January 13, 2016 — By Dale Mugford

WPtouch Pro 4 — Available Now!

themes

Get Ready for 4.0!

We’re happy to announce that we’ve released WPtouch Pro 4, the next major version of WPtouch Pro, so here’s a guide on what’s new and how to upgrade.

There are literally hundreds of changes inside WPtouch Pro 4— we’ve jokingly referred to it as our Snow Leopard release around the BraveNewCode offices. Version 4 represents 8 months of work by our team making improvements, refinements and some big changes in how you use the plugin to create the mobile version of your WordPress website.

By far and away the biggest visual changes are in the admin panel— we’ve completely revamped the process of using WPtouch Pro. In version 4, we’ve added a setup wizard, re-designed our settings administration panel, and moved all of your theme’s customization to the WordPress Customizer. More on that in a bit.

4.0 Wizard

The first time you install and run 4.0 (or upgrade from a previous version), you’ll see the new wizard when you visit the WPtouch settings panel.

Simply follow the wizard to get all setup with 4.0. The wizard is new in 4.0, and is designed to help expose some core settings, handle theme and extension activations, and if you’re running Multisite, choose whether you want to run WPtouch Pro in a controlled manner on not.

4.0 Customizer

By far and away the biggest change to WPtouch Pro in 4.0 brings live visual changes by way of the WordPress Theme Customizer. No other mobile solution for WordPress offers customizations in real-time with the WordPress Theme Customizer.

Having WPtouch theme setup in the Customizer makes configuring easier than ever. No product update since its original release over 7 years ago has offered a more profound improvement in the usability and functionality of WPtouch.

Using a Custom Theme?

Since we are not able to thoroughly test custom themes (they’re your customizations, after all) we’re looking for feedback and information on how your custom themes are working on 4.0. Early feedback from our beta testing has shown that custom themes are working great under version 4, but please be sure to check and make sure that yours is working fine.

We’ll have a guide in a few weeks on how to port them to a 4.0 custom theme if you wish, but you can leave them as is, we’ve worked hard to support that. As long as your custom or copied theme was built on WPtouch Pro 3.5 or higher, it should without issue on WPtouch Pro 4.

Menu Setup

Menu setup has moved— there are a few settings for menus still present in WPtouch Pro’s settings, while activating menus, and assigning icons have moved to WordPress’ native Appearance -> Menus setup area.

3 New Extensions

Along with updates for all of our extensions, we’ve added 3 new extensions — Basic Advertising, Web App Mode, and Related Posts. 

Formerly inside the product in previous versions, we’ve upgraded them to Extensions for a few reasons: Firstly, we have new features planned for each of them and continuing to add more complexity in the core of the product for features which not everyone may use didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Secondly, they were features which led to extra WPtouch Pro product updates which, as Extensions, mean we don’t have update the whole product just to ship a new feature or fix in Related Posts, for example.

We have more features for existing extensions, as well as some all new extensions planned going forward. We know you like extending the capability of WPtouch in different ways, and the changes in structure within WPtouch 4.0 make more room for that.

Cost

We think WPtouch 4 is by far and away the best version of WPtouch we’ve ever made. After hundreds of releases, 8+ million downloads and nearly a decade of work, our team has created the most polished, professional and powerful mobile tool for WordPress websites. And we want to see everyone using it and enjoying it.

We’re happy to announce that WPtouch 4.0 will be a free update for all  customers with active licenses.

As well with 4.0, all new version 4 updates for themes and extensions that you own will also be free with active licenses.

If your license expires soon, renew today to ensure you receive the 4.0 updates.

Upgrading

In order to see the update for WPtouch Pro 4 in your WordPress admin, make sure your installation is licensed. If upgrading fails for any reason, you can alternatively download version 4 and install it manually from your account page on our website.

October 19, 2015 — By Dale Mugford

Today Marks 5yrs @ BraveNewCode for Emilio Rivera, Our Support Lead

emilio-5yrs

We first met Emilio in our old support forums for the original WPtouch Pro release, over 5 years ago. Emilio impressed us as a customer whom was jumping into other users’ threads and helping out left, right, and centre. There were times where he seemed to demonstrate a knowledge of the product as if he wrote it— a clear, intrinsic understanding of the intent of the software and the best ways to use it.

We were so impressed we offered Emilio a job with us, and take over the support role for our customers (up until that point Duane and I did it ourselves). He took the plunge, and ever since he’s been making BraveNewCode customers happy with help that frequently goes above and beyond what most expect from software support.

Support can be trying for many people— whether you’re our customer or you’re our employee trying to provide assistance, WordPress’ quirks and quarks, along with server environments, themes, and other plugins make answering seemingly simple questions quite difficult. Emilio has consistently found a way to help customers through difficult circumstances time and time again— and many customers have remarked over the years that Emilio has provided them with the best support they’ve ever received, anywhere. Incredible!

Put simply, his dedication and commitment to excellence in providing quality, care-full support of our products and services is an inspiration for our company.

5 years is a long time in the tech world. Thousands of start-ups have come and gone in that time, and Emilio has continued to provide customers with every growing expertise throughout the growth of our business and maturity of WPtouch. By keeping with us, he has truly attained a mastery in knowing of the world in which he provides help, and I think most customers would be amazed to discover just who they’re getting help from :)

We strive to create great software, and work tirelessly to improve our products everyday. But it is not lost on us that providing customers with timely, smart and supportive help is a big part of what we offer. To that end, we feel confident that Emilio can always be there for our customers when they hit a snag.

To us, he’s the best feature WPtouch has ever gained.

Congratulations on 5 years Emilio— we wish you all the best in continued success with us!

April 24, 2014 — By Dale Mugford

WPtouch adds Windows Phone 8.1, Opera & Firefox Mobile Browser Support

We’ve recently pushed out updates for WPtouch and WPtouch Pro (3.2.4) that add support for a variety of growing mobile devices and browsers, expanding our support of devices and mobile browsers that are growing and maturing.

windows-phone-8.1

Windows Phone 8.1

The newly released Windows Phone 8.1 OS update is now fully supported with WPtouch. The new OS update for Windows mobile devices is receiving lots of praise, and we think it’s a great update to the platform.

WPtouch performs even better on devices running the latest update, and customers will be happy to know we have no known issues with WPtouch themes in the browsers available for 8.1.

coast-ipad-iphone

Opera & Coast

Also included in the update is support for new Opera mobile browsers, including the newly released Opera Coast browser for iOS. It’s a slick and minimal browser, and again WPtouch performs beautifully along with it.

Firefox OS

We’ve also recently added support for Firefox OS, which is quite popular in emerging markets and we want WPtouch working on as many mobile devices as possible.

98%

WPtouch now works on a staggering 98% of all popular mobile devices and platforms, making it one of the most compatible and complete mobile solutions for WordPress.

January 8, 2014 — By Dale Mugford

Infinity Cache: WordPress Cache for WPtouch + Desktop Themes

wordpress cache

With WPtouch Pro 3.1 we’ve introduced extensions, powerful additions to WPtouch Pro themes that take your mobile website to the next level. Infinity Cache WordPress Cache is one of our favourites, and enables mobile + desktop caching for WPtouch Pro-powered websites.

Caching Mobile with WPtouch Pro

For a few years now we’ve been helping users configure WPtouch & WPtouch Pro to work alongside popular desktop theme caching solutions. Not without issue however— as doing so in some of these larger, in-depth plugins can be quite an elaborate process that essentially involves disabling cache for mobile. While a viable solution and mostly headache free, these configurations don’t offer the same speedy improvements for mobile page views as seen for desktop.

Network congestion and latency, coupled with slower wireless connection speeds make load time for mobile web pages extremely important for everyone.

WPtouch Pro themes are built as highly optimized, lightweight and are speedy in their own right— but caching can always improve user experience and minimize server load when it comes to php and MySQL-based websites. It’s always been a goal for us to offer a solid caching solution ourselves to speed up WPtouch Pro page views for mobile devices.

Introducing Infinity Cache

In WPtouch Pro 3.1, we’ve introduced three new extensions to current customers: Mobile Content (for replacing desktop content with mobile content on the fly), Responsive Images (for serving optimally-sized images for each device), and Infinity Cache (for caching both mobile & desktop).

Yes you read that right— Infinity Cache handles both mobile and desktop caches.

It even caches mobile visitors who switch to your desktop theme, ensuring all visitors are served lightning fast page views no matter how they choose to visit your website.

If you already have an existing caching plugin for your desktop website, you can also use it in conjunction with Infinity Cache- your existing plugin will cache desktop pages, and Infinity Cache will handle all the mobile agents set to pass through to WPtouch Pro.

It’s Lightweight & Easy to Set-up

Unlike so many of the complex cache solutions available for WordPress, Infinity Cache is simple and straightforward, and does caching right without worry. It truly is a “set it and forget it” type of cache solution.

infinity cache wordpress cache options

Infinity Cache options

In addition, Infinity Cache also includes support for Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) such as MaxCDN. If you have a MaxCDN account, you can simply add your custom URLs to Infinity Cache and have it automatically serve your static content from your CDN.

Get It Today

Infinity Cache is available to all Small Business, Agency/Multisite and Enterprise WPtouch Pro customers in the Themes & Extensions Browser inside WPtouch Pro 3.1.

To view licenses for WPtouch Pro, visit the product pricing page.

January 8, 2014 — By Dale Mugford

Introducing BraveNewCloud + WPtouch Pro

bravenewcloud and wptouch pro 3.1

Recently we released WPtouch Pro 3.1, a major update to our flagship mobile plugin for WordPress. A solid two months of work went into the latest update— we introduced a new theme, 3 extensions, and improvements to the best platform for mobile development for WordPress websites.

BraveNewCloud

WPtouch Pro 3.1 introduces the BraveNewCloud, a revolutionary new feature for a WordPress plugin. With the BraveNewCloud you can now seamlessly install & update WPtouch Pro themes and extensions inside the admin panel.

The BraveNewCloud operates seamlessly within WPtouch Pro, and allows you to receive updates for themes and extensions as we release them. You no longer have to wait for a new version of the plugin in order to receive updates for themes and extensions. This allows us to ship more timely bug fixes and improvements to themes and extensions.

Including a cloud install inside the product like this wasn’t easy, and marks the first time any WordPress plugin has accomplished this feat.

Bauhaus: A New Theme, Theme Updates

Bauhaus

With 3.1 we’ve introduced a fresh theme, Bauhaus. Available absolutely free to all existing customers.

Contemporary design and full-featured flexibility are highlights in Bauhaus. Subtle hardware-accelerated animations and clean clear typography make Bauhaus stand out as a polished and powerful, modern mobile theme.

Classic Redux, CMS & Simple

New features, refinements and fixes are also included for all our existing themes. Hotly requested features like user login have been added, while support for iOS 7 (particularly in Web-App Mode) bring all of our themes freshly up to date.

All-New Extensions

Ever since the launch of 3.0 we’d planned to add extensions that help you take your WPtouch Pro install to the next level. With 3.1 we’ve added 3 new extensions and we’ll roll-out more this year.

Mobile Content Extension

Ever wanted to provide content on a post or page completely different from what your desktop visitors see? With the Mobile Content extension, you can. This extension adds a new text area on posts and pages in the WordPress publishing area, and allows you to enter whatever content you’d like to show differently for your mobile visitors.

Responsive Images Extension

One of the biggest issues facing responsive design these days has to do with images— since all webpage assets are served regardless of screen size in a responsively designed website, authors are forced to serve higher quality images (for larger screens) at the expense of larger web page sizes. This slows down websites when they load on a small screen device like a mobile phone, even though they don’t need large images.

With our Responsive Images extension, we’ve solved the problem. The extension swaps out larger images for smaller ones where available, since WordPress creates differently sized images for every uploaded image (full size, large, medium and small). It’s an extension that is literally activate and go— yet you can also add CDN capability to serve images based on geo-location for extra speed.

Infinity Cache Extension

Infinity Cache handles both mobile and desktop caching!

It even caches mobile visitors who switch to your desktop theme, ensuring all visitors are served lightning fast page views no matter how they choose to visit your website.

If you already have an existing caching plugin for your desktop website, you can also use it in conjunction with Infinity Cache- your existing plugin will cache desktop pages, and Infinity Cache will handle all the mobile agents set to pass through it to WPtouch Pro.

Unlike so many complex cache solutions available for WordPress, Infinity Cache is simple and straightforward, and does caching right without worry. It truly is a “set it and forget it” type of cache solution.

Available Now

The WPtouch Pro 3.1 update with BraveNewCloud is free to all existing customers, and you can upgrade through the WordPress admin like any other plugin today.

October 30, 2013 — By Duane Storey

Inside BraveNewCode.com: Some Tools We Use

I was going through our own administration panel here at BraveNewCode today and thought it would be interesting to share our set-up with other people. Our WordPress website isn’t just a blog, it’s also a full-featured eCommerce store, support centre and product licensing/upgrade server. To turn a normal WordPress website into one that can handle all of that takes quite a few tweaks, external services, and WordPress plugins.

Here is a list of all the tools we use here at BraveNewCode.com – from hosting, to sales, to support.

Hosting

Right now BraveNewCode.com is running on a large VPS at WiredTree. Someone recommended them to us years ago on Twitter, and we’ve been extremely happy with them ever since. For a while we had everything hosted on a large $350/mo dedicated server, but thanks to caching and optimization improvements in various places we’re now able to survive on a $60/mo VPS with room to spare.

In terms of backups, we back up our databases every few hours to Amazon S3, and the whole kit and caboodle nightly to the same location.

We also have a cheap Bluehost plan active as well with a splash screen for BraveNewCode saying that we’re experiencing difficulties. In the odd event that our website crashes completely (which has thankfully never happened), we can point BraveNewCode.com to Bluehost temporarily while we get our WiredTree server up and running again.

DNS

We used to host our own DNS in years past, but given our experience in the area (approximately zero) we decided to offload that responsibility to another provider. Recently that provider went down for about 12 hours, which caused our site to go offline. During that process we upgraded to DNSimple, and changed from Unicast DNS resolution to Anycast. Anycast nameservers can answer replies based on geographical location, which should hopefully help minimize the chances of our DNS provider going down during a DDOS attack in the future.

Newsletters

We don’t really have a newsletter per-se, but we do try to send out important product information to our customers from time to time. To accomplish that we’ve mostly been using iContact. Given our large customer base though, it’s a bit of pain transferring an updated contact list to iContact and then modifying a template for each email blast we send out. Ultimately that’s limited our ability to reach out to customers whenever we would like.

As such, we’re in the process of pulling that ability back to our own website – when we’re done we’ll be able to email all of our customers with a single click from our admin panel whenever we want. That has lots of benefits, such as being able to have 100% control over the look and feel of those emails (often mail services tack their own branding onto emails or mess up the included styles), and will always have an accurate list of people to send to whenever we want. Email management will be done from each user’s profile in the back-end.

Task Management

We’ve tried various tools over the years to keep track of what we are working on, and which tasks are assigned to which people. Ultimately we still use BaseCamp for this, since we can access it from our phones and it mostly just works. My only issue with these types of applications is that once you start using them for a few months. navigating through all the data can be a real chore that sometimes can slow you down instead of help you.

Revision Control

Our free plugins are hosted in the WordPress.org repository, and use Subversion for revision control. For our commercial projects we use Git, and pay to have them hosted at Beanstalk. To push out a new WPtouch Pro release, for example, all we have to do is merge our code into our ‘release’ branch and then queue a Beanstalk deployment. That in turn triggers a script on our website which generates a new .POT file, bundles up the product, pushes it to Amazon S3, and notifies our customers that there is a new version to download via their administration panels.

BraveNewCode Site

We use WordPress Multisite to handle our blog, main WPtouch Pro, as well are the support centre for our customers. Right now we have two sub-sites, one for bravenewcode.com, and another for bravenewcode.com/support. Our main site is using a customized theme, while the support site is based on SupportPress by the fine folks over at Woo.

The front slider on our website is powered by the Layerslider WP plugin.

WooCommerce Plugin

We’ve used pretty much every WordPress commerce plugin over the years, but eventually found WooCommerce and never looked back. Our main issues with the previous commerce plugins we tried were that many of them would periodically drop purchases, especially in the case of PayPal which sends IPN notifications to your server after a successful purchase.

Losing knowledge of a payment by itself is obviously a bummer, but it also meant that the customer who purchased the product didn’t receive their download link. If that happened late at night while we were all sleeping here at BraveNewCode, chances are they would have to wait 8-12 hours to get the product, which is a poor customer experience.

Thankfully we don’t have those issues with WooCommerce, and it mostly runs without any issues on our website.

In terms of product fulfillment, we have a custom plugin on our website that hooks into the WooCommerce payment notification system and sends out the appropriate emails to our customers with their purchase information.

WordPress SEO Plugin

We probably could spend more time focusing on SEO, but we’re generally quite busy and are still a relatively small company without a lot of extra hands. So while we generally add WordPress SEO content when we write posts and pages, it’s mostly around to generate the XML sitemap which we feed to Google and Bing webmaster tools to better understand our website.

W3 Total Cache Plugin

Our most popular page on this website is for our WPtouch Pro mobile plugin for WordPress. To help minimize server load, we use W3 Total Cache for all users who are logged out. We purposefully set it to ignore all our eCommerce pages, and to bypass all the user agents that WPtouch Pro uses. In this configuration W3 Total Cache only handles desktop caching, not mobile.

Our 3.1 update for WPtouch Pro (coming shortly) includes a new add-on for mobile called Infinity Cache which will handle caching for mobile visitors. The two together work in tandem to make sure pages are served quickly and efficiently to users, and help minimize the load on our servers.

WordTwit Plugin

One of the first things people do nowadays when they write a new post is publish a link to that post on Twitter. We wrote WordTwit Pro to basically automate that process for us. When you are drafting a post, you can edit and schedule the tweets that will go out as soon as it is published. It also interfaces with several URL shorteners, so you can make sure your tweets are nice and compact.

WordTwit Pro is now a free plugin, so feel free to grab a copy of WordTwit from the wordpress.org repository.

Piggy eCommerce Plugin

A few years ago Dale and I were sipping a few beers near Cancun in Mexico and playing with some code to try and get notifications of our sales on our phones. We thought it would be cool at the time if our iPhones made a cash register sound (cha-ching) whenever a new sale occurred.

We had our first “cha-ching” notification a few hours and a few beers later.

We now use that plugin on our own website to view, in real time, how many sales we’ve made for the week, the month, the year, and all time. It also includes a projected sales pane, so you can see how many sales you are likely to make going forward based on current sales. It’s a great little tool that always allows a commerce store owner to know exactly where they sit with sales.

Piggy is also a free plugin, so head on over to the wordpress.org repository to grab a copy of the Piggy eCommerce Statistics plugin.

WP-Mail-SMTP Plugin

Mail is one of those things most WordPress site owners probably don’t spend too much time thinking about. For the most part if you install WordPress on a Linux webhost, mail will basically just work out of the box.

The problem is that sending mail will use the mail() system function, which bypasses some of the great anti-SPAM technology such as DKIM signing. In order to have your emails DKIM signed (which basically show that the emails came from your website), you really need to send mail via authenticated SMTP.

Since our product fulfillment is made via email, not using SMTP would mean that many of the emails we sent out to customers would likely be marked as SPAM. Not all of them, but enough that it would be a pain to those customers and for our team, who would manually have to send information to individuals periodically.

Setting up SPF and DKIM, in conjunction with a SMTP mail plugin such as this one is a great way to make sure your customers and users will actually receive the mails you send to them.

WPtouch Pro Plugin

And of course, we utilize WPtouch Pro here for our own mobile website. It’s running a slightly modified version of the included ‘Simple’ theme. We recently added the ability to make purchases via WooCommerce into our mobile theme, so people now visiting our website on support devices can purchase the plugin without having to ever visit the desktop site.

Final Remarks

All of these tools together help us manage BraveNewCode, continue to work on WPtouch Pro for our customers, and provide timely support via our one-on-one support centre whenever they have any issues.

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