WordPress Framework, WordPress Parent Theme and Child Theme

WordPress is awesome open source web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. Creating custom WordPress themes is very intuitive and relatively easy using WordPress API.

If you’re going to design a WordPress site, there are a few ways you can start. Many designers start with an HTML template that they then add WordPress code to. Others start with the basic WordPress code and design around that.

But have you tried starter theme or framework?? It is arguably the most efficient way to create a WordPress theme.

The term WordPress theme framework and child theme can be confusing to many people. If they are to use WordPress regularly, it is important that they understand all such terminology. WordPress frameworks have existed for years but unfortunately the terminology and therefore the basic understanding of what they are, why someone should use one and who should be using them has often been lacking.

What is a Parent Theme?

Almost every WordPress theme is a Parent Theme. Unless it is specified as a Child Theme (or a Framework) then it is a standalone Parent Theme. Parent Themes should contain the theme design, functionality and templates required for it to run on WordPress.


What is a Child Theme?

A Child Theme inherits all of its functionality from its Parent Theme but makes it possible for a user to make further customizations without affecting the future “updatability” of their Parent Theme.

If you’re wondering if you should have a Child Theme running on your WordPress website then the answer is yes. Always create (or make sure you’ve been provided with) a Child Theme if you’re planning on making any custom changes. Otherwise you will probably be in for a nasty surprise when your next update comes around.

A child theme is usually contained in a folder having a styles.css (required) and a functions.php file. functions.php is not mandatory, but you will need it if you want to include some your own custom functions on top of your parent theme. Both the child theme and parent theme folders will be in the themes directory of your WordPress installation. You can override the inherited traits from its parent by modifying its own styles.css and functions.php files.

For more info on how to do this check out this post by our Editor Tom Ewer: How to Create a Child Theme in WordPress.


What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

Frameworks are for web developers/designers who want a faster way to produce more powerful and feature-rich websites for their clients with little to no custom development.

Beyond developers though frameworks are great for web designers, publishers, bloggers and any other type of end user who wants a powerful yet “future-proof” WordPress website without extensive development (that they may or may not know how to do) because of their “do-it-your-self” empowering nature.

According to the WordPress Codex , the term “Theme Framework” currently has two meanings:

  • A “drop-in” code library that is used to facilitate development of a Theme.
  • A stand-alone base/starter Theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme, or else to be used as a Parent Theme template.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy To Use
  • Time savings
  • Efficient development
  • Support via communities built around the WordPress theme frameworks
  • Optimized CSS, HTML, PHP functions, and SEO
  • Code that’s written with WordPress standards and best practices
  • Ease of updating for future releases of WordPress

Cons

  • Time: A disadvantage of using frameworks is that, at the beginning, the most crucial problems for users who haven’t had any ideas about frameworks is facing with learning how to use this all new stuff. Even if the learning process is shorter than getting used with new coding language, you still have to think about the time to master these frameworks.
  • Cost: With their advantages, it’s obvious that their prices are higher than normal one. Since these frameworks are frameworks only which means their designs are plain and simple, you have to spend more money on purchasing child themes to enhance your websites’ performance.
  • Limitation: Frameworks define what you can and can’t do. You can’t break these barriers. It’s not a big problems for end-users like us, but to developers and designers, it limits their skill. Sometimes, it takes more time to make a custom theme from frameworks than build everything from scratch.

There are lot of frameworks available few of them I am listing below.

Every single framework featured in this post is worth taking a look at.

From an objective point of view there are no bad frameworks here. They’re all good. Most of them have found their own loyal (and in some cases fanatical) followings as a result. The question is: which one is right for you? And only you can decided that after reading about and comparing your options.

Top 5 Premium WordPress Frameworks

Genesis by Studiopress

Catalyst

Elegant

Pagelines

Thesis

Top 5 Free WordPress Frameworks

Gantry

Carrington

HTML5 WordPress Shell for Developers who are crazy about HTML5 😀

Reverie

Thematic

As I already said you have to choose what is good for you. I choose Gantry . It puts the most emphasis on flexibility and a collection of rich features. This is accomplished by creating a new layer on top of the traditional module configuration of WordPress to provide users with an unprecedented level of control and flexibility.

Here are the Gantry Framework Features:

  • Responsive grid system based on Twitter Bootstrap
  • WordPress 3.2+ support
  • New admin interface
  • XML driven with overrides that make customization easier than ever
  • Flexible grid layout system for unparalleled control over block sizes
  • Optimized codebase with speed, size, and reuse core tenets of the framework design
  • Responsive HTML5 base template
  • 65 base widget positions
  • 38 possible layout combinations for mainbody and sidebars
  • 4 Column Mainbody
  • Many built-in widgets and gizmos such as font-sizer, Google PrettyPrint, Google Analytics, to-top smooth slider, etc.
  • Flexible parameter system with ability to set parameters via URL, Cookie, Session, Presets, etc.

This short 3 minute screencast will give you a taste of the power and flexibility of the Gantry framework for WordPress.

Click here for complete documentation !

When it’s all said and done I’m really happy I made this switch. I feel much more confident about the future of my website after having “built it” on a solid foundation. 😀

References :

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