Aquila WordPress Theme Framework (Week 5)

Distractions everywhere this week. Made great progress on Monday, and then hit Tuesday like a brick wall. As it turns out, we now have a brand new Website Template in the mix called Vesper, however it took the better part of three days of deployment checks and balances to get it into the catalog. I’m hoping that Vesper will be released as a WordPress Theme by the end of September.

Still have to get Fortis out though. Working on it.

Progress

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
W5
Week 6
Week 7
  • Week 1 Much improved functionality of the Theme Settings dashboard
  • Week 1 Support for Custom defined CSS
  • Week 1 Support for user defined “Fav Icons” (partially complete)
  • Week 2 Support for Multi-Column Widget Regions
  • Week 2/4 Support for Dynamically defined Widget Rows
  • Week 3 Graphical eye candy for Widget Interface
  • Week 4 Support for Analytics Code Region
  • Week 4 Support for custom CSS
  • Week 4 Support for Copyright/Powered By Settings
  • Week 6 (next) Support for custom Typography Settings
  • Pre-Defined Template Layouts
    • Week 2/3/4 Standard Page
    • Week 6 (next) Business
    • Blog
    • Magazine
    • Week 5 Contact Page
    • Under Construction
    • 404 Page
    • Timeline
    • Image Gallery
    • Archives
    • Portfolio
  • Support for Retina displays
  • Support for Lightbox Image Viewer
  • Special Custom Post Types
    • Week 4 Testimonials
    • Week 4/5 (partially complete) Portfolio
    • Week 4/5 (partially complete) Team Members
    • Week 4/5 (partially complete) FAQs
  • Special Advanced Widgets
    • Reservations (Removed from proposed initial release)
    • Week 5/6 (partially complete) Contact Forms
      • Support for CAPTCHA
      • Support for Skill Testing Question
  • General Purpose Widgets
    • Week 2 Phone Number
    • Week 2 HTML Box
    • Week 2 Image
    • Week 2 SEO Tags (H1,H2,H3,H4)
    • Week 2 Logo (Text with Graphic or Vector Icon)
    • Week 2 Column Break
    • Week 3 Custom Menu
    • Week 3 Content Region
    • Week 3 Info Box/Feature Page Widget
    • Week 3 Twitter Feed Widget
    • Week 3 Social Media Icons Widget
    • Week 4 Testimonial Viewer
    • Week 4 Footer Contact Region
    • Week 5 Back To Top
    • Week 5 Font Sizer
    • Week 6 (next) Contact Form
    • Google Map (Use HTML Box Instead)
  • Support for third party Newsletter services (MailChimp)
  • Multiple Slider Types
    • Week 4 Nivo Slider
    • Week 4 Fullscreen Carousel
    • Week 4 Jumbotron Carousel
    • Week 4 Parallax Slider
    • Week 5Video Slider
    • Week 5Blur Slider
    • Week 5Amazing Slider
    • Revolution Slider (Removed from proposed initial release)
  • Increased customizability of blog display

Best laid plans of mice and programmers… ugh, maybe this next week will be better.

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New Website Template Launched (Vesper)

We’re excited to announce that we just launched a new website template named “Vesper“, our latest in our Bootstrap generation of website templates.

We’ve included a bunch of stunning new features in this release.  These features include:

  • Home Page BLUR SLIDER
  • OFF CANVAS TOP Drop Menu
  • QUOTATOR Quote Rotator
  • SOUNDCLOUD MP3 PLAYER (Pro Package Only)

Take a look at our video tour to see these great new features:

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Aquila WordPress Theme Framework Development (Week 4)

This was a great week for development. I don’t know that I’m at where I want to be at this point, but hopefully by end of month we’ll be ready for the final touch ups for the first version of Aquila to be launched.

Progress

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
  • Week 1 Much improved functionality of the Theme Settings dashboard
  • Week 1 Support for Custom defined CSS
  • Week 1 Support for user defined “Fav Icons” (partially complete)
  • Week 2 Support for Multi-Column Widget Regions
  • Week 2/4 Support for Dynamically defined Widget Rows
  • Week 3 Graphical eye candy for Widget Interface
  • Week 4 Support for Analytics Code Region
  • Week 4 Support for custom CSS
  • Week 4 Support for Copyright/Powered By Settings
  • Week 5 Support for custom Typography Settings
  • Pre-Defined Template Layouts
    • Week 2/3/4 Standard Page
    • Week 5 (next) Business
    • Blog
    • Magazine
    • Contact Page
    • Under Construction
    • 404 Page
    • Timeline
    • Image Gallery
    • Archives
    • Portfolio
  • Support for Retina displays
  • Support for Lightbox Image Viewer
  • Special Custom Post Types
    • Week 4 Testimonials
    • Week 4/5 (partially complete) Portfolio
    • Week 4/5 (partially complete) Team Members
    • Week 4/5 (partially complete) FAQs
  • Special Advanced Widgets
    • Reservations
    • Contact Forms
      • Support for CAPTCHA
      • Support for Skill Testing Question
  • General Purpose Widgets
    • Week 2 Phone Number
    • Week 2 HTML Box
    • Week 2 Image
    • Week 2 SEO Tags (H1,H2,H3,H4)
    • Week 2 Logo (Text with Graphic or Vector Icon)
    • Week 2 Column Break
    • Week 3 Custom Menu
    • Week 3 Content Region
    • Week 3 Info Box/Feature Page Widget
    • Week 3 Twitter Feed Widget
    • Week 3 Social Media Icons Widget
    • Week 4 Testimonial Viewer
    • Week 4 Footer Contact Region
    • Week 5 (next) Back To Top
    • Week 5 (next) Contact Form
    • Week 5 (next) Font Sizer
    • Week 5 (next) Google Map
  • Support for third party Newsletter services (MailChimp)
  • Multiple Slider Types
    • Week 4 Nivo Slider
    • Week 4 Fullscreen Carousel
    • Week 4 Jumbotron Carousel
    • Week 4 Parallax Slider
    • Week 5 (next) Video Slider
    • Week 5 (next) Blur Slider
    • Week 5 (next) Amazing Slider
    • Revolution Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
  • Increased customizability of blog display

So the breakdown of what I hope to get done this next week (Week 5) is as follows:

  • Support for custom Typography Settings
  • Pre-Defined Template Layouts
    • Business
    • Blog
  • Special Custom Post Types
    • Portfolio
    • Team Members
    • FAQs
  • General Purpose Widgets
    • Back To Top
    • Contact Form
    • Font Sizer
    • Google Map
  • Multiple Slider Types
    • Video Slider
    • Blur Slider
    • Amazing Slider

And in Week 6 I’ll be cleaning up all of those items that are partially complete, and then complete the mission critical items that are needed for the first release. As I’ve said previously, we’ll be doing continual updates of this framework adding additional features in. The reason we opted to create this new framework, rather than updating the Orion framework, is that the new designs that Colin are working on are so drastically different in their HTML architecture (they are using Bootstrap) that we needed a new way of handling the information. A lot of the code that I use in Aquila is leveraged from the Orion code-set though.

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Aquila WordPress Framework Progress (Week 3)

Some weeks are better than others for development. This was not one of the better weeks for progress. Monday was a holiday here so we were not in the office. Tuesday consisted of the support that piled up over the long weekend. And then Wednesday hit, and we had a hardware failure on one of our hosting servers — this sucked up nearly my entire day doing damage control. Note to all of those who don’t believe backups are important: you’re crazy. :) Luckily, we run a backup server, and were able to restore everything to a backup point taken two days previously.

So, I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be at this point in the week. Got some really great things done though.

Progress

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
  • Week 1 Much improved functionality of the Theme Settings dashboard
  • Week 1 Support for Custom defined CSS
  • Week 1 Support for user defined “Fav Icons” (partially complete)
  • Week 2 Support for Multi-Column Widget Regions
  • Week 2 Support for Dynamically defined Widget Rows (mostly complete)
  • Week 3 Graphical eye candy for Widget Interface
  • Pre-Defined Template Layouts
    • Week 2/3 Standard Page (partially complete)
    • Week 4 (next) Business
    • Blog
    • Magazine
    • Contact Page
    • Under Construction
    • 404 Page
    • Timeline
    • Image Gallery
    • Archives
    • Portfolio
  • Support for Retina displays
  • Support for Lightbox Image Viewer
  • Special Custom Post Types
    • Portfolio
    • Team Members
    • Week 4 (next) Testimonials
    • FAQs
  • Special Advanced Widgets
    • Reservations
    • Contact Forms
      • Support for CAPTCHA
      • Support for Skill Testing Question
  • General Purpose Widgets
    • Week 2 Phone Number
    • Week 2 HTML Box
    • Week 2 Image
    • Week 2 SEO Tags (H1,H2,H3,H4)
    • Week 2 Logo (Text with Graphic or Vector Icon)
    • Week 2 Column Break
    • Week 3 Custom Menu
    • Week 3 Content Region
    • Week 3 Info Box/Feature Page Widget
    • Week 3 Twitter Feed Widget
    • Week 3 Social Media Icons Widget
    • Week 4 (next) Testimonial Viewer
    • Week 4 (next) Adsense Regions
    • Week 4 (next) Banner Ad Space
    • Week 4 (next) Footer Social Media Region
    • Week 4 (next) Footer Contact Region
    • Week 4 (next) Back To Top
    • Contact Form
    • Font Sizer
    • Google Map
  • Support for third party Newsletter services (MailChimp)
  • Multiple Slider Types
    • Nivo Slider
    • Bootstrap Carousel
    • Amazing Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
    • Revolution Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
    • Fullscreen Carousel
    • Jumbotron Carousel
  • Increased customizability of blog display

So next week (August 12-16) I’m hoping to complete up the core widgets required for the framework to look much like the Fortis design. I’ll also be trying to get one or two of the custom post types completed. Hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have the standard (default) page complete. In week 5, I expect to work on getting the sliders done, so that we can firm up the business layout. Week 6 is going to be about getting the blog layout looking tip top, along with the portfolio and contact page custom post types.

After Week 6, I’ll be getting the packager working for the Aquila framework, and then hopefully by September 16th Fortis will be ready to roll for the WordPress Aquila framework. The (yet to be named) new Bootstrap template that Colin is working on right now, that is targeted to be released by end of next week, will be launched the following week. And, with any luck, a third design the week following.

Once those first three are in the catalog, I’ll be working at developing any components/features that I didn’t get completed for the initial launch. My aim is to be continually add new features/widgets/components to this framework — going to have to, as Colin is creating new components for each new Bootstrap web template that he launches.

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Aquila WordPress Framework Progress (Week 2)

Development went on hold for a week while I took off a week to enjoy with the family at our summer vacation spot.  Had great weather, good times, lots of laughs, but by the end I was itching to get back to work on the Aquila framework.

And unbelievably, I actually made progress this week.

Week 1
Week 2
  • Week 1 Much improved functionality of the Theme Settings dashboard
  • Week 1 Support for Custom defined CSS
  • Week 1 Support for user defined “Fav Icons” (partially complete)
  • Week 2 Support for Multi-Column Widget Regions
  • Week 2 Support for Dynamically defined Widget Rows
  • Pre-Defined Template Layouts
    • Week 2 Standard Page (partially complete)
    • Week 3 (next) Business
    • Blog
    • Magazine
    • Contact Page
    • Under Construction
    • 404 Page
    • Timeline
    • Image Gallery
    • Archives
    • Portfolio
  • Support for Retina displays
  • Support for Lightbox Image Viewer
  • Special Custom Post Types
    • Portfolio
    • Team Members
    • Testimonials
    • FAQs
  • Special Advanced Widgets
    • Reservations
    • Contact Forms
      • Support for CAPTCHA
      • Support for Skill Testing Question
  • General Purpose Widgets
    • Week 2 Phone Number
    • Week 2 HTML Box
    • Week 2 Image
    • Week 2 SEO Tags (H1,H2,H3,H4)
    • Week 2 Logo (Text with Graphic or Vector Icon)
    • Week 2 Column Break
    • Week 3 (next) Custom Menu
    • Week 3 (next) Content Region
    • Week 3 (next) Featured Page Widget
    • Week 3 (next) Info Box Widget
    • Week 3 (next) Testimonial Viewer
    • Adsense Regions
    • Banner Ad Space
    • Social Media Buttons
    • Back To Top
    • Contact Form
    • Font Sizer
    • Google Map
  • Support for third party Newsletter services (MailChimp)
  • Multiple Slider Types
    • Nivo Slider
    • Bootstrap Carousel
    • Amazing Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
    • Revolution Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
    • Fullscreen Carousel
    • Jumbotron Carousel
  • Increased customizability of blog display

Admittedly, looking back at the progress on the checklist, it doesn’t look like much.  But the “Multi-Column Widget Regions” was a big one.  That took me three days alone to complete.

Next week I’ll be focusing on completing the “Standard Page” template, a much more definable and customizable (than WordPress provides) “Customized Menu” widget, a content region widget, and a couple more display widgets. I’m hoping to tackle the FAQs and Testimonials custom post types as well. Hopefully by week’s end (it’s a short week, as Monday is a holiday here), I’ll have the Business Page and FAQs templates complete as well. A bit ambitious!

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WordPress Theme Framework Development

Earlier this year, we retooled the WordPress Theme framework codenamed Phoenix (WPFW2), with an iterative release called “Orion” (WPFW3). Orion featured some huge improvements over the previous frameworks, most notably the “Theme Updater”, “Unlimited Sidebars”, “Custom Component Regions” and “Multi-Page Image Sliders”.

Well, I’m excited to announce that I’ve begun work on WPFW4, code named “Aquila”.

For those of you keeping an eye on our latest website template releases, you’ll notice a number of major changes to our web template architecture.  We’re now employing the use of the Twitter Bootstrap framework as well as the FontAwesome vector icon set.  Along with a number of exciting new image sliders, and much improved typography, our newest templates are red hot and flying off the shelves.

But in order to accommodate all of the new updates in the website templates, I have to completely re-engineer the WordPress Theme framework that we have developed.

I’m hoping that the re-tooling will see that we’ll have a bunch of Twitter Bootstrap enabled WordPress Themes available as of September 1st.

Just a taste of some of of the newest planned features:

  • Much improved functionality of the Theme Settings dashboard
  • Support for Custom defined CSS
  • Pre-Defined Template Layouts
    • Blog
    • Magazine
    • Business
    • Contact Page
    • Under Construction
    • 404 Page
    • Timeline
    • Image Gallery
    • Archives
    • Portfolio
  • Support for Retina displays
  • Support for Lightbox Image Viewer
  • Special Custom Post Types
    • Portfolio
    • Team Members
    • Testimonials
    • FAQs
  • Special Advanced Widgets
    • Reservations
    • Contact Forms
      • Support for CAPTCHA
      • Support for Skill Testing Question
  • General Purpose Widgets
    • Adsense Regions
    • Banner Ad Space
    • Testimonial Viewer
    • Social Media Buttons
    • Phone Number
    • Back To Top
    • Contact Form
    • Font Sizer
    • Google Map
  • Support for third party Newsletter services (MailChimp)
  • Multiple Slider Types
    • Nivo Slider
    • Bootstrap Carousel
    • Amazing Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
    • Revolution Slider (Available in Pro Package only)
    • Fullscreen Carousel
    • Jumbotron Carousel
  • Support for multi-column Widget Regions
  • Support for dynamically defined Widget Rows
  • Support for user defined “Fav Icons”
  • Increased customizability of blog display

And that’s just to start.  Whether I get all of that done by September, I can’t say.  But we’ll be releasing September 1st with what we have done, and continue to develop as the year goes on.

We’ve made a commitment to make WordPress Theme development our top priority now.

If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see in our new WordPress Theme framework, let me know.

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Bootstrap Template Release: Fortis

“Fortis” is our first of many to come in our Bootstrap framework series of website templates.

Design Types

Our templates now come in three design “flavors”:

High Impact Design

This is our signature look.  Full featured, full of depth and color and gradients, this the power look that we’ve become known for.

Flat Design

A step down in the “depth” department, this level of design is “flatter” but still with a tonne of impact.

Stream Lined

This is really, truly, the most clean and streamlined that the particular design can look.  With just a few graphic highlights, this particular design targets professional business class websites.

Package Types

We are also releasing each product in three package types, just as we did with our Generation 10 products: Basic, Standard, and Pro

Basic Package

This is the home page, with a one column, two column, three column and four column layout pages.

Standard Package

This particular package includes all of the pages for the given theme-set, how we envisioned the site should look.  It includes a full “standard” web, complete with “home”, “contact”, “about”, “privacy”, and “faqs” page, plus more.

Pro Package

This is really where it’s at.  You get so much bang for you buck with this package.  You get the “Standard” web as you would in the Standard Package, plus a full screen photo-slider page, and all of the alternate home page layouts:

  • Default Home Page
  • Parallax Slider Home Page
  • Fullscreen Carousel Home Page
  • Jumbotron Carousel Home Page
  • Nivo Slider Home Page
  • Video Slider Home Page
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Bootstrap Website Templates

We’re finally there.  In the coming days you’ll start to see our first batch of our new framework of web templates hit the store — bootstrap templates.

I think we all forgot, that when you go to launch an entirely different framework of product, there’s quite a bit to the development process.  When we decided to take our innovation to the next level, and bring a fresh look to our new releases, we thought it would be a three or four month hiccup in our release schedule to get the new framework out.  It took twice that.

What took so long?  Understanding the framework (each and every single component), making it work for a template product, writing and recording new tutorials, re-writing sales material, re-writing a packaging system, re-writing a help system to accomodate the new help material, re-writing the demonstration websites system… and on, and on… and on.

But now that we’re here, we couldn’t be more excited.

Packed with all the features of the Twitter Bootstrap framework, as well as all of the icons of the FontAwesome scalable vector icon set, our new generation of website templates are going to make your websites look cleaner, load faster, and be more responsive.

So what is the big deal about Twitter Bootstrap anyway?  Let me just detail some of the great features.

  1. Inherently set up for “responsive” or “adaptive” display
  2. An easy to understand “grid layout” — in standard or fluid flavours
  3. A base CSS system that makes styling your website easy
  4. Countless number of pre-designed components
  5. Extended functionality via jQuery enabled components
  6. Customizable
  7. Constantly updated
  8. It’s open source

And FontAwesome… well, it’s just… awesome.  After including the CSS link in your page, all you have to do add to your code is something as simple as <i class=’icon-calendar’></i> to have your page render a calendar icon (there are over 360 icons currently).  And it too is open source.

So why did we decide to switch from our Generation 10 framework to Twitter Bootstrap?  Quite simply, the development that was ongoing with the Bootstrap system was happening at such a rapid pace, we (as a three person team) couldn’t develop anything quite as robust quite as fast.

We decided to leverage the underlying framework, take advantage of the great typography settings and components, and boost our unique style of templates with an even more solid framework.

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Responsive design for Mobile Devices

Designing for Mobile Devices…

There are dozens of mobile devies and tablets on the market with more and more being added each month. Developing a website for a visitor using a mobile device is a bit different than designing for your regular Desktop visitors. Visitors with mobile devices will not have the same screensize as your desktop visitors, so you can opt to allow the full site to be viewed, or a minimalistic ( responsive ) view, which displays the content at a larger more legible size. Responsive design allows the content of the page to be converted into 1 easy to read column, and you can target which content and what components you want displayed on the mobile devices.

In general, mobile visitors are not as concerned about how gorgeous your website is, they just want information. They may want to know how to contact you, what your phone number is, what your hours of operation are, or just read an article you’ve posted. They may want to browse the items you have for sale, but in most cases they’ll browse for information first, just to see what you have to offer.

We’ve included a responsive stylesheet that provides a minimalistic view of your website for mobile devices. The responsive.css stylesheet targets any devices that is ‘less’ than tablet size portrait view. Tablet users tend to expect the same experience on their tablets as they do on their desktops, so we’ve geared the responsive.css stylesheet to target ONLY mobile devices.

Designing for mobile devices requires a bit of planning and previewing, and part crafting and tweaking.

There are some basic ‘rules’ when designing for mobile devices.

  1. when adding images to your page, do not include a fixed width or height. The responsive.css will resize your images for you provided the images do not include the width or height properties.
  2. you’ll need to reposition and resize the logo and tagline
  3. you can ‘enable’ or ‘disable’ specific information containers in your page via the responsive.css
  4. you can change the default image displayed in your page through the responsive.css
  5. the side menu is removed from the mobile view, so using the ( menu top ) is important for your mobile visitors

Here’s a video that covers each of these rules, and how to manipulate them to your advantage

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Numo Updates: May 3rd

There, really, are not enough hours in the day to complete the upgrades I want to get done. Before I take a week’s vacation, I’ve decided to push what updates I’ve got out to the deployment server. Quite literally, this is all I’ve been doing for the last two weeks, just working on the Numo system. I have a few more updates that I intend to make towards the later half of May, however once I get back to the office on the 13th, we’re going to be focusing on rolling out our next generation of website templates.

Numo Dashboard

Well, prepare to have your socks knocked off. As with our new generation of web templates, we’re focusing on using great looking CSS and JS toolkits. If you’ve never heard of bootstrap or font awesome, you really should check them out.

In any case, I’ve gone through and “bootstrapped” the Numo administrative backend. It looks (IMHO) freeking awesome. It takes the geeky-girl that Numo is, and gives her an extreme makeover.

Numo Dashboard: Main Menu

You’ll notice that we’ve moved some things around. “Settings” is now under the “System” menu on on the right. Some great looking icons help navigating the menu as well

Calendar

The Calendar system has been updated so that you may choose to have times displayed in 12 or 24 hour style.

Shopping Cart

Good grief. I haven’t done as much work to a module as I have to this system in.. oh, probably three years. This is a is a huge update, although most probably won’t end up using the features. There are a lot of functions which could technically be used in the future for when/if we get around to upgrading it to work with PayPal Web Payments Pro, Authorize.net, or Google Checkout. We investigated using Google Checkout, however Google hasn’t gotten off their rears to allow merchants outside of the US or UK to be able to sell via Google Checkout. As we’re Canadian, there’s no way for us to get an account in order to test and develop our product for Google Checkout. THANKS GOOGLE! :)

So the updates focus OFFLINE payments. Which means, you can how disable PayPal as a payment option (or for that matter, leave it on, and use at an optional payment mechanism) but also allow your visitors to (for offline payment processing) their credit card details, or a purchase order number, or have you invoice them, or to have them send in a check/bank draft. You can also indicate whether you want to collect the billing address and shipping address, when collecting information for the offline payments.

I’ve also added a new TAXATION setting for VAT countries and regions such as UK/Europe. It’s a bit complex to explain here, but the explanation is on the Shopping Cart -> Settings -> Catalog page.

In addition, you can now set how you want zero priced ($0) products to display. Either as no price displayed, $0, or FREE.

There is also now the ability to set some new administrative notification settings (whether to receive a notification upon pending order, or upon order completion).  You can also set a taxation rate for any shipping amounts, as well.

Where We Go From Here

I’ve got the coupon/sales/discounts mechanism for the Shopping Cart about 60% done. I plan on finishing that towards the end of May — unfortunately, it requires a re-write of how we send information along to PayPal, and subsequently how the information is received from PayPal (not a trivial task). I also hope to get the Numo front-end components all set up to work with Bootstrap styles, for the upcoming new generation of website templates — this might not happen until the end of June, but it’s inevitable.

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