More flexible footer URLs for the category post widget plugin

For a long time, a user could get a link to the category archive page at the bottom of the widget. This simple patter was broken in the 4.7 release with the introduction of the “all categories” option which prompted the addition of a “manual” option to set the url of the link.

Reflecting on the feature, and how complex and strange the code ended being, we have decided to just get rid of the automation and let the user configure both the text and the URL. This is both because for the small price of extra 30 seconds of work the configuration ends being more readable, and it doesn’t make much sense to link to the category page, sending users to read again posts they already read while scanning the widget.

We did try to maintain backward compatibility, and if the url is missing we will try to automatically “guess” it, but it is a smart idea to retest widgets that use this feature.

An outlook for version 4.8

It is a little unclear right now when the WordPress version 4.8 will be released, as it seems like in addition to the original goal of the end of 2017 a new date of may-june was hinted by @matt in a recent post. As a result, after taking some time to fix problem discovered in our 4.7 release, we are starting to put effort into adding features to the 4.8 release.

Currently we plan the following features

Add post type SVG icons

The idea is to have a visual indication to the reader of what type of content is in the post, a textual one, video, audio, image, or gallery. You can see this kind of indications on major sites with a “play” icon  stamped over thumbnail linking to video based content. As indicated above, we are going to be more granular, and all of it will be based on the post format settings of the post.

Pagination and “Load more”

The idea is very simple , let the readers easily discover “older” content by introducing pagination to the widget display that will enable the user to select an “older” page to view while replacing the current list being displayed, or with a “load more”, add a list of older posts to the one being displayed.

The main challenge with this feature is the visual display of the pages and “load more”, making it work over many themes and different spaces and layout, so this probably going to be an iterative process. The goal for 4.8 will be to make it look good on the default themes.

Slider transition with CSS3 (premium version)

For the simple vertical and horizontal sliders, we are going to try to switch away from using JS and use CSS only for the slider animation. This should have performance benefits as no external JS files will have to be included, and in general browsers should be able to handle CSS based animation better than JS based one.

Slideshow options (premium version)

For the “news” type of slider we are going to introduce more transition animation options. In addition to the linear type of transition used now, with control over the relative time it takes the animation to replace the previously displayed items with new ones, and how long they keep being displayed before being replaced.

Additional transition option, we are going to explore is a fade in/out.

We are also going to look into having more “Slideshow” style sliders, but this is only at the “thinking about it” phase right now.

Anything you would like us to add? Just post your idea in the comments.

New in 4.7: Exclude child categories

Up to 4.7, when filtering by a specific category the post items displayed included also posts from subcategories of the selected category. In 4.7 we introduce the option to restrict the post items to a specific category without displaying posts from its subcategory.

Customize test 4.6 – Just another WordPress site(4)

Multi selection is available in the premium widget

Is there a need to filter and select category with multi selection? We support such a feature in our premium widget Term and Category Based Posts Widget. We do this differences because we want a light weight widget with Category Posts Widget. In the most cases filtering and show posts from only one category fits all aims. On the other side our premium widget supports also custom post types. So the aim to select two or more categories, terms, what ever, … is more possible. So the filter UI from the premium widget can takes more time for configuration as the free version it does.

New in 4.7: Show all recent post, no category filtering

We think our widget has great features which are no match for the WordPress recent posts widget, and as there was always a possibility to hack the widget into showing all recent posts, we decided to just make it more organized by letting the user just specify an “All categories” in the category filter ti disable the category filtering all together.

Customize test 4.6 – Just another WordPress site(2)

Select more then one category

Is there a need to filter and select category with multi selection? We support such a feature in our premium widget Term and Category Based Posts Widget. We do this differences because we want a light weight widget with Category Posts Widget. In the most cases filtering and show posts from only one category fits all aims. On the other side our premium widget supports also custom post types. So the aim to select two or more categories, terms, what ever, … is more possible. So the filter UI from the premium widget can takes more time for configuration as the free version it does.

Client-side cropped-, adaptive- and also fluid images for Responsive Layouts

Client-side cropped- and also fluid images

Client-side cropped- and also fluid images

We decided in the past to add a image cropping feature (CPW since 4.1.6, April 13th 2016, as option and TACBPW since 1.0.1, as default), to set your image dimensions in pixel for the feature image or called thumbnail. We called it “CSS cropping for thumbnails“.

This CSS cropping gives your image the possibility to set dimension options for width and height. Our decision till now is to perform this cropping with CSS. CSS is fast and the website admin can use, but it’s not a have to. And our feature don’t neet to generate new images or actually a change for image sizes in the WordPress settings.

We talk much about the feature and implement it to other widgets like Same Category Posts.

We started to solve the max-width problem for our client-side cropped images

Solve "max-width" issue for client-side cropped images with Javascript

Solve “max-width” issue for client-side cropped images with Javascript

The problem we had with our cropped images is we can’t use the CSS property max-width, because the cropping is also made with CSS. No CSS rule solve both features correctly at the same time and we set a fixed width and height. For Responsive Layouts this is very bad to have only one image size and the image can’t be resized, e.g. for many different mobile devices and screen sizes.

For the 4.7 we tried a CSS solution again to solve the aim to have fluid images with CSS attribute max-width. It’s Mark again who mentioned to try it with Javascript. And now it’ll be available with the 4.7 (4.7 beta 1).

The Javascript code works only once at page load or on page resize. Last one is in the normal website usage not performed. The Javascript code is also performance optimized and curse a very less millisecond delay while page load.

Demo page: demo.tiptoppress.com

Advantages with client-side responsive images:

  • No additional (server-side) libraries required.
  • No cookies required.
  • No extra server configuration needed.
  • Does not attempt to perform any client OS detection.
  • Server image storage doesn’t change.
  • Fast server response any time.
  • No image quality loss.
  • No side effects with frequent use on several pages.

Other image features for Responsive Layouts are planed

We’re happy we found a solution and we hope we don’t get problems and can solve the requested Responsive Layout support. What we also want is use the CSS attribute “width” like percentage unit (100%). And either for one dimension and the other as pixels or for both, no size restriction is given and the image fill all the available space. We planed it also for the 4.8 – be patient if all works right.


Related posts:

New in 4.7: Default thumbnail

Thumbnail are great for the look of the page, but the problem with them is that they require some extra effort when editing the content, an effort for which you might not have time when you rush to publish something, or you just forget.

This kind of situation could have been handled in 3 different ways before 4,7

  • Do nothing and just don’t display a thumbnail. If the thumbnail setting produce a small thumbnail, it might be ok, but when the thumbnail is big and dominant, an item without it will ruin the balance of the design and might be harder to spot.
  • Just don’t display posts without a thumbnail. This keeps the visual balance but it means that the post is going to be more hidden than other posts.
  • Use a plugin that lets you specify a fallback thumbnail.

In 4.7 we are going to add an additional option, to set a fallback thumbnail for a specific widget. This will let you keep the visual balance without having to install additional plugins, and even have different fallbacks in different widgets.

default-thumbnail

And something that might have looked like

Customize test 4.6 – Just another WordPress site(2)

easily transformed to (notice the first item)

Customize test 4.6 – Just another WordPress site(3)

This feature will go into the 4.7 version of both the “free” and “pro” plugins due to be released right after WordPress version 4.7 will have its first RC release which is scheduled right now to november the 15th.

You can try the feature by downloading and installing the beta from https://github.com/tiptoppress/category-posts-widget/releases/tag/4.7.beta1, and report bugs or just get an impression of what is planned from our bug repository at https://github.com/tiptoppress/category-posts-widget/issues

New in 4.7: Skip first few items with the offset parameter

Some times you just don’t want to show the most recent posts, maybe because you have two widgets and the two most recent posts you want to display in the sidebar while another 8 are displayed at the footer.

To get this possible in 4.7 we have add an “start offset” parameter (not the greatest name, suggestions welcome) to indicate how recent (or whatever sort criteria is used) the post displayed should be, with a value of 1 indicates that the posts should stat with the most recent, 2 indicates they will starts if one item after the most recent and so forth (we preferred a 1 based system as it seems to be easier to understand than zero based one).

Technically the feature is implemented by requesting the DB to return items starting from position N and does not retrieve the first “ignored” items at all.

Widgets ‹ test 4.6 — WordPress(1)

This feature will go into the 4.7 version of both the “free” and “pro” plugins due to be released right after WordPress version 4.7 will have its first RC release which is scheduled right now to november the 15th.

You can try the feature by downloading and installing the beta from https://github.com/tiptoppress/category-posts-widget/releases/tag/4.7.beta1, and report bugs or just get an impression of what is planned from our bug repository at https://github.com/tiptoppress/category-posts-widget/issues


Related posts:

New in 4.7: Multiple shortcodes

When we added the shortcode to 4.6 we were not very sure about the way the feature was implemented. Due to the large number of option it was obvious that doing it the “normal” way works and users know it and accept it, but making users cram them on one line hoping that they got the syntax correctly is a bad user experience.
Instead we decided to try a different approch, use the shortcode itself as a pure place holder, and configure the settings via the customizer, with the settings being stored as a custom field in the relevant post DB instead of being part of the shortcode itself.

Wanting to reduce the risk of developing something that people will hate, we implemented in 4.6 only one shortcode per post, but in general it seems like the feature got a good reception, we had a very good experience with it while testing the code and setting our own demo pages, and seems like the only problem where with some obscure page builders (Pippin Williams’s review of them is a must read) and therefor we are enhancing the feature in 4.7 and enabling to have as many shortcodes as you like.

The only change from 4.6, is that if you want to have more then one shortdcode, in order to differentiate between the short codes you need to assign a value which will identify them in the attribute “name”. The value can be anything you like, no special formatting is required. If the name attribute is not explicitly assigned it default to be a “” (empty string).

Here is an example of how it looks in the editor:

Edit Post ‹ test 4.6 — WordPress(1)

And the possible front end output.

4.7 test – test 4.6

This feature will go into the 4.7 version of both the “free” and “pro” plugins due to be released right after WordPress version 4.7 will have its first RC release which is scheduled right now to november the 15th.

You can try the feature by downloading and installing the beta from https://github.com/tiptoppress/category-posts-widget/releases/tag/4.7.beta1, and report bugs or just get an impression of what is planned from our bug repository at https://github.com/tiptoppress/category-posts-widget/issues


Related posts:

With one click to the WordPress “Customizer”

WordPress admin sides have some areas, configuration panels or widgets to configurate.  So you can get all settings in only few clicks. And it wasn’t WordPress if you can configurate all. So we decided to expand this navigation buttons with a additional customizer link. If the user is in post or page edit mode and use our widgets: Term and Category based Posts Widget or Category Posts Widget.

WordPress don’t supports this link because there is no need for this link without using our widgets. But our widgets give you the oportunity to add shortcode in the content area and configurate it in the customizer. Right, we propose the shortcode configuration only in the customizer.

with-one-click-to-the-customizer

We propose to use the customizer to configurate widgets added with shortcode

We know and use widgets which extends WordPress’s admin navigation buttons, menus, etc. For example for navigating between posts or pages with a forward and backward button with the Admin Post Navigation. Widgets like this can be very helpful to change many posts in a row and there is no need to go back to the post edit-site and admins save a lot of time. We decided to write not a own widget and we also decided to make this link not configurable to show or hide. The link we set is fix.

After saving your post or page the “customizer link” is visible and available for use. And you’re with one click in the there:

after-one-click-to-the-customizer

In conclusion here is a interesting blog post why we decided to use the WordPress customizer for the widget options and settings configuration: tiptoppress.com/the-customizer-in-in-our-focus/
Second reason is we had a lot of options to configure and we search a more computed way to do this configuration with shortcode.

Help us us to improve this feature. Most of all we’re looking forward when you write as a comment or private message.

WordPress 4.6 ready?

We just ran some preliminary compatibility tests with WordPress 4.6.beta1, and as we expected we don’t see any obvious problems, so if you like to live on the edge we are not going to hold you back 😉

This is of course far from being complete testing which we will do only when 4.6 will enter its RC stage at the end of this month.

This applies both to version 4.6.1 of the free plugin and version 1.0.3 of the “pro”. A new version of the “pro” plugin is scheduled to be released by the end of the month and it will focus on using the widget as a shortcode with various different layouts.