By Morten Rand-Hendriksen | Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The past two years have seen the release of two default themes for WordPress, aptly named Twenty Ten (released in 2010) and Twenty Eleven (released in 2011). Now we can add this year’s addition, Twenty Twelve, to the list. And with it we get a new stock theme that redefines what a stock WordPress theme is and sets a new standard for lean and clean design and coding. But like all good things the Twenty Twelve theme is not without controversy, which makes it all the more exciting.
Less is more
Twenty Twelve is at the same time stripped down and sophisticated in a way we’ve only previously seen in sandbox and development themes like Toolbox and _s. But unlike these themes, which were created specifically to be used as baselines for new themes, Twenty Twelve is fully built out and ready to take on the challenges of pretty much any content you throw at it. Twenty Twelve is responsive, conforming to small and large screens and providing custom navigation for smartphones and tablets; it is in line with current ultra-minimalist design trends, putting content and typography front and center; and it has tons of cool features built in for beginners as well as advanced users. All in all it makes for a great theme whether you just want a fresh look for your site or you want a good baseline to start from when you build your own child theme or full-on custom theme.
If you ask me, one of the most important aspects of the Twenty Twelve theme is its simplicity in design, code, and implementation. When the Twenty Ten theme was released, it was a revolutionary shift from the old and stale default themes. Twenty Ten was simple to work with and had lots of advanced features under the hood like custom background color, custom header images, and more widgetized areas people could take advantage of. The next theme in the series, Twenty Eleven, built on this concept and introduced more advanced features like a custom front page template, a featured content slider, and other elements. However, the advancements of Twenty Eleven came at a cost with the theme being far more complex on the back end and far more convoluted and tricky to work with.
Considering this, Twenty Twelve is a step in the right direction. Gone are advanced features that few used in practice, replaced with simpler, more meaningful templates and tools to make customization and use as easy as possible.
Twenty Twelve at a glance
The key features of Twenty Twelve include responsive design and custom phone and tablet menus; a custom front page template as well as full-width and sidebar templates for pages; full support for Aside, Image, Link, Quote, and Status post formats; full Theme Customizer support for all the standard WordPress functions; Google Fonts integration; and the standard header image and background color support we have come to expect from modern WordPress themes. Not to mention a clean and modern design with the content front and center.
Even with all this, the true power of Twenty Twelve can be found on the back end. Twenty Twelve is a leaner and cleaner theme than its numerically named predecessors. This is great for novice theme tinkerers and advanced theme developers alike. The theme provides more bang for your brackets, separating out functions and templates in separate files and folders and wrapping up functions in conditional functions, actions, and filters to make modifications and interactions easier. In my opinion, Twenty Twelve could be the new standard from which child themes and full themes should be built.
I say “could be” because quite a bit of controversy has stirred up around one decision made by the theme creators: It doesn’t seem to support Internet Explorer 8, at least not the way that is expected.
Twenty Twelve is fully responsive and ships with a custom mobile menu for smaller screens. This much is to be expected from a modern WordPress theme. However, in implementing the mobile menu function the developers of the theme made an interesting and controversial decision: Rather than setting the desktop stylesheet as the default for the theme and making special media queries for smaller screens and mobile devices, they chose to set smaller screens and mobile devices as the default and wrap the styles for larger screens in media queries. While this is no problem for modern browsers that follow the new HTML5 standard, it is problematic for older browsers like IE8 because the provisional media queries that create the layout for larger screens is not understood by these browsers. As a result, users of older browsers like IE8 get the mobile layout on their full-size screens.
The theme developers argue that this is not an issue for two reasons: One, the mobile version of the site is perfectly acceptable even on larger screens, and two, people shouldn’t be using old and outdated browsers like IE8 to begin with.
While I agree with both these statements, I believe our job as web designers and developers is not to police the Internet but rather to provide great experiences for the end users and educate them in the process. And since we have little to no control over what hardware and software the end users choose to access our sites, we need to provide the best experience possible for all of them regardless of their choices.
We can’t let older technologies hold us back from implementing new standards. In that case, providing a suboptimal experience for users with older browsers would be acceptable. However, the IE8 issue in Twenty Twelve is not caused by this type of situation but rather the choice to set the mobile styles as the default and wrap the desktop styles in media queries. In other words, they turned the theme stylesheet upside down on purpose. Had it been turned right side up, this would not be an issue.
These are the types of issues that arise in open source and they are incredibly interesting and frustrating for everyone working in open source. Unfortunately, more often than not the end users are left in the dark about what’s going on and get the impression that things are not working right. That is not the case at all. The great thing is that these issues are usually resolved through a collective effort, and a solution to the IE8 menu problem in Twenty Twelve is imminent.
If you want to read more about the IE8 menu controversy and get an idea of how these things happen and how they are resolved, check out the forum streams Excellent base for child themes and nav bar fails in IE8 as well as the track ticket. They provide for some interesting reading.
Check out Twenty Twelve right now!
Though it may sound dramatic, do not let this minor controversy deter you. Twenty Twelve is a great and forward-looking theme and a excellent basis for child themes as well. If you are itching for a new look for your WordPress or WordPress.com site, you should give it a spin and see what you think. There are lots of customization options and you can easily make it your own. Once you’re done, post your thoughts, ideas, and questions in the comments below.
Interested in more?
• The Twenty Twelve theme at wordpress.org
• WordPress 3: Building Child Themes at lynda.com
• All WordPress courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Morten Rand-Hendriksen on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:• WordPress Essential Training•WordPress: Building Responsive Themes•WordPress Mobile Solutions
By Mark Niemann-Ross | Friday, October 26, 2012
The user interface for Windows 8 blurs the line between tablet, desktop, and smartphone. That’s a good thing.
The Microsoft Build conference starts October 30. For a week developers will be exposed to the latest Windows technologies, analysts will write megabytes of blogs, pundits will tweet reactions both pro and con, and the way we experience computers will change in dramatic and obvious ways.
For developers and users alike, the Windows 8 interface is an in-your-face change. No longer based around overlapping windows and desktops, information and applications are now presented as colored tiles. It is possible to slip back into the traditional Windows interface where each running application is visually separated with windows that can be dragged on top of each other, hidden, and closed; but most of the time the new Windows looks, and functions, very much like a well-designed webpage.
Opinions are harsh. Windows traditionalists miss familiar icons such as the Start menu, Control Panel, File Explorer, and Close button, and are finding the years they spent deciphering the nuances of utilities to now be irrelevant and useless. Worse, users stumble into the traditional Windows interface, but have no idea how to return to the new tiled interface, and developers find creating applications now requires new ways of programming, use of new interfaces, and new ways of thinking about interacting with users. What was Microsoft thinking?
DOS to Windows, windows to tiles, desktop to phone
In 2011, computer vendors shipped more smartphones than desktop computers further supporting the idea that handheld devices—such as smartphones and tablets—are pushing desktop and laptop computers into obsolescence. Apple and Android are battling for first place, with Microsoft scrambling for a piece of the action. Dell, the king of laptop manufacturers, has lost almost half of its value in eight months. The future is painfully clear, and it looks like a handheld device, or smaller.
Microsoft correctly reasons that making improvements to an interface that depends on a keyboard and mouse is corporate suicide, but what about our former Windows Vista user futilely searching for the Windows Start button? Is there nothing to be done for them?
Short answer: The pain is only temporary.
Long answer: We’ve done this before. New interfaces, like apps or tiles, are simply normal innovation. They’re disruptive, sometimes annoying, and the first iteration is often clumsy, but the process is normal, expected, and necessary.
lynda.com is working on a collection of classes for developers and users of Windows 8. In the early part of 2013, you can expect to see courses that show how to get started with the Windows 8 developer tools, as well as more in-depth training intended to assist with advanced developer questions.
Nobody on Star Trek uses a mouse
Science fiction explores a possible future, and most science fiction computers don’t use keyboards or mice; they use gestures and voice recognition. Our grandchildren will think our computers are quaint.
Personally, I have enough years under my belt to remember the jump from CPM, to DOS, to Windows 3, and the jump from my beloved Apple IIe to Macintosh OS X. Each was a move away from a known paradigm to something better. Everything changed for the traditionalists invested in the existing technology, and boy, did they complain.
But the number of people using the new tools soon outweighed the traditionalists. New users with curiosity about how the system does work, rather than assumptions about how the system should work took over.
Here’s to a lifetime of learning!
Interested in more?
• The full Windows 8 Preview First Lookcourse on lynda.com
• All operating systems courses on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:•Windows 8 Metro App First Look
• Windows 7 Essential Training•Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7
By Starshine Roshell | Friday, September 21, 2012
According to a print and onlineNew York Times article this week, more and more workers—from mechanics to librarians to doctors—are turning to lynda.com and other training sources to stay competitive in their careers.
“The need to constantly adapt is the new reality for many workers, well beyond the information technology business,” writes author Shaila Dewan in the Sept. 21 Business Day story To Stay Relevant in a Career, Workers Train Nonstop. “Going back to school for months or years is not realistic for many workers, who are often left to figure out for themselves what new skills will make them more valuable, or just keep them from obsolescence. In their quest to occupy a valuable niche, they are turning to bite-size instructional videos, peer-to-peer forums and virtual college courses.”
By Starshine Roshell | Tuesday, September 18, 2012
To break into the professional world of technology, says Huffington Post tech blogger Pietro Rea, you should narrow your search, create a portfolio—and build up your skills via lynda.com and other resources.
In the recent post “From Liberal Arts to Technology: Making the Switch,” Rea says he personally used lynda.com iOS training to “make the switch from ‘business guy’ to ‘tech guy.’ ”
Landing a job in the tech industry, he says, means knowing everything from Java and PHP to understanding algorithms and software architecture. “Omitting this foundation,” he argues, “would be like trying to become a surgeon without knowing basic biochemistry.”
By Starshine Roshell | Monday, September 17, 2012
Staffing expert and executive recruiter Leslie Ayres recommends lynda.com as an efficient and affordable way to find a job or get a promotion in the recent article “DIY Online Training Can Boost Your Career.”
Published on LifeGoesStrong.com, a site with advice and inspiration for active people ages 45 to 65, the story points out that “the future of learning is online training” and that lynda.com provides knowledge, confidence, and an edge over the competition.
“I sure don’t have the time or interest to register at college, then drive every Tuesday night to sit in a room just to learn how to use my iPad,” writes Ayres. “And I don’t want to weed through lists of short amateur YouTube videos, either.”
She recommends courses likeCloud Computing First Look, Designing a Brochure, and WordPress Essential Training to help professionals “hit the ground running when you do get your next job, or bring a new level of awesome to the job you have now.”
By Starshine Roshell | Thursday, August 23, 2012
For the third year in a row, lynda.com joins the ranks of the Inc. 5000, a list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies as compiled by Inc. Magazine. With 188 percent growth in the last three years, lynda.com ranks number 1,572 in the list of companies from industries as diverse as health, construction, finance, travel and real estate. Among education companies, lynda.com ranks number 32.
By Starshine Roshell | Thursday, August 16, 2012
lynda.com is featured in a Bloomberg Businessweek story about company founders who hire a CEO to manage their businesses. The article, in the site’s Small Business section, describes how the owners of fast-growing companies bring in outside managers to help run the businesses they created. Author Karen Klein writes that after hiring Eric Robison as the CEO of lynda.com, company founders Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin “work as a team with Robison but focus on what they love: expanding curriculum, coaching new teachers, and creating value for students.”
By Chelsea Adams | Thursday, June 14, 2012
The last week of May 2012, lynda.com cleared out a Salvation Army warehouse, set up some lighting, pulled up some cool cars (including a Mercedes SLS, a BMW 135M, and an Aprilia motorcycle) and invited 130-plus employees and friends from lynda.com and Adobe to spend the day photographing cars, and learning about Adobe Photoshop CS6.
A recent blog from Photoshop.com shares a brief recap of the event experience from Adobe’s perspective.
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