Starting work on Sports Bench 2.0

Starting work on Sports Bench 2.0

It’s, uh, been a while since I’ve released an update to Sports Bench, hasn’t it?

I would really rather not look it up, but we’re probably about a year since Sports Bench 1.9 was released. And before that it had been another a year between 1.9 and 1.8.

But that’s going to be changing relatively soon, thankfully. In the first half of May, I started working on the designs for the version 2.0 update for both the plugin and the theme.

So I think it’s probably a good time to go through what you can expect when version 2.0 for the plugin and theme is released hopefully by the end of the year.

What to expect with Sports Bench 2.0

Sports Bench 2.0 is going to be a complete rebuild for both the plugin and the theme.

It will have been five years since the version 1.0 release this December, and to say that I’ve learned a lot about web development in general and WordPress plugin and theme development since then would be an understatement.

So I’m taking this opportunity to rewrite just about everything and start from the ground up.

Screenshot of the new Add Team screen in Sports Bench 2.0

On the plugin side, that means refactoring everything to an object-oriented paradigm. If you’re not familiar with that, don’t worry. It should mean that things are better organized and optimized for a better performance.

And on the theme side, I’ll be rebuilding it using WP Rig as the starter theme. That means it’ll have accessibility, performance and more built into it.

It’s going to be a massive undertaking.

Plugin updates

So the biggest thing with the plugin will be that structure of the code will change to object-oriented programming. If you’ve done some customizations to the plugin, you will likely need to make changes to your code to make sure it all runs correctly. But don’t worry. I’ll make sure that the documentation is up-to-date before the release. And if you haven’t made any customizations, you’ll be good to go.

Screenshot of the new Add Games screen in Sports Bench 2.0

I’m also making some changes to the design aspect of the plugin, particularly in the admin area. It should be cleaner, easier to read and understand and accessible. It should make it easier to manage your teams, players, games and playoffs.

Finally, I’m going to be checking for performance issues as well. Hopefully with this change, I can make sure that using the plugin will not slow down your website significantly.

Theme updates

On the theme side of things, as I mentioned, I will be using WP Rig as a starter theme and build it up from there. There will be a pretty big redesign, and you can choose between a right sidebar, left sidebar or no sidebar as well.

I’m hoping in this update to do accessibility checks to make sure your website is accessible to everyone. And just like the current theme, you can use it with or without the Sports Bench plugin.

Screenshot of the new homepage in Sports Bench 2.0

Because of the use of WP Rig as a starter theme, there might be some issues with child themes when you update. So you’ll want to try the theme out on a staging or development website first.

Adding license functionality

Finally, one pretty big change is that I will be adding a yearly license subscription to both the plugin and theme. This will support future updates and changes to both (and maybe some more themes you can use). The good news is that if you buy the plugin or theme or both before Sports Bench 2.0 is released, you’ll be grandfathered in and won’t have to worry about a yearly subscription, unless you want to pay it (which is always appreciated).

But more on that once we get closer to the release date.

Timeline for Sports Bench 2.0

Speaking of the release date, I want to briefly discuss the timeline for Sports Bench 2.0.

I’m going to keep this pretty broad until I make more progress on the new release, but here’s what I’m thinking.

Currently I’m working on refactoring the plugin code. I’m expecting that to last until mid-to-late July. But I’m giving myself a pretty big buffer with that time frame. It might not take that long.

After that, it’ll be time to working on rebuilding the theme, which will likely take a month-and-a-half or so. Then it’ll be testing to make sure that updating to both won’t wreck websites.

So that puts a release around October or November. But that’s a guess now trying to look through the fog of the future. As I make more progress, I’ll give you more updates on what you can expect.

But you should expect it by the end of the year at the latest.