Arras 3 Alpha 2 Released


Again, please do not use this on production sites, or anywhere you don’t want to risk breaking things!

Here’s where to download it for testing! Please note that since this is for testing only, you use this at your own risk. There is no support for this release on live servers!

That said, at this point, I’d be grateful to any and all who want to participate in the testing of the new version.

This Alpha 2 Test Version is all about the colors. Testers, here’s what to look for:

  • Color schemes have been updated, and color scheme options have been moved from the Arras Options admin page into the “Colors” section of the Customizer (Apprearance > Customize > Colors).
  • Please be on the lookout for spots where the colors aren’t applied or inconsistent.
  • You can now add/modify/delete color schemes from within a child theme using the new ‘arras_color_schemes’ hook. (No more registering a “style directory” and then messing about with custom CSS!) See the comments and format of the array to filter in library/styles.php

Please, if you notice anything that needs corrected, find a bug, or have an idea open an issue on GitHub.

Many thanks to all you testers!

Roadmap Update

The Theme Review Team ruled last month that to qualify for inclusion in the “official” theme repository themes must move all their options into the Customizer interface. While this was on the roadmap for Arras 3 anyway, I’ve moved this up as a priority issue which I’ll be implementing in the next release.

The next release should also be the long-awaited first beta, and I’m hopeful still (but without making any guarantees) of that happening by the end of May.


First Alpha of Arras 3 Released

Arras 3

And, yes, it’s really raw.

But if you want to try it out, you can download the first alpha version from GutHub and give it a whirl.

Please do not use this on production sites, or anywhere you don’t want to risk breaking things!

That said, at this point, I’d be grateful to any and all who want to participate in the testing of the new version.

Here’s what’s changed from Version 1.6.2

  • Implement WP title-tag support, remove arras_title()
  • Remove arras_setup() and relocate various sub-functions:
    • Theme support declarations into new arras_theme_support()
    • Move menu functions into new arras_menu()
    • Move wp_head() actions to new arras_scripts() and arras_styles()
    • Fix incorrect sidebar registration loading sidebars without an id
  • Fix deprecated use of caller_get_posts() in sidebar.php
  • Remove user.css
  • Remove yarpp template
  • Remove pagetpl-redirect template
  • Rename pagetpl-single.php to no-sidebar-page.php
  • Rename pagetpl-archive.php to archive-page.php
  • Remove superfish.js menu, implement CSS3-driven menu
  • Remove smoothness.js from admin
  • Remove tabbed sidebar widget
  • Remove tag cloud widget
  • Add skip-links and styles for Accessibility
  • Add Mobile Friendly capacity:
    • Add Responsive Grid CSS
    • Update all templates for use with Responsive Grid
    • Update tapestry functions for use with Responsive Grid
    • Update homepage slideshow for Responsive Grid
    • Add mobile swipe gestures on slideshow
    • Restructure thumbnail (featured image) support to use native WP sizes plus wide-screen size and small-square size
    • Add mobile main nav CSS for small screens ( < 768px wide )
    • Update dynamic footer widget sizing functions
  • Update Options Page Tabs:
    • Refactor for Responsive layout changes
    • Remove “Thumbnails” Tab, move “Auto Thumbs” option to “Layout” Tab.
    • Move Layout selection from “Design” to “Layout” Tab
    • Update Header Background Color option to use WP colorpicker
    • Fix backgrounds not appearing on multi-select dropdowns
  • Update arras_styles() to load child theme stylesheet automatically
  • Merge default.css into base.css and lint:
    • Remove duplicate style definitions (still in progress)
    • Remove px-based font-sizes, implement rem-based sizes
    • Remove all instances of !important
    • Remove use of ids as selectors
  • Update Theme Tags

Major Changes

Thumbnails. In a responsive universe, setting thumbnail sizes in specific pixel dimensions no longer makes much sense. Everything resizes dynamically. So there are no more thumbnail options. Arras 3 will use the native WordPress thumbnail sizes, the original image size, and one theme-specific thumbnail with a 16:9 ratio (same as your wide-screen TV). I’m contemplating the addition of a second theme-specific thumbnail size with a ratio for portrait dimensions. We’ll see. Meanwhile, if images look odd, you might try the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin to resize pre-existing images.

Color Schemes. Don’t work yet. You can still pick a color scheme from the “Design” tab in the options menu, and it will be saved in the database, but for now, the Alpha will ignore it. By Alpha-02 I hope the css for the color schemes will be ready.

Layout and Sidebars. The expected behavior is as follows:

  • The Secondary Sidebar Widget area will appear only on 3-column layouts.
  • Neither sidebar will appear on single-column layouts.
  • Below-content widget areas appear only on the home page.

Widgets. The Tabbed Sidebar widget and the Tag Cloud widget are gone. There are better plug-ins for these, and I think Arras users should be able to choose among those. I’ve kept the Featured Articles and Custom Search widgets. For now.

User CSS. Is gone. If you want to add your own styles, you need to create a child theme or use a plugin. Arras 3 will load the child theme style.css automatically.

And Here’s a Provisional Roadmap


  • Complete removal of duplicate styles from base.css
  • Refactor color scheme CSS and re-enable use of color-scheme selection
  • Triage reported bugs from Alpha-01


  • Refactor options to conform to’s requirement of storing settings in a single array
  • Review and refactor options security and validation
  • Triage reported bugs from Alpha-02


  • Move options from Theme Options page to Customizer
  • Triage reported bugs from all Alphas


  • Second security review
  • Implement bug fixes from Alphas
  • Implement “easy” suggested features from Alphas


  • Third security review
  • Implement all bug fixes from Beta-01
  • Punt remaining suggested features to 3.1

Beta-03 (if necessary)

  • Final bug fixes before release


If You’re Testing…

Please, please, please if you find a bug or an issue, open an issue on GitHub. It’ll be much easier for me to track everything that’s bound to come up if it’s all reported in one place.

I know a lot of people are anxious to have the new version. And we’re getting there. Really. But, did I mention, Please don’t install this Alpha version on your live site! This is for testing only!

Arras 3 Progress Report


First, thanks to everyone who has checked in with encouragement for the Arras 3 project. It’s your continued interest that’s moving this Arras project along.

Back in January, I had high New Year’s hopes of having a completely revamped Arras nearly up and running by now. With the first release candidate for WordPress 4.2 dropping on Wednesday, and the final release of WP4.2 scheduled for April 20, I figured it’s time to give you all a progress report.

At this point, I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have a beta version of Arras 3 ready for public testing by the end of May.

Meanwhile, I’ve tested Arras 1.6.2 with the WordPress 4.2 release candidate, and it appears that nothing breaks. (I had feared that upcoming changes in the WordPress permalink structure for custom post taxonomies might cause issues, but things seem to be holding together.)

As things stand, the major change from Arras 1.x will be adding responsive capability. I’ve put most of the other stuff on hold until that big issue gets sorted out.

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.)