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ePanel Released: Batch 1

Posted on September 28 by in Theme Changes/Bug Fixes | 94 comments

ePanel Released: Batch 1

As you probably know I have been working hard integrating the new options page into the ElegantThemes collection. With some help from Yuriy development and implementation is going smoothly, but even with two people at work it’s still a long process. Because it is taking a while I have decided to release the updated themes in stages as opposed to all at once. I will be uploading them six themes at a time, and today the first batch of six themes is ready! Currently ePanel has been integrated into the following themes: eNews, Bold, ePhoto, eBusiness, CherryTruffle and PureType. Now that it has been officially released I will go over the changes that have been made.

A fresh new look

The first thing you will notice is that the options page has been redesigned with you in mind. I have tried to make things much more organized and easily accessible via two tiers of tabbed navigation. The options have been organized into 8 sections, with each of the sections containing several sub-sections. This will alleviate excess scrolling and make it easier to find what you are looking for. I have also made the design more compact by getting rid of unneeded dropdown menus and replacing them with stylized checkboxes.

Improved functionality and user-friendliness

Aside from reorganizing things I have also tried to make the options themselves easier to use. For one thing, you will no longer need to find page/category ID’s. For example, to exclude pages from the navigation bar you can now simply toggle/untoggle them from a list of pages already generated by the options page. For settings such as assigning a page as one of your home pages in eBusiness, or assigning a category as your blog category in ePhoto, you can now choose from a list of your pages/categories instead of searching for an ID number. I have also tried to make the options page as a whole more user-friendly by adding lightboxed descriptions of all settings that explain in detail exactly what the option does. These can be found by clicking the (?) icons next to each field.

Some options replace by widgets

You will notice that some of the options that were previously found in the theme options page have disappeared. Don’t worry, I didn’t get rid of these features, I simply removed them from the options page and added them as custom widgets instead. For example, you will not longer see a 125×125 banner management section in the theme options page. Instead you will find a ET: Advertisements widget in the widgets pages of wp-admin. Not only does this improve the functionality of these options by allowing you to move them around in your sidebar like normal widgets, but I have also improved the options themselves. The biggest change, however, are all of the new options that have been added, so lets go over those now.

The New Options

As I mentioned earlier the options page is separated into 8 sections. These sections are: General Settings, Navigation, Ad Management, Layout, Colorization, Integration, SEO and Support Documents. I will go over each of these sections to give you an idea of what is included. Some options may vary as each theme contains different elements that may require additional settings.

General Options

The general options tab is for any options that don’t fit into the other categories. Here you will find some of the standard options you have become accustomed to, such as the ability to switch between BlogStyle and Default post modes, a dropdown menu for switching between the many color schemes available with each theme, and the ability to toggle on and off main elements such as the Featured Articles section. You will also notice some new options, such as the ability to “grab the first image” in your post and use it as your thumbnail instead of having to input custom fields. In the Homepage sub-category you will notice new options as well, such as the ability to exclude certain categories from your homepage recent posts display, the option to customize your date format (9/24/09 vs Aug 24, 2009, for example) and more.

The Featured Articles sub-category has also been upgraded with new options, depending on the theme. With eNews, for example, you can toggle the featured articles slider on and off, choose whether or not to duplicate the featured articles posts in your recent posts display, enabled automatic rotation of featured articles if desired, adjust the rotation speed and the animation type used, and more. Another important upgrade is the ability to choose any category you want for your Featured Articles display. You don’t need to use the text “Featured Articles” for your category anymore, as you can make the category anything you want and then assign that category as your Featured category in the them options page. This is especially handy for those bogging in a foreign language who, in the past, where forced to edit the theme’s code to change the category name.

The Navigations Options Tab

The navigation tab gives you control over your navigation bars. The biggest upgrade you will notice is that a list of all your pages and categories is displayed that you can use to add/remove links from your navigation bars. This is much easier than having to search for the page/category ID number. Another notable addition is the ability to disable the top tier navigation links. Many people want to have dropdown menus, but don’t necessarily want their top tier links to lead anywhere, but instead, merely use them for an organization function. If you want to create a parent category for the sole purpose of housing child categories, but don’t actually want to use the parent category, then you can simply disable the link. There are other new options as well, such as the ability to swap the positions of the pages/categories navigation bars, limit the number of dropdown tiers shown, hide empty categories, disable the “Home” link and more.

New Layout Settings

The layout section contains general layout options for individual sections of the theme. They are usually broken into four categories: Single Post, Single Page, Index and Home. Some of the standard options you will find in this section are: the ability to modify what info appears in the post-info section on post pages, the option to enable/disable thumbnails on posts, pages and index pages, the ability to change the dimensions of your thumbnails and the option to enable/disable comments on posts and pages. Depending on the theme there may be other options as well, usually pertaining to toggling on and off certain elements of the theme.

Ad Management Section

Even though I removed the 125×125 ads, adding them as widgets, there are still other ad sections outside the sidebar that can be managed in the theme options page. This section allows you to manage these ads. Here you can input the destination URL and the banner URL for each ad, as well as toggle them on and off at any time. Most themes now come with a 468×60 and 728×90 slot, however this may vary depending on the structure of the theme.

The Colorization Tab

One of the great new features of ePanel is the colorization section. I get countless questions on the forum asking how to customize the colors of certain elements in the theme. Now, instead of having to modify the stylesheet, you can simply alter the colors via the options page. Not everything can be changed, but most of the main elements, especially text elements, cam be easily modified. I have integrated a jQuery color picker as well, so all you need to do is click on a section that you want to change and then choose the color from the color-picker popup.

The Search Engine Optimization Tab

For a while now I have been meaning to increase the control users had over optimizing my themes for search engines. I feel like they were already well optimized, but the way they were optimized couldn’t really be customized by the user. With ePanel you are given full control. You can add custom meta titles, descriptions and keywords for every section of the theme individually. If you don’t want to enter them manually you still have control over how they are auto-generated. For example, for your single post you can enable custom meta titles and enter a custom title with each post. But if you don’t want to bother with that every time you make a post, you can choose how titles are generated. For example you can make titles generated based of your post’s title, and then you can append your blog name to either before or after that title. You can also choose which character separates the post title and blog name. I have given you the ability to choose which Name is used for the custom fields used to create your post titles, which means you should be able to integrate titles generated by other SEO plugins. I have also added the option to include canonical url’s in your header, which is usually a good idea for bloggers looking to avoid duplicate content penalties.

The Integration Tab

I created the integration section to make it easier for people to implement third party scripts into the theme. For example if you want to include your google analytics tracking code you no longer need to add it to footer.php, instead you can just add it to the body integration field in ePanel. You can also add code to your < head >, as well as before and after your posts. For example if you want to add a google adsense banner after your post you no longer need to try and figure out how to add it to single.php, instead you can just add the code to the “single page bottom” integration field in ePanel and the banner will be appended to the bottom of each post. This is also something I get quite a few questions regarding in the forums, so I hope it will be of some use.

Support Documentation

The last section is the Support Documentation tab. I added this to make it easier for user to find the installation instructions and troubleshoot guides that relate to each theme. Included is the readme file for each theme, a troubleshooting guide as well as links to the video tutorials section.

Well that just about sums things up. To learn more you will just have to test it out yourself! Let me know what you think, I appreciate your comments. Once ePanel has been added to all themes I hope that it will server as a good foundation for additional options in the future, so if you have any suggestions let me know!

94 Comments

  1. Very nice, thank you for all the effort you put into this.

    Is there any way to update existing theme installations with the new ePanel? I have made several changes to Bold and I’d like to just skip going through all those changes again.

    • It’s also one thing that has been worrying me for some time if I should upgrade/update the theme. But since I don’t need to alter anything on the theme anymore and the site is working nicely, I’d suggest just to keep it that way. Or maybe ask for help in the forum.

      • You’re right, I also thought about this. I really don’t need to do anymore changes to the site so I actually don’t need the new ePanels module although it’s really nice to look at and work with. But for that I have another blog running eNews with the latest ePanels module. ;-)

        • Ach, du kannst deutsch, ich auch, aber ich komme von den Philippinen :)

          I’ve also setup a new version of Bold on one of my blogs since I haven’t altered it yet and yes, it’s nice to give the new ePanel a try and it’s really looking awesome!

      • Translated the theme + new updates = :(

        • After ePanel has been integrated to all my themes, localization will be one of my next projects.

          • Best news ever!

  2. all theme have been updated with the new options page?

    • sorry, ijust found this: eNews, Bold, ePhoto, eBusiness, CherryTruffle and PureType

  3. Excellent. I have waited for this since your first announcement.

    You did a great job. :)

  4. You rock!

    I’m just gonna test it out now :)

  5. Simply GREAT !!!. Congratulations for your hard works !!! Looks easy, make things easy to manage, but it is a hard work behind. I know it as a developer.

    I am using others themes not includes in the first list I expect to see them under ePanel soon.

    One of this days you should think about translations for your ePanel and for your great themes. I will be happy to help for the spanish one or for the infraestructure.

    Thanks for this work !!!

  6. Excellent NIck… as always,

  7. Very impressive! I love these updates!

  8. Man you doing gr8 job here i really like new epanel looks very pro

  9. Wow!
    This is so great ; )
    I am extremely happy to have subscribed the Elegant Themes.
    New epanel is beautiful and functional, at same time!
    Thank you very much and greetings from Brazil!

  10. Wow – Nick. You rule. What a fantastic collection of updates! Can’t wait to get busy and try them out on my websites. Thanks so much for all your hard work.

  11. Great! I was thinking about using eBusiness on one of my sites and now it’s updated! I will surely love ePanel(I love playing with WP themes and plugins!)

    I plan to use Quadro for another site. When will it be ready?

    • There is no set date, but I can assure you that I will be working on integrating until all of the themes have been updated :)

      • Do I just download E-News again from the download page and reinstall it on my server? Sorry for being a doofus, I’m new at this blog thing.

        • Yeah, you just need to re-download it and re-upload it, and then customize the options in the eNews Options Page.

  12. eBusiness doesnt work :/

    In the other themes i have no problem

    • If you have problems please use the support forum for assistance.

  13. I feel like a child in a sweetshop…
    Epanel looks fantastic and all the extras should keep me busy for ages.

    I particularly like the look of the SEO section.

    As an aside… I saw on twitter that you were messing about with the idea of an eCommerce theme! That would give you the full set.
    Congratulations on producing ePanel.

  14. Wow – these are some awesome updates! Thank you so much for all your hard work – I absolutely love your themes! I’m using Cherry Truffle for my personal blog – will have to go update the theme now. :)

  15. Wow. It looks absolutely fantastic. You have done an amazing job and I’m really impressed. I was before and will still remain a happy and loyal customer, although this may have increased my happiness by just a bit. :P

  16. Everything dynamic and very positively! :)
    Thank you

  17. Non ho parole è semplicemente stupendo !
    E’ risaputo…con elegantthemes si va sempre sul sicuro.
    Complimenti davvero.

    I have no words is simply amazing!
    E ‘known … with elegantthemes you should always be safe.
    Congratulations indeed.

  18. I think thats great idea, much options, much more costomizable :-)
    I’m waiting for eGamer update :-)

  19. It looks great and very promissory. I need be able to translate ePanel for my idiom, please consider it for next release.
    Cheers.

  20. Superb move :)

  21. How do I integrate the epanel update with my current theme? Is it as simple as downloading the new and uploading via ftp?

    • Yeah, all you need to do is re-download the theme and re-upload it. You can upload it to a different folder if you don’t want to overwrite your old theme version.

      • Upload it to a different folder?
        I thought that it had to be in the themes folder.

  22. Hi,

    I am using eNews. I translated it and made some minor tweaks to some of the files…. How can Update to use the e Panel without loosing my work?

    Thanks it looks very promising

    All the best

    Philippe

    • Unfortunately you would need to re-do your changes. Pretty much every file in the theme was changed in this update, so integrating ePanel into your customized theme would not be a realistic solution.

      • Thanks… Will wait for a “viable” solution.

        All the best

      • There really is not way to upgrade just the panel. I’ve made tons of updates using eBusiness. Are you aware of the support forum lists and tricks for upgrading only the panel? I really don’t want to start over.

        • Unfortunately it is just not practical. Every theme file was altered in this upgrade. To make big improvements to the themes big changes must be made. You are free to continue using the version you have though, it’s up to you. Sorry about that, but it’s not really possible to have it both ways.

  23. Hi. I like your themes. Before I buy your subscription, I have a question regarding the 125×125 ads.
    As I understand, they are now optional and I can use in a sidebar the normal widget link from an affiliate.
    Does the 125×125 ads system allows you to use a widget link directly or you have to complete the url link, the image link ,etc?

  24. Excellent development Nick. Thanks :)

    • I am not sure exactly, right now my main goal is to get ePanel integrated into all themes.

  25. No doubt it is really great to see all these improvements. And I really appreciate all of your efforts. For only $19/year, it is the best subscription anyone can find for wordpress.

    Only thing left behind is optimizing the size of your themes by using compression for scripts/css. And I hope you would do that as well.

    Also I have some suggestions for new widget area.

    you can allow keeping the widgets in jquery tabs. and also is there any possibility of adding following widgets.

    most popular
    most viewed
    top rated
    top voted
    random
    latest
    featured

    There should also be an option of disabling thumbnails in these widgets.

    once again thank you very much for the nice work.

  26. Woww… I don’t read this article. I thought it is still planning. Wow.. I think I should join soon. I need your cool themes

  27. Great..have you got a link to where I can find the new Epanel?

    I am having some problems with the main screen om the start page. Its empty.

    Would you think a was a good idea to wait with the update till I got that working?

    Thanks

  28. well, it’s an innovation in the wordpress at elegantthemes lab.great job done by the elegantthemes team.quite use full function.

  29. I’ve no words to describe for all your efforts Nick!

    10 thumbs up!!!

  30. Shame there’s no easy upgrade option as I’ve done a lot of edits to ePhoto :(

    Ah well looks like I’ll stick with what I got at the moment,

    Anyway it looks awesome what you’ve done!

  31. please Nick,
    hurry up!!!

    we’re waiting the new themes (with epanel) We can not begin to work an issue when we know that after the change to epanel should be re-upload the theme.

  32. Do you plan to offer just ePanel as a download? Paid or otherwise? Seems like you could make a pretty penny licensing this as single or multiple use.

    • Probably not. The options page is integrated heavily into the theme itself, so I am not sure it could be packaged separately with much success.

  33. what about the next batch?

    which themes support the next batch?

    • The next batch will include: Basic, ColdStone, LightSource, eGamer, eVid and Cion.

      • i suppose influx theme must be included in the 3rd batch..

  34. Great but won’t update this time. I will wait i18n as it is really something I do need for visitors + SEO (although I am beginning only)

    Still great job I see some major improvements in here compared to the version I did install for the updated themes!

  35. will you release epanel as standalone theme? to use it not in wordpress projects?

  36. the cheesy graphics (and not very elegant in my opinion) of the “ePanel” stand out from the rest of the Dashboard, making them look like they are from a different website. The options page is not very intuitive also, and many of the settings are useless. The only thing I like from the ePanel is the ability to hide navigation items.

    And another problem with the ePanel is the heavy resource usage for the server. you are using one database row for each option, instead of one row for all options, like many free themes do…

    You really need to re-think the back-end for your themes and change the outdated style of coding…

    • I don’t think that saving the options in multiple rows will have much of a negative side effect, however, I will certainly look into to it. As far as I can tell this method is used in every theme I have used, but I suppose widespread use does not make it the best option. I would recommend using a cache plugin if you are really worried about it. I use a cache plugin on my blogs regardless if I am using excessive plugins/theme options.

      As for the plugins being “useless,” I guess that is personal opinion. All of the options were based off user requests in the forums, so I know they are useful for some. You don’t have to use them if you don’t want to…

      Thanks for the suggestions.

  37. When is the next batch coming out?

  38. Nice features. :)
    although when i use ebusiness theme i can see blog them option it showing the slider and then category via blog style. i need blog style ebusiness theme as iam using now. there is no option( general settings some feautres are not visibles also :(

  39. and i should say your efforts and ideas are great. hats of dude :D

  40. Dear Nick,

    May GOD speed up your hard and masterful work…

  41. Hey Nick,

    This new ePanel looks great. However, i downloaded cold stone before the ePanel was integrated. Where can i find the download ePanel link? I read your first batch 1 blog post and didn’t see a link. Is it bundled in the new Cold Stone download or available elsewhere as a plugin? Please help.

    Thanks,
    B

  42. Epanel looks fantastic. Thanks for the effort you put into this.

  43. where can i download this?
    or is it free?:)

  44. Just paid for the subscription and couldn’t be happier. Top notch quality all around!!

  45. Awesome man.I was a fan of woo themes.But now i am a fan of Elegant Themes

  46. Nick,

    Any idea when epanel will be ready for ephoto?

    I was going to start using it and I’ve decided to wait until the epanel update is integrated.

    By the way, fantastic work. An absolute bargin.

    Thanks,

    Jim

    • ePanel has already been integrated into ePhoto. It’s mentioned in the list in this blog post :)

  47. I think ePanel will boost elegantthemes to higher level, you are not really evolved

  48. This is a fantastic looking theme and the epanel looks super congrats and well done to all your hard work

  49. Simply GREAT !!! Looks easy, make things easy to manage, but certainly not.

  50. The ePanel is simply beautiful, I just wanted to give you the Kudos.

  51. Amazing panel, well done.

  52. As a newbie in WPress, am totally learning everything from begining and keenly following all these development.

  53. well..nice im in hurry to try this product

  54. Hello!
    I use eBusiness theme and I’d like to translate the text inside the slider.
    I use qTranslate plug in for other texts in my website, but it doesnt work with the slider: it doesn’t allow me to translate the slider.

    Could you please help to work it out?

    thank you.

  55. Love the theme but just can’t create drop down menus no matter how hard I try. I’ve tried for hours but to no avail. Can you please help? I’m running on the ephoto theme. thanks

  56. What about the ALL in ONE SEO integrated in this theme. Does it work as it is like the one developed my Michel Combat.

  57. I like the epanel feature of ElegantThemes what i’m looking for in the future update is to also integrate in epanel options the addition of Adsense ads below post title so that I won’t have hard time installing the ad code in every post i’ve made.

  58. Enable ‘display thumbs on index pages’ option in epanel does not show up in the new version. Can someone help me? Thank you so much….

  59. Hi,

    My eNEWS ePanel styles is broken… it shows the options in texts but no images

    What should I do?

    • If you need help, please open a ticket in our support forums so that our team can assist you.

  60. Hi, for all time i used to check weblog posts here in the
    early hours in the daylight, because i like to gain knowledge of more and more.

  61. Hello – your epanel doesn’t seem to be working for the Magnificent Theme. When I try to update it just gets stuck showing “Saving” with little rotating green lines. It never saves, just gets stuck. Please help.

    Thank you.

    John

    • If you need help with anything, please open a ticket in our support forums so that our team can assist you.

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