It's finally here: Glazed 2.5.0! (And Carbide Builder 1.0.11)
Posted on Nov 11, 2016
First of all, sorry for the late blog. This blog refers to the drupal themes updates on November 1st. I'm currently travelling China and while I rushed to get the release out before my departure, the blog had to wait a little longer.
With the release of the Logistics design we addded a unique and beautiful theme to our collection while at the same time the core products only needed minor adjustments. This is an indication that the products have achieved a state of stability and product-market fit. SooperThemes now pivots to focus more on creating new designs and features based on the current core products. Of course this doesn't mean we don't add new features at all, there will always be a need for change in a turbulent environment like Drupal frontend development.
In the past year we have laid the neccessary ground work that is needed to provide the Drupal community with much desired high quality designs. The site building workflow with Glazed theme and Carbide Builder is incredibly fast, efficient and produces precisely designed responsive Drupal websites. This doesn't just improve productivity of our customers and our customers' content creators but also our own productivity. At this point we completely design our Glazed demos using just the theme and drag and drop builder, no photoshop or coding. This big gain in productivity really allows us to focus more on art direction, photography and design. For our logistics demo we created a set of unique 3D isometric line icons, and we curated a collection of beautiful stock photography to really create the right atmosphere for our niche design. We can afford to produce such detailed niche designs thanks to the productivity gains we made with Glazed theme and Carbide Builder. Our goal of closing the gap with the top tier multi-purpose WordPress themes is now appearing on the horizon.
This stability also means we will start planning our Drupal 8 upgrade and migration paths. The next couple of months we will focus on ramping up the design release cycle and on adding a new magazine component to our Glazed CMS distribution. We want to avoid spending months on Drupal 8 migration while the Drupal 7 product offering is only at an 80% market fit. We are aiming to offer more than just great theme settings and drag and drop functionality: expect a multitude of niche designs with fully features demo content in a turn-key installation profile. We strive to become Drupal's first "Mega Theme".
As a subscription Drupal shop, we really focus on building long-term relationships with our customers and with the Drupal community at large. We make decisions based on what we think provides the most value to the most people. An important part of making those decisions in listening to the community. If you can spare a minute, please write a comment on the blog and describe what you would value the most in a Drupal theme. One feature I'm think about adding to the distribution is ready-made translation configuration as an optional component in the Glazed CMS distribution, let me know in the comments if that is something you would value.
Posted on Oct 18, 2016
Years ago there was Drupalmodules.com. It had instant search, module reviews and an always up to date feed with the newest Drupal modules. It was wonderful. I was subscribed to their RSS feed with the latest modules because I felt like I was ahead of the curve for knowing all the latest contrib additions for Drupal, I learned about a lot of useful little (and big) modules that way.
Now Drupalmodules.com is no more, there is just a ghost of a website. Ironically one of it's latest news articles headlines "Where did we go for 5 days". That was almost 5 years ago. In the meanwhile the Drupal Reddit community has grown to 6000 subscribers. I frequently visit /r/Drupal, it's a great resource for industry news. It is however not a replacement for Drupalmodules.com.
Posted on Oct 11, 2016
Before jumping into the release blog post I wanted to repond to the recent Drupal Planet blog posts about the fact that Drupal 8 has so few themes. In my opinion the short answer is: Drupal 8 adoption is very slow.
The slightly longer answer is that Drupal also faces more competition in the lower end of the market, where themes are most often used. WordPress' growth has been great and is now stagnating, but online site builders like Wix, Weebly, and squarespace are growing and their products are maturing. Another factor that I think relates to Drupal 8's slow adoption especially in the lower end of the market is that Drupal 8 will rely more on distributions due to increased complexity of assembling a fully featured site. As someone who manage a Drupal distribution full time I can tell you it's not as easy as it should be.
Today we release what is just the start of a new class of Drupal themes. Over the past year our Glazed theme and Carbide Builder combo has stabilized and proven it's capabilities. With our latest Landscaping Theme Demo we are showing that our framework theme is capable of so much more than your average Multipurpose WordPress theme or Bootstrap template. With refined design options and microinteractions we are pushing our Glazed framework theme forward to make way for a future full of beautiful, effective Drupal theme designs. New header options were added, our main menu system got some improvements..
As you can see on our roadmap SooperThemes is currently focussing on designing a large collection of Business niche themes based on our Glazed framework Drupal theme and Carbide Drag and Drop Builder. Our most recent addition is Landscaping and Gardening theme. We are not in the business of designing generic niche themes, we aim to release the best niche themes. We developed additional features for this theme including a unique new header and main menu design, an image comparison widget and a lightbox gallery option for portfolio pages.
Check out the Landscaping & Gardening live demo to view our latest niche theme!
While designing new niche theme I quickly realised that our generic bootstrap navbar layout was the most important bottleneck preventing us from producing truly great niche business website designs. The Glazed Settings for the header were refactored, optimized and extended with new style options and 11 new color options. These options are now also made available in our Glazed Content Design field collection so that you can customize headers for specific landing pages and match your creative content.
You can now view all these header in our live demo under the new Headers Dropdown menu!
For a landscaping business it's important to showcase your best work to potential customers. The portfolio content type was extended with additional layout options. New features include a Next / Previous node pager at the bottom, an advanced lightbox gallery system for viewing portfolio images and last but not least: an image comparison widget. The comparison widget really makes your case studies stand out, providing an effective and fun way to demonstrate the awesome service your business provided to your customer.
The comparison widget is touchscreen compatible and responsive.
The default Bootstrap 3 forms already started looking dated. We replaced it with a minimalistic new design. Forms now blend in perfectly with any design. Form elements are sublty colored only when interacted with. The selectbox now features are custom themed dropdown icon that is themed using the default font that you configured in Glazed Settings. The selectbox also sports are a subtle microinteraction animation when hovered.
In the future look forward to more Drupal Niche Business themes, as well as our move into Magazine themes. WordPress magazine themes have seen a surge in sales on themeforest recently and I think there is oppurtunity for Drupal to shine in this growing market. After all, Drupal is naturally best at managing large amounts of structured content and magazines are just that. Combine that with the capability of our drag and drop builder to easily generate attractive creative content and there you have a basis for best-in-class magazine themes. If you are interested in joining our little theme shop you can join now for just $48.
Posted on Aug 30, 2016
Just over a year ago I started with something small. I combined some existing technologies to create a drag and drop builder/theme. A combination of jQuery UI, CKEditor, Bootstrap 3 and Drupal. The result was far from perfect but interesting enough to get a bunch of people excited and involved in helping me find out how to improve the product.
Today's blog celebrates the new Construction design that is available today to all SooperThemes members. We've been working towards this release for nearly a year and the reason it took so long is that the core of the Glazed framework theme and drag and drop builder needed to be 100% up to the job. The reliability, sophistication and flexibility of our framework theme and drag and drop builder are lightyears ahead of the minimum viable product we released 14 months ago. To our customers who joined us in the beginning and are now renewing for the second year: Thank you so much!
Our construction theme (click to view demo) is not the prettiest design I've ever created but that's not really the point. The point is that it looks like a construction theme all the way. It doesn't look like a generic theme that was customized to look a little bit more "heavy industry". Our Glazed framework theme allows you to completely design every aspect of your Drupal site from typography, to colors, grid design and navigation. Combine this with our drag and drop builder and everything you need in a business website can be designed and developed in the browser. From a blank canvas all the way down to the pages, views and forms everything in this demo was created in the browser, without writing a single line of code.
No templates were edited, no CSS was written, not even a single hand coded HTML tag was needed to build this unique 40 page Glazed demo.
It's simple economics. You can buy a WordPress theme for $59,- USD and a few days of customization and content editing later and your client is impressed and your project is comfortably on schedule and on budget. WordPress themes have become a major source of innovation in recent years, offering drag and drop builders, and niche-specific features for magazine websites, directory websites and all sorts of small business websites.
Themes are becoming more sophisticated and crawling into Drupal territories like for example education, magazines and community websites.
10 years ago I moved away from WordPress and Mambo because I simply felt Drupal was better, and I still feel that way. While these WordPress themes are loaded with features, they lack Drupal's modularity, coding standards and interoperability. I sincerely believe Drupal can be a better platform for all these themes. After all, Drupal has built in support for content types, relations, versioning, configuration management, and superior user management and access control.
Starting from today I will focus on offering as many niche designs for small businesses, large businesses, NGOs, governments, educators and online magazines. I hope that you will join sooperthemes.com and help us with our mission to show the world that Drupal is capable of doing what WordPress does and more.
Our mission as SooperThemes is to promote Drupal as the #1 platform to author content on the web and at the same time to remain the #1 provider of designs and design tools for Drupal. See our roadmap for more details. The way to make Drupal the number one choice again is through the same economics that made WordPress so big, so our initial focus is to disrupt the market with a 90% decrease in costs of building and running a Drupal website.
The past year has been a big adventure but also a lot of grinding, bug fixing, technical debt problems and all the things that new products face when they enter the market. However it has mostly been fun and exciting to develop these new technologies for the Drupal community and the reception of our updates is really motivating and powering our new developments.
Allthough pioneering in the area of next gen (drag and drop) Drupal themes meant facing a steep learning curve it can be said that Drupal is actually easier to build on in the long term. Our Drag and Drop builder is very similar to a frontend framewor that uses the CMS as an API. This is somthing that needs hooks and AJAX capabilities. Something that Drupal provides out of the box.
If you are reading this as a prospective customer: please join Sooperthemes and enjoy the ride with us. To our existing customers: keep your eyes open for exciting new features and designs.
Posted on Jul 15, 2016
Today after about a month of coffee-infused delays I'm happy to announce Glazed 2.5.0. and Carbide Builder 1.0.11. Our framework theme has just become massively more powerful, with design tools that help you create any design imagineable without the hassle of writing and testing code. While on the surface our Carbide Builder module received a smaller update, it had a massive architectural update under the hood.
The free version of glazed on drupal.org will soon get a 2.5.0 release as well with reduced but still awesome features!
With 2.5.0 you get an all new Typography design tool. With pixel-perfect precision you can set the font size and line-height everywhere in your website. The Advanced Type Controls give you fine-grained control over the exact size of every level in your typographic scale. There is also an option to set your headings in uppercase, and a setting to set the letter-spacing in your headings (this is often needed with uppercase headings).
In 90% of all cases you don't even need to touch the advanced typography settings. As you can see in the animation below, there is a Typographic Scale Factor that calculates all other font sizes using the body font size as base. This slider acts as a master slider for all the advanced settings and generates a perfectly balanced typographic scale. You can still fine-tune individual type sizes bu in 90% of all cases this probably isn't even necessary, because designers typically use typographic scales as a design tool.
A completely new feature is our Glazed Settings Block Design Tool. This tool gives you fine-grained control over the look of Drupal blocks across your website. This gives Glazed the capability to reach one more place that was previously unreachable without custom theming. While providing dozens of settings to have extensive creative control over block design we again implemented a shortcut that will save you most of the trouble of exploring new settings. The Block Design settings come with a dropdown that holds 10 presets. Each preset represents a collection of settings that produce a popular block style.
Any changes you make ot the block settings is immediately reflected in the 2 demo blocks next to the settings. Live previewing makes it much more intuitive so design with Glazed settings and it's a feature we plan to push further in both our theme and drag and drop builder.
A feature often requested was the capability to make any region full-width. This gives more creative freedom over the look of your header, navigation, footer and other regions. Now it's possible to use Carbide Drag and drop builder to craft big footer blocks that have several layers with full width background. An example of this is the new footer in the Glazed 2.5.0 main demo:
Beyond full width regions you can now also specify which content types should be in full width containers. Previously only the drag and drop content type in our Glazed distribution was capable of having full width sections. Now you can select any content type. This allows you to easily create custom drag and drop content types that have 100% of our page builder's capability, without needing any custom theming.
If you feel boxed layout sounds like something from 10 years ago you're right. But now boxed layouts are back as cool new design tool to better accomodate the increasingly popular 27-30" screens with massive screen resolutions. The image below is a boxed layout example where I simply set the box width to 1920px and the content width to 1600px. This gives an extra visual layer of structure when viewed on big screens and gives the website a massive, spacious look while having more of a together feeling than a traditional full-width, wide-set layout.
The code that makes this work is 100% mobile friendly, it will still look great on mobile. Like the rest of our Glazed theme, it's 100% flexible responsive, so it looks pixel perfect on every screen size.
Additional options have been added to Glazed menu settings to give you more options in deploying creative, interactive hover effects using a border. Put the border on top, or at the bottom, or anywhere in between. You can animate the border from left to right, from middle out, etc. A completely configurable border effect has been added to the option of menu hover styles. This gives your website just that little bit of extra branding and it works especially great if your site's design already makes uses of big dividers or hairline separators.
Another, more subtle improvement in both Glazed and Carbide Builder is more control over the look of divider elements, or <hr> tags if you know your HTML. Using dividers, short and thick or long hairlines as design tool is an increasingly popular effect. Use designers to fit a sophisticated look and feel, or use them to direct the viewers' eye to the important areas in your page.
You can first set the default divider element styling in Glazed theme settings. You can then add dividers in blocks using Glazed Block Design settings, and you can add divider elements anywhere in your content using Carbide Builder.
The divider element styling you configure in the Typography Design section in Glazed Setting applies globally to your website. However, you have full contextual control over your in-content divders as well as over the divider style in Drupal blocks.
On the surface you won't see a lot of changes in our drag and drop page builder module, but under the hood thousands upon thousands of lines of code are updated and moved around. Major code refactoring was needed to prepare our drag and drop builder for easier development in the future. With our newly re-architectured code we are now more than ready to handle new requirements for magazine sites, large enterprise level implementations and simply adding new elements to keep up with demands and opportunities in the ever-changing world of front-end design.
To be very honest, this release contains a lot of new features, fixes and refactoring that I wanted. But the good news is, our new development has paved the way for all the things that you will be very excited about:
Our focus will now be on documentation, creating new designs and catching up on improvements to support service. If you have any feedback, ideas, features requests, awesome websites that you'd like to see as a Glazed demo, just drop a comment!
Posted on May 23, 2016
2 years ago I started working on a Drupal CMS distribution that makes it less painful to launch a fully configured Drupal website. Today we're proudly launching what I think is the best CMS installation experience you've ever seen. Pantheon and Acquia cloud might be great tools for people like me who work with Drupal on a daily basis but there is a huge community of people who need something more simple. Our goal was for users to install a fully configured and themed Drupal website, with fully configured CMS components and demo content without requiring any user interaction. In less than 5 minutes.
Our Deployment tool currently does the following on auto-pilot:
From a wider perspective, I see this kind of service as an answer for the Open Web to the more streamlined experiences provided by companies like Wix and SquareSpace. They are the walled garden alternatives for small businesses. In that light I want to integrate with as many great Drupal hosting providers as possible. The first Hosting partner I integrated is A2hosting, because they provide SSH and Drush automatically to all users. I'm looking for other hosting providers who offer this, if you know of or are such a company please let me know in the comments!
Our service launched in beta but theoritically this should work fine on an Drupal/Drush capable server. It doesn't matter if you run Apache with MySLQ or nginx with PostgreSQL, our software has only the following server requirements:
This means you can try it out right now on your VPS development server, all you need to provide is an empty web directory and database. If you're trying this and can't get it to work on your Drupal/Drush capable server please let me know in the comments. We did a lot of testing but the variety of server configurations is so vast that I'm sure we can improve our software's compatibility. Just to be clear, you don't need to be a subscriber or even registered on sooperthemes.com to use this. As a guest user you cannot choose the premium themes in the form but you can install any configuration of our CMS distribution with the Glazed Free theme.
It has been an adventure developing this new deployment tool. If you are excited too please test it and let me know what you think!
This week I've also updated the SooperThemes logo. For the past year the sooperthemes.com website has reflected what our new product was: Completely new and finding out where it wants to go. Now the logo more reflects the values of simplicity, open source and friendliness. These are the values I want to embed in our products. The logo is much simpler than the old one. The openings in the O are for open source. And the last detail is the Happy e's. This little touch of Dutch Design is a tilted back lower case e, it was invented by Heineken and reminds of a laughing head.
Today you can also download the latest patch-level release of Glazed theme and Carbide Builder. These releases contain no new features, only bug fixes. See the Glazed CHANGELOG and Carbide CHANGELOG. We've also updated the YouTube background feature and put a usage example in the bottom of the Sections and Backgrounds demo page. Enjoy!
Posted on May 12, 2016
Firstly, the sooperthemes.com client dashboard got it's first major updates. Expect more in the near future. What changed:
This is just an appetizer for a lot of improvements to sooperthemes.com!
Last month's upgrade was a big one. Today's update is just bugfixes and cosmetic updates. Some demo content in the Main Demos was modernized, removing pictures and branding from the old Glazed 2.3 days. The 3d button style got an update, it now looks more distinguished from the default Bootstrap button styling in Glazed.
The Glazed Main demo got a Funky new purple top bar. The old purple was just a little low energy, so it got replaced by a brighter, slightly funkier purple to match the Sky blue main color.
Glazed theme also got a few bug fixes for specific menu/header configurations. If you're using the sticky header mode you will want this update.
In Carbide Builder I improved the user experience with moving absolutely positioned elements in the positioned elements container. Working with absolutely positioned elements in web design is tricky. Even more so in the responsive, multi-device world of today. However that doens't mean we have to dumb down our builder to only support fixed grids. On the occassion that you want to spend some extra time to create unique eye-catching layouts, the positioned elements container is there.