WordPress Themes Development

WordPress Themes Development Frameworks

If you build and develop WordPress themes often, you will probably be fed up of all the repetitive code writing, the constantly checking of your mark-up and all you really want to do is focus on the design and the project-specific features. The answer is a WordPress development framework. A framework is designed to speed up the process of designing and coding a WordPress theme by minimizing your time, and balancing your patience, on WordPress’ back-end code that is repeated within every theme.

This post is not about finding the best framework, it is about finding the right framework that works for you. If you are an experienced developer then you will probably go for the powerful and feature rich Thematic or Carrington, or if you are a novice, you could try the Whiteboard framework or , even easier, download a stripped out and bare bones blank canvas theme, which you will find at the bottom of the post.

Which would you use?

Thematic – WP Framework

Thematic is a highly polished WordPress Theme Framework that is built upon the 960.gs. At first glance, its backend may look daunting and complex, but you will soon realise just how well organised it is and easy to use. Its power is based upon its flexibility and its simple customisation, you would be very hard pushed to find a project you couldn’t use the Thematic WP Framework for.

THEMATIC FEATURES

  • Optional 2 or 3 column layouts.
  • Up to 13 widget ready areas.
  • Modular CSS with pre-packaged resets and basic typography.
  • Fully Search-Engine Optimized.
  • Can be used as it is, or as a blank WordPress theme.
  • Dynamic post and body classes make it a hyper-canvas for CSS artists.
  • Options for multi-author blogs.
  • Great support available from the customisation guide and forums.
  • Child Themes are available for upgrading the theme.

THEMATIC (CHILD) THEMES

Thematic uses Child Themes, these are essentially stripped down versions of a full WP theme, that needs the Thematic Framework for functionality. Upon download, Thematic comes packaged with a basic child theme, but you can download many more from the Thematic homepage. Download Thematic Child Themes.

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What To Consider When Choosing A WordPress Themes

Premium WordPress themes ,What To Consider When Choosing A WordPress Themes Put another way, how much easier is buying a bottle of wine when you know that you prefer reds and that your favorite red is Australian Shiraz? This small amount of knowledge cuts a choice between 500 bottles in a store down to 10.

In this post, I’ll share what I believe are the most important factors to consider, so that you know exactly what to bear in mind the next time you’re on the hunt for a good theme.

To start off, let’s answer one of the most common questions asked: Is it worth paying for a WordPress theme, or can you get away with a free one?

1. Price: Free Vs. Premium Themes

Several years ago, the price of a theme was a good indicator of its quality. Free themes were often poorly coded at best, and were used to capture sensitive user data at worst. But times have changed, and developers in the WordPress community have created thousands of great free themes to choose from.

As such, there is no conclusive winner. Both free and premium themes have their pros and cons, which are detailed below.

PROS OF PREMIUM THEMES

  • More updates
    Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose a premium theme is that such themes are typically updated more often. Given the rapid evolution of the WordPress content management system (CMS), having a theme that is regularly updated to patch new security issues is critical.
  • Less recognizable design
    Because free WordPress themes are so popular, it’s not uncommon for tens of thousands of websites to use the same free one. Premium themes are less common, which set them apart a bit more.
  • Better documentation
    Most premium themes include a detailed PDF explaining how to get the most out of them. Such documentation is less common with free themes.
  • Ongoing support
    Premium theme developers certainly offer the best support, usually through a combination of a public forum, live chat and an email ticketing system. Free themes usually just have a public forum for support.
  • No attribution links
    Many free themes often require a link to appear in the footer crediting the theme’s author. While this is becoming less common in free themes, you can be sure that no links are required in premium themes.

CONS OF PREMIUM THEMES

  • The price
    You’ll have to invest anywhere between $50 to $200 in a premium theme.
  • More configuration
    Most premium themes have their own custom administration panel, with a variety of customization settings, which can take a while to learn and set up.
  • Unwanted features
    Premium themes tend to include a lot of bells and whistles, such as multiple slider plugins, a portfolio manager and extra skins. While these do make a theme very versatile, a lot of unwanted features will bloat the theme.

In general, the most important aspect to look for in a theme, whether free or paid, is the quality and care that’s gone into making it. The quality of the code will influence everything we discuss in this article, from security to page speed.

The easiest way to gauge quality is to read what customers are saying. If a theme has a public support forum, read what kinds of issues people are having, and how responsive the developers are in resolving them.

2. Speed: Lightweight Vs. Feature-Heavy Themes

In my last post here on Smashing Magazine, I emphasized the importance of optimizing website speed. Fast page-loading speed does not just improve the general user experience of a website, but has also been confirmed to improve search engine rankings, conversion rates and, thus, online revenue.

It should come as no surprise that I recommended avoiding sluggish themes like the plague.

Understanding a problem is the first step to avoiding it. So, what causes a theme to drag a website’s page speed into the gutter?

In general, it comes down to three things:

  • Too feature-heavy
    Be wary of themes that boast 10 different sliders, 20 preinstalled plugins and a lot of JavaScript animation. While this might sound like a good deal, no website that makes HTTP requests to 50 JavaScript files will run optimally.
  • Overuse of large file formats
    The keyword here is “overuse,” which admittedly is a bit subjective. Try to steer clear of themes that use a lot of full-width images, background videos, etc. Less is more.
  • Poor coding
    From wildly scaled images to inline CSS injection, poor coding has a significant impact on website performance. As mentioned, poor code usually means that a theme hasn’t been updated in a long time, so always check a theme’s update history.

Here’s a litmus test you can use to figure out how bloated a theme is. Go to the Pingdom Website Speed Test, enter the URL of a theme’s demo and see how long the page takes to load and how many HTTP requests are made.

Let me give you a quick comparison as a benchmark. Earlier this year, I built two websites with very different theme frameworks. The first website, BrokerNotes, was built with theFrank theme (a very lightweight theme designed for speed). According to Pingdom, the home page makes 38 HTTP requests and loads in under 1 second. 3.9 Mb in bandwidth is way too heavy though.

 

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Child Themes for WP Framework

The theme framework you’ve built will be used as a parent theme in the sites you develop. This means that in each case you’ll need to create a child theme to create a unique site with its own design and with extra or different functions compared to the framework.

The obvious way to go about this is to dive in and start creating template files in your child theme to override those in the framework, but thanks to the action and filter hooks you’ve added to your framework, this might not always be the best approach.

In this article, I’ll outline some of the techniques you can use in your child themes to make best use of your framework and improvise your workflow.

The topics I’ll cover are as follows:

Creating starter child themes
Amending code via the framework’s filter hooks
Adding code via the framework’s action hooks
Creating template files in your child theme
When to use a plugin instead
Creating Starter Child Themes framework

The main purpose of developing your theme framework is to adopt the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle, and that applies to your child themes, too.

It can make you more efficient if you create one or more ‘starter’ child themes for use with your framework, which contain the core code you need to get started on new projects.

When deciding how to go about doing this, consider the way you work and the sites you build:

Do you create a lot of sites for clients in the same sector with similar needs?
Do you want to offer low cost template based sites to smaller clients?
Are there specific template files you tend to create for most of your new projects?
Is there functionality you need to include on some sites but not others? (For example, I use two starter child themes, one with comment functionality and one without.)
Is there styling you tend to use for most projects, or can you use object oriented styling or a CSS preprocessor for most projects?
Are there libraries or resources you use for most new projects, or for a significant proportion of them?
Do you have two or three main categories you can place projects under, with each category involving similar development work?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then developing one or more starter child themes may save you time. You can create a set of child themes with the basic code that you repeat across all projects using them, and then you don’t need to rewrite that code (or create those files) for each new project.

Note on caveat: If you’re adding some code to every single new project, you may want to add it to your framework instead of to child themes, maybe by using a hook so you can override it if a different need arises in the future.

Even if you answered no to the questions above, it’s worth creating a very basic starter theme with an empty stylesheet and functions file, and adding the instructions WordPress needs to access your framework’s parent theme .

You might also want to create a starter functions.php file with the functions you most frequently use in your child themes. You can then choose to remove any of these and/or add to them for specific projects.

Amending Code via Filter Hooks

As well as adding styling to your child theme, you’ll most likely want to make changes to the code output by the framework. The most lightweight way of doing this is via filter hooks, so it’s worth exploring those first to identify if you can use any of them.

Creating a function which you then attach to a filter hook is much more efficient than creating a whole new template file for the new code; however, if you find yourself doing this repeatedly with the same filter hook, you might want to consider changing that filter hook to an action hook and writing a new function for each project which you activate via that action hook.

To be more efficient, you might want to create a set of relevant functions which you place in the functions file of different start themes or even create a plugin with your function which you activate when needed. I’ll cover plugins in more detail later in this series.

Adding Code via Action Hooks

Your theme framework will also have action hooks which you can use to insert content in various places in your sites.

If you’ve been working on the code files for the framework bundled with this tutorial series, you’ll have seven action hooks to work with:

before the header
inside the header
before the content
after the content
in the sidebar
in the footer
after the footer.
To do this, create a functions.php file in your child theme and .

There is plenty of other content you could add using your action hooks, such as sharing buttons above or below the content, extra content in the footer, a search box in the header and much more.

You might just want to add some content on specific page types, such as single blog posts, in which case the most obvious place to start would be by creating a newsingle.php template. But you can still use your action hooks with the addition of a conditional tag.

Creating New Template Files

On occasion you won’t be able to do what you want using the filter or action hooks in your framework, in which case you’ll need to create new template files in your child themes.

These might be the same template files as are stored in your framework, in which case the files in the child theme will override them. Or they might be new template files, for example for a new category, taxonomy or post type.

If you are creating template files in your child themes, it makes things easier if you use the template files in your framework as a starting point. The steps I follow are:

Identify the template file you need to create with reference to the WordPress template hierarchy
Create a blank file with the appropriate name in your child theme
Identify the file in your framework which is closest to the new file (again with reference to the template hierarchy)
Copy the contents of that into your new file
Make amendments to the new file as required.
Doing this saves you the work of duplicating any code which will be common between your new file and the existing files in your framework, such as the calls to include files.

When to Use a Plugin Instead

Another option you have when creating sites based on your framework is to use plugins in conjunction with your child themes. A plugin won’t replace a child theme completely, but it can be useful in the following circumstances:

The functionality you want to add isn’t theme-dependent (i.e. you want to keep it if the site ever changes theme in future). This might include registering custom post types or taxonomies, for example.
You want to use this functionality on a number of the sites you create, but not enough for it to go into a starter child theme or the framework itself.
I’ll cover developing plugins for your framework in the next part of this series.

Summary

Your theme framework is just the starting point of a library of code and files you’ll create to support the sites you develop. Each site you create will need to run on a child theme, which will have your framework theme as its parent.

As we’ve seen, your child themes will add their own styling and functionality, and they can do this by hooking into the action and filter hooks in your framework, or via the creation of new template files. It’s always a good idea to adopt the solution which needs the least code, as that makes your site faster and your life easier!

from :http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/creating-child-themes-for-your-wordpress-theme-framework–cms-21933

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Control the Visibility of Widgets Based on Time and Date

The traditional use of widgets in WordPress is to set it and forget it. After placing and configuring a widget, it stays in the widgetized area until manually removed. Many plugins have extended widgets to add visibility settings that are based on the page or post where the widget appears. But what if you could also control widgets based on time and date?

The new Widget Visibility Time Scheduler plugin actually allows you to schedule the display of widgets down to the minute. The plugin, created by WordPress developer Martin Stehle, adds time-based visibility settings to each widget’s configuration options.

widget-visibility

Widget Visibility Time Scheduler was designed to work seamlessly withJetpack’s Widget Visibility module, which allows you to limit widget display to certain pages. There is no conflict if your site is Jetpack-enabled and you can even use the two visibility options in combination with one another.

The plugin is perfect for seasonal widgets, temporary sales/promotions, events, live chat buttons, and any other time/date-dependent content. One feature that might be useful to add is an indefinite option for the end time of the widget display. That would enable users to schedule future widgets and leave them in place indefinitely. Additionally, an option to set the widget display based on the day of the week could offer more flexibility.

After testing the plugin, I can confirm that it works as advertised. If you try the plugin and you want to remove it at a later point in time, you’ll need to uncheck the widget visibility time scheduler box in each widget before you remove that plugin. This will ensure that none of its data remains in the database after you remove the plugin.

Widget Visibility Time Scheduler is a handy addition to any site using WordPress as a CMS, an e-commerce platform, or even a blog. In combination with the Jetpack module, it offers full control over when and where your widgets are displayed. This is one you may want to favorite for the next time you need to use it. The plugin is available for download from WordPress.org.

from :http://wptavern.com/control-the-visibility-of-wordpress-widgets-based-on-time-and-date

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The Code Snippets Custom Post Type WordPress Plugin

Maintaining a library of code snippets can save you time when coding similar tasks in the future. Although there are countless sites online where you can host code snippets, it’s more convenient to have them at your fingertips when writing a blog that includes code.

Plugin developer Justin Sternberg recently released Code Snippets CPT, a plugin that allows you to manage and display code snippets in WordPress. This unique use of custom post types stores code snippets as their own individual posts, which can be pulled into content via a handy shortcode.

The plugin uses Google Code Prettify to add syntax highlighting to your snippets. When creating a new snippet, you simply select the language from the dropdown at the top of the post editor. Write a description, add your snippet, and click publish.

code-snippets-cpt-edit-post

Code Snippets CPT also includes custom taxonomies for classifying your snippets. You can add both snippet categories and snippet tags, which will then allow for some unique ways of organizing and displaying your library of snippets.

When you want to display a snippet within a post or page, click on the “Add Snippet” button in the visual or text editor to launch the shortcode finder. You can select whether or not you want to display line numbers for the snippet that you are embedding.

code-snippets-shortcode

Sternberg’s site is running the plugin, if you want to view a few liveexamples of snippets in posts.

Code Snippets CPT allows you to create a searchable archive of code snippets on your own site, without having to host snippets with a third party service. The advantage of hosting your own snippets is that you can keep your code library centralized and back it up as part of your WordPress site.

Having code snippets stored as custom post types is a step up from simply using a syntax highlighter plugin, because it gives you the flexibility to sort and display snippets using their own snippet-specific taxonomies. If you want to get your code library organized in 2015, check out the Code Snippets CPT plugin on WordPress.org.

from :http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/creating-child-themes-for-your-wordpress-theme-framework–cms-21933

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