting this stuff up because I don’t know a lot about the topic of creating these audio files.
What happened to the contact page template?
For the longest time I’ve had this opinion on the ‘ol contact page template, but haven’t had the cojones to officially get rid of it.
Why include a contact page template when we could just take the most popular contact form plugin and style it to be compatible with the theme? And that’s exactly what I did. Install Contact Form 7, go to town with your contact forms, and put them on any page or post you want. Heck, use ’em with their widget! It’s all up to you.
Why is there no more built-in SEO?
This is sort of related to the contact page template thing. I pack so many features into my WordPress themes that I’ve actually started looking for places to cut features. No more are the days of just stuffing features to stuff features for me. I’m not doing this any more. It’s all part of a new me!
Specifically to the SEO, when I developed the built-in SEO features of my old themes, I honestly did it as more of a marketing thing. What I did was I installed the popular All-in-One SEO plugin and looked at all the basic features it offered like allowing to edit title tags, edit meta info, apply no-index to pages, etc, and I just made built these kinds of features into the them.
But now I’m back to the opinion of why do this when you could just install a plugin to do it? Why should this be tagged onto the theme? Why should people who could care less about their meta data suffer server resources from the built-in SEO on the theme? Besides the people that develop the popular SEO WordPress plugins out there spend a lot of time working on those and that’s really what you should be using.
With that said, I do find the topic intriguing… Heck, maybe I’ll make my own SEO plugin. But as far as incorporating meta data, custom title tags, nofollow tags, etc, directly into the theme, I think this is strictly plugin territory.