How The Advanced Image Editing Properties Contributed To WordPress Theme Lock-in

Although WordPress 3.9 has refined the media editing experience, it did so at the cost of removing a feature users appreciated. In WordPress 3.8, users could easily add a border, vertical, and horizontal padding to images. WordPress 3.9 removed this from the advanced image settings screen.

It’s not just those who use the self-hosted version of WordPress that are upset with the change. A support forum thread with over 430 posts is filled with users asking why the feature was removed. In some cases, staff are explaining how to use HTML code to add or remove borders to images.

Thankfully, there’s a new plugin available that not only restores the original advanced image settings but has expanded upon them. The plugin is called Advanced Image Styles and is maintained by Gregory Cornelius. As you can see, users can now apply padding in all four directions instead of two. You can also apply a border color instead of just the border width.

Advanced Image Editing Styles
Advanced Image Styles

Early reviews indicate users are happy to see these options return despite having to use a plugin. Unfortunately, those on are still out of luck. A member of the staff says it’s possible the plugin will be merged into the codebase.

I have asked the developers if this will be merged. At the moment I have not heard back. I will let you know as soon as possible!

These Options Are Causing Theme Lock-in

If themes are coded to properly handle image padding and borders, the options within WordPress are redundant and unnecessary. What’s troubling is users are utilizing these options to override the styling within the theme instead of changing its CSS stylesheet.

In a test on my local server, I used the advanced image editing options to add a black, four pixel border to an image within the media library. Then I switched themes to see if the border was still there. I discovered that settings applied to images via the WordPress image editing options are displayed no matter which theme is used.

Old Tavern Design With The Black Image Border
Old Tavern Design With The Black Image Border
New Tavern Design With The Black Image Border
New Tavern Design With The Black Image Border

If a user switches to a theme that uses a color scheme not compatible with the image border color, each image has to be edited individually within the media library. Each time an image is edited using the advanced settings provided by WordPress, you lose more theme compatibility and it further locks you in to a specific theme. vs. Self-hosted WordPress

WPcomWporg and

I understand why users would be so upset with the removal of these options. By default, they don’t have the ability to edit their theme’s CSS file. That is reserved as a paid upgrade. So these options give them a chance to override the styling within the theme without having the paid upgrade.

For self-hosted WordPress users, there is no excuse. Image borders and padding should be controlled through the theme, not the advanced image editing options provided by WordPress. Despite the options making it easy to apply those changes to images, users are only hurting themselves by using them.

I think the options for padding and image borders should stay removed from the self-hosted version of WordPress while restored on In retrospect, these options should have never existed in the first place.

Do you think the image border width, color, and padding options should be restored to the self-hosted version of WordPress?


69 responses to “How The Advanced Image Editing Properties Contributed To WordPress Theme Lock-in”

  1. Though I know it might be painful in the short term, expanding users understanding of how the theme really controls everything about the display of a site is probably worth it in the long run. The plugin is a short term fix only, getting users to better understand the theme can only really be a good thing.

    • Thanks for the well written post.

      I’m replying specifically to the above comment because the problem I have with that kind of thinking is most people are casual users and could care less how a theme works. More and more, WordPress is becoming a tool for developers. If you don’t know anything about coding WordPress can be a nightmare, yet is it presented as an easy DYI CMS.

      I’d like NOT to have to teach my clients how to write CSS Class code (and it’s not just because I’m not a coder) to put padding or a border around a picture when they write a blog post. I’ve already gotten some calling me asking what happened?

      I knew someone would write a plugin, which is great, but now that’s one more plugin I have to add to replace something that was already working perfectly and was super easy to teach even the most clueless of people.

      • I think you’re right that WordPress is really for developers. I don’t think it was ever meant to be for DIY website builders although it is simple enough for people to use it.

        If you don’t want to teach your clients CSS code, you can show them this video I made to solve this problem. I figured my clients would be asking so I better make a video. I’m sure it will help out others too:

        I agree that it’s annoying to have to install a plugin for those. That’s why I decided I’m not going to use the plugin.

        • And you really think your clients are going to watch this boring 13 minutes video and understand CSS? Come on… this is yet another joke here. Stop flooding youtube with those crazy never ending “howto” videos that would fit a single text paragraph and stop thinking 10 CSS classes will replace this ultra simple and handy advanced image option that disappeared. The world is turning mad…

  2. I didn’t know this was a popular feature, I can see how people would get upset with it not being there all of a sudden. I do feel that the theme in use should be able to handle the images in a way that obviates the need to fiddle with margin and padding.

    • It just makes sense that the theme should handle images as a whole, not using the image editing controls to edit each one individually. It’s too bad some users won’t realize the mistake they’ve made until it’s too late.

  3. I have no problems with the removal of the feature. if someone wants to add borders or some additional styling, i think its best handled via CSS on a child theme. though i understand the sentiments of the WPcom users but thats essentially the caveat in using the service.

  4. You say: “If themes are coded to properly handle image padding and borders, the options within WordPress are redundant and unnecessary. What’s troubling is users are utilizing these options to override the styling within the theme instead of changing its CSS stylesheet.”

    If using the coding in the theme or a child theme, does this not mean that I must accept the same border width and colour on all images, or have I been missing something? I use various widths and colours on the same site. In 3.8 and earlier versions, the previously-used border widths and colour settings just pop up, when you start to type in the settings. Now I must code them individually, which takes a lot of time when you have hundreds of images.

    • Yes and no. Depending on the theme, all images could have a certain style applied to them or maybe it’s just items on the front page. Regardless, if you use different styles, you should add the Styles to the Child Theme CSS file and then use the WordPress advanced image editing options to apply the Image CSS Class to the file.

      At least that way, you could edit all images using the assigned class all at once instead of having to edit them individually within the editor.

  5. While it is better to have the settings within the theme css settings, not all themes allow css to be added to the theme options, meaning they need to be added again every time the theme is released. Hopefully this will make the developers all provide options within the theme to add the settings. If you are going to be locked into a theme by forcing css to be added to the theme, it will push users to ignore updates as they break the styling every time they update as the settings need to be reapplied.
    While this is ok for those of us who know css, what about all those users who do not know any css or html and just want to be able to use WordPress to point, click and go?
    Maybe WordPress will need to reach a point when it asks the user if they are expert or novice and then provides settings according to their level of expertise.

    • But having Image Border width, color, and padding amounts as settings is the underlying problem. All themes are able to have CSS added to them and you’re able to create child themes from any WordPress theme.

      By just placing the CSS into the theme itself, that’s just as bad as the original problem. Each time the theme updates, the changes will be lost. This is why child themes are the correct way to solve this problem. Alternatively, you can use the Edit CSS feature in Jetpack since updates to Jetpack don’t remove the changes added to the CSS editor.

      While this is ok for those of us who know css, what about all those users who do not know any css or html and just want to be able to use WordPress to point, click and go?

      And I ask you, at what point do we just force those users to learn the basics of CSS and the benefits of child themes. At some point in the future, it would be nice if everyone used child themes by default instead of the theme itself so changes can be made like before to the main style sheet without having to worry about them being lost.

      I don’t want to leave all those users hanging out to dry but at the same time, WordPress should not support options that will make it difficult for users to switch themes or alter content.

      Once you use a child theme and create a few different image classes, the options are unnecessary anyways.

      • I’m actually publishing a tutorial on this tomorrow. The problem here is that the average WordPress user doesn’t know how HTML and CSS work and they resort to inline hacks whenever they run into something. The simplest way of solving this “problem” without hacking the theme, the markup, or building a child theme is to use the Custom CSS function in Jetpack: Create a new style rule with whatever border you want, and apply it to the images you want borders on. This is non-destructive, theme independent, and doesn’t mess with existing styling in the theme.

        More than anything this shows the desperate need for proper education about standards-based markup.

        • Jetpack??? Ho, ho, howdy… Getting rid of such useful features and getting to Jetpack for finding a solution? No way! I bet a new “cool” module will appear these coming days for rescuing those poor WP users that can’t add borders and padding to their images…

          • The feature breaks with web standards convention by inserting inline styles Iin the markup. This is neither a workable nor a recommended solution. Jetpack or a child theme allows the user to create proper CSS rules that can be applied when necessary without breaking standards and without cluttering the markup with presentational code. Yes, Jetpack has its problems but we are talking about solutions for non-coders here and for those users it is a perfectly OK solution.

        • I think, sir you brought up a very interesting point about the average wordpress users. although i really wouldn’t recommend jet pack’s custom css feature mainly because of performance issues. outputting the css there would be pretty slow.

        • Quote: This is non-destructive, theme independent, and doesn’t mess with existing styling in the theme.

          I thought the whole argument in eliminating this feature was because IT WAS THEME INDEPENDENT, thus the author of this blog used the term “Theme Lock In”. Ideally they should had left the margin controls alone, and just get rid of the borders. What really bugs me is that the developer’s think what’s best for us and the end users. Thank God for this plugin, so we can decide how to easily display the images the way we want them without hacking into the html code.

          P.S. I like Jetpack, but never use it, as it drains the server resources, so it’s too much of a price to pay for what you gain from it.

          • The argument for theme independence walks around the proper standards based solution which is to create CSS rules and then apply classes to the images that need borders. By doing this in Jetpack or a child theme you don’t tie yourself to one particular theme. Ideally though theme developers should account for this need (adding borders) and ship custom classes for it out of the box.

            As for the margin issue I disagree: If you need to add custom margins to images there is something wrong with how your theme is handling those images. Themes should be built to position images with propernmargins in such a way that tampering with them is not necessary. And of tampering with them is necessary you should override the existing styles en masse rather than on an image-by-image basis.

  6. I would do it with css in my theme as well but I also appreciate that some users may not know how to or have access to do that.
    Using CSS means that styles are kept consistent throughout the whole site without having to edit each image as well- saves time.

  7. I don’t well understand those opinions here that say this should be CSS and theme related.
    I always used those settings in advanced image editor and never had a single issue with any theme. What made this feature extremely useful is the fact that it could be set at individual images and NOT at global level. If you make changes for images at theme’s child level you’ll get those settings to ALL images in your site, that is including your logo and whatever else is an image and I’m not sure this is what you really want.

  8. This exposes the problem with the calls for automatic update. While I agree this feature do not belong to the wordpress core as it is not part of editing content, it is hard to believe this was done without any mode of backward comparability like it was done when links where removed, after all there is already content that made use of the feature and now you removed the ability to edit it. even on self hoisted not all users can edit HTML, and think about all the networks out there which are smaller then and therefor you will not hear about the problems their admins will be facing.

    • Automatic updates are only enabled for minor versions, by default. 3.9 is a major version and as such needs to be installed/upgraded to in manual fashion.

    • I don’t see how automatic updates are relevant to the discussion. No backwards compatibility is needed since any changes applied to images through the WordPress image editor are saved to the database. At least the plugin was released to allow folks to easily go back and edit images individually as I’m not sure how that would be possible with the options removed.

  9. I agree with Jeff that automatic updates are not relevant to this discussion. That said, in response to markk5, not updating WP should NEVER be an option, for security reasons. If the decision not to upgrade is because the new update will break the plugins and themes, then those priorities are wrong.

    As a theme developer, I set image margin values for pages, widgets and the footer independently, I don’t bother with a border however, and I liked the idea that end users could change these values from the backsite.

    There are times when the theme margin values interfere with some sliders, like the “Responsive Slider”, so either do not set the margins in your theme, or what I do, set the margins in the theme, and also target the slider’s images, and make sure to set their margins to 0.

    Anyway, one way or another, I liked the extra control that end users had. This plugin brings it back, and makes it even better.

    Because I never use image borders, just margins, I don’t mind the “Theme Lock-In” argument. Besides, most sites very rarely change themes, and if they do, the content area’s background color is normally the same, so the theme lock in argument will impact a very small number of sites – those who use image borders, who change themes, and the new theme is drastically different, ie: from a lighter colored page background, to a darker one. Since when do the minorities win? Only in a WP developer’s mindset I guess.

    • Right. If users don’t switch themes, this is a moot point. What do you mean when you say

      Since when do the minorities win?

      Who is the minority and what was won?

      • @Jeff Chandler:When I said minorities, I did not mean it in a sexist, or racist way. I explained that ONLY A MINORITY of web sites will be affected by the border colors. I thought I was clear on that. So by eliminating this feature, the majority of web sites lose a nice feature, while the minority of the web sites (and I explained who these are), gain – that’s all.

        But even for those who change themes (from light colored themes to darker ones), and use image borders, nobody has a gun on their head to use this feature. If you don’t like fixing border colors, just don’t set border colors. Instead, we have to teach our customers, how to do stuff with html, which they don’t care. All they want to type, they want visual tools, and they want the easy way out. So I for one am very thankful for this plugin.

        I agree with David Mccarthy 100% btw…

  10. I didn’t even know this feature existed. It seems like it should be plugin territory anyway, so I don’t see a problem with taking it out of core.

    • Neither did I until it was removed and I read support thread after support thread of people requesting to have it back. It’s plugin territory now. Adding it back to WordPress core would just continue to steer users in the wrong direction.

      • It worked for me for 4 years. Now I’ve installed a plugin that doesn’t work and I’m reading developer-talk that has eaten up mot of my day today.

        I am NOT a developer. I’m a guy who had a website that was working fine until I had to write HTML code today to deal with a single image.

        • Exactly! They took away a perfectly functioning tool for dam reason! I run many word press websites and have to update them with a plugin I didn’t need. Way to waste my time and my clients sites. All this arguing back n forth is for suckers and fools with waaay to much time on their hands. Nice move WP. Lets piss off the millions the users who use your service and make it more complicated.

  11. I think various people here (and at WordPress COM/Org) are missing the point: many WP users have no knowledge or understanding of CSS or child themes … why should they? They enter text, add images, and style to suit what they want the page or post to look like. If an image looks too big on the page (it may be cropped, so not a standard 4:3 or 2:3 format) they want to reduce it’s size a bit. Now they can’t.

    Plugins are all very well, but rely on someone to maintain them. If it’s in the core, you know it will always work (ha, ha, ha!).

    I think the devs have lost their way. Such an outcry just goes to show how disconnected they are.

    • We should really separate .COM and .ORG here because one is a service and the other is software. With .COM, this is easily fixed. Simply add the feature for their users via a must-use plugin or some other method. As a business, Automattic will have to cater to its users.

      With .ORG, the software, the feature doesn’t belong. It’s plugin territory. This is precisely the reason the plugin system exists. And, popular plugins never lack for the people to maintain them. If this feature is as important as some folks seem to think it is, it’ll be around as long as there’s a need for it to be around. You don’t need CSS knowledge to install a plugin. It’s pretty much point-and-click nowadays.

      If you think this feature has had a huge outcry, stick around the community for a while. This is pretty small in comparison to some of the other issues we’ve had.

      • Two points in reply … “this is easily fixed” … but why break it in the first place?

        And it sounds like the size of the outcry is being worn like a badge of honour in some quarters … surely it’s nothing to be proud of or boast about?

        My background (before copywriting and WordPress websites) was 25 years in IT service delivery – I wouldn’t have lasted 25 days if I hadn’t kept my users/customers/clients happy.

        Can anyone tell me/us who WordPress is being developed for?

        • Two points in reply … “this is easily fixed” … but why break it in the first place?

          “Fixed” may have been a poor choice of words on my part. Nevertheless, I don’t consider removing this feature as breaking something. I consider it correcting a problem that we shouldn’t have had in the first place. Could it have been done better with, for example, a transition period? Possibly. But, the feature is gone now, and we should focus on getting it implemented correctly, which is via a plugin.

          And it sounds like the size of the outcry is being worn like a badge of honour in some quarters … surely it’s nothing to be proud of or boast about?

          I can’t speak to that. I haven’t seen any such behavior.

          Can anyone tell me/us who WordPress is being developed for?

          Lots of different types of folks.

        • “Can anyone tell me/us who WordPress is being developed for?”

          Sure. Developers.

          And also professional designers with CSS skills.

          WordPress gradually has been becoming a poor choice for casual bloggers who don’t want to learn CSS or who don’t want to hire someone with the requisite technical skills. Regardless of the correctness of the change with respect to standards, it is a blow to usability, and my clients are screaming.

  12. “Do you think the image border width, color, and padding options should be restored to the self-hosted version of WordPress?”

    I never used them I added what I wanted to my stylesheet.

    These days I try not to add anything fancy to images but a bit of padding and a subtle border can look good.

  13. To answer your question: No. Instead theme developers should agree on a naming convention for adding borders to images and include CSS rules in their theme stylesheets. I have a blog post on this coming up tomorrow at 9am.

  14. Theme lock in? I don’t think that’s the real issue here, unless you are late arriving on the good ship wordpress. The advanced image settings were the only real way to deal with image borders and image spacing in posts without learning CSS or hacking a template and making it even more locked in.

    What older blogs are locked into isn’t a theme, it’s into an operating style that wordpress supported and generally recommended for a very long time. If you have a weekly blogs with posts back 10 years, you were posting on version 1.x… and the current tricky CSS toys were NOT part of the game.

    “fix it in CSS” is a nice sentement, but it’s sort of like saying that you can no longer have a nice blog unless you are willing to learn programming. That seems a little bit against the whole WP concept.

  15. I think the WordPress community needs to be a little more pragmatic than it has been of late.

    Sure, having theme designers change what they do, working to a set of standards etc. is a great idea, but can anyone see it happening in practice? And what of the thousands of themes already out there and being used?

    How could these changes be implemented on existing sites without breaking them?

    Unless enforced standards and locked everyone in (which they couldn’t do) like Apple, the idea is dead in the water.

    Yes, lets start now to work towards having standards … but there needs to be a transition period … not BAM! WP 3.9 doesn’t let you do that anymore!

    It would be nice if all browsers produced the same results without hacks and mods … but we’re living in the real world.

  16. I am a late comer to WordPress with my early web development having started with FrontPage 98, which says something about my timeline. Needing to get a site up quickly, my daughter had suggested WordPress. I was surprised by what was on offer and the flexibility to amend themes and use plug-ins to expand the capabilities. I quickly became aware that WordPress is primarily for blogging, but could be used for sites with only fixed pages. It has provided what I wanted, but sometimes I felt that I was restricted by the system. I do not regret using it and have enjoyed trying to insert my own coding to reduce the use of plug-ins. The removal of the Advanced Image Editing is the first time that I have been forced to spend much more time doing something that was so easy previously. Different pages on my sites have various photographs and graphics and require different treatment, even on the same page. Some themes add a faint line around all images, which resist coding added to the child style sheets to remove it. All this was easily handled previously, but not now without a plug-in. Also adding a plug-in like JetPack as suggested by some is a joke, to handle my requirements. I often read that WordPress is no longer just for blogging and I have proved this true myself, but some comments illustrate that there are people, who either don’t care about or don’t understand other uses for WordPress.

    • I couldn’t agree more Vincent from reading this blog it would seem that there is an elitist group who think that if it’s easy to do then lets make it more difficult. As you say adding border etc use to be easy, then someone else says yes but it should never have been in the core. I ask why not if it made it easier for people to use why not have it in there. I want something quick and simple I don’t want to be playing around with css or child themes if I did I would write my websites in html. No I started using wp because it was quick and simple unfortunately the developers have lost their way. who cares if it’s not the “technically” right way to deal with an image, the fact is it worked. I believe the developers have forgotten two very simple rules and they are : the “KISS” principle and “If it aint broke don’t fix it” of course you could say that they are the experts and know what they are doing ,but then the definition of an expert is “X is an unknown quantity and spert is a drip under pressure”

  17. In retrospect it is clear that this type of functionality should have been handled via a plugin or theme CSS to begin with, but it was already in core, so it should not have been removed without a transition period and a clear transition path.

    • “this type of functionality should have been handled via a plugin or theme CSS”
      To begin with, a statement like the above is completely WRONG! Why you don’t handle bold and italics in texts with plugins or theme CSS? It’s the same logic here.
      First of, you CAN’T handle individual image borders with theme CSS. It’s obvious you never used such option to make that sort of statement. Secondly, it’s more than stupid to remove core functions that were working just fine and move them to plugins – while, at the same time, you add features at core that should have been at plugin territory, such as media playlist management!

      • Jordan, you can handle this in a proper semantic way without inline styles. It just hasn’t been done that way for historical reasons. More importantly though manhandling your content with inline styles like this is going counter to then intentions of the original theme designer and begs two important questions:

        1. Why does a user need to add borders and margin to the images? Is it because the image background is clashing with the content background or is it because the iser wants a border that the theme doesn’t provide. In the first case a pre-buit style should be applied to individual images. In the second the user should build a child theme or look for a new theme because she/he is making a design change that should be applied on a global level.

        2. Why are users adding margins to their images? Is it because the images do not have enough white space around them or because the user is using margins for positioning. If it’s the former then the user again should be making a global change or change the theme. If it’s the latter the iser is most likely using image positioning incorrectly and should be trained to use the positioning options available.

        The challenge with WordPress is that it has become the tool many people use to learn web development. And if WordPress uses inline styles like in this feature, newcomers will think inline styles are the correct solution. They are not. So we as a community need to make a decision: Do we keep providimg the user with a quick, dirty, and incorrect method for solving a problem that isn’t really a problem or do we move the issue to the theme developers and ensure the user learns how to write proper HTML and CSS? I say the latter, and that in part means abandoning the old broken method until a better one is found.

        • This is fairy tail ideal world. In real world nothing works that way.

          I currently work on a top premium theme, ultra recent and from one of best themes companies out there that certainly can’t be suspected of providing poorly coded themes.
          Images appearing in category and archive listings have all nice borders and I certainly don’t want to change this. But when I create a post/page and insert an image in the middle of the text there is absolutely no formatting – and that’s correct because this should be customized case by case, because there is no general rule possible here.

          In other words, please let me know how, in your ideal world, you would design a CSS that does the following:
          – insert a 1px black border to images that have a white/light background and that are inserted in a page with a white/light background
          – insert a 1px white border to images that have a black/dark background and that are inserted in a page with a black/dark background

          • It’s not a fairytale world at all. This is easily solvable by setting up proper conventions for theme styles. I’ve outlined it in detail here:

            The quick summary: Themes (or WP core) should ship with basic classes for image borders. That should go without saying actually. Any theme should have a CSS rule for 1px black and 1px grey borders to address the exact issue you are referring to. That way the user can simply apply a class like “border-black” and a border is applied. Themes should also ship with custom border colors that match with the theme where required, and this should be clearly documented.

            As for margins that’s a whole other issue: If the user is mucking around with image positioning using margins there is something seriously amiss somewhere. Either the user doesn’t understand how to position images properly (which means more training or clearer instructions are required) or the theme is not set up to handle the user scenario or the user is trying to do something that shouldn’t be done from a design / layout perspective.

            The ability to hard-code inline styles onto images is not a solution but a problem as became apparent when the feature was removed. It gives the user a false sense of control that causes problems down the road when the theme is switched or something else happens on the site. Providing the user with inline style capability is counter to the interest of that user, not the other way around.

            I’m working on a completely different type of solution to this problem and if it is successful I will submit it to core for inclusion. I would love input on it once it’s beyond the idea stage.

        • Morten Rand-Hendriksen asks why do users want to add borders or space around an image well the simple answer to that is whats it to do with you? why they want to just accept the fact they do. All this correct way and wrong way crap is just that. I mean a group of developers get together and say this is the standard now who’s to say that standard is right? to me if you try to do something and it doesn’t work then that is the wrong way to do it if it works great the truth is there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is more than one way to add a border if it works its the right way to do it.

          • BRAVO!!!

            There’s a long spectrum between Absolutely Right and Irresponsibly Wrong. So arguing right vs. wrong isn’t helpful here. We get through our lives just fine with plenty of “good enough.” You skin your cat your way, I skin my cat my way, and we live in peace … until someone comes along and says “you’re both doing it not the right way.”


  18. I’m with Jordan 100% in this case. However what’s done is done, and as a result we have a plugin which is even better than before.

    What most don’t understand is that removing this feature, removes the freedoms to work on your site to easily set the borders and margins without having to learn CSS. Most end users don’t know css, and they don’t want to learn either. All they want to do is type their content, and run their real businesses. So more than anything else, it’s about taking away some of the freedoms, unjustifiably. Why? Because having this feature in the core, it did not harm anybody. It did not break things, it did not slow down the sites, or any other side effects. Those who liked it used it, like many of my clients, and those who did not, did not. Some don’t use the editor (tinymce), should that be removed next?

    Do you realize how many repeated circular discussions I now have to have with some end users, so they can do the same thing that before took them 10 seconds?

    This is nothing but a elitist power play as far I’m concerned, because I still have to read a reasonable reason why it should be taken off the core – Some examples:

    – “In retrospect it is clear that this type of functionality should have been handled via a plugin or theme CSS to begin with,”… – Really? Beside imposing your elitist view and will on the less knowledgeable, what else is clear?

    “you can handle this in a proper semantic way without inline styles. It just hasn’t been done that way for historical reasons. More importantly though manhandling your content with inline styles like this is going counter to then intentions of the original theme designer and begs two important questions:” – How do you reconcile the fact that the’s support team is suggesting to the site owners to use inline styles to put different margins and borders?

    “this is going counter to then intentions of the original theme designer” – I have not seen or used a third party theme that I did not change some things, and customize them. Who cares about the intentions of the original theme designer. the only thing that matters to me are what are my clients and my intentions, and how things should operate and look. Has anyone seen a theme and said, “wow – this is perfect, I would not change one thing”! Never, in my case.

    What if the margins and borders set by the theme are not what the site owner wants/likes, so he wants to change them, easily, without diving into the code. What other options do the site owners at have besides learning css, to make this changes?

    What makes you think that you know what our customers want, and how they should work? I thought wordpress’s main purposes were about freedoms, and how easy it is to operate. By removing this feature, it does the opposite. But hey, this feature is gone, and that’s that, but stop spiking the ball, and tell the end users how clever and brilliant you are, and how pathetic they are for not knowing anything. Seriously though, What was the harm by having it in there? If you don’t like it, don’t use it – but let the others be, don’t take away their freedoms.

    And by saying inline css is the wrong method, does not make that a fact? Why is it incorrect? TinyMCE does inline css all the time, in fact, that’s the main way it formats the content on the fly. What are we talking about here?

    • This is a multi faceted conversation so I’ll see if I can broach the main topics you brought up Nick:

      First off there is an overarching question about how much control a user should have to do things. In an ideal world all themes should ship with easy to use functions that allow the user to do what she/he wants within the framework of the design of that theme. When a user installs a theme it is because she/he likes the appearance. If the user then uses an external function like the one we are discussing to change that appearance the original intent of the designer is breached and that can be argued to be a bad thing. That’s not to say the user shouldn’t be able to make the changes they desire, it means theme developers need to provide the necessary tools to help the user do what she/he wants within the framework of the overall design of the theme.

      In a practical sense this means shipping the theme with classes for borders that match the design and ensuring that images are floated and positioned properly so the user doesn’t have to manhandle the content. The onus here is squarely on the theme designer and developer.

      I can’t speak for nor the developers behind TinyMCE. What I can say is that inline styles should not be used for adding borders and margins to images under any circumstances. The reasons for this are clearly stated in Jeff’s article above and in my article on the same topic ( The fact that this feature has been shipped in WordPress up until now is not an argument for keeping it in core. Historical wrongs are not good reasons for continuing those wrongs. As to why is recommending the use of this feature it has to do with the fact no better solution is available. We can work on that to fix it permanently.

      To the question of whether a user should be forced to learn CSS you are absolutely correct: Demanding that a user learns CSS is ridiculous and goes against the intent of WordPress. However, WordPress also has a responsibility to ensure it teaches users to do things the right way. Inline styles is the wrong way and for that reason alone they should and have been removed.

      Finally, here is a practical example of why inline styles are wrong in most cases and this case in particular:

      Say my friend Maiken is using a high contrast theme with a white background and hard black lines. A lot of the pictures she posts have a white background as well so she uses inline styles to add a black border around them. Then one day she changes to a new theme that has much softer contrast and in which all images have a grey border by default. Now all her old images with the hard black border have two borders: the grey one applied by the theme and the hard black one inserted through inline styles. And the hard black border looks terrible in her theme. Because the styles are individually applied to each image she now has two choices: Go back into each individual post, find each individual image, and remove the inline styles, or don’t use the theme she just switched to.

      This is a terrible situation that a lot of people who use this feature will find themselves in and it is caused by the use of inline styles. Had the user been instructed to use a class instead the theme designer of the new theme could ship a class that overrides the hard black border for a softer one and Maiken wouldn’t have to do any work after the update.

      The situation with margins is far worse and can cause a whole slew of frustrating problems that make the border example above seem like a non-issue.

      Bottom line is while the sudden unannounced removal of the feature could have been handled in a better way the removal of the feature itself was not a bad thing. What we should focus on is finding a better solution that gives theme designers and developers control over borders and positioning while allowing the user to apply them where necessary. That is user friendly, standards compliant, and future proof which in the end should be the goal for anything that happens in WordPress.

      • I’m sorry but I stopped reading your post as soon as I reached the line that mentioned “Jetpack”.

      • Morten, you’re speaking like an expert who’s only going to be listened to by other experts.

        I had a website for 4 years that was just fine. No horrors befell me, my basic site or my site visitors because I used inline styling.

        • Well Said Oz I totally agree with you People like Morton in that elitist group have not given one good reason why this feature which I would guess 80% of wp users used has been taken out. their only argument is that it’s not right it’s not how we do it well guess what it’s how the rest of us liked to do it. and it worked. As my old dad use to say sometimes these experts are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly use.

    • +1 Nick

      “However what’s done is done, and as a result we have a plugin which is even better than before.”
      Interesting to note here that this plugin was developed by an Automattic dev and I won’t be surprised to see it any time soon as a new “soooo cooool” Jetpack module…

  19. Image editing used to be easy. Due to the varied nature of images we use it is not possible to code css for every situation. I run so many sites on WP and am loathe to update. My clients and I think most peoples clients like simple things. Some of the comments I have read from developers saying it is all easy and we can create multiple classes for every situation are very conceited. I do not want to use a plugin, I am trying to use as few plugins as possible, otherwise wp becomes clunky and slow. I have not personally met or no anyone who thinks that 3.9 is good. WP is great but developers please don’t just create updates for the sake of it.

    • I agree with you.

      1. I blog about Excel and need to make a lot of screenshots and edit images on the fly. Making a bunch of CSS for every size and shape of image would be a job on its own.
      2. The developers seem to forget that the appeal of WP is that novice users can get something going. Reluctantly, I agree with the word ‘conceited.’

      I’ve had a basic, secure site for the past 4 years. Today, was just ridiculous … having to go in and write HTML code to size and position a singe image.

  20. While I think dropping some of the image features from WordPress could have been dealt with in a better way, it’s hard to read the complaints. The complaints are very self-centered to be honest and argue from the point of view how a feature change has impacted them without making any effort to understand the bigger picture or understand all the changes that were made and why they were made.

    Some people are making it sound like WordPress took a step back or that the developers are making changes just to make changes.

    First of all, these features can be added back in with a plugin. Problem solved. Yes it’s an inconvenience to have to install and research a plugin.

    And don’t say that plugins make WordPress slower (@webismuk) because it amounts to having the code for dealing with these features live in another folder. The difference is immaterial (unless the plugin is really poorly coded). Meanwhile, WordPress has gotten a little less bloaty with a feature a large portion of the userbase does not use.

    I think it’s unfortunate that this issue makes some people lose sight of the advances WordPress has made just in this last release. To me this really was one of the best releases to have ever come out. But sometimes there are short term pains for a portion of users, for long term gains. That’s unavoidable with any software.

    Take the WordPress editor. It has gone through a major update in this release. It has always been a major point of complaint by people. But this update (notably, the upgrading to a much improved version of TinyMce) provides a better foundation. Lots of plugins that interact with the editor may have had issues with this release, especially if they weren’t testing against upcoming updates (which they could have by following developments actively). So there was going to be some chaos with some plugins.

    But to improve the experience for the community at large and make WP better, you have to make these kind of choices. Arguing for keeping things the way they were is tantamount to saying that WP should become outdated and die and not address problems other people are having and stop making a better platform. It’s hard to take some of these complaints and not think they are a tad self-centered in that regard.

  21. First of all the plugin you mention is of extreme poor quality and it doesn’t work as it should. Problem not solved at all.

    I then don’t understand what is your point with the remaining. You are trying to say here that WP had to remove some features in order to make it better? Your statement is unrelated and misses the point. Why such feature had to be removed? I still wait for a rational answer here. The comments that say it always should be part of a plugin are just comic.
    Comments self centered…? Come on…

    • Jordan, Peter is a web developer who blogs about JavaScript and WordPress. Of course he understands “bloated code” and why this move was an improvement for WordPress code.

      Peter is not talking our language but he does offer a “rational” answer. But it’s more like:

      “I’m taking away your dial telephone and giving you this wonderful smartphone.”

      Well, ok. Let’s agree that the smartphone is undoubtedly “better.” But I just want to make phone calls, I don’t need whatever it is that YOU think I need.

      That’s not the best analogy, but I think it speaks to the idea that sometimes “better” is not worth the upheaval.

      My last 2 blogpopsts have been created in Windows Live Writer. I’ve opted to minimize the time spent in WP’s editor.

      I tried the Advanced Image Styles plugin. Nope. Doesn’t work, and the author hasn’t replied to recent issues. That’s what you get with plugins.

      What’s the fix for a plugin that doesn’t work?
      Disable all of your plugins and turn them on one at a time until you find the conflict. Ok. No. I’ll use Windows Live Writer.

    • Hey Jordan, some of your earlier comments above did make some sense.

      You point out the keep it simple principle and I think that is why I think the feature was removed. Why? Because a) only a minority of users use the feature, b) new users are easily overwhelmed by too many settings, c) if a feature can be moved to a plugin, you make WordPress less bloaty and bloat is something lots of critics will argue over.

      Beyond the keep it simple narrative, I think the setting options should encourage the best approach to these kinds of modifications, and generally this should be something set by the theme. Why? Because inline styles are out of the control of the theme and can then only be managed by editing the individual post. Your custom styled image may look good with your current theme, but when you switch themes it may look a lot worse. There is no way to easily make site wide adjustments to your image-specific inline styles.

      But you do bring 2 legitimate points. Is the adding of, say an image border similar to using italic or bold on a word? I think you make a decent case with that. The second point, was that the play list feature is probably also one of those things that won’t get used by a majority of users either and fits the ‘plugin territory’ use case. I don’t disagree with you there, even though I think it’s a rather cool feature to have. But then, core does make mistakes, or choices that in hindsight don’t work out as well. But that too is part of evolving the platform we all use.

      But hey, there are multiple plugins out there that add image controls for setting borders and the like:, have you tried that? Actually, if you give those developers feedback, maybe a better way of dealing with image-specific style settings can be created.

      • Hi Peter, I jump into this and start from bottom: the plugin you mention was the first I tested: a total disaster! The result was very simple: I simply got NOTHING around images. It’s just a joke and nobody replies out there in support. This plugin, like many others is like the ruins of Pompei. Frozen in the past.

        I completely respect your position but most of the arguments I found here and there simply don’t work. As I said, the logic of “features most people use” simply doesn’t work here. I don’t want to list here all WP features most people don’t use. It’ll be too long. The “too many settings” argument doesn’t work either. This was hidden in advanced options and most users never ever clicked on that (that’s probably why they didn’t use it by the way…).

        Now remains the infamous argument “plugin territory” that I found here and there by many WP soldiers. I have no problem with that. The real problem here is rather hidden.

        Because I now clearly understand that “plugin territory” translates in “Jetpack territory” and this is something I simply can’t accept. The other plugin mentioned everywhere (Advanced Image Styles) is developed by a WP developer working for Automattic and not only the plugin doesn’t work correctly but there is no support either. It clearly appears that this is just a beta playground for Jetpack wonderful guys and happiness engineers that are just testing waters to see what the next cooool module will be.

        Let me be clear here and this is my personal point of view of course:
        Image borders and margins have been removed with the sole purpose to move them into Jetpack’s family of cool and awesome modules. As many others modules of this package, they could have been part of core WP but it is far more interesting commercially to serve them through your account.

        I think the remaining is just a discussion to keep this topic alive and keep focus away from the real issue.

  22. I couldn’t agree more Jordan from reading this blog it would seem that there is an elitist group who think that if it’s easy to do then lets make it more difficult. As you say adding border etc use to be easy, then someone else says yes but it should never have been in the core. I ask why not if it made it easier for people to use why not have it in there. I want something quick and simple I don’t want to be playing around with css or child themes if I did I would write my websites in html. No I started using wp because it was quick and simple unfortunately the developers have lost their way. who cares if it’s not the “technically” right way to deal with an image, the fact is it worked. I believe the developers have forgotten two very simple rules and they are : the “KISS” principle and “If it aint broke don’t fix it” of course you could say that they are the experts and know what they are doing ,but then the definition of an expert is “X is an unknown quantity and spert is a drip under pressure”

  23. The author of this post and many of the comments that followed make a fundamental and critical error, which, I am afraid to say, is typical of programmers: the assumption that their judgment on a particular setting will be the same for every one, and in every case. In reality, coders cannot predict the various ways that users will want to use their code, and for this reason it is always best to err on the side of providing MORE user-defined options than LESS. Basic/Advanced settings can help keep things orderly.

    Having the theme, or CSS, control ALL image settings according to a default arrangement ignores the very obvious fact that users may actually wish to display different images in different ways on their site or blog post. I manage some 50 websites, with clients involved in about half of them. Even if I wanted to (I don’t) use custom CSS to position a image the way I prefer, it is completely unrealistic to expect the clients to follow suit. CSS has a learning curve, ‘border size’ or ‘margin size’ etc is straightforward and intuitive.

    These clients are NEVER going to learn CSS but they WILL bother ME endlessly about tiny customizations that heretofore they could conceivably make THEMSELVES but NOW I have to do them. Or, to put it another way, this isn’t just a matter of annoyance. It costs me TIME and MONEY to make these changes. This move by WP has hit me in the pocketbook and to say that I don’t appreciate it would be to put it mildly.

    I’ll take a look at this plugin though, and I thank you kindly for linking to it.

  24. Unless the theme has different padding for left & right aligned images, then tweaking padding is via advanced options is necessary. Otherwise the alignment just looks off or you get text getting too close to text. Before theme designers get too precious about their babies they should think through the use cases and why content editors might want more control sometimes.


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