Introduction to the WordPress WooThemes Framework
There are literally dozens of various WordPress open source frameworks to build on. You can search through Google and filter hundreds of results based on themes, backend scripts, and plugins. But I feel that WooThemes and specifically the WooFramework have allowed developers access to newer tools and ideas like never before.
In this brief article I would like to go over the process of getting started building on WooThemes. The whole system is likely very complicated to non-developers who are not familiar with the language. However WooThemes has put together an excellent documentation page which explains the backend functions in many popular themes.
Why Start using WooThemes?
I feel that all the developers over at WooThemes have really thought hard about what users want to see. Theming is very tough in WordPress if you don’t know how to customize the admin backend area. But if you learn the basic tools of the trade it is much easier to include your own plugins, functions, and event handlers within any theme.
Folks who want to read a bit more can visit the WooThemes development blog which is full of informative posts. I have learned a lot of 3rd party knowledge from the developers over at WooThemes. Many of them have been working inside WordPress for years and know the system internals by heart.
WooThemes provides a whole set of themes, functions, and plugins, all wrapped together under one branding. This is why any developer would be interested in starting WooThemes development. All of the features are very similar, and once you understand the syntax you can build practically anything. Check out their list of WooThemes plugins which includes WooCommerce and WooSlider, for dynamic WP slideshows.
Developing Over Themes
I actually recommend that developers get started using existing WooThemes free themes rather than create your own from scratch. When you are just beginning there are way too many custom files and function libraries to worry about. Just downloading an existing WooThemes template allows you to hack into the code and see how things run on the backend.
One of the major templates Blogtheme is totally free for download and hacking. You can modify the theme in any way you’d like, and even move into the WooThemes core files. Just be careful about editing files which you aren’t sure of how they function in the whole system.
You will have access to a myriad of additional properties when publishing content and new blog posts. WooThemes features its own list of shortcodes which are custom-made for the library. Also you have more backend solutions for customizing layouts such as replacing colors, background images, and embedding your own Google Analytics codes.
Custom Page Templates
One of my personal favorite additions which accompanies the WooFramework is custom page styles. When writing a new page in WordPress you may select additional page styles from the dropdown menu found in your admin editor sidebar area.
These may include a custom contact page, about page, or even staff listing. These pages are very easy to customize and build for your own sets. There are lots of tutorials online which explain how to build your own custom theme pages. But WooThemes offers a whole collection of additional backend functions.
Further Woo Research
Ultimately building off the WooFramework is going to be tough. Much tougher than if you start off building your own custom WordPress theme from scratch. But you are also given a whole library of new shortcodes, functions, and admin menus. There are a lot of benefits to consider before starting development.
I recommend streaming this video tour which briefly explains the WooFramework from top to bottom. Any web developer who is interested in WooThemes should really check out this video. When reading contextual documents and manuals online it is easy to misinterpret wording. But videos are a lot cleaner and easier to understand.
Ultimately I say Google will have to be your best friend. Search and query for any major problems you run into as I can guarantee other developers have in the past. Also you may be interested in the WooThemes showcase full of other examples from around the web.
This article is not meant to sway developers into using WooThemes or WooFramework on their next projects. It is merely an introductory guide so that developers may choose if WooFrameworks is right for them. You will notice a lot of custom options as you grow more familiar working within the system.
I want to wrap up by providing a small gallery of free WooThemes you can download and toy around with. Many of the themes in their gallery are premium and require a paid membership to download. But the developers have worked so hard on the backend and released so many additional themes, these have included many free ones. You can find a whole slew of freebies to install into any typical WordPress site.
You may be surprised at the level of customization available to you right from the start. And obviously the best way to learn a new system is by diving into the source code head-first.
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