Arras in 2015

Arras 3

Arras 1.6.1 has held the line for Arras since it’s revival in the spring of 2014. But WordPress keeps moving forward.

Arras was originally coded for use with WordPress 3.0. By the time WordPress 3.8 was released in late 2013, many of us began to see some of the Arras features beginning to break. By the time 3.9 came out early 2014, things were getting downright unstable. in In order to keep Arras going, version 1.6 updated the theme to work with WordPress 3.9 and 4.0.

However, with the release of WordPress 4.1 in December, 2014 even more of the code from the old Arras 1.5 (most of which is still in use in Arras 1.6) has been slated for obsolescence. Arras 1.6.1 still works with WordPress 4.1, but will probably become unstable or possibly unusable again when WordPress 4.2 is released in spring of 2015. Besides that, there are still a few things about Arras 1.6.1 that have come to my attention in the past few months that need fixed.

With that in mind, I’ll be releasing another maintenance version (Arras 1.6.2) in January 2015. Beyond that, however, this is the end of the line for Arras 1.x. There are simply too many major issues with the Arras 1.x code to make it worth supporting as WordPress — and the rest of the internet, for that matter — continues to evolve.

For example:

  • Arras 1.x isn’t responsive. In an increasingly mobile internet, this is more important than ever, and Arras 1.x is stuck with 5 fixed layouts.
  • Arras 1.x duplicates WordPress core functions. When Arras 1.x was first written, many of it’s custom functions were necessary. Since then, WordPress core has evolved to take care of many of these. The result is that a lot of Arras 1.x code duplicates what WordPress core does more efficiently. And yet, removing those functions interferes with the way the rest of Arras works.
  • Arras 1.x doesn’t handle custom post-types very well. While Arras can do some some handling of custom post types, WordPress has come a long way since. And, Arras 1.x knows nothing about WordPress post formats.
  • Arras Options conflict with the new WordPress Customizer. This is most noticeable in the Heading section, where the customizer does the logo one way, and the Arras custom logo does things another way. This is confusing, at best.

The good news is I’ve started on Arras 3. (I’m skipping Arras 2 to avoid confusion with the previous developer’s Arras 2.)

Arras 3 will actually be a new theme from the ground up. It will look a lot like Arras 1.x, but built for WordPress 4.2.

My intention is for Arras 3 to be a fully responsive, mobile-ready theme. It will take advantage of developments in WordPress core since 3.0, including the settings, theme options, and customizer APIs. The old Options page will be replaced by full integration with the WordPress Customizer. The new Arras will provide layouts for WordPress post formats and handling of custom post types will be completely revisited.

As a completely new theme, Arras 3 will not be backward compatible with Arras 1.x. If you have child themes based on Arras 1.x, they will probably need major revisions to work with Arras 3. If you have made your own customizations to the Arras 1.x code, those changes will probably not work with Arras 3. I’m putting this out there now so it won’t come as a surprise down the road.

As things develop, I’ll try to keep this site up to date with the how things will look. And, for those who are interested, I’ll probably post a couple of pre-release versions for testing and suggestions.

With any luck, Arras 3 will be ready to go this spring when WordPress 4.2 is released.

(Arras 3 image by Olibac, Creative Commons.)

About the Author:

Caspar Green Caspar Green has been doing web stuff stuff since before Y2K. He is now a software developer with AwesomeMotive, Inc., but still does a few projects on the side as time allows.

26 Comments

  1. RedKobra

    Long time fan of Arras them. Great to hear about 3.0. If you need any testers, please let me know.

    Thanks

    • Thanks for the offer.

  2. I have been waiting for the version 3 ever since I read about it here.There was a buzz amongst my clients and some even offered me to try my skills to make it responsive for them.

    Also, as I read this, I have postponed my new website which would be a BLOG only and will wait for you to release the 3rd version. In case you need any help on codes, or even tests, I am willing to do it just because Arras has been my preferred theme on WordPress.

    Looking forward to version 3 – at least make it responsive so that people like me can start their blogs 🙂

    Cheers

    • Arras 3 will be responsive. Thanks for offering to help.

  3. i hope arras 3.0 include pageview count and Like button..

  4. Thank you, Caspar, for your great job.

  5. Marnix

    This is great news, I’m running about a dozen sites using Arras, To be honest, almost all of them need work, mostly due to the malperformense of Arras right now. I’d also like to offer my testing/coding skills if you can use them.

    Thanks for your hard work!

  6. So glad to have discovered that you’ve taken over development for the Arras theme! After having used it for several years now and with several other clients using the theme, I’m going to have a lot of work to do to update with the new code once it’s released. I noticed however that you mentioned a spring 2015 update for WordPress. Is that going to be in addition to the more recent 4.1.1 bug fix maintenance update? I’m asking because I’ve got to figure out scheduling for several site upgrades now and as you’ve said that the code will all be different, then I’m fairly certain I’ll be starting somewhat from scratch after having made several alterations to the theme php. Do you have a tentative ETA?

    • WordPress 4.2 is scheduled to drop sometime in April. With any luck, I’ll have an Arras 3 Beta version ready at around the same time.

  7. Pardon my error. I just realized that you had already indeed written about the WordPress update version 4.2, but I am still very interested in your tentative release. Thanks again!

  8. Akai

    Can you please list what new in arras 3

  9. In the interim, I am working toward a solution for an existing client and for my own company website. In order to move forward, though with the knowledge that Arras 3 will essentially be a different animal by way of core code, Is it recommended that all updates to version 1.6.2 are made, or is it in my best interest to simply stay put?

    My greatest concern is that for my client’s site, in order to meet their specific requests in customizing the site, I had made some alterations to the site’s functional PHP that added additional Featured and News posts, so that with the upcoming code changes, even updating the current theme versions (1.5.3) to 1.6.2, that the source code for these functions may not work, even if copied directly from the current installation.

    Additionally, I ran a Unicorn check via the W3C’s Unified Validator at http://validator.w3.org/unicorn/ and the home page alone essentially threw back a full page of red indicators starting with 9 major identifiable errors, and then 53 CSS errors. The plugins I understand, but the first 9 are out of my knowledge base. Are these items anything theme related, or are they low-level issues?

    The site in question can be found at http://browndean.com

    • Since you seem to have your current theme version working for now, I’d say there’s no pressing reason to do all that work to update to 1.6.2 and then do it all again later for Arras 3. Seems like, whenever the time comes to update, you’d be better off using a child theme so you can avoid having to redo your changes with every update.
      On the validation question, your errors appear to be related to schema metadata. I’ll assume you have a plugin installed that’s handling schema, since Arras doesn’t do schema.

      • Thanks so much, Caspar! I believe that just explained it. Now I’m really looking forward to Arras 3 so I can get this thing cleaned up!

  10. Looking forward to the responsive Arras. Thanks and all the best with the code.

  11. JH

    Looking forward to Arras 3.0! Thanks for saving it!

  12. Psozo

    Wow! I had given up on arras a few years ago. I thought for sure it was left for dead. But I did a search last night just out of curiosity and I found this dev site. I’m glad someone took up the challenge to continue arras so thank you.

    And reading about it going responsive and compatible for 4.2 is even greater news.

    Looking forward to it!

  13. wordpress already 4.2 beta 2 any news arras ? i can be a part tester

  14. I am so excited at this announcement. I would also be delighted to be part of any beta test. Thank you for taking up this project and not letting it die.

  15. I am really happy to hear that you guys are working hard on updating the beloved Arras Theme. I have been a User for about 6 years and would love to be a part of the testing team. I am Responsive UI Designer and I can’t wait for this version to come out …

  16. Go CASPAR Go CASPAR. Just do it. All the best for this. We would be grateful to you for your work.

  17. Any news i need a new template due to mobileagedon

  18. junky

    looking forward to it. Will be glad to add to the code when it comes out

  19. Thanks for the update! My Arras-themed site just won an award, so the old code still works okay, but I’ve noticed that the layout breaks on my iPad. Has anyone updated to the Beta 3? Any major issues? Screen shots? I’d love to update, but it will take some doing and I want it to be as painless as
    possible before taking the plunge.

  20. MJ

    I’m delighted to hear that 3.0 is in the works! Whew! When do you anticipate its release? I fully support it being a paid theme! To make you some money and offer us some support!

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