Tag Archives: themes

CoursePress Upgrades, January 2016

On January 13 14, 2016, we expect to have a short amount of downtime (should be less than 15 minutes) for CoursePress as we implement some upgrades. Most importantly, we’ll upgrade the core of our WordPress installation from 4.2.2 to 4.4.1. This post outlines some of the more important pieces of information about the new versions of WordPress core as well as some upgraded themes and plugins.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a staff of testers nor are we tasked only with supporting CoursePress, so our testing cuts corners. We focus on the standard site we create for courses, which relies on the Twenty Twelve theme and a handful of plugins. After the upgrade, please check your site to make sure that everything’s still as you expect it to be. Let us know immediately if something’s not right.

In the past few years, WordPress has begun reliably rolling out 2 or 3 new versions each calendar year. We’ve gotten better at keeping relatively current, but less good about advance notice and writing up the differences. I hope this post is the start of better communication, insufficient though it is.

Changes in 4.4.1 Core

  • Most importantly, this version fixes a cross-site scripting vulnerability
  • Removed Rdio embed support
  • Unicode 8.0 emoji, which includes non-yellow emoji (sometimes called “the diverse emoji”)

WordPress’s official blog post on the release of 4.4.1.
Expanded list of changes included in 4.4.1.

Major New Core Features in 4.4 Include

  • Improved look and lay out for images on mobile devices in mobile-friendly themes
  • More possibilities for embedding:
    • WordPress posts
    • Cloudup
    • Reddit comments
    • ReverbNation
    • Speaker Deck
    • VideoPress
  • Accessibility improvements
    • Translation string improvements
    • Improved headings (some non-visible by default for adaptive devices only) in administrative interface screens
    • Greater semantic HTML element usage elsewhere in administrative markup structure
    • (The whole list)

WordPress’s official blog post on the release of 4.4.
Expanded list of changes included in 4.4.
Full set of WordPress blog posts discussing 4.4.

Other Notable Core Changes in 4.3 and Intermediate Releases Since 4.2.2

  • Incorporation of limited Markdown-like syntax in the visual editor
  • Ability to add a favicon for individual site
  • Customize site theme without having to enter the administrative interface
  • Elimination of some cross-site scripting vulnerabilities and SQL injections
  • Squashed bug that allowed unauthorized user role to create post

Selected Updated Plugins

New Plugin

  • Cloner: Facilitates copying course sites. We get regular requests to copy an existing class site for a subsequent term, and this plugin should make fulfilling those requests easier. (We’ve always done it, but it took more time than we liked.)

Selected Updated Themes

New Theme

WordPress has announced a planned release of core version 4.5 in mid-April 2016. We hope that we will be able to adopt this version for CoursePress after the end of Spring term and in time for Yale Summer Session.

Academic Commons Update for April 8

An undergraduate student and I were discussing her senior project (an online exhibition of items at the Beinecke Library along with short critical essays on them) and noticed that we didn’t have any horizontally-oriented themes for Yale Academic Commons sites. Not a problem any more, as we bought COLr from a freelance developer. I like this theme a lot and hope that some of you will find creative uses for it. Works well on multiple devices, but note that its strengths with media display could become a problem on low-bandwidth connections or could gobble up your data allocations on a cellular network.

Addendum 1: Almost in a procrustean manner, this theme resizes images on the fly to fit the available screen space. Lovely when you have big chunky images, not so great when you have something small. However, I corresponded with the developer and found out that you can prevent this from happening. It’s a workaround for, at minimum, intermediate users. TO prevent resizing, add “noScale” as a style class to the desired image. You’ll have to go into the HTML tab of the editor interface to make this change, and be sure that a) you add the class name to the existing style attribute of the image and b) you enter the class name exactly as written above, as it is case-sensitive.