It's been some time since we released a major update to Zentools.
Most development for Zentools has been going into the Zentools v2 branch but with the impending release of our new Blogging template (due out this week) which has support for Easyblog, I felt it was high time to push some of the new features from v2 back into v1.
If you don't use it already, Easyblog is the pre-eminent platform for blogging with Joomla. It's a complete blogging solution which includes everything you need to create a fully fledged blog in Joomla.
I've just put together a beta package for our upcoming release of Maps2 - our new Google maps Joomla module.
Maps2 is a significant update to our free map module JB Maps, in fact, Maps2 is a complete rethink on the whole methodology of using a map in Joomla.
So now rather than entering latitude and longitude co-ordinates into a text input you can either enter an address in the admin and the map preview will automatically find the location. Or if you want a more hands on approach you can drag the map to the specific location you want to display and then just hit save.
Last week I spent some time giving the Zentools demo site a little refresh and along with this update to the extension, the demo site and the documentation I am excited to say that we have a new product line available.
The Zentools module has long been a favourite amongst our members and for some time now I have wanted to de-couple it from our club system and make it available as a stand alone purchase. And so now it is ... Zentools can be yours for $30 AUD with 12 months worth of updates.
If you are new to Zentools then let me explain a little about what this multi-purpose module can do.
Zentools was first created a few years ago when we started creating our line of responsive Joomla templates. It has essentially been our responsive powerhouse adding the much needed responsive capability to our themes via slideshows, carousels, grids, lists etc.
There are a total of 8 different layout types available, with three discrete content sources including Joomla, K2 and images from a folder on your server. It also has a beautiful responsive lightbox and an intelligent and dynamic drag and drop administrator area which makes creating complex content layouts in your modules a breeze.
Check out the Zentools demo site for a full run down on the layouts, features and documentation.
Just a quick not to let you know that v1.9.0 of JB Type has just been released with the addition of 58 new (and very useful icons). You can view the new icons on the Font Awesome page or check out the icons and their new code on the JB Type plugin page.
We are also in the process of rolling out new releases for our existing T3 based templates that removes the Font Awesome library.
There are a number of reasons for this and to avoid any potential conflicts we feel that it is better to maintain a single library for the font icons that are featured in our themes. This of course makes it easier for our users to update when new icons are added to the library.
So if you are using a template that is already compatible with T3 v1.2.5+ all you need to do is update to the latets version of JB Type and you will all set to go.
The next major update to Zentools is now available and although it's not the major v2 milestone I was hoping for it's a worthwhile update for anyone using Zentools.
There are a number of important bug fixes in this release and importantly some fixes for the lightbox which seemed to have some trouble in some browsers (not mentioning any names) when it came to keeping track of responsive images and dynamic lightbox resizing.
Font Awesome 3 adds some nice new features and icons:
Checkout the new styles available on the main Font Awesome page and the JB Type syntax used to render them below.
Zentools v1.9 is a relatively minor update but i thought it warranted a 0.1 increment. You can get a full rundown of the changes and fixes on the Zentools changelog. If you are new to Zentools - check out what it can do on the Zentools demo site.
This new version no longer requires the JB Library plugin when using it in Joomla 3.0 - so there is one less plugin to install on your site now.
Folks using the module in Joomla 2.5 still need either the framework or the library installed to process images as well as load jQuery.
One of the weak points in our responsive arsenal, up until now at least, has been the zentools lightbox. It certainly looked pretty but became problematic once you started changing the browser size or adding oversized content on smaller screens.
This release solves all of that by dropping in an elegant and intelligent responsive lightbox solution. The new lightbox will scale according to the viewers screensize and also cleans up the user interface to make it a much more inuitive experience for the end user.
The new lightbox also supports deep linking so it is possible to link directly to a lightbox element. Click here to see an example. In addition to this it also supports full screen mode for those browsers and os's that support that as well as a slick thumbnail viewer which becomes available when viewing image galleries.
You can see the new lightbox on the zentools demo site.
Technically, jQuery should be able to load as many times as you want on a page - although best practice is to only load one. Even with multiple instances of the jQuery library loading on the page, it's core functionality should remain unaffected. However because Joomla components, modules and plugins are triggered at different times during a page render and because there are a few different ways to include assets within that rendering, it's not always possible to control the exact order that scripts are loaded on the page and so we often end up with a jQuery conflict.
If you have had a chance to look at the demo of our November Joomla template - Ecospirit - you may have noticed that we have used some very handy font icons in the menu and in the content of the site. We have done this using our JB Type plugin which now comes with the complete set of Font Awesome Icon fonts.
While Icon fonts have been around for a while they are fast becoming (one of) the next big things in web design. Icon fonts are great because they are a single font asset (no images needed) and are able to be scaled using traditional css techniques - this makes them fast and flexible. The icons behave like any other font and so you can specify their color, size background etc using some simple css.
Font icons also scale to suit the pixel ratio of your browser - so no need to specify a new image for retina or higher pixel ratio devices.