The case for an official new WordPress Theme Framework

Ok so I’ve not been posting a lot the past month (slaps self on wrist) due to being snowed under with a LOT of client work at the moment which is both good and bad!

Anyway – I’m taking breather this evening and had to post on something which has kept popping up in my mind over the past month. Is it time for WordPress to develop an official Theme Framework as part of the WordPress core?

Now I know, I know, before you say it – most WordPress frameworks are just essentially very well developed parent themes with extensive option panels, plugins and widgets and lots of nice hooks for child themes. If anything, the concept of a theme framework is a little bit confusing and somewhat unsettling to those new to WordPress. It’s like wha’ eh what’s this about a framework – am I missing something with my normal WordPress theme?

Maybe someone should have called them Power Themes or something similar 🙂

Anyway, there’s a huge amount of innovation going on in this space at the moment which is cool. In fact, I think I’ll be going down the framework road more and more in the next few months – primarily for the purpose of speeding up development – plain and simple. Yes are other nice bells and whistles with each of the frameworks but the real major win for me is development speed and not having to redo the same repetitive tasks for each project I undertake.

One thing does strike me here though – given the plethora of really smart people working on WordPress Theme frameworks right now, would it not make more sense if they pooled their resources and focused their energies in creating a “Super” Theme Framework that could be bigger than the sum of the parts of each individual theme shop/theme developer?

Who knows maybe someday something like this might then become part of the official WordPress core?

I can see resistance to this from some premium theme shops because theme frameworks are becoming extra revenue channels and differentiators from each other. Nothing wrong with that really. Variety is the spice of life and all that. But I do think consolidation and a common framework standard would be much more beneficial to both premium theme providers and the community in general in the long run.

With the news a few weeks back that Envato are going to launch their own framework (see? – yet another one!) fills me with mixed feelings. On one hand this should have a very positive impact on the quality and consistency of themes published to themeforest which can only help WordPress users. On the other hand, it’s yet another framework for theme developers and users to figure out. It just seems like there’s a lot of wasted energy floating around there in theme framework land right now.

Anyway, we’ll be posting reviews of all the major theme frameworks as we play with them over the next few months. It looks like innovation in this space is hotting up and I think 2011 will be a really big year for WordPress theme frameworks.

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