Genesis Framework, Not Too Shabby

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.

Endorsement: Carrington CMS Framework

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.

Is the WordPress Theme Directory a Barrier to Acceptance as a CMS?

I’ve grown a little frustrated with the WordPress Theme Directory. On the one hand I very much appreciate what they are trying to do, setting standards of excellence for theme development. Add to this the ez search-and-click install available since 2.8 and you have the most user friendly blogging system available.

Here’s the problem, I have a theme that is built to make WordPress a CMS, so it requires a few steps to set up. But I just got an email back from the WordPress clue in which it was clear that the theme tester, effectively the gate keeper, didn’t even bother going through the steps.

My Onstage Theme for Actors uses ‘/home.php’ to display a headshot, and only a couple of excerpts from the blog. Users have to create a page for the blog template that is included. But the theme tester didn’t even bother to set it up. Instead he complained that the posts weren’t paged and there was no sidebar, both of which are part of the blog template.

So how is WordPress to become recognized as a full content  management solution when the WordPress theme directory seems to expect a cookie cutter installation process?

Coming soon: “OnStage” a Worpress Theme for Actors

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.

Re-Launching “Yes” for Illinois

I know, I know. It’s only been a couple of weeks since we “launched” the site. But I was never happy with the design aspects of it. And since the original launch I discovered an even more powerful theme by Justin Tadlock, this one called “Options.” So I went back and revamped the www.yesforillinois.com using the new theme. While not perfect, it certainly is a dramatic improvement.