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b2evolution first introduced blog skins in 2003. Of course, since then, every other blog platform has implemented its own flavor of skins or themes and the concept has become pretty mainstream.
With version 2.0 we hope to take the concept one step further with the introduction of a new reworked modular skin architecture.
One of our design goals with this new skin architecture was to address the main requests we got about skins:
Regarding the upgrading, we had already slowed down on incompatibilities with versions 1.8 to 1.10: skins designed for b2evo 1.8 work without modification in 1.9 and 1.10.
However, with version 2.0, we are refining *all* the skin tags in a way that will maximize their upward compatibility with future versions. Our goal here is that once you upgrade your customized skin to 2.x-stable, you will never have to upgrade it again if you don't want to...
Combing through all these tags to make them future proof is what currently takes the most time and holds back the release of 2.0...
Regarding easier customization, we have introduced containers and widgets.
Instead of calling a lot of plugins with various parameters, skins 2.0 now simply define containers such has "Header" or "Sidebar" (to name the obvious ones).
Then, in the back-office, a blogger can easily add widgets to the containers of his choice. He would for example add a "Logo widget" and a "Blog list widget" to the Header. Then he would maybe add a "Calendar widget", a "Category list widget" and an "XML feeds" widget to the sidebar. He can also change the order of these widgets at any time.
Widgets automatically get their display parameters from the skin containers. This allows them to automatically adopt the look & feel of the container they're used in. For example: lists may display vertically in the sidebar but horizontally in the header.
However, widgets can also define their own parameters and users can easily set these through a form. Would you like to be able to browse years in that calendar? What file do you want to display as the blog logo? etc...
b2evolution 2.0 will ship with more than a dozen core widgets, as well as plugin widgets ("Who's online?"...) Plugin authors already know how to write their own widgets: they are simply "SkinTag" plugins just as before. Except that now users have an interface to place them at the desired place.
Optionally, you can define parameters for the Widget/skinTag plugin. For example, a weather plugin would define the "city" parameter. It would use it to display the weather for the city of the blog it is included in. And it could even be included twice in the same blog, with different parameters. (Didn't you always dream to track the weather for your work town and your home town on your blog's sidebar? )
Another improvement is that skins can now display something completely different when you are viewing a post list, a single post, a user contact form... or a page.
Yes, b2evolution 2.0 supports out-of-the-flow pages that you can use for general purpose information (what the blog is about, your résumé, rules for commenting...). And you can easily link to your pages from anywhere on your sidebar: just throw in the "Page list widget". Want to link to the pages from the header: just the same!
Of course, the grassroots evolution bloggers among us will still want to fine tune every little aspect of their skin. We can still do that just as before by editing the skin templates... and it may actually just have gotten easier...
You can now browse through your skin templates online with the embedded file manager and, should you need to, you can edit any template, and especially any CSS file right in place on the server.
Finally, we are adding quite a lot of comments into the skin templates in order to make sure you will feel comfortable with the new skinning system just by opening the files in Dreamweaver or whatever editor you like.
... actually, skins 2.0 simply follow the evolutionary path we've been on since spinning off b2: more features, cleaner code, better comments!
Wow! Adding “not a blog post” pages is cool. I am currently building a blog that is made of 70% “not a post” pages, so I’m getting good at hacking the core for that feature. I guess it’ll make it hard for me to upgrade, but since most of what I’m doing on my pages can’t be put in a post I’ve no choice. Currently!
Dude this is gonna rock. I better get busy playing in my new playground …
I like the “better comments” way ;-)
Is there any demo already available for b2evolution 2.0 ?
The demo of the current development version is always available at http://demo.b2evolution.net/ (chose CVS-HEAD in the “Demo variants” form).
I must admit, all those announcements really made me hornily waiting for 2.0. ;)
Will the new version have a way to create static pages? I keep getting this message
“You may also want to generate static pages or view your blogs…”
Yet I haven’t been able to find that setting, and I’ve searched the forums too but I can’t find a definite answer there.
I’ve been thinking that function has been deprecated. Thoughts?
You can generate a static homepage from the blog list. You need to set static file names in the advanced settings for each blog you want a static page for.
In version 2.0, the static page generation is available in several different places… including the dashboard…
I’m really impressed. I really like the info pages, tags, etc. But I do think that widgets themselves are not easy to use, a easy to use UI has to be provided for them(like in blogger)
If things go well, there will be a first release in July.
Are we going to see any image handling like automatic creation of thumbnails or resizing/cropping of images?
Yes it does automatic image resizing.
I just thought of one more request for Skins 2.0
A Mobile Phone Friendly skin.
For those of us with PDA/SmartPhones, it would be great to have an out-of-the-box skin that allows us to create blogs and reply to comments from a PDA/SmartPHone.
I’m thinking one-column based.
Is anybody using SmartPhones for blogging (e.g. Tech conference, breaking news, etc)…
Question … will remote blogging, such as posting via email, be an option… eventually? I’m trying to use my blog exclusively, however being able to post via an email keeps me using my LJ the most.
Blogging by email have been available in b2evolution for quite a while…
About the photo resizing? I don’t see that it does or ever has resized photos.
Michael, you have to *LINK* photos to posts, you must *NOT* use IMG tags. IMG tags do not resize photos.
I have already started to use the 2.0.2 alpha version, I think it is very cool thus far, the only downside is the themes that use to work don’t any longer, I have tried to use the wiki site like you had for the upgrade themes steps example to upgrade the 1.6 to the 1.8 version for the themes and that looked very helpful and easy to follow, do you think that you will get the chance to do the same kind of steps for us newbies to follow along so that we can easily upgrade the themes to this new version? I seem stuck as to the very limited themes that are there to choose from at the present time and I cant seem to find any steps we can use to begin to try and update the themes that are already in the skins section to work with the 2.0 alpha software? Or the explanation does’nt seem easy to follow along like what I did find for the steps when they were explained for how to upgrade the themes from 1.6 to 1.8
thanks all the same for creating this super blogging software I was using WordPress but since finding this software I am hooked on the b2 evo platform for sure
Libby, what about thus page:
How about embeded objects, can we add the embed tag at some point?
You can allow any tag you want or disable syntax checking, all in /conf/_formatting.php