Why we developed Pillar
Pillar is built-into every installation of Koken, so there's nothing for you to setup or install. Simply follow along with our documentation to integrate it into your custom theme. If you have any questions or feedback about Pillar, we'd love to hear it, and encourage you to get in touch.
We wanted to give you advance notice of a key change to Koken's server requirements that will take effect at the beginning of next year. As of January 1st, 2015, we will no longer provide support for PHP 5.2.
Since the first private beta release (nearly 2 years ago now), we've provided support for any web host running PHP 5.2 or greater. While this allowed us to reach a broader audience, it has also hampered support efforts as time has gone by. PHP 5.2 was last updated in January of 2011, and no longer receives bugfixes or security updates. Furthermore, newer versions of PHP are both faster and more efficient, resulting in a better overall experience for Koken users.
Beginning in Koken 0.17.4 (which was released today), users who are still using PHP 5.2 will be notified by a warning modal and a message in Settings > System when they are signed in to the administrative console. If you are running PHP 5.2, we suggest you contact your host sooner rather than later to see what options they have for upgrading PHP. They may already have a way to update to a later version. Koken supports all the maintained, stable versions of PHP, which currently includes PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, and the newly released 5.6.
If you have not updated to PHP 5.3 or higher by January 1st, your installation will continue to work. However you will no longer be able to update Koken to new versions or receive technical support regarding server issues until PHP is upgraded.
At Koken we're always working to ensure you can setup our CMS at your web hosting provider of choice. Sadly, not all hosting providers are created equal, and it's frustrating and confusing (especially for us) when Koken runs slowly on one host compared to another.
To that end, we've published a list of recommended web hosts for some time. These hosts are known to be compatible with Koken and perform well. We regularly test installations at each provider and evaluate Koken's performance before every major release.
Today, we're adding a new entry to our recommended hosts: DigitalOcean. DigitalOcean is a hosting provider geared-towards web developers that provides high-performance virtual machines (DigitalOcean calls them droplets) at remarkably low prices. The $5/mo plan – which gives you a 512MB / 1 CPU droplet – is more than enough power to run most Koken sites, and it's really fast. All DigitalOcean droplets are equipped with SSD hard drives, which are ideal for file-heavy applications like Koken.
To help you get started with DigitalOcean we've created an official Docker image that allows you to boot up a DigitalOcean droplet and begin using Koken with a single command. If you're a web developer comfortable working with SSH and basic server administration, read on.
Docker bills itself as "an open platform for distributed applications for developers and sysadmins". What this means is that you can create consistent, fine-tuned environments for any Linux server that runs Docker. This allowed us to create a Docker image that is specifically tuned for Koken, providing the best possible experience on DigitalOcean or any other host that supports Docker. Our Docker image employs Ubuntu, nginx, MySQL, and the latest version of PHP 5 for optimum performance.
Since the beginning of the Koken public beta, Axis has been one of our most popular themes. It's a quiet, intentionally simple theme that combines center-aligned content with ample amounts of whitespace. It turns down the volume, and attempts to focus the viewer's attention on each and every image; similar to the experience of browsing a photo book or viewing a gallery exhibit.
Today we're excited to offer Axis 2, a completely revised version of the original Axis that maintains everything people loved about the original while extending and enhancing its design and customization options.
Here are a few of the new features included in Axis 2.
Grid layout control
Grids on content pages are now editable, allowing you to control the number of columns across all screen sizes, spacing, and the relative width of each column.
Redesigned mobile navigation
Visitors on smartphones may now browse your site through a persistent scroll-down menu that appears when clicking a button at the top. Mobile navigation also includes pagination buttons to scroll back to top or down to the next published item from anywhere in the page.
This menu appears automatically when a smartphone views your site, but you have the option of making this your primary navigation across all screens (as illustrated above) should you want even more whitespace and simplicity in your site design.
In addition to grid, list and slideshow layouts you also have the option of displaying your latest images, favorites, essays and timeline content as daily snapshots. This allows web site visitors to step through content one item at a time by day to help focus a viewer's attention.
Dynamic pagination, image heights
A common request from users of the original Axis was to help keep images from extending "beyond the fold" and allow pagination across pages without reloading the entire page (and then having to scroll down again). Axis 2 resolves both of these requests with images that scale automatically so they're never taller than a viewer's browser window and pagination links load neighboring content dynamically without page reloads.
Axis 2 adds additional templates for publishing a timeline, tags index, categories index, tag archive, category archive, and an alternate version of the home page slideshow that displays (and links to) featured albums instead of featured content.
Those are all the major new features you'll find in Axis 2. This is a premium theme priced at $60, which includes free technical support and upgrades. Check out the Axis 2 live demo to get an up close look at the new theme.
For users of the original Axis you may continue using the free theme for as long as you like, and we'll continue to update the theme with bug fixes and any necessary template improvements to reflect changes made to our Lens markup language.
Koken's built-in slideshow player - "Pulse" - now has the ability to scroll through content when swiped on smartphones and tablets. Simply touch a slideshow and swipe left or right to move the slideshow forward or backward. We think you'll agree it provides a more natural browsing experience that feels like a native app. View the front page our free Axis theme on your mobile device to see it in action.
Swiping is automatically turned-on for slideshows in most templates as well as all slideshows embedded in essays and pages. This applies to both new and existing slideshows on your site, and there's nothing for you to configure or change. Enable swiping today by signing-in to your Koken installation and upgrading to the latest release (0.16).
Also in this release we've optimized our responsive image publishing so replacement images are only requested if an element's size increases. The existing (larger) image is now re-used and downscaled if a parent element's size decreases instead of requesting a separate, smaller image. This saves bandwidth and avoids unnecessary image requests.
We've also added a setting that allows you to change your image processing software. This was added for users who install Koken on servers where multiple image processing software options are available and would rather use a different processor than the one Koken automatically selects at installation. You can find this new setting in Settings > Image Publishing.
This release also includes the usual round of bug fixes and optimizations, which you can read about in our release notes.
We've released an update for our Lightroom Publish Service plugin that addresses a few problems users have reported recently. Specifically, it resolves a bug that caused a recordPublishedPhotoUrl: must be called after recordPublishedPhotoId error to be shown inside of Lightroom. Also, we've improved how images that are members of more than one album are handled.
In publishing and in life, telling half a story is usually better. Koken's new "read more" links (now available in version 0.15) allow you to breakup essays into previews and full posts. Simply press return anywhere in an essay, click, then select the ellipsis.
When published your site's essays index and archive pages display everything up to your break point. Readers may then click a "read more" link to read the full post.
The more link's label is editable and contextual with each essay, so your call-to-action can reflect your own tone, voice and personality.
Start using 'read more' links today by updating your Koken installation to 0.15. Then if you're using one our themes, click on Store inside Koken and hit the updates page to bring your theme up-to-date. If using your own theme, here's the new template tag you'll need to support this.
Our premium Regale 2 theme has been updated to include a new cover image option for albums, sets, essays and pages. Here's a preview of what it looks like.
When enabled for albums or sets the collection's primary cover image is used for a background that scales to fill the browser's viewport. The collection's title, description, topics, categories, tags and social media share links are layered on-top. Site visitors may then view a collection's content by scrolling down manually or automatically by clicking the collection's title or down arrow.
When enabled for essays or pages the article's featured image is displayed along with similar text and links (title, excerpt, etc). If an essay or page doesn't have a featured image a cover isn't displayed.
The title of the collection, essay or page that appears on top of the image automatically downscales and upscales to point sizes that are appropriate for mobile devices, tablets and desktops. Regale's settings includes sliders (see below) that control the title's minimum and maximum point size should you want to make changes.
Another bit of creative control Regale offers is a background layer that sits between the cover image and text. The layer is completely transparent by default, but may be modified to use a color and custom alpha value for semi-opaque background images.
Covers automatically scale to the height of the browser's viewport across all screen sizes from the largest desktop to the smallest mobile device. Like every other image on your site, Koken provides smaller cover background images that are optimized for smaller screen sizes. Need to adjust the cover image's crop? You can do so easily by assigning a focal point in the Library.
Covers are included in the latest version of Regale 2, which existing users may download through the integrated Store. Cover images are turned off for backwards compatibility but may be turned on through the Template area of the theme settings panel.
Visibility allows you to control the appearance of images, videos, albums and sets on your Koken site. It's a feature that's been around since the beginning of the beta, but we decided it needed a bit more polish to help clarify its purpose and make it easier to use.
How does visibility work?
In a nutshell, every image, video, album and set in Koken's library includes an editable visibility property.
Public (default) content can be seen on your public web site by anyone, including search engines.
Unlisted content is not visible to the general public or search engines and can only be viewed on your site through a secret URL.
Private (images/videos only) content is not published anywhere on your site and visible only to you inside the library.
Redesigned Library interface
The left column in Koken's Library has been updated with new options (and icons by our good friend Jon Hicks) to help differentiate which content is public, unlisted and private.
Content displays all your published images and videos. These are items with Public visibility. Images/videos are (now) published in the same order (Date Published) as the calendar-based templates on your site.
Unlisted displays all images and videos with Unlisted visibility. You can drag-and-drop images and videos here to immediately change their visibility to Unlisted.
Private displays all images and videos with Private visibility. Like Unlisted you can drag-and-drop items here too.
Importing new images/videos
One of the biggest improvements in this release is how newly imported images/videos are handled. Import an image or video directly to an unlisted album and the content's visibility matches its parent album (Unlisted).
We've also added a global visibility setting for newly created albums and sets so you may choose whether collections are created as Public or Unlisted.
Together, these additions allow albums of unlisted content to be created and published together at the same time, which should prove especially useful for those using our Lightroom publish service plugin.
Album visibility improvements
We've also improved how content is handled when changing an album from Public to Unlisted or vice versa. Change an album to Unlisted and Koken will ask if you'd also like to change all content to Unlisted as well. The same happens in reverse when changing an album to Public.
This change will make site publishing faster and easier so you may publish an entire collection of unlisted content quickly.
We hope these changes make publishing unlisted collections of content easier and more intuitive. As usual, thank you to all our beta testers who provided feedback and suggestions concerning visibility. Your contribution helped us develop a better, more well-rounded solution for all.
Jumpstarter.io is a new provider that takes a different approach to website hosting and publishing. You sign-up for a free or paid account, create a project, pick which content management system you'd like to use, and go. And starting today, Koken is available for any Jumpstarter project.
Their pricing is comparatively higher, but Jumpstarter's service is all about convenience. They setup your server, database, and all the other important bits for you. Pick Koken for your project, enter the database details they provide, and you're up and running quickly without ever touching an FTP client.
One of the nice features they offer is a free plan (with limited page views) so anyone can setup Koken (or any other CMS) and have a look around at no cost with relatively little hassle.
Jumpstarter isn't of course your only option. Koken can be self-installed at most web hosting providers, of which we've had great results with InMotion, MediaTemple, Dreamhost and GoDaddy. All are comparatively less with more disk space, but setup is your responsibility.
No matter where you choose to setup Koken and publish a site there are plenty of options to choose from!
About a week ago we published proposed changes to unlisted content to improve usability. We asked for feedback, and in the days that followed received a lot of great suggestions and real-world examples of how our proposed changes would help (and in some cases hurt) workflow. So we went back to the drawing board.
Here's our new plan:
Continue to allow public content in unlisted albums
Nothing would change here. You would still be able to mix public and unlisted content together in an unlisted album. You'll also be able to continue mixing public and unlisted content in public albums as well (which we weren't planning on changing).
Public images/videos will become unlisted when added to unlisted albums only if they are new
If an image or video is imported directly to an unlisted album through either your browser or the Lightroom plugin, that image / video will be assigned unlisted visibility to match its parent album. You may then change the image/video visibility to public thereafter, should you choose to do so, and the image/video will stay in the album.
If one or more (already imported) public images/videos are added to an unlisted album, Koken will ask if you'd like to change their visibility to match. If not, the images/videos will be added. If yes, the images/videos will be added and changed to unlisted.
Changing an album from public to unlisted
Koken will check to see if the album contains public images/videos. If it does, Koken will ask if you'd like to assign unlisted visibility to all content in the album as well. If not, that's okay. The album will change to unlisted and the images/videos inside will be left alone.
New "Unlisted" view in the Library
Collections have this already, but not content. We're going to add an "Unlisted" view to the Library's left column that -- when selected -- displays all unlisted images/videos. This will also allow us to change the default sort of "All content" to "Date published" (instead of "Date captured") so that what you see in the Library matches the "Date published" order of your site's contents (aka photostream) page and timeline.
Extend global visibility setting to albums
Inside Settings > Importing is a setting that controls default visibility. This setting (currently) applies to imported images/videos only. As part of this update we're going to extend this setting to cover albums as well. That way, if a publisher changed this setting to unlisted and published a new album of images from Lightroom, the album and all the images contained therein would be unlisted from the get-go.
We feel this approach still accomplishes the goals we set out originally, but does so in a manner that doesn't conflict with anyone's current workflow and maintains Koken's flexibility in regard to content management in the library. If you have any feedback or questions feel free to get in touch. Our plan is for these changes to be rolled into Koken 0.14, our next console update.
Instagram Import, our premium plugin for importing and publishing Instagram images, has been updated with an entirely new interface and authentication procedure. The plugin now connects directly with Instagram's API and displays a list of all your Instagram images inside the library. Simply scroll, select, and press Import. Instagram Import retrieves your images as well as their titles and hashtags.
Instagram Import 1.5 also adds a new Instagram site template. This uses your theme's existing contents.lens template and displays all your imported Instagram images sorted by recency. You can find the template option in the Add Links sheet in Site (shown below).
This update is free for everyone who's already purchased the plugin. For everyone else, we're running a special 50% off promotion through this Friday, April 25th. Pick it up for $10 today through the Koken Store.
Koken offers the unique ability to designate albums, sets, images and videos as unlisted. This allows you to publish content to your site that can't be seen by general visitors or search engines. Unlisted content can only be viewed using secret urls.
In general it works great, but there's always room for improvement. One of the things we've learned from the past year is that the relationship between unlisted images/videos and albums can be confusing. We're planning on improving unlisted content in our next major update (0.14), but before committing pen to paper, we thought we'd share our proposed changes to hear your thoughts and feedback.
Here's where people typically get confused. Time and time again we've seen users create unlisted albums, then add images/videos to those albums and expect the images/videos to be unlisted as well. This doesn't happen because images, videos, albums and sets all have their own visibility setting. So you'd have to first create an unlisted album, add the images/videos you want, then edit the visibility of all images/videos inside the album to unlisted to publish a truly unlisted collection of content. In other words, it's a pain.
Here's our plan for fixing this.
Unlisted albums may only include unlisted images/videos
Public images/videos will no longer be allowed inside unlisted albums. In order for them to be added they must have unlisted visibility. Which leads to our next change...
Public images/videos will become unlisted when added to unlisted albums
If you drag/drop one or more public images/videos into an unlisted album, or import images/videos directly to an unlisted album, Koken will automatically set their visibility to unlisted.
Changing an album from public to unlisted
Let's say you have a public album containing public images and/or videos. If you try to change the album's visibility to unlisted, Koken will ask permission: "Unlisted albums may not contain public content. All public content in this album will change to Unlisted if applied. That okay?" Click okay and the album and all its images/videos will change to unlisted and be no longer accessible through your public site.
That's our plan. We believe it will make editing and publishing unlisted content clearer and easier to control. If you have any thoughts, feedback or questions, please contact us directly or post a question publicly.
Koken 0.13.2 is out the door and now available for download. This release includes a couple of notable improvements and updates:
Global preference for date published / captured
Our last update added batch date editing and shifting, with an additional option to copy captured dates to published dates so images appear in contents and timeline pages using the date they were actually taken, not the date they were uploaded and published by Koken. We've expanded this with a new global preference for those who'd prefer their images to always be published by their captured date. Check it out in Settings > Importing.
We've also updated Settings > Console so it displays the version number of your installation, plus an update button that appears when new versions of Koken are made available. This makes it easier to check whether your installation is up to date or download updates if you ignored an earlier alert.
Editing the published, uploaded and captured dates for individual images has always been possible with Koken, but not with multiple images at a time. For those uploading large amounts of archival content it was an issue that could easily lead to an arduous editing process.
Not anymore. Koken 0.13 not only allows you to assign new dates to multiple images at once, but shift existing dates forward and backward in time. Here's how it works.
Assign new date and time
Select two or more images, then edit Date Published. The default option is Assign new date and time. Select a date and time from the calendar widget and each selected image receives the same date and time.
Shift each date and time
Select Shift each date and time and a series of rows appear to increment or decrement the date and time currently assigned to each image. This will be super useful in situations where a sequence of images are in the correct date order but need to be shifted forward or backward in time together without affecting their original order.
Assign date captured
Edit Date Published for one or more images and you'll notice an extra option: Assign date captured. This copies the captured date from each image (which comes from the image's EXIF metadata). We included this option because images on the timeline and contents (aka photostream) pages are ordered by date published, which is usually the same date an image was uploaded to Koken. By copying date captured the image appears to have been published at the time it was captured so it's inline with related images.
If this is your first Koken upgrade, learn more about how upgrades work.
We've learned a lot since releasing our first public beta a year ago. Throughout the year we fixed bugs, improved features and expanded the platform with new functionality. More often than not, that transpired all at once in the form of overstuffed updates.
Sometimes in development there's no way to avoid big updates when features overlap one another, but all too often we found ourselves with new features and improvements sitting on the sidelines waiting for other tickets to close. On top of that, big updates create huge spikes and valleys in development cycles which can overheat and exhaust the engines of everyone involved.
So, we're retooling our release cycle for the rest of the year. The plan? Shorter sprints comprised of one or two new features per update, then pulling the trigger. This will not only allow us to release improvements faster (every few weeks, we estimate) but also help you keep on top of what's new without having to sift through a giant bullet point list every couple of months.
We'll still be including bug fixes and other tweaks, so nothing will change there. But anything that's new or notable will have its own dedicated milestone and release.
Already that effort is paying off. Our next point update -- 0.13 -- is nearly finished. It will incorporate the ability to assign time-shifted dates to multiple selections in the Library. This will be enormously helpful when you need to adjust the published, uploaded, or captured date for a range of images and videos. Expect more info on that soon.
Thanks everyone for your continued support and feedback. Our to-do list is long, but we're super excited to start tackling each and every new feature in the year ahead.
We put together a video demonstrating our new Vimeo Import plugin. Video covers connecting the plugin with your Vimeo profile, browsing and importing videos, and demonstrates how videos appear when published to your Koken site. Check it out:
Expect to see more videos posted in the weeks ahead to our Vimeo profile.
We know, you're busy. You don't always have time to sign-in to your Koken installation, follow this blog or peruse our socialmediaoutbursts to check for updates. We're going to fix that.
Starting today a new email is available for you to subscribe to. When enabled, we'll check (once a week) the installations, themes and plugins in your Koken Store account. If anything is out of date we'll email a summary of what we found. Here's an example email:
Important:This email is opt-in, so if you have a Koken Store account and would like to receive it, sign-in to your account and check this:
If you don't have a Koken Store account, sign-in to your Koken installation, click the Store link in the main navigation, then Account in the left column.
Expect to receive your first email the next time an installation, theme or plugin in your account receives an update. Happy downloading!
Just released a 0.12.5 update to resolve some quirky things we found since our most recent release. See what all is fixed in our release notes.
We've also fixed up our side-scrolling Boulevard theme so it works better with imported Vimeo videos and resolves slow-scroll problems on the Windows flavor of Firefox. We've also resolved an occasional (and rather annoying, to us anyway) content flickering problem where images would sometimes appear underneath the strip. If you're using Boulevard, first update your installation to 0.12.5, then go to Store > Updates to get the Boulevard update. After updating your live site will use the new theme update.
All your installed themes and plugins are now updated through a dedicated Updates page. Themes and plugins were updatable before, but now everything is organized together on a single page with release notes, version information, plus an Update All button that downloads and installs everything with one click.
The screen is accessed through the Koken Store. You will be notified anytime an update is available with an orange alert bubble (shown above) over the Store link reflecting the total number of available items.
You may be wondering, hey, where'd the Upload link go!? Yes, it's true, the main navigation no longer includes an Upload link. We redesigned and improved uploading in Koken 0.12 to not only import videos from Vimeo and images from Instagram but also make desktop uploading easier and more convenient.
Now you don't have to go to a separate screen to upload content from your desktop. You simply drag-and-drop images or videos into the Library's middle column and the items begin uploading immediately. For bonus points, if an album is currently selected, the images are automatically added to the selected album after import. Same goes for Favorites and Featured content - imported content is automatically favorited and/or featured for you.
On top of all that we've also added an option for importing images from anywhere online using their URL, which you can read more about in our new Import content help article.
Another item on our agenda was improving Koken's built-in lightbox viewer. We redesigned the links and icons to be brighter so they stand-out more above images and also added a new social media share menu which contains links for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+ so site visitors can easily share lightbox content with their followers.
We've also improved how the lightbox loads. Before, the lightbox was treated as a separate page, which meant after exiting the lightbox you would sometimes lose your place when navigating back to where you were. Now the lightbox is spawned as an inline iframe above the page you're currently viewing, so on index pages with long lists of content (like mosaic grid layouts in Madison and Regale) entering and exiting the lightbox no longer takes you out of the parent page.