Version 4.0.0 Released

Dear Customers,

I am pleased to announce the release of Zhong Framework version 4.0.0.

A new approach

With version 4, the Zhong Framework aims to tackle accessibility requirements with a different approach compared to versions 3 and 2. This approach is known as Universal Design (or Inclusive Design). Further information about this topic is in this post.

What's new in this release?

Version 4.0.0 brings many important changes regarding performance, mobile compatibility, and, most importantly, accessibility and usability.

These are some of the most important improvements:

  • Cleaner interface: One of the main goals of this release is to improve the overall interface usability, therefore much effort was put into polishing and simplifying the layout: The top-bar was removed and it was replaced by a section besides the main menu. This section groups important site utilities into panels, such as the site search and the login form. Also, the breadcrumbs was moved on top of the main area as recommended by many usability guidelines.
  • Better mobile experience: The mobile layout has been merged into the default layout so that only media queries are used to serve the mobile site. Previously a separate layout was served and a mechanism of device detection was used for this purpose. This mechanism and any other device detection have now been removed. This improvement also allows the use of page caching techniques, which are used to speed up the website.
  • Better interaction usability: Old versions 2 and 3 used different code for handling the activation of elements. For example, sub-menus would open on hover if a mouse is used, or on touch if it is on a mobile device, or by using a hidden button if a keyboard is used. This approach wasn't very flexible and it was buggy on certain touch devices. In version 4 the interaction with menus and panels has been unified (on-click) so that the same code can handle multiple navigation types: touch, mouse, keyboard and screenreader. This approach was also tested and recommended by screenreader users.
  • Improved keyboard and sreenreader navigation: The HTML5 semantic structure has been improved and simplified. The "skip links" have been reduced and improved for a better keyboard-based navigation. Menus use an improved solution with aria attributes.
  • Improved performance: The JavaScript and PHP code performance has been improved.
  • Simplified administration interface: Fewer tabs and fewer options for the template's administration page.
  • Improved visual accessibility: Bigger font-size is now used by default, and all templates' elements now pass the WCAG AAA contrast level.
  • Live updates: Joomla will automatically check our servers for the latest update and alert you if any is available.

Free update for everyone

Version 2 and 3 are now considered obsolete and they will no longer be supported. Also, since this release brings many important changes and improvements, the update is provided free of charge. This means that you can download now the updated template from your orders without having to purchase a new template.

Further information about how to update your template can be found here: Zhong updates

Before you update

Both updates from versions 3.x.x and 2.x.x should go smoothly, however note that version 4 brings some changes in the site-layout, so be sure to check the preview in our gallery so that you are aware of what's changed.

If you are having difficulties with the update process, or if you have any questions about this new release, don't hesitate to contact me.