WELCOME TO THE BLOG

Today we’re pushing out a pretty major free feature update to ProPhoto, version 6.20.0. This feature release is headlined by 3 gorgeous new free included starter designs, and includes:

  • New free design: Agency
  • New free design: Creative
  • New free design: New Age
  • Gallery image label overlays
  • Window-height block row alignment
  • Auto-update control and force-updates
  • Block/row/column scroll-to-links on home/page menu items

 

3 New Free Starter Designs

ProPhoto 6.20.0 adds three new gorgeous free included starter designs. All three designs are adapted from the beautiful open-source bootstrap designs created by Start Bootstrap. Bootstrap is the open-source web framework that powers ProPhoto’s core responsive functionality.

Check out our demo sites for Agency, Creative, and New Age, or head to your ProPhoto manage designs screen to try them out!

These designs are less specifically geared towards professional photographers, but could be used by creative professionals and small business owners of all types. They also leverage some of the new features added in 6.20.0 explained below.

Gallery image labels

Also new in 6.20.0 is the ability to add labels to your gallery images. Gallery image labels can be in the format of the image number or image filename:

As always, there are a handful of customization options to let you personalize the placement and appearance of the new image labels. You can add image labels to a gallery by enabling the feature for the gallery style the gallery is using.

Row alignment for window-height blocks

A small but useful new feature added in this release is the ability to set row alignment for rows in a block set to window-height:

The new options are only available when you set a block to full window height. Once you do, you can now choose how to align your rows within the full-height block. Top is the default behavior you already get with P6. Center and bottom align the rows to the bottom and center, keeping them collapsed around the widget content. The bottom option spread rows vertically to fill block is especially interesting because it ensures that the rows always will have their heights automatically spread to fill the full height of the block. This allows for some new interesting and desirable layouts that used to require a few lines of custom CSS.

For instance, the new included starter design Creative has a full-height block with a handful of widgets in the center. It uses the “spread rows” option to keep the single row in the block taking up the full height of the block, so that ProPhoto’s widget centering option can keep the widgets always centered in the full-height block:

Home/page menu links with item scroll

Two of our menu item types (home and page) got an addition in this release. For these menu item types you can now add a link to a specific block, row, or column which you copied from the layout screen of the customizer.

This allows you to create re-usable links to specific segments of your site on either the home page or specific pages. If the user is already on that page, they will smoothly scroll to the desired area. If they are on a different page, they will navigate to that page and section directly.

This feature will also allow designers to create designs with links to blocks, rows, and columns which import/export easily and work out of the box with less configuration for the end user.

Auto-update controls

If you navigate to your ProPhoto Settings screen, in the Site settings > Misc area, you will now find a new area for controlling ProPhoto auto-updates.

Auto-updates are enabled by default, but there are rare scenarios where auto-updating is not desired. For those you can now un-check auto-updating and ProPhoto will stop updating automatically.

You can also at any time (whether you have disabled auto-updating or not) use the blue button to trigger an auto-update to the very latest build.

Finally, the settings area displays some useful information about your version as compared to the recommended and latest available versions, with relevant links to our main changelog.

And more…

There’s more in this release — including several bugfixes — but those are the highlights. As always, if you’re interested in more details, refer to our changelog.

Today we’re pushing out a large free feature update for ProPhoto, version 6.19.0. This release is the largest single feature release we’ve ever pushed. It includes 3 new widgets, two big usability features, a ton of new customization options, and several other major features. Highlights include:

  • Copy/paste blocks/rows/columns in customizer
  • Widget animations
  • Featured image background images
  • Featured image widget
  • Numbered pagination links for older/newer posts
  • Loads more form customization controls
  • Customizer onboarding wizard
  • Post header widget
  • Spacer widget
  • …and lots more

Copy/paste

Starting in 6.19.0, you can now copy/paste any item in the customizer layout area. We’ve supported copy/pasting of widgets for a long time, but now you can also copy/paste columns, rows, and even blocks.

It was a major technical challenge (which delayed the feature longer than we initially hoped), but we’re really excited about the usability and workflow speed improvements this feature will provide. Plus, because copy/pasted items do propagate into child templates wherever possible, this feature can be leveraged to repair situations where you want to re-establish inheritance between templates.

Widget animations

Every widget in ProPhoto now supports visibility animation transitions. That means you can add initialization movement and effects to your widgets that will fire as the widget comes into view while scrolling down your pages.

Done tastefully, widget visibility animations can add a really slick level of polish and pizazz to your site. Checkout a few examples from our included designs Sunny, and Morgan.

The widget controls are pretty flexible and easy to use — just select from four built-in effects and customize to your liking:

Featured images

Also new in 6.19.0 are a handful of powerful new options related to WordPress featured images. To start, in most background-image customization areas (including those for blocks, rows and columns) you can now choose to have ProPhoto use a post or page’s featured image for the background image when possible:

This means that a single template can dynamically load unique background images for blocks, rows, and columns by leveraging the featured image of the WordPress post or page being visited. The possibilities of what you can do with this feature are pretty limitless.

Also, to help you leverage this new feature we added a new specialized widget: the Post/page header widget. If you choose to use this widget in a template, ProPhoto will render your post or page header wherever you place this widget instead of where it normally would. You can do a ton of cool things with this widget but probably the most obvious use case would be to set up a block with the featured image as a background and place the post header widget as a widget within it. Then you get a custom block leveraging your posts featured image and displaying the post header:

Featured images can also be inserted as a page content image via a newly introduced simple widget:

Anywhere this widget is placed, if ProPhoto is able to resolve a featured image for the post or page being rendered, the widget will display as a responsive version of that featured image.

Customizer on-boarder

The ProPhoto customizer is incredibly powerful, and because of that, it can be a little bit overwhelming at first blush. Starting in 6.19.0 we’ve added a new onboarding wizard which gives you a one-time virtual tour of the customizer, pointing out and explaining most of the main concepts and areas in which you’ll be doing your customizing.

If you’re already a customizer expert, or don’t want the tour, you can exit out at any point.

Form customizations

ProPhoto forms also got another wave of improvements in this release. We’ve added a ton of new customization options at the template level to allow you to really dial-in the appearance of the forms you’re using in your ProPhoto site.

In the customizer, you’ll now notice a new Forms customization area, as shown here:

Like all other template-type customizations, changes you make at your base template level will flow through to all your child templates, so it’s a good idea to do most of your form customizations in the base template, and then add overrides in child templates where needed.

Form customizations can also be overridden at the block, row, or column level, like menu appearance customizations, giving you a great degree of fine-grained control over the appearance of the various forms you’re using on your ProPhoto site.

Note: while working on this feature, we discovered that template-inheritance for form font-style controls have not been working properly for some time. That is fixed in this release as well, and in a few scenarios the fix may cause your forms to render slightly differently. Sorry about that!

Numbered pagination

ProPhoto 6.19.0 also adds more flexibility to the navigation on the bottom of your blog posts and archive pages. You can now choose to display navigation links by page number, instead of just text-based older/newer links.

The numbered pagination component is totally customizable in the “Content” section of the customizer:

Spacer widget

Another new widget introduced in 6.19.0 is what we call the Spacer widget. Spacer widgets allow you to take fine-grained control for specialized scenarios where you want to precisely override the vertical spacing between two widgets.

ProPhoto has always allowed you to control vertical spacing between widgets down to the column level in the column customization controls area:

But, sometimes you have a handful of widgets in a column and you don’t want them vertically spaced exactly evenly. For these scenarios, you can now add a spacer widget to exactly control the spacing between two specific widgets:

The spacer widget overrides the higher-level customizations for widget vertical spacing, so you can even use it to collapse space between widgets down to a smaller value, or even remove all spacing altogether by using a value of 0.

And more…

There’s a bunch more in this release as well, including a handful of bugfixes and other optimizations. If you want the rest of the info, as always, you can head over to the changelog for all of the gory details.

This release wraps up most of what is in our Sebastian milestone from our roadmap. Within about 2 weeks we should have yet another release, ProPhoto 6.20.0 including the some new free included designs, and more control on auto-updating to finish off the milestone.

Today we’re pushing out a pretty major free feature update to ProPhoto, version 6.18.0. This feature release includes:

  • New “Carousel” gallery style
  • Video backgrounds for blocks
  • Responsive video embed widget
  • Built-in ProPhoto page cache
  • Customizable max-widths for form field elements
  • Performance/speed improvements
  • Bugfixes

Carousel Galleries

New in this release is an entirely new variation of ProPhoto galleries: Carousel. This functionality has long been requested and is the subject of one of our most up-voted GitHub issues.

Carousel galleries constrain images to a single height and line images up side-by-side, allowing more than one image to be seen at once. The current image is always in the center of the carousel, but one or more images to the left and right can be seen, depending on the viewport size and height settings. Here’s an example of what it might look like:

Carousel images are pretty flexible, and support most all of the existing gallery controls and customizations, including fullwindow/fullscreen, dot and thumbnail navigation, and more. The height and some other settings of your carousel galleries are also configurable at responsive breakpoints, to help you dial in the appearance of these galleries at all screen sizes.

Video backgrounds

In your ProPhoto customizer, blocks have a new background option: Video.

Video backgrounds are supported in two formats: videos uploaded to your WordPress Media Library, and embedded from YouTube or Vimeo. Video backgrounds can be used to create effects similar to that from the design Resurrection from our design store, but without any advanced know-how.

With .mp4 files that you upload, ProPhoto has the most control — we can emulate the “cover” behavior of background images with your video, ensuring that your background videos are sized to cover the block no matter the size. With YouTube and Vimeo, we can do almost as good. If your block is set to “window height” ProPhoto is able to keep the video sized just large enough to always cover the full-size of the block, showing as much of the video as possible. If you’re using YouTube or Vimeo and have your block height set to “auto”, the sizing of the video will be an approximation — for these scenarios sometimes uploading the video as an .mp4 is required for best results.

Video Widget

Also new in the video arena is a new video widget type.

We added this widget type as a convenience for embedding videos from services like YouTube and Vimeo responsively — that is, that adapts to look good at all screensizes. By default, the “embed” codes you get from YouTube and Vimeo aren’t suited for responsive websites. So, we’ve been pointing our users to a simple website service called Embed Responsively, which adds some wrapping markup and css to make video embeds responsive. This trick works pretty well, but is a bit of a hassle and generates HTML that is technically invalid, so it’s not 100% ideal. Our new video widget makes this unnecessary, handling all of that for you behind the scenes. Just add a URL from YouTube or Vimeo, and ProPhoto will take care of embedding it in a way that is responsive.

Built-in Page Cache

Another feature we’re really excited about is a built-in ProPhoto page cache. Enabling this new feature should give you some pretty impressive speed gains for your ProPhoto site, especially if you’re on a slow or overburdened shared server that is not performing well.

Page cache works by writing to files on disk copies of the HTML generated by your ProPhoto/WordPress pages. Then, on subsequent visits to your site, ProPhoto checks if it has a static file page cache for that same page, and if it does, it can serve it from cache, skipping vast amounts of work that WordPress and ProPhoto usually have to do to assemble your page from all of your customizations.

To enable page cache, go to “ProPhoto” > “Settings” > “Site Settings” > “Misc”, and choose “enabled” from the ProPhoto Page cache area.

Once it’s enabled, after 1 or sometimes 2 requests to a given page of your site, ProPhoto will start serving cached content, and you should notice a discernable increase in page load speeds.

If you want to double check that your pages are being served from cache, you can view the page source in your favorite browser, or use a tool like Chrome’s developer tools to examine the response headers sent by ProPhoto. When your page is being served from cache, there will be a comment in the HTML markup, and (if you know where to look) you’ll see a ‘X-ProPhoto-Cache: HIT’ header.

Form field widths

Also new in 6.18.0 is the ability to set custom max-width pixel values for individual ProPhoto form elements:

This allows an extra layer of customizability to ProPhoto forms, and is the first of several more form customization features we have in the works.

More Performance Improvements

This release also includes two other significant performance improvements for P6. First we changed our PHP autoload strategy to a more efficient one, which should have a very small but worthwhile effect on the page load speed of nearly every request.

Second, we trimmed out some files that were never being used by producction customer sites which should allow auto-updates to process faster and be less prone to failure.

What’s Next

As always, there’s more gory details including several bugfixes detailed in our changelog.

In addition to all that is in this update, we’re already well on our way to releasing more new features right around the corner — likely within 2 weeks. The next feature release will include most of what’s left in the Sebastian milestone on our Roadmap, including Viewport visibility animation, Leveraging featured images, Copy/paste blocks/rows/columns (hopefully), and more.

                  Pro.Photo @pro.photo

Follow us to keep up with the latest updates: