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Xero is our new starter theme that we will be building all future themes from and is an ideal starting point for users to get to know the new version of the framework with.

A quick recap

A big thanks to Hung and Joomlart

Working with the T3 framework over the last two years has been rewarding and I think we have created some really beautiful and functional themes in that time. T3 has been an awesome tool to work with - powerful and flexible and a good fit for the way I develop our themes.

It’s also been great to work closely with Hung and the Joomlart crew, while we haven’t committed much in the way of code there has always been a great sense of collaboration in the T3 skype chat and when I’ve spoken to Hung one on one.

So what about Xero

Xero is fast.

I wanted to create a theme that required very little tweaking to score high page speed results when testing with Google Pagespeed or ySlow and yes Xero does that.

Fast out of the box

Optimising your site properly is of course a multi-faceted process with the template being just one slice of a three or four pieced pie. To score a high page speed you really need an optimised server (applied via htaccess snippets as well as fast core infrastructure), optimised content (especially appropriately sized and optimised images) and of course a fast template.

Out of the box Xero is capable of scoring in the mid 80’s in both Google Page Speed and ySlow. With the addition of some htaccess snippets and properly optimised content it is possible to score in the mid to high 90’s.

Xero rocks in with around 10 requests (not including content images or 3rd party scripts) with a total page weight of less than 280kb.

Even faster with htaccess

To my mind this is a pretty awesome starting point for any project.

Given the way that we have developed Xero these core numbers shouldn’t change too much. We’ve streamlined the template’s processes so it’s always going to be possible to achieve high speeds regardless of the complexity of the design.

Xero is Feature rich

Despite this incredible speed gain Xero is also packed full of features. Xero features a diverse range of tools for building websites:

  • Mega menu via the Zenmenu plugin
  • Extensive asset management tools
  • Flexible Bootstrap implementation
  • Live reload development mode
  • Google fonts
  • Extensive theming options
  • Accordion menu, dropdown menu, off canvas menu
  • Multiple responsive navigation options
  • Server side mobile device detection
  • Intuitive layout tool
  • Extensive module classes and positions
  • Lazyload, Back to top, sticky nav
  • Built in CSS3 animations
  • Shortcodes for icons and layouts using the Zen Shortcode plugin
  • Hidden panel
  • Built in Onepage scrolling mode

Template options - now you see them now you don’t

One of the challenges of trying to cater to both ends of the Joomla developer spectrum (developers and site builders) is in making an interface that gives the user control over what’s happening on the page but at the same time ensuring the user doesn’t get lost in the detail or inundated with settings. ZGF4 themes have an intuitive interface with some nice clear headings, page structure and section dividers that help to give focus and logic to the template workflow.

Template Options

It also comes with the built in toggles that provide the option to view all of the template options (ie advanced mode) or just the core features (ie basic mode). Toggling advanced and basic options can really help to provide fast access to it’s core features without having to sort through the fine grain control that this theme offers.

Basic Mode

Another option in the template settings is to hide all of the descriptive information. Aimed at the power user who already knows what the various settings do, disabling the template information helps to condense the admin into an easily read and readily accessed interface.

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So what’s next?

As I mentioned in our blog at the start of the month our next theme to be released will be Rasa2. The styling for Rasa2 is essentially done and all we need to do is to run our checks against the final release of the framework. We hope to have this for you early next week.

Documentation

We will also be changing the way that we produce and distribute our documentation. I’ve written half of the documentation already and when it’s finished it will be available on Github and also available as a standalone collection of html files that you can download and use at your leisure or if you prefer on our documentation site. Using version control for our docs is going to be a boon for us in maintaining and adding more docs.

A free ZGF4 based theme.

Also next week we will release an update to our existing theme Zen base which will be a free Joomla template available for anyone wanting to put ZGF4 through it’s paces. Zenbase 2 will be added to github, which is the best place for users who want to work with ZGF4 to develop their own themes to get access to the core code base. Zenbase2 will be a slightly simpler theme though so users who want all the bells and whistles are advised to grab a copy of Xero.

Also coming soon

We will release an update to the Base3 theme built on ZGF4 following Rasa2 and Zenbase2. Base3 has proven to be an immensely popular theme and we want to keep it in the collection as a viable starter theme for folks to use on the new framework.

We were late

As per every other time we have released a theme late we want to extend the opportunity for anyone whose subscription has expired since the start of October to get access to these themes. We really appreciate the patience of our members while we worked on the new framework and want to honour their memberships by providing access to the October (Xero) and November (Rasa2) themes when they become available.

For anyone whose subscription ran out since the start of October please send us an email via the contact form and then we will add extra time to your subscription making it possible to get access to the downloads.

December theme

The December theme will be started on next week as well and will be released before Christmas. It’s going to be a business focussed theme but I’ll post more details regarding this theme in the next few weeks.

In the meantime a special Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal.

To celebrate the launch of Xero and the new framework and the start of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal you can take 30% off your subscription renewal using the coupon cyberbamboo. Existing or renewing users can add a further 10% or 20% off the subscription cost by using the coupon jbrenewal2 and jbrenewal.

This deal however is strictly limited and will only be available until Monday evening.

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