Favicon update notification for WordPress plugin

With the help of RealFaviconGenerator’s WordPress plugin, your WordPress blog has a shiny favicon, compatible with all platforms. Congratulations! But will this still be true in a week? A month? A year? Fear no more. The plugin now automatically checks for updates and let you know whenever a new version of the generated pictures and code is available.

WordPress plugin favicon update notification

Ok but does the update worth it? Follow the white rabbit and find out.

Favicon update change log

What will be the next release of RealFaviconGenerator? Safari for OS X Yosemite maybe? Stay tuned!

Now set the bookmark default name

Whatever the browser, when bookmarking a page, its default title is the title of the page itself. This default value perfectly makes sense. However, iOS and Windows 8 let you set an “application name”. Well, technically speaking, nothing differentiates a web app from a web site, but the idea here is to make your web app sound like a native app (RealFaviconGenerator will only help you scratch the surface here).

Sample WIndows 8 Tile

Two RFG WordPress plugin users suggested to set this app name directly from RealFaviconGenerator. This feature perfectly made sense so here it is! Thank you both for your contribution.

App name option

What about Android? There is no such option in Android Chrome, the title markup is the reference.

That was issue #49.

Check your favicon from your WordPress admin interface

Wanna check your favicon? Don’t leave the comfort of your WordPress administration interface anymore. You can now trigger the RealFaviconGenerator’s favicon checker right from Appearance > Favicon.

Invoke the favicon checker from the WordPress administration interface

Install the Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator WordPress plugin to take advantage of RealFaviconGenerator in your WordPress blog.

RealFaviconGenerator WordPress plugin is available!

There is now a WordPress plugin for RealFaviconGenerator! No more tedious HTML, you can now create and setup your favicon in a matter of seconds.

The plugin in a nutshell:

  • Go to Settings >¬†Favicon.
    WordPress plugin settings screen
  • Select the master picture from your Media Library.
    Select a master picture
  • You are redirected to RealFaviconGenerator. Customize your favicon with the classic favicon editor.
    Edit your favicon
  • You are redirected to the WordPress dashboard again. Your favicon is installed automatically.
    Favicon installed, mission completed!

How hard was that? ūüôā

The WordPress plugin is the first client of the RealFaviconGenerator API. It paves the way for the future of RealFaviconGenerator: an integrated tool you can plug in your existing workflow. Favicon is a small part of your web project, but it deserves to be done well, just like coding, testing, deployment…

As a first release, this plugin lacks some features and should be improved here and there. If you see something missing, please drop a comment!

Favicon compression preview

Since a few months, RealFaviconGenerator can compress your favicon pictures for reduced bandwidth consumption. However, this option lacked three features:

  • You don’t know in advance the compression rate you will likely get.
  • You don’t know in advance if the quality loss will be acceptable.
  • It is a yes/no setting, you cannot choose the compression level.

This dark age is over with the new compression preview. The favicon editor now presents your master picture compressed with different quality settings.

Compression preview

If the differences between the original picture and the compress one are hard to spot, you can easily compare them with the zoom.

Compression preview zoom

For now, the “expected compression rate” is not that accurate. I expect to improve it in a few month when enough favicons will have been compressed to establish reliable stats.

SVG support

RealFaviconGenerator now accepts SVG pictures, in addition to PNG, JPG and GIF. Not a big deal, just the ability to jump right from Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape to RealFaviconGenerator.

When using a SVG picture, the scaling algorithm option is no longer accessible, since “scaling” is somehow replaced by “rendering”. And rendering is (supposed to) be way better than scaling.

That was issue #34.

More browserconfig.xml, less HTML

browserconfig.xml was introduced in Internet Explorer 11 and lets you define advanced web application tiles. Most of its features are too advanced for web applications that do not target Windows 8 platform capabilities. However, browserconfig.xml is very useful when it comes to favicon: it defines the various tile pictures and background color.

In fact, browserconfig.xml is not necessary. Tiles can be described directly from the HTML code. But the extra XML file has a sensible advantage: unlike HTML pages, it is loaded only by Windows 8 devices. And since most visitors do not use the Windows 8 + IE11 combo, we are glad not to clutter them with useless stuff.

By default, IE11 looks for browserconfig.xml at the root of the web site. RealFaviconGenerator takes advantage of this characteristic. Since a few months, when you choose to place the favicon’s files in the root directory, the XML file¬†is generated. Yet, as¬†Giuseppe Caruso¬†pointed out, the location of this file can be overridden with the help of a <meta> tag. RealFaviconGenerator now uses this markup to rely on browserconfig.xml whatever its location. That was issue 32.

The gain? A few hundred of bytes. Nothing fancy, just the kind of little improvement that makes the service better, day after day.

What is the best scaling algorithm? You choose!

Generating a favicon for all platforms is a lot a matter of resizing a big picture to smaller sizes. Submit a 1000×1000 picture to RealFaviconGenerator and it will scale it to 16×16, 32×32, 152×152… and many other dimensions.

At first, I was pleased by the Mitchell algorithm. This is the default algorithm of ImageMagick, the tool used by RFG to perform image manipulation. A few weeks ago, Mazyad Alabduljaleel, an iOS developer, submitted his own picture and the result was not that great.

The Mitchell algorithm tends to blur the original image in order to smooth the edges. This is usually a good thing and thus makes Mitchell a good default choice. However, Mazyad’s picture¬†was a pixel art design, where angles are a desired feature. And RFG does its best to lessen them. Oops!

Nearest Neighbor was the right solution for this picture. Different images, different scaling algorithms.

What is the best scaling algorithm? It depends.
What is the best scaling algorithm? It depends.

RFG does not pretend to know the right answer anymore. Although it still offers Mitchell by default, you can now pick the algorithm that fits your picture best. That was issue31.

You picture, your choice
You picture, your choice

ImageMagick offers something like 40 algorithms. I did by best to select the most relevant ones in order to not overwhelm the regular user with too many choices. However, I may have overlooked important ones. Please drop a comment whenever you feel something is missing.

What’s next? Vector graphics support¬†and maybe vectorization of bitmap pictures for better scaling results.