When I first encountered the Carrington Theme CMS Framework for WordPress I was underwhelmed. First, I didn’t get it. Why would I want to learn a new set of concepts and functions to help me customize WordPress? It is the same reason I’ve always resisted learning third-party design programs like Dreamweaver. Wouldn’t my time be better spent learning the programming language itself?
Moreover, I was confused because Carrington Theme didn’t seem to make it any easier to turn WordPress into a CMS! It made it harder because there was yet another layer of abstraction to worry about.
But my negative assessment was born of ignorance more than experience. It wasn’t until I was knee-deep into my first CMS project managing more than 10,000 pages of content with at least 10 different “content types” that I began to remember the Carrington Framework … and then click! it all made sense.
Carrington is a framework built to help developers manage sites with hundreds of customizations. I built my CMS site without Carrington and my sidebar.php file looks like Frankenstein on acid: include, conditional, biconditional, include, exclude, uhg. Sometimes when I need to fix a particular customization it takes me ten minutes to figure out which include file it’s in.
The whole point of Carrington is to make 90% of that conditional code unnecessary because so much of it is predictable. If you’re building a CMS, you can pretty much guarantee that you want change the sidebar depending on the context of the page, right? Carrington just makes it simpler to do so.
Perhaps the confusion over Carrington is that it markets itself as a “CMS Framework”. But in fact, it’s a THEME framework for CMS builders. If you are using Carrington, you will still need to know how to use WordPress custom fields and write panels etc. But the theming will be 100 times easier.