Right on schedule comes the release of the Publii Beta 4, and this time around there's some great flexibility enhancements that will greatly expand the services you can use to get your Publii site out to the world, as well as several new features to give you even more options to make your site unique. Plus, as always, we've got a long list of improvements, fixes and enhancements to smooth out the Publii experience.
As usual, if you're already sold and want to dive in and try the latest beta release, head on over to the Publii Frontpage to get your download; simply run the downloaded file and Publii will take care of the rest!
For those of you who would rather learn a bit more about what's available in Beta 4, stick around as we go through all the new additions, starting with:
GitHub Pages Support
When you're working on a project it's nice to be able to build a unique website that more clearly defines your project's functionality, features and goals without the unintuitive standard layout of GitHub. Thanks to GitHub Pages you can indeed build your own project website directly connected to your repository, but there are no easy-to-use tools to do so; it is simply a area ready for HTML content.
With Publii Beta 4 we've expanded the support to include Github pages, so you can now instantly upload a complete, stylish site to your GitHub, just as you would when uploading to Amazon S3 or a standard server; no need to manually create the HTML and CSS content.
This provides a much more effective alternative to the popular static website generators for creating a website on Github pages. These tools take website content in the form of text files, convert it, and output the content as a ready-to-use static website. However, this had some severe drawbacks; these generators are designed for use by experienced web developers, so it has little to offer the inexperienced with complex setup and deployment and near-impenetrable user guides for newcomers, unlike Publii's user-friendly functionality and website syncing. In addition, the generator doesn't make it easy to update content; users must still manually write posts in Markdown or HTML, whereas Publii offers a flexible text editor that includes all the extra features you expect from a modern app.
With Publii's newly-added support you'll have all the tools and functionality to create a stunning website for your project quickly and easily, without any of the hassle that other static-website generators suffer from.
It's one thing to get a user to visit your site, and quite another to keep them; the more you can encourage visitors to explore your website and checking out the content you have on offer, the better. To facilitate this, we've added a new Related Posts feature that will create, as the name suggests, a related post section on each post's page with links to other posts in the tag.
With this, your visitors will be able to see a wider range of your content, increasing your chances that they will stick around a while longer and reducing your bounce rate.
Post Duplication and Editor Sidebar Revamped
Delving into the content creation side of Publii, the new beta includes the ability to duplicate a post with a click of a button, so if you've got the settings down pat you can easily transfer them to a new post.
There's also been a bit of a rework in the post editor, which has been redesigned to make it even easier to use than before; make sure to give it a try!
Backup Renaming and Improvements
Backups were a welcome addition in the Beta 3 release, but the filenaming convention wasn't to everyone's taste; dates and numbers don't always give you the information you need. In Beta 4, a new option has been added to the backup section allowing you to rename any existing backup; now you'll be able to label your files with more informational names, rather than having to remember exactly when the backup you need was saved.
That's not all on the backup front; we've also reworked the system to prevent the backup process from storing unnecessary files. What this means is that your backups will be around 3-times lighter than before, so you'll be able to save a lot more before you'll need to start worrying about storage.
We think our design team have done a darn good job creating themes for Publii that are interesting and effective while still staying true to Publii goal of usability, even for beginners. Still, if you've got a knack for web design, or are just starting out and want to add a personal touch to your Publii site, then theme overrides are for you.
In earlier versions of Publii it was possible to add your own styling by editing the existing theme files, but this was prone to issues; if the theme was updated then all your changes would be lost, and tracking which files have been edited and which haven't isn't the easiest task! With theme overrides, you'll be able to create a separate override folder for your chosen theme, and create your own version of any of the theme files to not only add your custom styling, but also keep your changes separated from the core files.
Now you'll be able to easily keep track of your edited files, and won't have to worry that all your changes will be lost in an update! To make use of this feature, you'll need to find the themes folder in your Publii website's input directory (where your site files are; not the general themes folder), then create an override folder for your specific theme with the format themeFolderName-override. Now you can put copies of any theme files you want to override in this new folder, and they will be used instead of the originals. For a full step-by-step breakdown of how to make and use this override folder, check out our Theme Override Tutorial .
JSON Feed Generation
For many people RSS and Atom feeds are their primary way to keep track of new content, getting all the latest posts directly to their device of choice. Recently, we've seen another option enter the fray; JSON feeds. These work exactly like RSS or Atom, but using JSON files as the base. Given that JSON is such a popular file format, it's sure to be a popular option for many feed readers.
The latest Publii beta includes support for this feed format, so as well as generating RSS and Atom feeds you can also make sure your site is ready for any modern users who prefer a more robust file format.
Menu, settings and other enhancements
As with every beta release, as well as new features we also do some spring cleaning, adding lots of little improvements that enhance the user experience. In the Beta 4 release, you can look forward to the following:
- Internal menu items with broken links will automatically be hidden, preventing visitors from hitting error pages when browsing your site.
- When reverting back to a previously-used theme the prior settings may also be restored; no need to manually set them up again!
- Added date translation options; the language selection setting may be found on the Basic Settings screen.
- Removed regenerate thumbnails warning when switching to a theme that uses the same thumbnail settings.
- Improved server settings check during connection test.
- Updated Electron to v.1.6.8.
- Added a more user-friendly method for finding post and tag names when linking a menu item to internal elements.
- Added simple backup verification before initializing restore to prevent loading a corrupted backup.
- All themes (excluding Square) got tons of improvements: typography is now more dependent on viewport; added related items, article pagination, and last modified date; updated mobile menu, Simple theme was rebuild and now looks a lot better (we do hope :))
It's not all excitement and new features; every release also comes with a full set of bugfixes that get rid of whatever little niggles we and our users have found. This release includes:
- Fixed issue with saving empty post slugs.
- "Formats" dropdown list now hidden when theme has no custom styles.
- Fixed rendering preview of posts with non-default post templates
- Improved display of the post status - without unnecessary commas
- Removed potential memory leaks for some of the internal app events
- Fixed issue with infinite loop of alerts in the preview window for some edge cases
- Fixed few issues with popup used to specify post publish date
- Removed possibility of creating empty tag slug
And that's the lot for Publii's Beta 4 release. We hope you enjoy this release, and remember that we're always happy to hear from our users, whether you want to highlight bugs that you've found, give us suggestions for quality-of-life improvements or new features you'd like to see, or just let us know what you've been up to with the app! Drop in on our Publii Community Page and let us know what you think, or give us a shout in the comments below.