Goodbye IE7, IE8 and Windows XP

Incase you didn't hear the news, Microsoft has abandoned support and updates for Windows XP today; including IE7 and IE8. Generally this should be treated as good news from a web development perspective. It's news that's long overdue. Both IE7 and IE8 have become very outdated, compared with many other web browsers available. There's numerous things IE7 and IE8 could not handle, plus a myriad of unfixed rendering bugs and critical security flaws.

Traditionally building websites that could support IE7 and IE8 has always been a difficult process. On average I've found it's added about 20% extra time and cost to a project, and I've nearly always had to pass that cost onto the client. Plus the difficulties of trying to run versions of IE on different operating systems (like Mac) via virtualisation software. Now that extra time can be avoided or budgeted towards other things in a project.

Of course usage of IE7 and IE8 is not going to dry-up overnight. Like with IE6, there's going to be a small minority of individuals and businesses (currently about 3%) that continue to peddle older versions of IE and will take longer to wean-off. Going forward, we will not really be able to help people who choose to use older versions of IE. If they choose to use broken and unsupported web browsers, then that's their choice we have to respect. They have to accept the consequences of that decision.

I've been asked by a couple of people about what this 'switch off' means for my area of work; in particular RapidWeaver addons (like themes and stacks) and various other projects I've completed in the past. The simple answer is that everything that was made to work in IE7 and IE8 is probably going to continue to do so for a while longer. I have no intentions to start purposefully ripping-out IE7 or IE8 specific code and disabling conditional comments (as much as I would enjoy the opportunity)! However future project work and testing is highly unlikely to include IE7 and IE8 support. The economics of supporting IE7 and IE8 just don't add up; and it just boils-down to common sense at the end of day. This will mean that future RapidWeaver themes will only be including jQuery 2. Many of my addons will move towards mobile-first rendering; while at the same time omitting conditional comments and 'hacks' for older browsers.

It's worth pointing out that several major websites have already ended IE7 and IE8 support. Google, Facebook and Twitter ditched IE7 a while back and I believe some services like Google App's no longer support IE8 either. So the tide is definitely turning. This notion of ending IE7 and IE8 support most definitely is not limited to just a couple of bitter and twisted web developers! It's a practice many are adopting in this industry, in attempt to promote healthy evolution of the internet.

If you want a subtle message to display on your website to warn users that they are browsing using an older web browser and should expect problems, then my free Conditionals stack is a good RapidWeaver addon to use, for composing a friendly and informative message. Or you can use the free Browser Reject stack by Joe Workman.

As always, if you have specific questions about browser compatibility relating to any of my RapidWeaver addons or custom work I've done for you, just drop me an email. It's a complicated topic, and I'm happy to discuss things in detail with you.
 
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Wilderness updated to version 4.5

A minor update was published for the Wilderness theme overnight, incorporating several feature requests from existing users and a selection of new style and colour variations. This is a free update for all existing users, obtainable via the normal methods documented.

Noteworthy changes in this free update:
• Additional social bar positioning settings added
• Updated Bootstrap and Font Awesome Icons to the latest versions
• New group of slogan style settings (to adjust slogan alignment and colours)
• Several new colour pickers. Some existing ones have been renamed or reordered
• Page navigation links now cloned via JS to reduce the number of links in the page source
• Minor adjustments to the display of pages on tablet / mobile
• Improved print / PDF output
• Adjustments to heading sizing and styling
• Started to remove some non-important IE7 / IE8 hacks
• Brand new flexible sidebar width and positioning settings
• Sidebar is now rendered below the content container on tablet, mobile and print
• All logo image placeholders now have a class of .logo applied
• New Miscellaneous theme style setting to hide the site title
• Adjustments to footer navigation positioning

If you don't already own the Wilderness theme, be sure to download the free demo version to test it. You may be surprised at how capable this RapidWeaver theme is. Click here for more information. Wilderness currently includes a 15% discount code off WeaverPix and a complimentary license for the FreeStyle Banner stack (normally worth £10).
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Blank Theme Updated to Version 1.4

The aptly named 'Blank Theme' is exactly as the name describes. This is a totally blank RapidWeaver theme which only features a FreeStyle banner container and a regular content container. It's ideal to use for creating basic miscellaneous website pages, like custom 'error 404' pages, redirects, signup pages, landing pages or simple pages to display full-size images or video on. Blank Theme works with all major page types, including Stacks and WeaverPix. This RapidWeaver theme displays no other page elements, like a header, sidebar or footer; you instead simply get a blank canvas to build whatever you want with; however you want. The Blank Theme is a powerful website development framework and includes support for the complete Twitter Bootstrap 3.0 toolkit and Font Awesome Icons 4.0.

Changes in version 1.4:
  • Renamed from 'A Blank Theme' to 'Blank Theme'
  • Updated to Bootstrap version 3.1.1.
  • Updated to Font Awesome 4.0.3.
  • New theme icon shown in the RapidWeaver theme drawer
  • Removed all IE7 / IE8 support
  • Optimised all the example images bundled with the theme
  • New custom.js file for applying Javascript globally
  • Improved print output
  • Body background is now white by default
  • New colour picker for headings
  • New option to have all links underlined

Direct download: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/422052/themeflood/freethemes/BlankTheme.rwtheme.zip
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New (Free) Stack - ImageCompare

A simple stack element built on the open source (MIT licensed) TwentyTwenty plugin. ImageCompare makes it easy to compare two images; featuring an intuitive drag-handle between both images.

In this stack we've put specific emphasis on supporting touch devices (like the iPhone and iPad), support in both fixed-width and responsive layouts; and superb print / PDF output. A screenshot of the stack is pictured below.

ImageCompare Stack for RapidWeaver

ImageCompare is able to use images dragged and dropped into the Stacks editing interface from your computer, or source pairs of images from an existing online location. The drag handle initial position, labels and shade effects are customisable in the stack settings.

ImageCompare Stack settings

For more information about the ImageCompare stack, downloads and working examples, click here.

The original plugin was provided for free, so naturally this stack element is also provided free for you to download and use in personal and commercial projects. But if you appreciate this stack element and wish support ongoing development, please contribute here.
 
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New Stack - ChatStack

This stack element is based on the open source TogetherJS project, created and maintained by the Mozilla foundation. The new ChatStack makes it possible to add real-time audio or instant messaging support to your RapidWeaver website. Perfect for collaborating with other colleagues, chatting with friends, conducting small-scale webinars or providing one-to-one technical support to clients; whether they're sat next to you or on the other side of the world! ChatStack is a great little example of what the modern internet can do and could prove to be a very useful addition to your website.

Users to your website do not need to install any extra software or plugins, for this stack to work. ChatStack runs on Javascript and HTML5, within the existing web browser window. For best results, a fast internet connection and the latest version of Firefox or Chrome is recommended. A microphone or headset are needed for audio chats.

ChatStack for RapidWeaver

The beauty of this system is that it's very easy to setup. Just drag and drop the new ChatStack stack element into a page on your website, and publish. ChatStack will work on all pages of the website domain, which is useful if you need to present multiple pages. ChatStack is safe to use and totally free of charge. No sign-up payments, adverts or subscriptions. The ChatStack includes settings to customise the 'start chat' button.

See the website for more details.
 
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New RapidWeaver theme - introducing Volcano

A molten-hot colour scheme, totally fluid layout and a ground-breaking feature set combine to make Volcano a brilliant new RapidWeaver theme; ideally suited towards use in business, marketing, software, and e-commerce websites. Not only does Volcano look good on the surface, but this responsive theme functions brilliantly well on desktop browsers, tablets, smartphones and even print output. The speed, flexibility and customisability of Volcano has to be seen to be believed; so be sure to take a look at the live website built using Volcano and download the free demo version.

Volcano has been meticulously engineered from start to finish. Inside this highly customisable theme, you can change all aspects of the colour scheme, easily switch navigation layouts, change the physical structure of pages with up-to 27 ExtraContent containers, create fixed footer containers and setup immersive banner containers in just a few clicks. Like all other premium ThemeFlood themes, Volcano provides plenty of useful style settings to do all the basics. Built-in support for the complete Bootstrap toolkit, embedded web fonts and Font Awesome Icons elevate the possibilities of this theme even higher. Read More...
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Media updated to version 4.6

A minor update for the Media RapidWeaver theme. Version 4.6 has been released overnight and includes the following changes:

  • Brand new flexible sidebar width and positioning settings
  • The sidebar is now rendered below the content container, in print output and mobile
  • Improved print and PDF output
  • Updated the Bootstrap framework and Font Awesome Icons to the latest versions
  • All logo images now have a class of 'logo' applied (for easier CSS modifications)
  • New independent controls for capitalisation of parent and child menu navigation links
  • New 'none' navigation layout
  • New miscellaneous style settings to hide the site title and / or site slogan
  • Any anchor links in the page with a class of smoothscroll will now scroll smoothly
  • Navigation links are now dynamically cloned to different structures, for improved optimisation
  • Extended choice of social bar positioning settings
  • Various other minor edits and tidying of the underlying source code

This is a free update for all existing users of the Media theme. The update can be obtained using your original download link. For more information about obtaining theme updates, please refer to the ThemeFlood support page:
http://www.themeflood.com/support/

For more information about the Media RapidWeaver theme, click here:
http://www.themeflood.com/media/

There will be other exciting theme news within the next couple of days. Stay tuned Winking
 
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Renamed to UsefulStack!

As of today, I'm renaming the previous 'Flexi-Box' stack to 'UsefulStack'. You can now find this stack listed on the Stacks4Stacks website, under the UsefulStack handle. I don't like having to rename stack elements, as I know it can cause confusion. However there are a few important and genuine reasons for needing to change the name of this stack element. I would rather do it sooner rather than later:

  1. There is a brand new web development module arriving soon called Flexbox. It's currently W3C Candidate Recommendation and most web browsers are starting to add it now. Very exciting stuff. However some RapidWeaver users are already getting very confused between the Flexbox HTML module and the previously named stack, which is understandable. I can foresee that confusion growing, as more discussions take place about Flexbox in RapidWeaver. Flexbox is unlikely to be something the Stacks plugin can utilise, but it would certainly be something theme developers can leverage, as support improves in web browsers.
  2. What started as a very basic stack element for applying flexible padding and margins around elements has grown considerably. It now does lot of other things. Many features have since been added. This stack is no longer just about flexible layout. I want to move away from implying this stack is only for flexible layouts. Yesterday we added support for minimum and maximum widths. Today support was added for a display toggle and print toggle. More features are likely to be added over time and I have a feeling this stack is going to continue to grow in both popularity and function.
  3. A Wordpress plugin (by another developer) now shares the same name as the previous stack. This has resulted in some strangers contacting me at all times of day and night with problems relating to a Wordpress plugin I have absolutely zero idea about! Clearly there was some confusion between the two addons, as they both do similar things and were named the same.
  4. UsefulStack compliments the new UsefulGrid stack really well. I want to highlight a strong correlation between the two stacks, as both can work really well together.

I searched Google for 'UsefulStack'. Nothing else comes close, so this appears to be a good name to run with!

The previously named stack will continue to function perfectly for the foreseeable future, so please don't panic! Nothing is going to break. However the old stack won't be receiving any further updates. Instead you should download and install UsefulStack (it's totally free) and start using this one in new projects, going forward. I do already have plans to add some more functionality to this stack over the next several months, so this is definitely a stack element to follow the progress of.

I've published this quick blog article to keep you in the full picture of what's going on and the reasons for the name change. I had planned to change the name before Stacks 2.5 was released, but there were more crucial things to address at the time.
 
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Filter 2.0 released for Stacks

Filter (version 2.0) was released yesterday; a significant update over the previous version. In effect, this is a brand new stack completely overhauled and totally rewritten for Stacks 2.5. This is a free update for all existing users. Because this is a major update, I am not sending it out over Sparkle. If you are an existing owner of the stack, you can get version 2 using the download link emailed to you at time of purchase. New users can purchase this stack for a measly £5.00. Free downloadable demo's and full documentation is provided on the website.

Filter now fulfils the frequent request of providing both keyword and search box item filtering, in a single stack element. Previously used 'f-tags' have been replaced with standardised HTML5 data tags. This latest version of Filter is by far one of the most elegant and sophisticated content filtering solutions available for RapidWeaver. Every aspect of this stack has been carefully thought-out; with much consideration given to ease of setup, performance and usability.

You can setup Filter stack using 'auto-pilot mode' which gives you an easier step-by-step user interface for each item to be filtered, but less ability to add new items or change item ordering later on. So 'HTML mode' might be better for other users, and gives unhindered access to the complete HTML code for every filterable item. HTML setup mode is pictured below. Categories and keywords are generated automatically, client-side.

Filter HTML setup mode


End users to your website can click on the generated category buttons, which reveals a list of all the 'found' keywords (tags) associated with each category. Users can click any of the predefined tags to filter items or they can type in the search boxes to filter-through longer lists of available tags. Multiple tags can be applied, including tags across multiple categories; which yields an incredibly concentrated filtering system, unlike any other.

Filtering


Loads of useful style, layout and behavioural settings are included in this stack. You can customise the complete appearance of the Filter stack, to match an existing RapidWeaver theme or corporate branding. Items that have been filtered-out can be set to either hide or dim (using reduced opacity). You can switch-off tag searching on categories that don't require it. A minimal use of animations results in instantaneous filtering, without ugly jerkiness or slow loading. As you would expect, Filter is fully responsive and has been engineered to work with all newer web browsers.

Filter is ideally suited for a wide range of different tasks, where filtering or sorting of content is required in a website. Photography portfolios, business directories, e-commerce, contact pages, event listings and showcases could all be enhanced and made more customer-interactive with the Filter stack. As you will see from the new Stacks4Stacks website, I had complete faith in using the new Filter stack on the homepage for sorting available stack elements; as opposed to using a conventional drop-down website navigation menu.

For more information about the Filter stack, click here.
 
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Lots of shiny new Stacks stuff to play with!

A lot of changes this month on the Stacks front; and several exciting bits of news for you today. Firstly Stacks 2.5 has been released for RapidWeaver today. The update went live a few minutes ago. This is a free update (for existing 2.x users) and I strongly recommend that you go-ahead and grab this latest version right now. There are a couple of new features in Stacks 2.5 which I think are going to be of great help to you. Also I'm pleased to unveil the brand new Stacks4Stacks website today; plus a couple new and updated Stacks. Read-on for more information! Read More...
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