WPWeekly Episode 87 – The LOST Episode

wordpressweekly1 I was unaware that the U.S. with the exception of a few people were in front of their TV’s to watch the season premiere of LOST. Thankfully, I had Kim Parsell and Ryan Duff call in to make sure I wasn’t lonely on the show. We actually had a great conversation centered around the future of themes, theme frameworks, HTML5, the default theme, etc. It was a theme show for sure but when you get me on the topic of theme frameworks, rant mode kicks in and it’s hard for me to let go. I’d be interested in your thoughts after you hear the rants.

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Stories Discussed:

WPTavern mentioned in .Net Magazine
WPVote.com Launches
Group Interview With Commercial Theme Designers
WordPress for Android Released
Default Theme Is HTML 5 Compliant
Future Of WordPress Themes For 2010

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Tuesday, February 9th 8P.M. EST

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Length Of Episode: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

Download The Show: WordPressWeeklyEpisode87.mp3

Listen To Episode #87:

5 Comments


  1. Frameworks for End-Users

    I have to disagree with the notion that a theme’s code should be written for non-developers. To the average WP user, who just picks their favorite looking theme, the code matters not. This means that the code could be horrible. The benefit of any framework is that potential issues have been addressed and continue to be worked on (SEO, speed, validity, compatibility, accessibility, etc.).

    For the end user that wants to make minor changes to things, like the wording of the byline, theme frameworks could make it a bit easier. But I don’t think building a theme should adhere to what is easiest for people to tweak. So theme option pages may be in order. People obviously love Thesis because of its options.

    On Hybrid specifically, Jeff is right about it being developed for developers. Justin’s idea is that he’ll provide the foundation and developers can add on to it. So its certainly within the realm of possibilty to create a theme options plugin for Hybrid. I’ve already built one to change the byline. This seems ideal to me as well; the theme is as robust or minimalistic as you want it to be. These things will just take time.

    Frameworks for Developers

    Also, I wanted to address why I think frameworks are excellent for client work. You’re not really adding any bloat to a client’s website with code that you’re not using. Sure, a framework will have a large zip file, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t optimized to run fast. In fact, it may run more efficiently than a brand new theme because everything has been thought through. Plus, its much more flexible to make changes to a client’s site in the future.

    Retiring Annual Themes

    What they’re planning on doing is releasing 2010 until the 2011 theme is released. They won’t necessarily retire 2010 but it won’t ship with core. So the WP package won’t increase with size each year. If you’re already using 2010 when the 2011 theme comes out you’ll still be ok (like Ryan suggested).

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  2. @Patrick Daly – There is a balance to be had between enough theme options and too many theme options. But up until Builder, in a sense Genesis, and Elastic, every single one of these ‘theme framework’s that came out in 2009 were made by developers, for developers. That is of no use to me, the common layman.

    Theme developer says, I need to be more efficient. Instead of repeating code, why not create a framework as my base and use that to create themes from. So developer builds it and then figures what the heck, and releases it into the wild. Each theme framework is built by a person with a different mindset on how things should be. Good to have choices, no doubt about that, but they are still frameworks made by developers, for developers. The overall trend is toward frameworks and child themes which I think makes things a bigger pain in the ass than they need to be.

    This is why I’m such a big fan of builder, elastic and others like it. It’s my idea of a framework. Just give me something that provides me flexibility without touching code, doesn’t have a zillion options and the icing on the cake is a style or visual editor that makes it easy for me to apply design elements to the layout portion of the design. That is what I want. No one provides that yet. The closest thing to that is Builder who is currently working on the visual editor part of the equation.

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  3. @Jeffro – Don’t use Elastic in the same sentence as the other ones. Genesis is not a framework (as far as I can tell). Elastic is a real framework. IThemes don’t call their Builder theme a theme framework. They call it a theme.
    The whole framework naming is just a way for theme makers to make their themes with options look “cool” and “hardcore”. Instead of calling them by their real name. Themes with options.
    Don’t give creators any publicity by referring to plain old themes with options as theme frameworks.

    Devs don’t like the whole definition of “theme framework” that is starting to take root.
    http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/2631303/

    A question to see if its really a theme framework.
    If you activate it does the site get an new default design?
    Yes? Then its a just theme perhaps with options but a good old theme none the less.

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  4. Okay, got around to listening to the latest wp weekly. I don’t think there’s anything preventing you from editing the actual files (you could copy all the templates from the hybrid folder to the hybrid-news folder and edit away). The problem is when you go to upgrade Hybrid, you’re missing out on features that may have been added to those templates in the Hybrid folder. Things might still run smoothly, or things will simply just not work.

    By using hooks to interact with the templates, it makes upgrading so much easier. Mind you, I’m a developer, so a lot of this is easier to me, than it would be to a non-developer. But for a non-developer, how great is it to be able to update your theme and not have to worry about your site breaking because of changes you’ve made to your template files?

    I think things like drag and drop to handle layout, should be the job of a plugin (or the child theme). Even a framework specific plugin, if need be. I like the idea of the framework as a base, and extra functionality like layouts and options being left to child theme and plugin developers.

    Hopefully the WordPress Bible’s information on hooks that you referred to in the podcast will “click” with you, and you’ll get the hang of it. Things like the Hybrid Hook plugin make things a bit easier too. Not sure how often you read the support forums over at themehybrid.com, but the community there is pretty good at answering any questions you have. Chances are the question has already been asked and answered, even.

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but it’s where I first learned about hooks, and might be useful for you. It’s for Thesis, but the idea is transferrable to other frameworks like Thematic and Hybrid:

    Hooks for Dummies Tutorial

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  5. On Frameworks

    I don’t like how the term “framework” is being so loosely tossed around. I don’t consider the Hybrid theme to be a framework at all. It’s a parent theme.

    But, underneath the theme is a folder called library. The actual development framework lives within that folder. I could’ve just as easily called this hybrid-core like Carrington does with carrington-core. Yes, Carrington is a framework, but Carrington Blog and Carrington JAM (for example) are themes.

    You could load Hybrid’s library folder into ANY theme and call a few lines of code to initialize the framework. Or, you could be building a completely new theme from scratch and have it powered by the Hybrid Framework. Yes, you could write your own custom templates, HTML, functions, or whatever.

    The framework is there to be a set of functions that both organizes and streamlines much of the grittier stuff with theme development.

    On “Smart” themes

    I don’t consider themes like Thesis and Builder frameworks either. If I were to classify them as something separate than a regular theme, I’d call them smart themes.

    A theme with a ton of layout and design options doesn’t necessarily make it a framework.

    With that said, Elastic is actually a framework.

    On Plugins

    I don’t like the idea of sticking a thousand options into a theme. This is where the beauty of plugins come into play.

    I like using plugins for this sort of thing for two major reasons:

    1) Only users that want those extra features have to install the plugin(s). People that don’t aren’t stuck with unnecessary admin panels and extra code loading.

    2) Plugins are much easier to upgrade because developers have access to a Subversion repository and users are more comfortable with the idea of upgrading plugins.

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