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Theme Frameworks

WordPress Theme Frameworks

Types of Theme Frameworks

The term "Theme Framework" currently has three meanings:

  1. A "drop-in" code library that is used to facilitate development of a Theme
  2. A stand-alone base/starter Theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme
  3. A Parent Theme template

Code Library

A "drop-in" code library framework is not a stand-alone Theme. Such frameworks cannot be installed nor used as a stand-alone Theme. Rather, these libraries are included with the Theme, and "bootstrapped" to the Theme by being included in the Theme's functions.php file.

Some examples of such frameworks include:

Base/Starter Theme

A "base/starter" Theme framework is a stand-alone Theme designed to be a flexible foundation for quicker WordPress development, usually serving as a robust Parent Theme for Child Themes. Some Theme frameworks can also make theme development more accessible, removing the need for programming or design knowledge by Creating Options Pages.

Some examples of such frameworks include:

Commercial framework examples:

Technically, any stand-alone Theme can act as such a framework, since any stand-alone Theme can be used as a Parent Theme template for Child Themes. However, some stand-alone Themes are designed specifically to be used for this purpose. Such Themes can be used as-is, but may lack CSS styling or other finishing elements of site design, since such elements are intended to be added by the Child Theme, or in the forked/derivative Theme.

Functionality Included in Theme Frameworks

Some Theme Frameworks will include pre-defined code to facilitate further Theme development, such as:

  • Custom functions to be used in the Theme
  • Custom action hooks used in the Theme template
  • Custom filter hooks used to output Theme content
  • Theme options page integration
  • Custom callbacks for core WordPress action and filter hooks
  • Script library integration and functionality, e.g. jQuery sliders

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