Tag: support

WordPress.com Business Plan (Business-Class WordPress Hosting + Support from WordPress Experts)

WordPress.com is where you go to use WordPress that is completely hosted for you. You don’t have to worry about anything but building your site. There is a free plan to get started with, and paid plans that offer more features. The Business plan is particularly interesting, and my guess is that most people don’t fully understand everything that it unlocks for you, so let’s dig into that.

You get straight up SFTP access to your site.

Here’s me using Transmit to pop right into one of my sites over SFTP.

What this means is that you can do local WordPress development like you normally would, then use real deployment tools to kick your work out to production (which is your WordPress.com site). That’s what I do with Buddy. (Here a screencast demonstrating the workflow.)

That means real control.

I can upload and use whatever plugins I want. I can upload and use whatever themes I want. The database too — I get literal direct MySQL access.

I can even manage what PHP version the site uses. That’s not something I’d normally even need to do, but that’s just how much access there is.

A big jump in storage.

200 GB. You’ll probably never get anywhere near that limit, unless you are uploading video, and if you are, now you’ve got the space to do it.

Backups you’ll probably actually use.

You don’t have to worry about anything nasty happening on WordPress.com, like your server being hacked and losing all your data or anything. So in that sense, WordPress.com is handling your backups for you. But with the Business plan, you’ll see a backup log right in your dashboard:

That’s a backup of your theme, data, assets… everything. You can download it anytime you like.

The clutch feature? You can restore things to any point in time with the click of a button.

Powered by a global CDN

Not every site on WordPress.com is upgraded to the global CDN. Yours will be if it’s on the Business plan. That means speed, and speed is important for every reason, including SEO. And speaking of SEO tools, those are unlocked for you on the Business plan as well.

Some of the best themes unlock at the Premium/Business plan level.

You can buy them one-off, but you don’t have to if you’re on the Business plan because it opens the door for more playing around. This Aquene theme is pretty stylish with a high-end design:

It’s only $ 300/year.

(Or $ 33/month billed monthly.)

So it’s not ultra-budget hosting, but the price tag is a lot less if you consider all the things we covered here and how much they cost if you were to cobble something together yourself. And we didn’t even talk about support, which is baked right into the plan.

Hosting, backups, monitoring, performance, security, plugins, themes, and support — toss in a free year or domain registration, and that’s a lot of website for $ 300.

They have less expensive plans as well. But the Business plan is the level where serious control, speed, and security kick in.

Coupon code CSSTRICKS gets you 15% off the $ 300/year Business Plan. Valid until the end of February 2021.


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Overlaying Video With Transparency While Wrangling Cross-Browser Support

As websites are becoming more and more dynamic when it comes to design, there is sometimes a need to incorporate complex, animated elements. There are many ways to do that from CSS transitions to 3D rendering on canvas, and animated SVG. But it is often easier to use a <video> since they can be rather efficient and, with them, just about anything visual is possible.

But what if you a need transparent background on that video, so that it could overlay and appear to interact with other content on the page? It’s possible, but can be tricky, especially cross-browser. Let’s explore that.

Here’s an example

To see how transparent video overlays work, I’ve prepared an example that I hope feels both fun and relatable. The idea is to integrate video with interactive content underneath so that the content behind the video changes as the slider is advancing. It is a slider advertising dog food with a real video of a dog on the overlay and I’m sure that realistic, cute dog would improve the conversion rate!

You can follow along with this article to recreate this demo by yourself. Part of what you’ll need to create a video like this is an “image sequence” (a bunch of alpha-transparent images we’ll stitch together into a video). I’m providing the images I used for the example.

Exploring possibilities

To achieve this effect, I started with a search for any kind of solution that would allow me to insert animated content with transparent background on the page.

GIF

The first thing that came up was a GIF. Even though the GIF format was introduced over 30 years ago, it is still widely used. Unfortunately, it has its limitations. While it works perfectly for simple and small animated graphics, it is not that great for colorful, long video footage, it has limited color space, and will grow a lot in size for complex videos.

APNG

The next option I’ve looked at was APNG, which for some reason, is not as popular as GIF but is much better. (I didn’t even know it existed, did you?) APNG works similarly to animated GIF files while supporting 24-bit images and 8-bit transparency. It is also backward-compatible with regular PNG. If APNG is not supported, the first frame is displayed. It is supported by popular browsers, but no support in Internet Explorer 11 (yup, some people still have to support that). While it seemed like the way to go for a moment, I was not satisfied with its file size and performance.

Fun fact: Apple adopted the APNG format as their preferred format for animated stickers in iOS 10 iMessage apps.

Loop through PNGs

Next, a crude, but working, idea came to mind: use a bunch of PNGs and loop through them with JavaScript to imitate the video. But it requires using a lot of data transfer (each video frame would be a separate image) and resources to animate (you could drain a user’s battery quickly or make their computer fan go crazy).

I quickly abandoned that idea, but it turned out to be useful later. I’ll get back to that at the end of the article.

WebM with alpha transparency

As all the formats for <img> failed here, I started looking into videos. I found an article about alpha transparency in Chrome video published in 2013, which announces Google Chrome support for WebM with an alpha channel. It even shows an example and shares tips on how to use it. I went through the article and it immediately felt like the way to go. I was even more convinced after converting my image sequence to WebM because, while GIF was weighing in at 5.8 MB, WebM with transparency,using the same frame rate and full colors was only 540 KB! That’s more than 10 times smaller while offering better performance and quality. Awesome!

The joy did not last long though. As soon as I opened the website on my iOS Phone I realized that I should’ve started with checking the browser compatibility. Unfortunately, Safari (iOS and macOS) doesn’t support transparency in WebM. While my video was working perfectly on Chrome, Firefox and Edge, Safari greeted me with an ugly black background.

The search continues…

A good Solution

Thankfully, I found a video from WWDC 2019 announcing HEVC video with Alpha support for Safari starting in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. It seemed to provide the same functionality as WebM but with support on Apple devices. So I decided to use the hybrid solution: HEVC for Safari and WebM for other browsers.

It seems like the perfect solution. But now we have two tasks:

  1. Create an HEVC with alpha-transparency
  2. Detect for Safari (and the version) to serve the correct format

Creating a transparent video

We will start with the easy part: creating a WebM file. If you want to create, convert, or even edit video files, FFmpeg is your friend. It is an extremely powerful open source multimedia framework, and if you have anything to do with multimedia files, I’d recommend starting there because it’s capable of so many things. I can say that FFmpeg has helped me reduce video file sizes over 10 times without any visible image quality degradation. But let’s get back to transparency.

In my experience, if you need to include animated elements into website layout, you get them as a set of video frames in PNG. Even while working on my example project, a tool that removes background from videos generated a set of images for me. So I will continue here assuming we’re building the video from a set of images (remember, you can download our set), but even if you’ve got a video file instead, the process will look similar (adjust FFmpeg options to your needs).

We are now ready to create a video. Using the command line, we’ll navigate to the folder that contains the PNG files and run the following command:

ffmpeg -framerate 25 -i unscreen-%3d.png -c:v libvpx-vp9 -pix_fmt yuva420p output.webm

You can adjust the arguments to fit your needs:

  • framerate: how much images will be used for 1s of the output video
  • -i unscreen-%3d.png: input file name and format. My files have numbers from 001 to 150 so i used %3d as a mask to select all files with three digits in the name.
  • -c:v: specifies the codec to use. I want the video to be encoded with VP9, which is supported by most web browsers.
  • -pix_fmt: specifies pixel format to be used. In our cas, it should support an alpha channel. You can see all supported formats if you run ffmpeg --pix_fmts.
  • output.webm: provides the desired output file name as a last argument

There are a lot more options available, but I won’t dive into details as it would take probably more than one article to go through them. Those provided in the example command work fine for our use case.

After the process is finished, we should see a new output.webm file, and if you open it in a supported browser, you’ll see a video. Easy, right?

Creating HEVC Alpha

Since we have a WebP file ready, it’s time to move to the second format we will be using: HEVC with alpha transparency. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, FFmpeg doesn’t support HEVC, so we have to use another tool. As far as I know, the only way to create HEVC with alpha is to use the Finder or Compressor on Mac. If you have a PC, you’ll probably have to ask someone with Mac to do it for you. The Compressor app is only provided with Final Cut Pro, so I won’t be using it, although it may be worth considering if you need custom settings.

Since macOS Catalina, the Finder has a built in Encode Media tool to convert videos. It is simple (and free), so it feeds our needs.

The Finder expects a video file as an input, so first, we have to convert the image sequence to ProRes 4444. This is an important step, as the Encode Media tool won’t accept just any video — it will fail unless you provide the format it accepts. It gave me a headache or two until I found out the correct encoding for the input file.

We can create input video using FFmpeg. As we did when creating WebM, we just have to run FFmpeg with the proper arguments:

ffmpeg -framerate 25 -i unscreen-%3d.png -c:v prores_ks -pix_fmt yuva444p10le -alpha_bits 16 -profile:v 4444 -f mov -vframes 150 output.mov

From this point on, a Mac is needed. But the process is simple and does not involve typing anything in terminal, so even if you ask a non-techy friend with a Mac to do it for you, I’m sure they can manage.

Having ProRes4444 video ready, you can navigate to the containing folder in Finder, right-click on it, and in the context menu, select Encode Selected Video Files.

A window will appear. Select the desired HEVC quality (there are two to choose from), and check the option to Preserve Transparency. Then click the “Continue” button.

After a moment you should see a new file, which is encoded in HEVC with alpha. It’s done! Opening this file in Safari confirm that the transparency works.

Last but not least, it’s time to use videos on the website!

Serving transparent videos for all browsers

We can use <video> element to serve videos. If the browser supports the given format in the src attribute, it will just work. But as I’ve mentioned, we need to serve HEVC for Safari and WebM for other browsers.

There is one more thing to take care of: some browsers support WebM or HEVC itself but without transparency. Those browsers will play the video but with a black background instead of an alpha channel. For example, Safari 12 will play HEVC without transparency. That’s unacceptable for us.

Normally, I’d use the <source /> element to provide the video along with multiple formats as fallbacks, and the browser would pick the one it supports. However, since we want to show HEVC only on specific Safari versions, we will have to set the video src attribute instead using JavaScript.

HEVC with transparency is supported in iOS 13 and Mac Safari 13, so let’s start by detecting those. The recommended way to adjust website features based on support is by detecting the existence of an API rather than looking at the User Agent, but I didn’t find any simple way to detect if the browser supports transparency in video format. Instead, I came up with my own solution. It’s not pretty, but it does the job.

function supportsHEVCAlpha() {   const navigator = window.navigator;   const ua = navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase()   const hasMediaCapabilities = !!(navigator.mediaCapabilities && navigator.mediaCapabilities.decodingInfo)   const isSafari = ((ua.indexOf('safari') != -1) && (!(ua.indexOf('chrome')!= -1) && (ua.indexOf('version/')!= -1)))   return isSafari && hasMediaCapabilities }

This targets Safari 13 and above by looking at navigator.mediaCapabilities, which is not supported in older versions, as well as looking that the browser is Safari at all. If the function returns true, then I’m good to go with HEVC alpha. For any other case, I’ll load WebM video.

Here’s an example of how this comes together in HTML:

<video id="player" loop muted autoplay playsinline></video>  <script> const player = document.getElementById('player'); player.src = supportsHEVCAlpha() ? 'output.mov' : 'output.webm'; </script>

If you’re curious about those loop muted autoplay playsinline arguments on video element, those are about replicating a GIF-like experience:

  • Without muted, the video will not play without user interaction.
  • With playsinline, on iOS, the video plays right where it is in the layout instead of opening up in fullscreen.
  • With loop, the video repeats over and over.
  • With autoplay, it will start playing the video automatically on page load (as long as we also have muted in place).

That’s it! We have a lightweight, performant and high-quality solution for transparent videos, that works on most modern browsers (at least the last two recent versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge). We can add some basic HTML and CSS to integrate static content with it and make it a little bit more real-life, or just use the same idea that’s in my demo. That wasn’t too bad, was it?

Hey, but what about IE 11? My whole company is using it!

In general, I’d recommend limiting a feature like this to modern browsers and hiding the video in IE. The video is probably not a critical element of the website. Although, I used to work on a commercial project where IE 11 support was a must and I was forced to figure something out to show the transparent video there. In the end, I ended up cycling through PNG images with JavaScript. I reduced the amount of frames and switched between them using a timer. Sure, the performance was awful, but it worked. The video was quite important to the whole design so we intentionally decided to sacrifice performance on IE 11 to provide the full experience.

Summary

I hope that I’ve saved you some time researching the idea of alpha-transparent video and that now you’re be able to incorporate animated elements like this on your website. I bet you’ll need it someday!

Do you have a different idea of how to use transparent video? Or maybe some experience with that already? Let me know in the comments.


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WooCommerce Payments, Now with Support for Subscriptions and Saved Cards

A little while back we shared the news that WooCommerce shipped a beta payments feature as part of its 4.0 release. It’s a free plugin with no monthly costs or setup fees. You only pay when you make a sale.

We’re actually using this right here at CSS-Tricks. In fact, Chris blogged it back in July. Back then, we were using the WooCommerce Payments beta so we could start selling memberships here on the site and do it while taking payments without anyone having to leave the site to complete the transaction with a third-party.

The big news now is that WooCommerce Payments now supports WooCommerce Subscriptions. This is game-changer. It means you can offer a recurring payment option on subscription-based products and have all of those payments integrated with WooCommerce Payments reporting and features.

WooCommerce Payments works alongside other payment methods! We’ve enabled PayPal for anyone who prefers paying that way.

Enter subscriptions

The thing that makes WooCommerce Subscriptions such a great extension is that it turns any WooCommerce product into a possible subscription. So, yes, even a t-shirt can generate recurring payments (a shirt is not a good example of a subscription product, but the point is that subscriptions can be tied to anything). Anything you want to renew after a period of time is fair game. That could be a publication subscription that renews annually, a record of the month club with a monthly subscription, or even a payment plan that allows customers to pay for large purchases in monthly installments.

No no, the poster is not a subscription… but you can buy it with a one-time payment!

Now that WooCommerce Payments supports WooCommerce Subscriptions, not only are recurring payments a thing, but it brings all of those transactions to your store’s dashboard, making it a cinch to track those payments, as well as your cash flow. Payment disputes can even be handled without ever having to leave WordPress.

Oh, and saved credit cards!

In addition to subscriptions, WooCommerce Payments also supports saved credit cards. So now, when someone purchases anything on your site — whether it’s a single product or a recurring subscription — they can choose to save their payment information with you for faster transactions on future purchases!

Heck yeah, checking out next time will be a breeze!

All the things, all on WordPress

WooCommerce has been great for a long time, but it’s these sorts of enhancements that make it not just a killer experience but makes powerful e-commerce capabilities open to big and small stores alike. Get started with WooCommerce and WooCommerce Payments — it’s totally free to pick up and try out.


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WebP Image Support Coming to iOS 14

Apple announced a ton of new updates at yesterday’s WWDC20 keynote address, from new hardware to updated applications. There’s lots to gawk at and enough device-envy to go around.

But there’s one little line in the Safari 14 Beta release notes that caught my eye:

Added WebP image support.

🎉🎉🎉

This excites me because WebP is a super progressive format that encodes images in lossless and lossy formats that we get with other image formats we already use, like JPEG, but at a fraction of the file size. We use WebP right here at CSS-Tricks, thanks to Jetpack and its Site Accelerator feature that serves WebP versions of the images we upload to browsers that support them. Jeremy Wagner has a great write-up on WebP and how to work with it, specifically for WordPress.

So, yes, this means WebP will be largely supported across the board (:IE-sad-trombone:) once Safari 14 ships.

This browser support data is from Caniuse, which has more detail. A number indicates that browser supports the feature at that version and up.

Desktop

Chrome Firefox IE Edge Safari
32 65 No 18 No

Mobile / Tablet

Android Chrome Android Firefox Android iOS Safari
81 68 4.2-4.3 No

Even with that great support, defining fallbacks with the <picture> element is still a good idea.

<picture>   <source srcset="img/cat.webp" type="image/webp">   <source srcset="img/cat.jpg" type="image/jpeg">    <img src="img/cat.jpg" alt="Alt Text!"> </picture>

Oh, and not to be completely overshadowed, Safari 14 also squeezes in some CSS goodies, like the :is() and :where() pseudo class functions, which we linked up a couple of weeks ago. Jen Simmons picked out other key features we should be excited about.

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink

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Can you nest @media and @support queries?

Yes, you can, and it doesn’t really matter in what order. A CSS preprocessor is not required. It works in regular CSS.

This works:

@supports(--a: b) {   @media (min-width: 1px) {     body {       background: red;     }   } }

And so does this, the reverse nesting of the above:

@media (min-width: 1px) {   @supports(--a: b) {     body {       background: green;     }   } }

You can keep going with the nesting, if it ever makes sense:

@media (min-width: 2px) {   @media (min-width: 1px) {     @supports (--a: b) {       @supports (display: flex) {         body {           background: pink;         }       }     }   } }

There is probably a point where the logic of that gets out of hand, so careful. But hey, it works. Presumably, you can “infinitely” nest at-rules.

To look at nested code like that looks a little like a CSS preprocessor is in use, but that’s not the case here. Regular ol’ CSS handles this just fine, and in fact, CSS preprocessors don’t meaningfully manipulate it at all (tested Sass, Less, and Stylus).

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Don’t comma-separate :focus-within if you need deep browser support

I really like :focus-within. It’s a super useful selector that allows you to essentially select a parent element when any of its children are in focus.

Say you wanted to reveal some extra stuff when a <div> is hovered…

div:hover {   .extra-stuff {      /* reveal it */   } }

That’s not particularly keyboard-friendly. But if something in .extra-stuff is tab-able anyway (meaning it can be focused), that means you could write it like this to make it a bit more accessible:

div:hover, div:focus-within {   .extra-stuff {      /* reveal it */   } }

That’s nice, but it causes a tricky problem.

Browsers ignore entire selectors if it doesn’t understand any part of them. So, if you’re dealing with a browser that doesn’t support :focus-within then it would ignore the CSS example above, meaning you’ve also lost the :hover state.

Instead:

div:hover {   .extra-stuff {      /* reveal it */   } } div:focus-within {   .extra-stuff {      /* reveal it */   } }

That is safer. But it’s repetitive. If you have a preprocessor like Sass…

@mixin reveal {   .extra-stuff {      transform: translateY(0);   } } div:hover {   @include reveal; } div:focus-within {   @include reveal; }

See the Pen
Mixing for :focus-within without comma-separating
by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier)
on CodePen.

I’d say it’s a pretty good use-case for having native CSS mixins.

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