Thesis Version 0.3 Released, Get Your Videos Ready!

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Version 0.3 of the theme is now available for download, and I highly recommend upgrading because nearly every template file has been improved for this release. Don’t fret, though—version 0.3 is much, much smarter than its predecessors, and I’ve made lots of changes that will allow me to provide you with better support, design help, and custom mods in the future.

Although most of the improvements are behind the scenes, there are two major changes that I am excited to share with you.

First, you now have the option to choose between a dynamically generated navigation menu and one that is manually controlled (how it worked in previous releases). The dynamic nav menu is simply a list of your WordPress pages, so if you only use pages in a limited capacity, this option will be perfect for you!

Second, you can now show a video in place of the rotating images if you prefer. As savvy user Ken pointed out, it’s all about multi-media, and now Thesis has you covered in that department as well.

For a more comprehensive and geeky list of the changes to version 0.3, as well as some key upgrade tips, make the jump!

Thesis Version 0.3 Improvements and Changes

Smarter configuration file
The theme’s configuration file, config.php, now contains simpler settings that provide for more user control and fewer errors. Also, this move brings us one step closer to a fully-functional options panel within WordPress, which is the next big step for Thesis.
Lots of CSS consolidation

In previous Thesis releases, style.css was littered with quite a few unnecessary font declarations that not only increased the file size, but also made it more difficult to change the theme’s fonts efficiently. To fix this, I consolidated font declarations into just a few key places, so now you’ll be able to experiment with different font combinations when you customize Thesis.

Also, I was unhappy with the way I handled input and other form elements in previous iterations of the theme, so I took some time to extract these styles in a way that would make them more deployable and usable. This move resulted in a file size savings of roughly 6%, and in addition, the developers among you will find it much easier to create fully-styled forms on the fly.

Style and usability improvements

Thanks to you early adopters out there, I was able to see Thesis operating out in the wild under many different conditions, and as a result, I noticed elements that needed to be tweaked in order to make Thesis more adaptable and usable. Here’s a quick rundown of the styling changes:

  • Adjusted the sidebar headings (<h2>) so that headlines spanning more than one line of text would be handled in a more aesthetically-pleasing way
  • Spaced comment meta data (the date and time a comment was made) away from commenters’ names so that the names would have more of a visual impact
  • Increased sidebar line height so chunks of text in either sidebar will read as gracefully as the content area
  • Tweaked image styles so framed images will look a little nicer
  • Increased the height of the comment box so that users will be able to see more of their comment while writing
  • Posts with comments turned off no longer display unnecessary “comments off” text
SEO improvements
I’m always looking for ways to decrease the number of followed links on every page, and I realized that I could add rel="nofollow" attributes to comment links that follow posts on index and archive pages. This move further protects your link equity and tightens your keyword optimization—two things that will help your site rank in the search engines.
Custom stylesheet abstraction
In order to protect against upgrade headaches and unintentional overwrites, I’ve abstracted the custom stylesheet file, custom.css, from the Theme download file. If you’re a new user and don’t yet have a custom.css file, you’ll want to download it separately from the Thesis downloads page.

Helpful Upgrade Tips

Nearly all of the core Thesis files have been modified in some way for version 0.3, and if you want to have a seamless upgrade, you’ll need to follow these steps before you upload the theme:

  1. Open your new config.php file and set the appropriate variables for your site (especially $thesis_feed_url and $thesis_use_paged_nav).
  2. If you’ve set $thesis_use_paged_nav to false, then you’ll need to set up your navigation menu in the new nav_menu_items.php file. Note that the CSS class current is no longer supported—it has been changed to current_page_item to mirror WordPress’ auto-generated navigation code.
  3. If you have customized your rotating images, you’ll need to include the /headers folder and rotating_images.php from your previous Thesis installation.

About the author: Thesis creator Chris Pearson is obsessed with optimizing the web and making sure every last detail receives the attention it requires. Follow DIYthemes on Twitter for the latest tips and info on building truly awesome websites.