Arras in 2015

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. […]

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 Caspar Green

Caspar Green has been doing web stuff stuff since before Y2K and working with WordPress since 2007. He is the owner and Sr. Developer of iCaspar Web Development, based in Potsdam, NY.