Extensive Back-End Updates

Posted on July 20, 2011 by in Theme Changes/Bug Fixes | 120 comments

Extensive Back-End Updates


If you haven’t noticed, theme production has been a bit slower over the past month. This is because we have been hard at work performing some collection-wide back-end updates. While these behind-the-scenes source code updates may go unnoticed to the average user, I can assure you that many improvements have been made 🙂

Bug Fixes

We have fixed a few minor bugs that were causing frequent headaches in the forums.

Thumbnail Improvements – No More Timthumb

Until now, you had the choice of using the “Thumbnail custom field” or WordPress’s native “Featured Image” method for creating thumbnails for your posts. The thumbnail custom field used a third party script, Timthumb.php, to re-szie and crop your images. While timthumb is a great script, it was not as intuitive and could sometimes cause performance issues. At the same time, the “Featured Image” method only allows you to input a single photo for each post, making it impossible to use this feature for posts with multiple thumbnails. We have now re-written the “Thumbnail custom field” method to use WordPress’s internal image-resizing script to crop the thumbnails, instead of using Timthumb. This should result in a minor performance increase, file size decrease, and it also means you no longer have to adjust the permissions of the cache/ directory (making it more secure as well).

Performance Enhancements

We have made some changes to ePanel that should increase performance in wp-admin. Using ePanel should feel a bit snappier now, especially when saving your settings. Function updates across all theme files and the previously-mentioned thumbnail changes should also increase performance on the front-end.

Security Audit

We have performed a fresh audit on all of our theme files to continue to insure that they are as secure as possible. This includes insuring proper data validation on input/output, use of nonces on admin pages, MySQL injection protection, replacing depreciated WordPress functions, etc. While I am talking about security, let me remind you that it is important to always keep WordPress and your third party Plugins/Themes up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to keep frequent backups just in case. Automattic has released a new backup service that looks pretty cool if you are interested: http://vaultpress.com/

Update Notifications and Changelogs

Speaking of updates, we have taken some steps to make update notifications more accessible. Whenever a theme is updated, you will now receive an update notification in the WordPress Dashboard. A changelog will also display in the Appearances > Themes section of wp-admin when your theme is not up-to-date. Furthermore, these changelogs have been integrated into the Elegant Themes member’s area for easy viewing.

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  1. Sounds like a massive undertaking! Great job and I’m looking forward to seeing this stuff in action. 🙂

    Back to more themes now?

    • Yea these look like some awesome changes! Can’t wait to see what new themes you also have cooking.

  2. Great update. Keep the great work. I am waiting for the new business theme. I need it for our local organisation.

    Thans for such beautiful wordpress themes.


  3. Thnx Nick & team for the updates.
    Keep up the good work!


  4. Great work, as usual! Now here is some wishful thinking. Are your themes version-controlled? It would be so much easier to update a theme if I could use cvs, svn or git to bring the latest updates and merge them against my own local modifications automatically. That would probably require a user account or a public key on your side to make sure they are not downloaded by non-member (said account or permissions could then be revoked/suspended when membership expires).

    • +1

    • +1

      For extensively customised themes, the current update process is rather a large headache…

  5. A moment of silence please for timthumb… though he served us well, he has been… deprecated. Update Notifications is a great feature. Looking forward to staying up-to-date.

  6. Looking forward to the Update Notifications. That will make child themes even more important.

  7. Bravo for the update Notifications and Changelogs!

  8. JG!

  9. Hi Nick. Could i update excisting Themes aswell without losing the modifications? And how About post using tinytumb, do I update them if I upgrade à Theme?

  10. thanks for updates! i’m happy for “No More Timthumb” ;P

  11. Update notifications is a huge deal – but could you include a list of changed files in your changelog?

    I often customize the themes I’m using, and using the automatic update can break things as a result 🙁

    • awesome. yes. a list of files to replace would be welcomed rather than risking overwriting customization.

      • We usually include a list in the changelog. However, for extensive updates like this pretty much every file is updated. If you are making mainly css changes then you might want to consider making a child theme.

        • If the themes are in a revision system, updating a local repository would take care of merging most of the updates, right?

    • I would also advise you to consider making a child theme.
      That will make your life far easier 🙂

  12. Great news!

  13. YES, YES, YES – thanks for listening, Nick.
    It’s a next big step. Cool.

  14. Great news! Looking forward to the update notifications and changelogs. Are you planning some more visible backend changes like some more shortcodes, page templates and stuff like that?

  15. Thanks everyone at Elegant Themes. These are definitely positive updates and I like that ePanel performance has been improved 🙂

  16. Good to know that you are updating themes. Finally Changelogs will serve their purpose.
    BTW, Any news of Child Themes? and support for WP 3.2 Features?

  17. Hi,

    I’m looking for themes that can create squeeze pages, salespages, works w/ membership sites plugins..etc.

    Can I use yours to complish the above using your backend shortcodes or widgets type to implement without coding knowledge?


  18. Greatttt .. !!!

    In Indonesian we say it ” Mantaaabbbbbb ” 😉

  19. If we update a theme that used Timthumb is it going to transfer fine or will the images have to be re-sized again? I would update, but a bit nervous since I have 100’s of cropped timthumb images. Also does the new image option let you specify at top crop or bottom crop like timthumb?

    Great news on the updates.

    • I wondering the same.

      will it be possible to select which part of the image you would like to use for croped images? when I was using the timthumb I noticed that it was always in the centre of the image no matter what I did and had to create a seperate image so the thumb nails would display correctly.

      Do I still need to create seperate thumbnails or will I be able to select which part of the larger picture I would like to use inside word press?

      • Hey Richard, Timthumb does this. You just need to add a custom field called etcrop and git a t for top, or b for bottom, etc. I’m hoping the new backend has something similar and can migrate existing thumbs.

        • that never worked on my system I am not sure why. I have read through all the docs and still couldnt get it to work which is why I resulted to using the word press featured image. I guess I am after a crop feature thats a little more…exact in the themes.

  20. Awesome Nick! Keep up the good work. Support and amazing updates are what complement the whole service. Gonna leave a shout about this.

  21. Great work done in performance enhancement.

  22. Awesome Nick! Keep up the good work. Update notifications is a big news. Keep up the good work!

  23. Is there an auto update feature ?

    Also as a side note, the back end adjustments you have made, will this allow the new ecom options (under the Boutique theme) to be available under E shop? I find the current shops under this theme….limited.

  24. Hi Nick,
    You mentioned validation in the update, does that mean W3C code compliance?

    Thanks for making things better!

  25. Update Notifications was the much required feature, I was waiting for. I had seen this in some other themes but Elegant Themes were lacked.
    Happy to have it.
    I believe to add this, first time we had to copy these updated themes to WP installation and then for subsequent changes we will get notification. Right?

  26. Thank You ET! 🙂

  27. You’re removing timthumb?? Man as far as I know core wordpress can’t “zoom-crop” images.

    How’d handle that?

    • It does zoom/crop. You shouldn’t notice any difference in how your images are displayed when updating the theme.

  28. Thanks for continuing the great work … I’m quite new to the creating/maintaining aspect of websites, so having nice templates is a great gift.

    That said, how do I tell if I have the latest template? I downloaded mine about 2 weeks ago. And what is a child template?


  29. May be a stupid question, but when will this big update be available? I can’t find it in this blog neither has the changelog of my theme in de members area been updated. 🙂

    • The chagenlogs should be updated now. Sorry for the delay.

      • I just downloaded two themes (simplepress and nova) and they still say their outdated.

        Any way I can double check this or was the css file just not updated?

        • Sorry about that, I have now updated their stylesheets to the correct version.

      • Please name the versions – e.g. NovaTheme1.8
        It’s a bit confusing now.

        • The version should be updated now. Sorry for the confusion.

  30. Newb warning: How can I implement the updated themes, especially for taking advantage of the Update Notifications and Changelogs, without loosing my existing content or configuration?

  31. FYI, the stylesheet in the SimplePress zip still has version 3.1, which makes WP think it needs to be updated.

    • Fixed, sorry for the confusion.

  32. Thanks Guys!!!

    When will Nova theme recieve an Update ?

    will works immage resize in “stock ” featured immage ??

  33. What about the slider issues on at least (5) of the themes you guys have?

    Script is not working correctly in Firefox and Chrome for the featured sliders. The speed automatically speeds up when navigating to another opened tab. Has this been addressed?

    Several of us have posted in the forums with no response that it’s gone unnoticed or not.

    Here’s the link to the topic:



    • This problem has been fixed in Modest, Chameleon, Envisioned and MyCuisine.

      • More slider issues from this update. The span tags are not being evaluated, at least in the Nova theme. They literally show up as tags in the slider titles. JavaScript or backend issue?

        • Problems solved in version 1.9!

  34. This back-end work proves, once again, that elegantthemes.com is, bar one, the most valuable membership site I belong to! Keep up the good work! I’m so glad I got in at the #29/year price, and will never give it up!


  35. Sweeeeet. Great job on the updates.

  36. Now that’s the way to do it. As I write in the prev blog post, ET is the most profitable vendor when it came to “what vendor should I use for my premium templates”. Great job Nick, another reason why people should choose elegant themes: “Nick and the team always take care of their users”. Good jobs.

  37. Nice Move Nick !!

    Can I just upload the new version over to replace the existing one except the stylessheets that I’ve customised?


  38. Nice, that You managed that “update-the-theme”- Stuff so elegantly.

    Keep on improving. Competition never sleeps.

  39. Fantastic……Great Work!!!!1

  40. I just updated Envisoned from 1.2 to 1.4. I only had some minor stylesheet additions to worry about. However, I’ve lost some of my thumbs, but not all. I cannot for the life of me figure out what may have happened.

    The slider and my ‘Photographs’ page both show the same behavior. Zooming an image still displays it though. Any one experience this? (I know, I should go to the forum to post)

    Very pleased with the updates nonetheless.

    • It appears that the problem is caused by using the ‘etcrop’ custom field. Has that been deprecated with the update? Or is there a new custom field? Thanks.

    • And to conclude my dumb self, the problem was with permissions on the cache folder. When I uploaded the updated theme the new cache folder wasn’t set to 777.

      Hopefully this saves at least one other person the same question 😀

  41. WOOOOW! You’re true hero’s!

    Keep it up and take your time!

  42. My site is using Magnificent 1.6
    I see in the member’s area that the latest version is Magnificent 1.8
    But I don’t see the update notification in the WP-Dashboard mentioned above.
    Is this just for magnificent or the WP version?
    I am using WP 3.1

    I am downloading Magnificent 1.8 from ET Members Area now. But I hope it can be updated via WP Dashboard.

    Thanks very much.

  43. One more thing. Does this update make all themes now fully compatible with WordPress 3.x MultiSite enabled?

    Thanks for the update on the homepage Slider.

  44. I assume that if I’ve customized style.css (to reduce empty space at the top of the page) I’ll have to redo that with every update?

    If so would it would be a better idea to make a plugin that would make this change rather than actually altering style.css?

      • ChildTheme would be a perfect solution.

        So all ET themes are childtheme-ready??

        • Sure, you can create child themes for any of our themes.

          • Good to know that, and thank so much Nick.

          • Sorry to hijack but I’m having a hard time creating a child theme for ColdStone. Any CSS specific to the Stone style sheet will not override it. For example, I can’t make the logo div taller or change background images.

  45. What about back-end translation ?
    ePanel should be translation ready.

  46. When I try to update Chameleon, I get the following error:

    An error occurred while updating Chameleon: Update package not available..

  47. Excellent news. Did you guys, per chance, update the comments.php file to use the built in comment_form() function in WordPress rather than having a hard-coded form? This has turned into a bit of a pain as I create more sites as I have to go through each templates comments.php file and replace any of the custom code there with the wordpress function. Primary reason this is helpful is for some plugins used to help cut back on spam – they create new fields in the comment forms that aren’t visible because the code being used only includes the standard who, email, subject and message fields.

    Great work though – thanks for the update.

    • Yes, we updated all of the themes to use comment_form().

  48. Hwen will the download section have this updates and does it aply all themes?

    • It applies to all themes, and they have already been updated. You can download the latest version of the theme from the members area.

  49. Hopefully, you will remedy the Nova theme issue of rendering tags in the slider, and on the buttons. A problem which still exists even following your last update!

    • This should be fixed in the latest version. Are you referring to the spans not working correctly?

  50. One suggestion for the download section is having just the theme files and the PSD files & related files separate. Each time there is a theme update say I want to only download the theme files and not the PSDs it just adds to more bandwidth usage both at your end as well as our end. Possibly a zipped theme file should not be more than 1-3 mb as against 50-100 mb it currently is due to all files in a single zip. Now compare that to 10000 users downloading each theme again. Now that adds up to a lot.

  51. Would love to update my themes but I can’t login any longer. My username and password are not being accepted. I tried the request to send a new password and nothing happened. I am locked out of theForum which means I am locked out of support.

    • Please use the contact form to send us an email and we will figure out what’s wrong.

  52. How do I turn on the calendar for the events theme. It just sits at January. I posted an event, but can’t get the calendar to be active. I just loaded it. So I am wondering if there is something I need to turn on.

  53. Thank you for the updates.

    I wanted to point out a side effect to the removal of timthumb:
    It seems the removal actually increases file size rather than decrease it.

    Before the update I could upload a smaller width/height image for the featured article area and timthumb would expand/stretch it to fit the area.

    Now I actually have to upload a larger image (higher kb) because it is no longer being resized to fit the area.
    (unless the new method is not working?)

  54. i am so happy for fixed bugs on ET themes. Thanks for the great update.

  55. I love the ePanel improvements! All themes I have installed now save super fast 🙂


  56. Can U add the Date of the Change (Update) from the Themes on the Homepage?
    Like Theme: XYZ Version: 1.1 Date:1.7.2011

    On the Homepage i can not see, if a new Update or do i have Download the current Version. I must redownload the Theme. So it was simpler and save Traffic

  57. While all these updates are great, especially the Update Notifications but I am interested when the themes will be updated to work with IE9? I’m sure they do but I don’t see that listed anywhere. What about bringing all your themes up to work on IE7-IE9, forget about IE6, it’s a dead browser.


    • All of our themes will work fine with IE9.

  58. Muito bons os temas. emelhor ainda que são atualizados.

  59. Maybe someone answers me if I try it here. I made the theme update, now the search box is not working anymore. Also the change from prettyphoto to fancybox is a big problem as I can’t use fancybox to open a website or a video.
    And do I have to beware of something special as removed timthumb? Do I still have to use custom field then or do I use the wordpress function?

  60. Will you update the Social Media Icon’s to include a G+ icon?

  61. Great job…
    is nice to have the updates

    thanks for all

  62. How do I update my theme right now? I know I’m on an older version.

  63. I have error mesagge when I tried upgrade my theme “personalpress” my actual version is 2.7 and use hostgator

  64. Great, I’ve a site with thousand of pictures loading from another server and croping with thinthumb (as they are too many pictures to save on my server), I’ve a full disneyland day t’day 🙂

    Great 🙁

  65. Hello,
    I have upgraded to the latest version of deepfocus theme,deleted the older version manually through Ftp and uploaded the latest version but i am getting a error on my homepage,and i am using wordpress version 3.0.3,can anyone helpout.

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_basename() in /home/salunkem/public_html/cgblog/wp-content/themes/DeepFocus/epanel/custom_functions.php on line 552

    • Same issue here. All thumbnails are gone. The pictures not only have to be in the same domain, they also have to be within the wordpress directory. So I have to move all my pictures 🙁

      A migration script would be much appreciated.

  66. I re-installed ebusiness theme on my site in response to your email last week about Tim Thumb security issues but now my site is all messed up. The sliders and blog are not displaying. All the configurations are correct according to instructions. I’ve posted multiple times in the support forum about this issue but have had little to no help. This is for a client site and it’s been almost a week that I have been trying to fix it. Can you please help me?
    Thanks in advance.

  67. Love the updates! Looks great. Keep up the good work:)

  68. Automatically cropping a thumbnail for any reason destroys the product image.

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