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Articles 09/2017

Postmaster 1.4

Postmaster 1.4 is now available. It's been a little over 4 months since the last release, so we wanted to give you a breakdown of what we have been working on. There are 34 updates logged in this update, 14 of which are new features. View Changelog

First and foremost, Postmaster 1.4 is now EE 2.7 ready. All known issues with compatibility of the latest versions of EE have been resolved, so be sure to report any problems or feedback if you find something that was missed. In addition to the 2.7 updates, Postmaster also features an additional 12 bug fixes to push forward in the realm of stability. From the very beginning, Postmaster has been a product of iteration. Each major point release brings huge changes to the API, which in turn unlock exponentially new possibilities while maintaining the integrating and stability of the existing API's. A lot of care is given to main the integrity of the existing API's to make life during for updates.

Postmaster 1.4 is no exception, and in typical Objective HTML fashion, it pushes these boundaries even further with the new Tasks API. Tasks are really a very simple concept. A task is anything you want to do, at any given time. These items are usually performed in the background silently and programmatically. Tasks can be triggered with a hook (you can trigger the same task with more than one hook even), or a CRON job. Up until now Postmaster has been about email. But truth be told, that's just to make the product less abstract and sensible to non-developers. But Postmaster is designed to be able to delegate any action, at anytime, and Tasks is really the vehicle to get you there. It's also the last missing piece of the necessary API's to make just about anything possible.

So what is a Task and why should you use it? A common scenario is interacting with Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor. People want to subscribe or unsubscribe people programmatically in various components of their applications and websites. Some people want this to occur after they register with Zoo Visitor, or Profile:edit, or FreeMember, while others want it to work after purchasing an item with Store. What about the next client that wants the same thing with CartThrob, or BrilliantRetail? You get the point... These tasks need to be made universal and capable of happening at anytime. And the best part of the Tasks API, is it makes all these things possible to create with just a few lines of code. The Tasks API was built for serious developers wanting the absolute cleanest code that is incredibly easy to maintain. Let Postmaster do the hardwork, so you (the developer), can do much more with less.

That's not all included in this release... With Photo Frame, we learned the value and importance of integrating as many popular third-party add-ons as possible. After all, the EE community is what makes this platform so great. So we are very proud to announce advanced integrations with Expresso Store, Zoo Visitor, and Better Workflow. All new hooks are available for these add-ons, and even a new Weekly Sales Report notification for Store.

And on a side note, I am huge proponent of quality nomenclature and want to give credit where its due. Tasks have always been an idea in my mind since before Postmaster was ever released publicly, except for the longest time I had no idea what to call "it". In fact, it's one of the reasons why the feature is just now being introduced. How can I sell a feature and an idea if I don't even know what to call it? Well, one day browsing Statamic docs I stumbled upon "Tasks". It was clear that this concept was very similar to what I had spec'ed for Postmaster and the nomenclature was just perfect. So a big thanks to the Statamic Team for a nudge in the right direction with this nomenclature. I love Statamic, and is a real joy to work with it, so if anything this is a friendly tribute to a great product.

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Photo Frame 1.2

Photo Frame 1.1 was just recently released with over 70 updates - the largest single update that we have ever released in any of our products. However, as big and inclusive as it may have been, it was still missing a few critical components from our perspective. In addition, ExpressionEngine 2.7 was released not long after featuring a brand new fieldtype called Grid. Of course, Photo Frame has to be made compatible with not only 2.7, but also Grid.

However, 2.7 and Grid were not the only things on the radar. After talking to people actually using Photo Frame with client projects, it because very clear that the cropping paradigm wouldn't work for every scenario. Some designers needed more flexibility, while clients thought it was still confusing. What is it about those marching ants that throws off the average user? To developers and designers, the cropping is black and white and makes a lot sense. But to average users that just wanted to upload some photos, it still didn't solve their problem. And since we build solutions, not just software, a new expansion pack was an order.

So for those with clients with particular cropping requirements, or those that just want a better UI/UX, the Focal Pack is just the thing for you. Focal cropping takes the focus away from ratios, dimensions, resolutions, and resizing to put the focus back on the photo (no pun intended). Literally, the focal pack allows your users to define the focal point of any photo so you, the developer or designer, can crop the photos dynamic on the front-end in as many ways as you need. For instance, the user uploads 1 single photo, assigns the focal point, and now you can crop thumbnails, banners, rectangles, and anything else you need from that photo all based on that user defined focal point. Photo Frame handles all the caching and resizing to make this process a breeze for you and your clients. This is by far our favorite feature and one our clients are rejoicing about. Don't ever belabor the client with how to resize and crop photos properly. Instead, just get the Focal Pack and never deal with this problem again.

Photo Frame 1.2 really takes things to the next level in terms of capability and overall functionality. And as always, upgrades are designed to be smooth and backwards compatible. We love features and new functionality as much as anyone, but stability is always the top priority here. 1.2 takes care of some nasty bugs, and MSM users will find Photo Frame 1.2 much more reliable on alternate sites. We hope that you can find new uses and future enhancements to Photo Frame. Be sure to drop us a line if you have any feedback - we'd love to hear!

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