About Author: Caspar Green
Posts by Caspar Green
I’m ending active development of Arras. You can still download it, and I might occasionally update it, but no promises.
As of Today, April 21, 2016
There are 4 versions of Arras I know of which are of any interest (with links where you can get them):
- The last 1.x version by Arras’s original developer, Melvin Lee: Version 1.5.3-RC1. This version was last updated on August 12, 2012. This date corresponds to WordPress version 3.4.1. The original theme’s website is arrastheme.com.
The last 2.0 version, also by Melvin Lee: Version 2.0.1-beta-dev. This version was last updated on May 21, 2013. This corresponds to WordPress version 3.5.1.
The last 1.x version done by me: Version 1.6.2. This version was released on January 18, 2015. This corresponds to WordPress version 4.1.
The last 3.0 version, again my work: Version 3.0.3. This version was released on October 15, 2015. This corresponds to WordPress version 4.3.1.
Each of these versions has some significant limitations and quirks. I’ve said before that Arras is kind of like your uncle’s vintage Ford Mustang out in the garage. It’s old and it’s still prone to break in new ways every time you take it out on the road. But it’s fun to tinker with on weekends.
For a while I was doing Arras updates more regularly because I had a client who used the theme and was somewhat dependent on my keeping it alive. After a significant shift and re-branding, that client moved to a completely different theme. So now, Arras truly is a catch-as-catch-can project for me.
I realize that for most people looking for a reliable WordPress theme with active development and support this kind of sporadic, weekend coding isn’t a viable solution. Nor is it honest or helpful to pretend any longer that it is.
So this is formal notice that Arras is no longer in active development, and that support (at least from me) will be extremely limited.
I’ll probably continue to tinker with it on weekends. Occasionally I may push out an update. But no promises.
Where it goes from here…
I also realize that Arras has (or at least had) a lot of fans, some of whom may be still be nostalgic for it. Arras, in its heyday, had a large and active community of contributors.
When Melvin Lee discontinued his development of the theme, he offered that anyone who wanted to was welcome to take up the project and run with it. That was the spirit in which I took it on. And so I’d make the same offer to anyone else: If you want to pick up the torch, please let me know. You’re welcome to it!
Photo credit: Arijit Roy
Version 3 brought a responsive grid and the WordPress customizer to Arras.
But there is still a huge amount to be done.
Today I pushed out Maintenance Release 3.0.3 fixing a few bugs that surfaced pretty much immediately after Arras 3 went live. (Face palm!) I anticipate that there will be a few more waiting to be discovered, and some functions within the customizer do not work as well or as intuitively as I’d like.
Therefore, I anticipate that moving forward I’ll be pushing out more frequent maintenance releases in the next phase of Arras’s development. I understand that for a few Arras users who have done major customization having to re-apply those with every release may be a bit of a hassle. I’ll try to be specific as to what get fixed with each maintenance release so you can decide whether the latest update is worth the trouble. And in the event of a fix for a security issue, I’ll make sure it’s clear that the update is more critical.
I also anticipate that I’ll be issuing minor releases of the theme following WordPress core updates, which happens about 3 times a year. These minor releases will contain all the maintenance releases, any modifications that become necessary as WordPress itself continues to evolve and new features as they are developed.
Occasionally something may come up, or a new feature may be added, that will merit the term major release. But for now, I can’t really think what that would be.
Here are some things I’m working on:
- Getting the customizer stuff fixed. This may involve breaking out custom post-types handling into its own plug-in. Custom post types is often more of a functionality issue, and better suited to be handled in that way. We’ll see.
- Streamlining the stylesheets. There was a lot of fallout from adding the responsive grid for mobile. It’s still not as efficient as it could be.
- Adding SASS. If you’re not a developer, you probably don’t care, but this will make style customization a lot easier.
- Rebuilding the main templates to take advantage of WordPress’s template parts functionality. This should add a lot of flexibility to the way Arras handles it’s “tapestries” and allows for easier development of new tapestries to be added down the line.
- Making social media integration more flexible.
- Adding the ability to create as many featured posts sections as you like and to put them in places other than just the home page.
Some things I need volunteers to help with:
- Languages. There is a translation file,
arras.pot, included in the
/languages/folder. You can use that file with the free Poedit app to create the actual translation files that make Arras work with the WordPress’s built-in internationalization abilities. If you make a translation file, I’d love it (and your compatriots would too!) if you could send it along to be included in future releases.
You may have other ideas. The best place to chime in with them is on Github. Just open an issue. And definitely report any bugs.
That’s it for now.
(Photo credit: mlhradio)
This maintenance release fixes the following issues:
* Restores white background around page content to page entries.
* Fixes styling error on comment number display on traditional tapestry entries (home and archive pages).
* Fixes default tapestry not registering on author pages.
[Download Arras 3.0.3](https://github.com/iCaspar/arras/releases/download/3.0.3/arras.zip)
I won’t bore you with all the details about how over the summer I had to put Arras (and a lot of other things) on the back burner for a while.
Thanks to JB (bicycling across Africa somewhere, I think) who provided a lot of feedback on the Betas while I was out of commission. And to everyone else who commented and waited patiently.
Arras is a little like your uncle’s vintage Ford Mustang. You hang onto it because it’s a piece of nostalgia, even though it’s dated and not as efficient as just getting a new car. But at least now it’s responsive so it won’t suffer from mobilegeddon.
As such, Arras 3 still shares most of it’s code base with Arras 1.x, but it’s not the same theme. It will try to pull whatever settings from Arras 1.x it can into the new arrangement, but you still may (probably will) have to adjust a few things yourself.
Also, note that as an old theme (ancient in terms of WordPress development and internet time), there is some code that is old enough that Arras 1.x will break completely (I’m talking Fatal error, white screen of death) on servers running php 7 (soon to be released). With this release of Arras 3, I’m leaving Arras 1.x behind.
A few things to keep in mind…
- Language files for the Arras 1.x won’t work on Arras 3. I’ve provided a new .pot file in the
/languagesfolder for anyone who cares to load it into poedit and render a translation. If you make a translation, please help other Arras users by submitting a pull request with your translation. I’ll make sure to add them to future releases.
- Child Themes based on Arras 1.x will probably break in Arras 3. With the introduction of a responsive grid, a lot of the styles have changed.
Customizer work is ongoing. Custom post types and taxonomies on the home page works, but sometimes requires reloading the customizer page to update the available selections. Again, with any luck this should get smoother with future releases.
All features are in for this release cycle.
Please Note: Though this looks much like Arras 1.x versions, and shares a lot of its code DNA with Arras 1.x versions, it is not backwards compatible with Arras 1.x in many respects.
Arras 3.0 will import many, but not all, settings from Arras 1.x versions previously installed, so if you’re upgrading from Arras 1.x expect there to be some issues in translation that will need worked out.
Arras 3.0 features two major changes over 1.x versions:
Responsive layout has meant major changes to the theme’s CSS. If you’ve made lots of CSS customizations in 1.x, they’re probably going to break in 3.0.
The grid now controls column widths and image sizing rather than having options for specific thumbnail sizes.
Options In the Customizer
This is a major shift in the way handles options and settings. In the long run, though, it has the advantage that child themes will be able to edit settings and add their own settings much more easily than was possible using the older WPSettings API.
Beta Means “Test”
This probably goes without saying, but while I think I’ve got it all together, there probably are some bugs in it that will need attention. So, while it’s probably OK to use this for your kicking-around blog, it’s not ready for big-time sites yet.
If you take it for a test drive and find anything that needs fixed, please open an issue on the Development repository at Github. (It’s really not hard to do, I promise!)
And here’s the link to Download the Arras 3.0 Beta.