Now that I’ve had time to get to know Thesis 2, the latest version of the popular WordPress theme framework from DIYThemes, I don’t hate it as much as I did when I first began to use it. The more you use it, the easier it is to use. In fact, a lot of the mechanics involved in Thesis 2 now make a lot of sense. Thesis 2 is just a lot different than anything else in the world of WordPress themes.
Sometimes different is better and I think, maybe, this is one of those times.
The more I use Thesis 2, the more I can see how this would be a great theme framework for a developer creating unique and different WordPress sites.
Using Thesis 2 means dealing with skins instead of conventional WordPress themes. Thesis 2 is technically a theme, but in fact it’s a framework. Once Thesis 2 is installed, you change the look and feel or your WordPress powered website by selecting and editing a skin. When you edit the skin, instead of editing code, you customize by using a unique drag and drop interface. Want the Nav Menu below the Header? No problem, just drag it from its default location above the header and place it underneath the Header.
Thesis 2 also is using a totally unique way of editing the CSS of a site. Instead of editing a CSS stylesheet, individual style elements are edited by first selecting them with a push of a button and then making changes by entering values in entry fields. For example, if you want to to change the font size of the Nav Menu, instead of opening a stylesheet and finding the font properties for the Nav Menu, you simply go to the CSS editor in the Thesis Skin Editor and click the button for the Menu and then go to the Options tab. You then can select a new font size as well as any other style property without writing code. You just either select a value from a drop-down menu or you enter a numeric value. You can still manually make changes by manually editing code. All you have to do is select the Additional CSS tab and manually code like you did before. It’s that easy.
That’s not to say everything has been easy with Thesis 2. On the contrary, getting to the point where I could make the switch to Thesis 2 took hours and hours of work, undoubtedly compounded by the fact that DIYThemes released this new version with literally no documentation. Even now, a whole 14 days after its release, the only documentation pertaining to Thesis 2 is an article on how to install it. The fact that DIYThemes could release this to the paying public, without documentation explaining how to use it, is ridiculous.
Speaking of ridiculous, DIYThemes has been slow to release a promised update that’s supposed to take care of numerous problems. For instance, Thesis 2 is currently incapable of exporting skins, something crucially important if Thesis 2 is going to be used the way it’s supposed to be used. I didn’t realize this problem even existed until I finished customizing the default skin on a localized WordPress installation and needed to install it on the live site. I only found out about it when I read the DIYThemes forums. It was posted last week that an update would be released on Monday that would fix this issue as well as others. It’s now a week later and no update has been released.
If you are thinking of trying Thesis 2, I’d recommend giving it some time. Wait till DIYThemes publishes documentation and releases a more polished version.