In 2013 I made a silly little plugin called Genericon’d which let you include Genericons on your site in a theme independent way, complete with shortcodes and flexibility for other plugins and themes that might be using it. In 2016, Generico became Genericons Neue.

The changes were small but huge:

  1. SVG instead of font icons
  2. No more social icons

The problem I faced was equally small but huge:

  1. How to seamlessly transition from font icons to SVGs
  2. How to handle social!!?!?!

Thankfully Automattic actually did the hardest work for me, with Social Logos. I can’t design logos. I didn’t want to abandon people. So for me, to be able to just include a second library in the plugin was a fast and easy fix.

The long and drawn out one was how to make the plugin magically transition. It took me a month, fiddling with it off and on, but as of version 4.0, Genericon’d defaults to using modern SVGs instead of fonts and combines the Genericon Neue icon pack as well as Social Logos to ensure your old code keeps working. If SVGs won’t work for your site, you can either use classic Genericons or the legacy font packs.

Genericon'd default settings

Yeah, I gave everyone ‘options’ while still making default decisions. For the most part, no one needs the old legacy stuff unless they’re supporting IE, so this should work right out of the box for everyone, new and upgrades. My only ‘beef’ is that Social Logos doesn’t have a release strategy, so I’m going to have to randomly check for updates.

A lot of the work I did to figure this out was just testing variations. I knew that by default I wanted everyone to use the minified, super fast SVG sprites, and by default you do. There are hidden options that would let you use the slower images, but I didn’t build out that interface because of the annoying complexity with setting up “if you have Genericons Neue, make sure you don’t have Genericons Classic!” That was a surprisingly large amount of ifs and elses to make it logically flow. I wanted to have it magically flip things over for you, but in the end I went with an alert if the plugin is active and you haven’t selected things.

You can also make your load even lighter by not including the social icons, but one thing that’s nice about SVGs over Font Icons is that if you’re not using them, there’s no extra load on the site.

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