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New Builder Theme Settings Released

iThemes Builder version 2.7.0 released yesterday. This version brought a huge number of changes. The biggest change for most Builder users is the new settings screen. A new settings screen sounds boring, but these new settings give users access to new features and control over existing features.

I’ll describe the changes in more detail below, but a video may communicate some of the details more clearly. Full screen and other resolutions are available if you’d like to see more text detail.

Editor Redesign

The purpose of the interface redesign was to make it easier for new users to get started while giving experienced users more options.

To prevent from overwhelming the user with too much information at once, the settings were divided into discrete logical groups. This allowed for the addition of detailed descriptions and more settings without making the interface too crowded.

Since the settings now takes up so much vertical space, a Quick Links box was added to inform users what types of settings are available without requiring them to scroll through the entire page.

With plans for integrated SEO options and a settings importer/exporter, a place had to be created for these new features. They are similar in concept to the settings editor and would clutter up the My Theme menu if they were added to it. The final decision was to use the tabs from WordPress’ Themes page interface. With the addition of tabs, the settings page can be expanded to include many new similar but separate pages of settings and settings-related tools.

Menu Builder

The Menu Builder has not been modified. It has worked well for a long time as is. It merely got a facelift and some description.

Analytics and JavaScript Code

Builder’s old settings page included a single text area to input code for either the header or footer. While this has worked very well for a long time, I thought that it could definitely be improved.

I dug around and found that most WordPress users use either Google Analytics or Woopra for their site’s web analytics solution. This being the case, I thought I could create some tools to make integrating these services easier to do. Beyond just providing an easy-to-use tool, I thought that this settings section could also serve as an introduction to the concept of web analytics for some users.

I should note that simple integration is just the beginning for the Google Analytics and Woopra tools. Code is already being put together that adds event tracking (such as visitor commenting and searching), action tracking (outgoing, download, and mailto link clicks), as well as visitor data (details about logged in users and visitors that have left a comment).

Of course there will always be a need to input custom code. The old settings limit of supporting either header code or footer code but not both was unnecessary. The new settings supports having custom code in both locations at the same time. A simple change that should be very helpful to some users.

Identify Widget Areas

In the past, Builder would always put some filler text in empty widget areas so users could easily see the name of that area. This helps users work with numerous layouts quickly, but it wasn’t without problems.

One of the biggest problems was that this filler text would show not just to logged in users but to visitors as well. An option existed to turn this off, but this really wasn’t ideal. Now there are three choices for who can see the filler text: users that can modify widgets, any logged in user, and everybody. By default, this information will only be shown to users that have the ability to manage widgets.

Another issue is that the filler text would only show in empty widget areas, which could make it difficult to quickly identify a widget area after having added widgets to it. Builder still has this behavior by default, but settings are available to either always show or never show the widget area identification.


In many themes, comments don’t exist in the page.php template. This means that many themes don’t support page comments even though WordPress does. Builder has always had support for page comments, but this has caused a great deal of frustration for some users that couldn’t stand seeing the “Comments are closed” message on their pages. Eventually, a rule was added to stylesheets to hide this “Comments are closed” message, but this also had the effect of removing that message on posts that actually did have their comments closed.

The correct solution became very clear, provide settings to control this. Now, by default, pages are devoid of comments as many users expect; however, by checking the “Pages” option and saving your settings, page comments can be very easily enabled. Similarly, the “Comments are closed” message is disabled by default and an option has been added to provide a custom message if desired.

Theme Features

Over the past year, a number of features have been bundled in with Builder. If a user wished to disable a specific feature, customizations to Builder itself would be required, and the process would require specific knowledge. Now the features that can be safely disabled are centralized in a standard system and can be enabled and disabled from the settings screen. No code modification required.

Other Stuff

There have been a large number of other changes, but most of them are boring technical details, so I won’t bore you with that information. These other changes boil down to a benefit of faster theme performance. I’ll leave it at that. :)

Many of the decisions that went into this redesign were in response to feedback from Builder users. Please let me know what you think about the changes by leaving a comment below.


Check out the iThemes Builder Blowout Sale


  1. Thank you for the great additions/changes. The “comments are closed” enable/disable feature is much appreciated.

    Three requests:

    1. Please add post Author & Date enable/disable option
    2. Please add page Title enable/disable option
    3. Please add line spacing setting in Style Manager for elements such as titles, lists, etc.

    Thanks again!

    • I really appreciate the additions and changes to Builder. It is a pleasure to have a product that is being enhanced in positive ways. I also agree with Gene about his requests for additional enhancements, especially the page title enable/disable and the line spacing settings!


  2. the menu stuff is driving me nuts, so it’s seems you menu builder is extremely primitive to the point of being useless, so I am supposed to use the Menu Editor for WP 3.0 which seems nice but now there is NO WAY that I can tell to get it to publish where the menu was in the child theme. Sure I can dump it in one of the widget boxes but it’s just a bunch texts with links. uggh.

    • The new description in the Menu Builder indicates that using the menu system built into WordPress is recommended since it is much more powerful. It also indicates how the different menu options work.

      To use a menu you have built in the Appearance > Menus editor to a navigation area in Builder, modify the layout you wish to change, edit the Navigation module you wish to use (or add a new one in the desired location), and pick the desired menu from the drop-down. You can see this process in this video at about the 4 minute mark.

  3. This is awesome news! I am especially pleased about the changes to Widget Areas and the ability to specify the way comments are handled on pages versus posts. Builder rocks, and just gets better all the time!

  4. Any chance you could add something in the functions.php where I can remove the Theme Settings panel completely? My goal is to remove it for everyone except Super Admin via the functions file in my child theme.

    That way I can roll it out in my organization, have Admins, yet keep the design from being changed.

    • I’ve seen your post about this. Your idea for the add_theme_support method matches the new functions.php setup very well.

      The next release will have this as I already have some basic code doing this, but it needs some more testing.

  5. Hey Chris!
    Thank you for the updates! I haven’t been using a child theme to date. I have 2 questions:
    1. if I am using the Style Manager plugin , will my styles be transferred over with the update?
    2. If using a child theme, can you customize a layout? I haven’t used one b/c nothing fit my needs exactly.

    Sorry for the naive questions…
    Happy Holidays!

    • Style Manager maintains it’s own settings, so it will be unaffected by the update.

      The layouts system is built into Builder itself. The child themes apply a different look on top of Builder, changing how the site looks while keeping all the layout capabilities of Builder. So, yes, you can customize layouts with a child theme in the same way that you can without a child theme.

  6. Google Analytics offers numerous options with their Analytics Code settings. I would assume that the addition of the Google Analytics Account ID setting instead of JavaScript code is only for the most rudimentary Analytics settings.

    If Analytics options such as:

    tracking one domain with multiple domains,
    multiple top level domains,
    a site built for mobile phone,
    tracking Google Adword campaigns,
    tracking other ad campaigns, etc.

    are desired and which provide different JavaScript code they must be added to the Javascript area rather than just selecting the “enter Google Analytics Account ID check box.

    The simple enter code alternative does not give any indication of what type of information is being tracked.

    I will continue to use the JavaScript code entry failing any documentation of the simple Account ID entry option.

    • Enabling Google Analytics and entering your Account ID is the same as taking the basic JavaScript given to you by Google Analytics (without any customization) and adding it to the site. So, yes, people with custom needs will want to use the text areas to input custom code rather than using the built-in Google Analytics integration.

      I do have some code in the works that automatically tracks outbound, download, and mailto links as well as some visitor tracking. However, this needs much more testing and development, so I don’t have an estimate on when it will be released.

      Even when this does come out, it will still not be able to handle every specific need, so a custom solution will still be necessary. The goal of the integration is to give people who don’t want to fuss with details to get up and running as quickly as possible.

  7. Chris. Many thanks!
    one request – could you give some extra options for the gallery display- The one I would KILL for – could you make a button that allows you to select: show the DESCRIPTION text of the image? And I’ll bet there are other functionalities that you could offer that would make Builder super friendly to those of us who want to display galleries / grids of photos. I know those functionalities are hiding in the gallery code. I hear them whispering when the lights are out. 😉
    PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! But most of all – thanks!

    May that crown always sit lightly upon your head!

  8. OHHH… I’m putting my vote in for DarrenD’s suggestion of removing the themes control panel for anything other than a super admin!

    Fabulous idea! I’d love to have this option on my client sites!

    Cynthia :)

  9. OK, am I missing something with the new Builder – how do I control the main image? I believe in previous versions (maybe it was just with Flexx, not sure) I thought there was a control to upload it and indicate size, etc.? Any help would be appreciated!



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