So, I’ve posted elsewhere that I’m not a huge fan of theme frameworks. The short version: I’m not sure we need anymore hooks and filters than WordPress Core already provides and my time is better spent learning those hooks than learning some trendy theme hooks that merely obscur or repackage those core WP hooks.
However, then I contradicted myself and went a redesigned my website using the Genesis Framework. So I feel obligated to explain. I chose the Genesis Framework because I like StudioPress. I first used a Brian Gardner theme back in 2008 when it was still “Revolution”. I’ve always found his code clean, efficient and easy to work with. Indeed, I found those traits reflected in Genesis as well.
Moreover, modifying Genesis was (for the most part) much more straight forward than other frameworks like Thesis. For instance, with Genesis you can still use custom template pages without putting all the code into a function. I’m old school so I like that. I also find the core Genesis libraries are intuitively organized so that if you want to know what hooks are involved in a particular piece of the header, it’s relatively easy to find ‘/lib/structure/header.php’.
So, while in general, I still don’t dig on theme frameworks, Genesis is definitely a good one. Cheers, Brian.
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.
I’m very happy to report two new projects going online. One is www.eightin08.com, another adaptation of Justin Tadlock’s Options theme. The other is www.friendsoffairness.com, which is, come to think of it, another adaptation of Justin Tadlock’s theme. Jeez, I wonder if there’s a message here!
So, my OnStage theme has only been out for a couple weeks and already I’m releasing a new version. What gives? Well it occurred to me that a few tweeks were needed. For one, the blog had no side bar which (a) prevented users from browsing archives and (b) eliminated the natural search juice that a sidebar provides. Also, I noticed that some users were not using the proper sized pictures for their frontpage gallery. This resulted in the smaller pictures aligning left and making the whole site look a little off kilter. I’ve now centered the home gallery so that, no matter what size image is used, the images will look nice.
The new version can be downloaded here.
So I’ve been busy all day working on my first ever WordPress Theme. At least the first one I’ve essentially designed from scratch. I’m calling it “OnStage” and it is specifically designed for use by actors. It isn’t ready for download yet because the setup instructions are going to be a little detailed. But you can preview the theme here. Feedback is definitely welcome.