Why we don’t sell a separate framework

Many themes are built on frameworks (for example Genesis, Thesis, WooFramework, Gantry) and many bloggers are tempted by these themes because they feel like having a framework gives them some extra security and robustness. In reality, any decent theme store has a common framework that they use to build their themes on top of, and Lazy Cat Themes are no exception as we has an object-oriented framework that all of our themes are built on. The difference with the companies above is that they charge extra for their frameworks with the selling point that they will update the framework regularly as WordPress changes. In actual fact, for a lot of bloggers this is actually a very bad thing.

Separate Framework Installation – The Problem

When you use a separate framework, your initial installation looks like this:

framework-theme1

But by the time you’ve added some hooks for customization and tweaked the CSS stylesheet it looks more like this:

framework-theme2

With this configuration, you can install an update (in this example we’re using the new version 1.1) of the theme framework with no issues. The problem arises when you try and install the update of the theme itself:

framework-theme3

There is nowhere to install ‘My Theme 1.1″ without overwriting the changes that you have made to customize the theme. You are left with 2 choices:
– Merge the new version of the theme with the changes that you have made to the theme. This could bring down your website for a significant period of time.
or
– Ignore new updates to the theme. This means that you’ll be effectively stuck with the old version of the theme. The changes to WordPress and the framework will be updated but you will never be able to access them because you can’t install the theme update!
 

The Bundled Framework Approach – How We Do It

With a bundled framework, your initial installation looks like this:

framework-theme-a1

At Lazy Cat Themes we provide you with a never-updated empty child theme for you to put your customizations in. So that you eventually end up with this:

framework-theme-a2

At this point a framework and theme update is not a problem. The framework and theme update is bundled together in an update to the parent theme, leaving your changes perfectly intact:

framework-theme-a3

Lazy Cat Themes makes sure that the theme updates it does are always 100% backwards compatible so your website will never be harmed as a result of updating to the latest version. This means that you can have the best of both worlds: always run the latest version of everything whilst not having to do any merging or put your already-running website at risk.

Some myths about theme frameworks:

Myth Reality
A framework will speed your blog upAs frameworks sit on top of WordPress, frameworks never speed WordPress up, the best they can do is to not slow WordPress down.
A separate framework is better for the theme purchaserAs explained in detail above, a separate framework often traps you in an out-of-date version of a theme.
Unless you have an expensive, separate framework, it is difficult to make changes A framework makes no difference to CSS changes (which are the most common type of change) and many of the hooks and template overrides used to change things are actually part of WordPress itself.
Themes that don't make you pay for a framework don't have a frameworkTheme developers almost always develop a framework as many of the tasks associated with theme development (such as social networking, sidebars and widgets) are shared across themes.
Separate frameworks are updated more frequentlyGenerally speaking, frameworks are updated for bugs or for changes in WordPress. Whether the theme framework is sold separately or not has no bearing on this.
A separate framework is more robustJust because a theme framework isn't separate doesn't mean there aren't 1000s of websites using that framework. A framework you don't have to pay for is just as robust as a separate framework.
A separate framework is better documentedAlthough the amount of documentation on some of the bigger frameworks is very large, they often let the developers that use the framework write parts of the documentation. So you end up with a lot of very inconsistent documentation scattered everywhere.