Kirki: A Free Plugin to Style the WordPress Customizer and Add Advanced Controls

kirki

The customizer is a powerful tool that allows users to make changes to WordPress themes and preview them live. Because it is native to WordPress, many theme authors are starting to employ the customizer exclusively, instead of creating their own option panels.

Although the customizer is a frontend tool, it slides into view with a generic design that matches the backend of WordPress. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could style the customizer to be a more natural extension of your theme?

Kirki Plugin Lets You Theme the WordPress Customizer and Add Advanced Controls

Kirki is a new free plugin that adds advanced features to the WordPress customizer, including the ability to style it, add your own custom header, and include more advanced custom controls. It’s essentially a framework for the customizer.

kirki-customizer

While many theme option frameworks add a new panel to the admin, Kirki was designed to do one thing: extend the customizer. If you’re using a theme powered by Kirki, you won’t even know it’s there, because it doesn’t brand itself or add anything additional to the WordPress admin.

Kirki packages more than a dozen different types of fields that you can add to create advanced controls, such as multi-check checkboxes, sliders using the jQuery Slider UI, buttonsets, layout selection, and more.

background-propertiesThere are two ways to incorporate the Kirki framework into your creations: You can use it as a plugin or embed it within a WordPress theme you are building. Theming the customizer is easy with just a few lines of code, and the documentation offers a sample array.

If you want to check out a demo of a bunch of Kirki-powered controls in action, you can install the Shoestrap theme, which doesn’t require the plugin. This will give you a feel of how the customizer can be themed and how various controls can be implemented. Full documentation for all of the fields is available on the kirki.org website.

Kirki was created by WordPress developer Aristeides Stathopoulos, author of the Shoestrap theme. He built it to help theme developers reduce the time spent writing custom controls so they can focus on creating beautiful, user-friendly themes.

Kirki is free and open source. It’s available for download from the WordPress Plugin Directory and can also be found on GitHub.

8 Comments


  1. We’ve been updating the UpThemes Framework over the past 6 months to work beautifully with the customizer. In fact, in our newer themes, we stopped offering a theme options page altogether! I definitely love this approach and think it is the way of the future.

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  2. Oh, that’s a nice idea. I never thought about that possibility. I wonder if theme developers will adopt it.

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  3. As a theme developer, I looked very hard for ready to use solutions like this but did not find any, so started building my own, But this may save me some time especially since it can be embedded in the theme itself.

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  4. Thank you Sarah for featuring this plugin here!

    We wanted to make this as easy as possible and this is still a work in progress.
    The plugin itself is functional and easy to use, any bugfixes and commits are welcomed on its github repository on https://github.com/aristath/kirki (there’s a known bug on the “required” argument, currently it only works with buttonsets but will hopefully be extended soon enough).

    As for the Shoestrap theme mentioned above, it uses exclusively the customizer and is currently under construction. By that I mean that we’ve added all the options to the customizer and have started working on their implementation but some of them are not yet implemented in the theme.
    Just a heads up… it’s not bugs, it’s just unfinished business. :) Just like on the kirki plugin, you can contribute to this theme on it github repository.

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  5. This is really impressive plugin. We have been working with Customizer for a long time but it seems lack of functionality, it’s quite tricky to add fields like radio image, button group, etc. Customizer will be the direction to go with, so I hope Kirki will attract more attentions from WP developers.

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  6. I always find the abstraction of WordPress APIs troubling, especially in this case with the Customizer API. It’s basically three method calls with a few arguments. Every time you use an abstraction as a developer, you lose know-how and make yourself dependent on that abstraction.

    I do applaud any efforts to provide additional high-quality custom controls for the Customizer however. :)

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