Introducing Upfront

We’ve made something for you. It’s the future of WordPress. Really.

Updated 7/30/2018: We’ve discontinued Upfront in favor of supporting a bunch of other awesome drag and drop page builders.

Technically, it’s a parent and child theme combo. In practice, it’s a completely new way to customize and run a WP site, entirely from your front-end.

Which is why it’s called “Upfront.”

And you can try it right now.

WPMU DEV members, just head to themes and download a starter theme.

Not a member yet? Head over to our demo site, to select a theme. Spirit is kinda nice. Turn on Upfront by clicking on ‘Customize Theme with Upfront’ in the top right.

So why does WordPress need Upfront?

Of course there are a lot of drag and drop theme builders, creators, composers and alike out there. From Headway to Pagelines via Divi past iThemes Builder en route to Themify and onto, naturally, the ever present WP Bakery Page Builder.

But let’s be honest, these are, as a rule, not actually front-end, nor are they at all easy to use, and, perhaps most importantly, they just don’t stand up against the competition.

Competition, but I thought they were the competition?

Well, maybe they are ours, right now, but WordPress has a bigger issue – and it’s airing Superbowl ads.

Squarespace, Wix, WebsJimdo and Weebly are coming to eat our lunch.

No, seriously, wolf it right down.

And all of them have a ‘regular web user’ experience going far, far beyond that which WordPress can muster. With ambitions, development plans and marketing budgets that no-one bar Automattic can manage. Who aren’t really doing anything about it.

Maybe today these platforms can’t offer the flexibility and breadth of features that WordPress can, but they will, and more. More easily. More affordably. More better. Much much more better.

So, seeing that back in 2012 (well, 2011, but the first version got canned) we figured we’d try to do something about that.

And over 2 years later, with well over a million bucks spent and some serious blood, sweat and tears shed. Here we are.

So, what exactly does Upfront bring to the table?

Well, we’re glad you asked.

Upfront elements overview
Every upfront element is configurable

Amazing elements

Each upfront page contains elements and regions.

You can easily drag and drop elements onto your site and click on the cog to access element settings.

All of your core elements are there now, with plenty more to come.

  • Text elements allow you to customize borders and backgrounds, with a couple of clicks
  • Image elements make cropping, customizing and overlaying captions a synch
  • Gallery elements offer 99% of the gallery options you could ever hope for
  • Code and Widget elements that allow you to add any fancy code you like and, indeed, any WP widget from any plugin, just as you might add them to a ‘regular’ theme

And that’s just a selection, each element can have its CSS styles edited, be made an anchor or be grouped with other elements. And we’re just getting started.

Upfront elements overview
Background regions are the building blocks

Revolutionary Regions

Regions make up the background, and structure, of every Upfront site.

Add them wherever you like, fill them with color, video, maps or sliders.

You easily add in or divide full width regions to moreorless as many sections as you like, and even set regions to act as fixed full width background, like we have done in Scribe.

  • Full-width regions can stretch to 100% wide or be contained
  • Dynamic background regions can contain videos and maps (maps are soooo cool)
  • All of the functionality of the slider element can be used in a region too
  • Regions don’t have to sit in a grid, they can float too!

As the building blocks of themes, regions took us about 3 goes and 6 months to get right. Personally, they are my favourite feature.

Upfront elements overview
Unashamedly influenced by Medium

Tantalising Text Editing

Editing text on Upfront is as easy as double-clicking, wherever you like.

Then just select the text you want to format and… too easy.

Inserting images is also simple, and each starter theme comes with its own icons.

But that’s far from all…

  • Upfront enables you to create full posts and pages, as you see them.
  • As well as manage all of your posts, pages and media
  • Without ever having to enter the WordPress back end
  • What you see is *really* what you get
Upfront elements overview
There’s so, so much more

Responsive & Contextual

Customize and create specific responsive designs for specific device sizes.

Upfront is all about those grids, turn them on for alignment help.

And a right click contextual menu is always there to help.

When did you last get to edit how your site appears on mobile in under 5 minutes? Quite.

The future of WordPress? Really?

Yes, really.

Although, of course, while Upfront itself might not ‘take over the world’™ (WPMU DEV’s competitors are talented, lean and aggressive) it sure as hell is as close as any to the solution that the platform needs to remain relevant over the next decade.

Alongside hosted, rather than self-hosted WordPress experiences (of course, one thing Automattic doesn’t talk about are the actual % of WP market share that they own), which is why Upfront is also fully Multisite ready – and will become even moreso as we go forward. But that’s another post.

Right now, I don’t think there is any argument as to how WordPress needs to progress, and Upfront is in that direction.

So, what’s the plan / roadmap / next steps?

Something the development team are very keen to point out is that Upfront is still at 0.1.x stage and we believe we’re a long way off hitting 1.0.

Inevitably, at the stage where we’re first sharing this with the wider world, there is going to be a lot of feedback and different experiences that we haven’t had before. Your feedback is going to be invaluable in making Upfront more robust, elegant and intuitive. We’re super exited to hear what you have to say.

Of course there are a bunch of core challenges we’re already aware of and are working on, such as compatibility with ‘templated’ plugins, improved theme color experiences (should be released ~12 hours after this post) and how to offer a product that contains redactor as a 100% GPL offering (everything in Upfront is currently 100% GPL, with that exception, as they won’t let us… we’ve asked). And bugs, naturally, there will always be bugs.

So, over the next few months we’re looking to fix up any core issues, create a bunch of new starter themes, make the experience even smoother, provide you with awesome new elements, launch a builder so you can create Upfront themes from scratch and start natively integrating our core plugins.

And that’s just the start – we cannot tell you how excited we are about what Upfront can become in the next 12 months.

Exciting times!

174 Responses

  • New Recruit

    Sounds just what I need for clients! Does it avoid mangling the content? The main reason I’ve avoided Divi is the difficulty of switching to another theme after using it, with all the shortcodes it introduces. I’ve been looking for an alternative that leaves the content clean, and will be so excited if this is it. Thanks for including existing subscriptions in the offer as well.

    • Ve
      New Recruit

      @kestrel, Upfront doesn’t rely on schortcodes for layout building, so your *content* is left clean. However, I did emphasize “content” there to differentiate the actual site content (e.g. posts) and borderline-content-like elements (if that makes sense :) that can be added as part of design, such as buttons and ephemeral bits of text which, when added via Upfront, are considered a part of layout. Of course, anything considered a part of layout won’t be present anymore on theme switch.

    • Chief Pigeon

      It’s ready, we believe so, this is basically the start of our first public releases. It’s out in the wild now, to be used in tons of different setups, and there is a lot more to come. Inevitably with first releases there will be a bunch of improvements to be made. :)

      If you love this version, and want to help shape the future of Upfront, feedback, feedback, feedback. :)

    • Hey Jmachado,

      Upfront is for the full design experience. You can design the header and footer from the frontend and choose to either have it global so all your changes apply to the entire site or you can change it on a page by page basis :)

      Then for the pages, you can drag and drop elements in as needed and design the page however you like. Upfront pages are built of regions, so you can add in new regions such as a sidebar or maybe widget area above your posts. Re-size them on the spot and then drag in whatever content you would like to display there.

      Let us know if you have any further questions jmachado!

  • New Recruit

    This product appears to be geared toward the website owners rather than WordPress developers and designers, which is (seemingly) different than the current market approach for wpmudev.

    Squarespace, weebly, wix, etc… are geared toward small business owners in order for them to build their own sites, not for developers. Do you see the future of WordPress as self service with every business owner becoming a developer / designer of their own site?

    Services like these will squeeze the low end site designers and developers, and pinch the cheap theme market, but many developers solve specific business problems that won’t be solved by any amount of AI for some time.

    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      Hey Jason, I am not a wpmu-dev person, just my two cents…

      I wouldn’t worry about that. People used to be scared that computers would make workers obsolete and robots would take over all manufacturing. As we know the better the tools we have, the MORE opportunity there is, but it might look different tomorrow than it does today.

      Regardless of how EASY any website system is to use, I strongly believe no business owner should manage his own website unless he is a trained webmaster/Internet marketer. If the tools are easier for us as designers and developers that just means it will be easier and more profitable to deliver great solutions to those clients.

      Just my .02

      peace out

    • Chief Pigeon

      Just building on what what @pmsteil said.

      I too believe business owners should focus on their business more and leave experienced, highly skilled people to create and manage their website.

      I don’t think it will squeeze low end site designers and developers, after all, most of those people (not all, not always) tend to currently just use pre-existing free or premium themes anyway. Well, those clients could do that too with a few hours of playing, albeit not always to the same standard. And the market they often target are usually people that don’t have the knowledge or inclination to start messing around with websites, I think you’re safe. :)

      Hopefully services like these will also help designers and developers to keep upping their game. :)

  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    Has the WPMUDEV team taken a crack at applying this theme to an existing site? I’ve got a client itching for a facelift, but I’m a little concerned about the level of custom CSS we’ve put in causing problems. Also, I’m on a tablet, so I can’t check it out at the moment, but are you required to use the existing templates, or is there a blank slate you can start from?

    • Code Norris

      Hiya Andrew,

      We’ve all used it on our own real “live” sites and works perfectly, as it’s a theme, it will of course change the complete layout of your site.

      If your custom css is in your current theme, just copy that and you can easily add it to upfront where needed. :)

      Currently there’s three child themes available (many more in the works!), you can easily create new pages, add and delete elements, anything you need, allowing you to create ultra flexible layouts.

      Hope this helps!

        • DEV MAN’s Apprentice

          Hey, Andrew!
          Allowing you to build your own child theme is in the works, and we’re really excited to see what our members can do with Upfront when we’re at that point, but for now you’ll need to rework an existing child theme. I’ve played with all three of the current releases, and I’ve found Spirit to be the easiest to revamp if you want to do sweeping changes. Customizing any of the three goes pretty quickly, but I’ve, personally, had the most fun tweaking Spirit.
          Thanks for your question!

    • Code Norris


      You can definitely use this on your clients sites, your subscription already covers this. :)

      The best way would be to install Upfront on the site and the child theme you want and then modify from there, all layouts are saved in the database, it keeps the last few revisions though not all.

      So if you say took backups of your DB every day, and your client messed up their layout, you could easily revert to an earlier version.

      If your clients want support directly from us, they would need their own subscription. :)

      Hope this helps and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

    • Chief Pigeon

      Hey there,

      I had to go ask about this one for ya. :)

      Firstly, our primary goal right now is optimisation and further advancement. This includes completing and getting our builder out there so that you can create your own child themes super easily.

      Once those are done (optimising won’t ever really be done, we’ll always be improving that) we’ll be looking at what’s most important for our members and prioritising those in order.

      The future is bright, the future’s Upfront. :)

  • Design Lord, Child of Thor

    I just installed the theme and many of the icons are missing making the editing unusable. Has anyone come across this issue or do you have any thoughts why this might be? I tried all three child themes and icons do not appear on any of them. On that note is it possible to make our own blank child theme?


    • Chief Pigeon

      Hey Mickie,

      I’m not 100% sure about your question, so please do clarify further if you feel I don’t address completely what you’re asking.

      Upfront is a parent theme essentially, this is what controls all the magic behind the veil. You then have child themes that we’ve released, these use all the goodness of Upfront to control how it works, and your clients could use it too.

      We do plan to release a builder so you can build and then export those themes, this will make it super easy to create your own, totally custom child themes to Upfront.

      If you want to use your existing themes, you’d need to study how upfront works and then create your own child theme. That said, you could use Upfront’s interface to drag, drop, and stylise a child theme so that it looks like your existing ones.

      If you have any questions then please just let us know, you can also email us directly here:

      Just select the ‘I have a pre-sales question’.

  • New Recruit

    I read all comments here (until now) and nobody, like I expect, hit one point: how about the performance and code consistency? This is a great tool for everybody but I’m afraid that it have the same problem of another players that we found on the market (X, Divi, etc…)

    So, my point is: how much Upfront covers the regular points of performance, e.g. less http requests, static minified files (JS/CSS), valid HTML, blocking scripts (CSS top/JS bottom, etc), above the fold, etc?

    People don’t like to talk about these things because performance it’s a hard game to play with a lot of different elements and situations. But we cannot leave these points to solve with HTTP/2, cache systems, etc. If we don’t have a fast front-end, nothing in this world can help us.

    Thank you and congrats for the job. My first impression is good.

    • Ve
      New Recruit


      That’s a very good question! We have already done quite a bit in this area, and we’ll, of course, continue to improve over time (as Tim said above, work on optimization is never done :). So, by default, most of the actual editor dependencies (which are only loaded when you’re ready to work with Upfront) is by default concatenated/minified with an optional debugging mode that loads unprocessed scripts, a lot of the blocking requests are moved to after the main content has been already loaded, lazy loading huge image backgrounds, optionally compressing all responses in case this hasn’t already been taken care of by the server etc. Like I said, we consider this area very important and have given this a lot of thought; also, we don’t consider that the work in this area is ever finished, we’ll certainly continuously look into it for new ways to improve.

  • The Incredible Code Injector

    I am impressed, and I’m really glad you started working on that. I understand that it’s just the beginning and there’s still a lot of work.

    I’ve tried all the themes, I found some small bugs – which I’m sure will be solved soon, but I can see one important minus: I’m are kinda bound to the child theme that I first choose. I’ve created an one page website in Spirit, then switched to Fixer – I had to start all over again. I am still looking to see how could I switch to Upfront for my existing blogs/websites. I tried to edit some of the existing pages, and when I double click on the existing content I don’t actually have any of the drag and drop options .
    I would start using UpFront, but are there any plans of actually integrating UpFront with the existing WordPress Content? Will at least the child theme be linked together, so you can switch from one to another without actually loosing the website and having to start all over again?

    Thank you and good luck with this brilliant project!

    p.s.: If I want to take advantage of the 50%discount (“continue with us” part), do I have to cancel my existing subscription first? Can’t find a way to just pay and extend my existing membership.

  • Hey Marius,

    Happy to hear you’re impressed!

    “I’m are kinda bound to the child theme that I first choose. I’ve created an one page website in Spirit, then switched to Fixer – I had to start all over again. ”

    The reasoning for this is so that you can have several different layouts. For example, you setup Fixer one way, then Spirit in another way – and you can swap between two completely different designs easily. Or you can make them both the same – up to you :) it was made this way by design.

    “I would start using UpFront, but are there any plans of actually integrating UpFront with the existing WordPress Content?”

    Upfront should work with existing WordPress content out of the box :) are you referring to post content/titles etc. default WordPress content areas? Even when creating new posts with the Upfront editor, the content area and title are saved as a normal post, as you would expect. So that content will be there if you do happen to switch themes.

    The parts that won’t be there are the Upfront elements and other design customizations. You can think of those as part of the design, so when you switch to a new theme/design you will lose them.

    ” p.s.: If I want to take advantage of the 50%discount (“continue with us” part), do I have to cancel my existing subscription first? Can’t find a way to just pay and extend my existing membership.”

    You can cancel your existing membership first to ensure it the upgrade/extension goes smoothly :) after clicking the coupon link:

    Hit “Change Plan” – select annual and you will be good to go :)

    Appreciate feedback and kind words Marius! Let us know if you have any further questions.

    All the best,

  • Syntax Hero

    Why not make it as a plugin? I already tested all the drag-n-drop system, and even Limitless theme, which has a good css management system as a differential over the other ones, changed its strategy to a plugin solution. It is worth remember that from all the ones you`ve said about, actually it is Frontend Builder that is the best one before you guys release this one, which I didn`t test yet, but seems to be better. But an integration with woo-commerce, is still needed, since its makertshare is far bigger than marketpress and Frontend Builder already has it.

    But I agree that you guys just saved the future of WordPress, it is a shame that Automattic isn`t worried about wix and the others…

    • Hey diegpl,

      Thanks for your feedback here. Keep in mind ours was just released a few days ago, this is just the beginning :) tip of the iceberg as some might say.

      Upfront will be the foundation of every theme we release from here on out and once the builder is released, I’m thinking it will be the foundation of a lot of member created themes as well! We’re excited.

      Thanks for the congrats diegpl! Let us know if you any further feedback comes to mind.


  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    This seems very promising but part of what makes themes like headway and divi so appealing is it gives you a blank canvas and you can add you’re own columns and completely make a unique design.

    Is this something that Upfront will do as well? As I understand it you download a theme and this is just a fancy way of editing images and text and not a true create whatever you want type theme.

  • That was my first thought when I saw it for the first time too back in early beta. Upfront has that affect on people :p

    As for your question, Upfront does not work with Genesis. Reason being is that Upfront is also a parent theme.

    Give Upfront a go, you may never look back ;)

    Let us know if you have any further questions there Virgil and as always if you have technical questions about Upfront then you can post them in the forums here:

    Hope you have a great rest of your weekend!


  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    Aside from that this is really helping with my workflow. I’m working on a design that I had completed but still needed a few design changes. I’m trying out designing it on the fly with ufront. So far it’s been amazing.

    Another suggestion, are you planning on integrating google fonts? Would be convenient. And speaking of fonts when you choose a font family the area where you select it is so small you can only see one font at a time. Maybe making the accordion (the draggable elements and the theme elements) longer would be very helpful.

    As for my issue, for now I just put in a custom css rule.

  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    Also, when you build your blank theme make sure to add a side navigation option and make it easy to edit the dimensions. (that’s one of the big issues I have with Divi, the “header” / “nav” sections need much css hacking to customize)

    Overall I think you guys really have something here. Things like this really improve and optimize a design workflow. I’m primarily a graphic artist but also a programmer however, if i can spend more time designing awesome stuff and less time coding that’s a great thing!

    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      Hi Jasonhebert,

      I am going to try and address all your aforementioned bugs and questions in this reply.
      Google Fonts integration is already there, just go to Theme Settings » Theme Font Manager. There you can add / remove various Google Fonts.

      In terms of starting from blank canvas, the navigation will work essentially the same way all our elements do, so you can re-size it quite easy. At the moment, the navigation element is a bit basic in terms of customization options. You can do a lot of cool stuff with css, but we’ll be introducing some basic color options to it soon.

      In regards to the slider bug & the font-styles not working on mobile, we’ve noticed that too. The fix is already in the repository and we will be releasing an updated version shortly.

      Thank you for giving Upfront a try, and for your encouraging feedback and bug reports. I hope you continue exploring Upfront and giving us feedback.

    • Hey there jnkfrancis,

      Hope you’re doing well today!

      Starting with a completely blank slate is an option we’ll have in the future :)

      Right now, you can load up one of the child themes then remove all the pre-set elements by just hitting the red “x” in the top right of each element. You can remove and re-add the regions as well :)

      Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any further questions.

      All the best,

  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    This does look great! Just a question if I may? If users put their hearts and souls into this, I really really hope you don’t do what happened to Headway and almost ‘start again’ down the road. Headway 2.x was a cul de sac and they started out again with Headway 3.x with no upgrade path for existing sites. I’d be more than frustrated if something similar happened here … one hopes your roadmap can avoid that?

  • Hey esidarap,

    Thanks for the question!

    We have been developing Upfront for over 2 years and during that time it has gone through significant changes to ensure we won’t have to “start again” in the future :)

    Upgrade compatibility with previous versions is always a priority. Hope that helps ease any concern regarding that. Let us know if you have further questions or any feedback as well!

    Enjoy the rest of your day.


    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      Hi Jay, hope you are well today.

      We will definitely be looking at adding some CSS3 animation to elements in the future. Some elements (like Slider) already use that for transitions between the slides and have various options.
      However, since every element in Upfront allows you to subvert it via ‘Custom Element CSS Styles’ it is entirely possible to achieve animated CSS transitions by adding a few lines of code. It really depends on your overall vision / what kind of effect you are looking to achieve. We also provide a ‘Custom Code’ element that allows you to create something unique with HTML, CSS & jQuery.

      • Dead Eye Dev


        Actually, we’re not using Twig templates and, in fact, we’re doing very little in terms of PHP templates, except some simple value replacements where necessary. The templates in place are mostly used on front end (ie. javascript), as part of underscore templating (_.template).

        As for Bootstrap, we are not using it for Upfront. We have our own system in place instead, which allows us to have a more flexible and configurable grid. Of course, when building a child theme the developer can make use of any helpers he finds needed, although this would likely mean adding those themselves, via code, rather than having an UI for that, if this makes sense :) The final child theme is still a WordPress theme, so the regular ways of adding/enqueuing things will, of course, work normally.

      • WPMU DEV Initiate

        I’ve got about four sites up and running with PageLines (and another couple in a sandbox), and I’d agree that unless you’re willing to get in and write a lot of your own CSS, it’s kind of limited. But I think that’s going to be the case even for Upfront, at least for awhile – there’s so much you can do with CSS that it’s impossible to capture it all in a theme builder or a drag-and-drop tool.

        The biggest thing I want to see out of the “next big thing” theme builder is an emphasis on better code export and performance. That’s something they’re all missing. I’m going to be watching Upfront and the Pinegrow desktop app to see who gets there first.

    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      Sorry, I should have made myself more clear. We do intend to keep adding what users can do in terms of Element Customisation without having to write any code. But there are over 200 uniques css properties, and as you can imagine, designing a GUI to cover even half of them for every element is not going to result in a pleasant user experience. So what I meant to say is that at this stage of the product, more advanced things like css animation are still possible for any element, but yes that territory is as you say, not for lay people. This is only the beginning, and reading your feedback about what features / additions you would like is going to be a big part of where we take it.

      • WPMU DEV Initiate

        Thanks for all of your responses here. When you look at things like CSS animations or parallax, might I make a small recommendation? I’d look at what Adobe Muse does to handle those. While Muse has a lot of problems (poor quality code export, lack of native responsive functionality, extremely difficult to work into a CMS), it’s parallax and animation features are absolutely without parallel. I know it’d be difficult to recreate that same experience in a browser, but it might give you some good ideas for building new features.

        • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

          Hi Andrew,

          Thank you for your feedback. I will be honest, I have not yet had the chance to play with Adobe Muse, but your recommendation has certainly intrigued me. As a product designer, I am extremely interested to see how they handle such abstractions in a user friendly way. Again, thank you for your suggestion. And in terms of your previous comment about performance, this is certainly on our priority list. We understand that a good page-speed rating is absolutely vital and are already working on several optimisations. I hope you continue to follow our progress.

  • New Recruit

    I love this thing! Have been working with Divi and Visual Composer and there are alright. But this, this is awesome thing guys. This can make my job a whole lot easier and more fun. Less HTML and CSS editing and more fun playing with the visual.
    Finally I can go out to my clients and do some LIVE CHANGES in front of their eyes on their websites :)

      • WPMU DEV Initiate

        I’ve used the following builders: PageLines DMS, Visual Composer, Headway Themes, Divi, and I’ve started playing with Upfront.

        In order of ease of use and customization, I’d rank them:
        1. PageLines
        2. Headway Themes
        3. Ultimatum
        4. Visual Composer
        5. Divi

        I’m not ranking Upfront yet, because it’s still too early to tell whether it’s going to be a legit competitor.

        Visual Composer, in my opinion, isn’t particularly intuitive, and is fairly tough to customize. It also, again, only in my experience, doesn’t integrate well with a lot of other plugins.

        Divi’s a pretty great theme if you’re happy with the look and feel it’s got out of the box, but the CSS editor for it is garbage.

        Ultimatum is always buggy, but it’s definitely more of a full-on theme development tool rather than a simple theme that can be customized. It takes some time to learn it and get used to it’s quirks, but does a good job if you have the time to spend.

        Headway Themes provide a lot of flexibility, but most of the sites I’ve seen built with them end up looking pretty much the same. In my experience, it’s because the UI for Headway really makes it difficult to break out of the mold.

        To me, PageLines is the most robust drag-and-drop tool available at the moment; the CSS editor is easy to access, and it’s just generally pretty designer friendly. It’s got some bugs, for sure; the CSS editor sometimes requires multiple publishes to publish new code, and it’s frustrating to have to use Chrome – PageLines is already really memory hungry, and Chrome’s memory leaks can make for a challenging experience. However, on the whole, I think it’s the most powerful, user-friendly and robust builder available right now.

        I’ve mentioned it upthread, but supposedly, Pinegrow’s working on a new edition of their desktop app that will allow you to build out WordPress themes. That could be a game-changer, in terms of visual development – Pinegrow’s robust enough for experienced developers and integrates well with external IDEs, but easy enough to learn for designers who want to dive deeper into creating customized experiences.

  • New Recruit

    Hello…I agree with you that Upfront does seem to be the Future of WordPress.

    Also the fact that you have such a Library of fantastic plugins at such a fantastic rate….yu really are The Untouchables as far as value for money in Plugins on the net.

    What I would want though is the ability to turn off options so that people could only swap text/pictures/videos and not alter the code of my website in any way, shape or form.
    Can that be done?

    I want an editor that is foolproof for people who would not be ringing me up asking me what they done wrong… no changing links etc.

    Also I notice I can’t change the banner on the example theme…did you disable a lot of the photos for the demo?

    Also can this be used on Third Party Themes???

    Really Top job guys!!!

    • Code Norris

      Hi there,

      Glad your liking Upfront! :)

      With being able to disable certain elements within the editor that isn’t something there out of the box at the moment, those I agree it’s a great idea and I’ll pass it on to the developers. :)

      For the example theme, we did disable image uploading, but the banner can be swapped out with one from the media library, if you click on the banner in editor mode, you should see a pencil icon top right, click that to edit the backaground, then click the gear icon and you should be shown a change img button and a few other settings.

      Let me know if that still doesn’t work for you and I’ll create a screencast :)

      Upfront is it’s own parent theme with child themes and coming soon will be a possibility to create your own themes directly from Upfront! So it isn’t compatible with already made third party themes, but soon you’ll be able to build your own Upfront themes! :)

      Hope this helps and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask.


      • New Recruit

        Been keeping an eye on this ever since….and thanks for the previous reply.

        I love the design of this and how it works regarding the Builder.

        Like I said previously….it is the Front End Editor that is of more use to me as that is what would solve the biggest problem clients have… over complicated editor experience.

        So I would hope you convey this to your developers as I think it would be the killer feature for you in a sea of Online Builders.

    • Flash Drive

      Hi Olle,

      You can simply create a number of your own layouts and name them how you like for templates.
      When you press the “add new page” you will then see a drop down box with the heading “Page Template”.

      You can select from an already created page to create a default layout from. For me this seems a little buggy as sometimes it has shown nothing to select from, but most times it shows the pages I have already made. I am sure this will be updated.

      You will also notice that when you go to create a new page in the WordPress admin you will have the option to select what template to use for that page. I am assuming something is in the works for this.

  • Design Lord, Child of Thor

    Hi, I like this idea. In my opinion it is not at all easy to use for an inexperienced user. I’ve noticed you guys are hiring developers for the UpFront project and I’m very happy about that. One big thing for me is that I don’t know how to change the simplest things like the rotating images on the Fixer theme. It needs to be easily and seamlessly customizable. Keep me up to date and I’ll gladly give my feedback.

    Morgan J.

  • Flash Drive

    I love the concept, love the workflow. However in an agency we have typical workflows that seem to be missing. Our clients are used to using widgets in the backend. My fear is I build a site using Upfront, then they have all the tools they need to start moving things around structurally. I see this as a huge negative since it become easy for the end client to move a container out of alignment very easy without noticing.

    What I would prefer for upfront for any client work is that I can make the regions, then add a sidebar area to be added in the /widgets.php

    This way we still get the native control of widgets that most people are used to using.

    I would like to see a setting in upfront to limit the user role level or alternatively the user ID that can view and edit upfront builder.

    I believe adding a new builder function to add sidebars and ability to name them and add description to the sidebar will be a very good step forward in end user and end management.

      • Flash Drive

        That is exactly the idea I was hoping you would have been thinking of adding at the user level like the dashboard. Perfect solution, and granular will be a handy feature.

        However the importance of adding sidebars to the regions cannot be stressed enough. in doing so, I hope that widgets page becomes available again since it is removed when I activate upfront. I am not in favour of this being removed from the backend.

        I will keep playing and learning the ins and outs and the things that are seeming to be a roadblock for end user experience with Upfront and provide more detailed feedback as I go. I will try keep each issue contained in each response that way there is a clear response to each thing I can offer on feedback.

          • Flash Drive

            I am not sure the logic of why there would be a number of “unnamed areas”.

            The thought pattern is to create sidebars in regions, these sidebars appear in widgets.php, and you can add any number of widgets to the sidebar via widgets page or through the upfront drag and drop.

            There can then be a setting for the sidebar on the upfront sidebar element that can control whether the sidebar will be vertical or horizontal.

            There would be no reason there would be a negative to this approach.

            The negative I have on the approach we have currently is that if I decide a year from now I want to switch to WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme, I now have lost all my widgets content that I could have reused in the widgets.php page.

            I have tested this by adding widgets through drag and drop upfront builder, then switching templates to see if the content I have added to these widgets are available to use in another theme if a person so wished to update their site to a new theme.

  • Flash Drive

    There seems no way when creating the template that I can add a page title to a region. I have made a header per page to pull from the feature image no issue, I would then want to add the Page/post title overlaying the feature image. Please add this to the available tools, unless there is already a way I have yet to discover.

    • Hey cmwwebfx,

      Hope you’re doing well today!

      The reason there is no page title element when creating a page/post is because we left the page title/content untouched, so it’s not part of the design elements of Upfront. This means if you do happen to switch to another theme then you still have your content/titles for all your pages and posts, it’s not locked to the theme in any way :)

      If you’re wanting to pull just the title of your post(s) then you can use the posts element and remove all the post parts except title:

      You could also edit the CSS styles for pages and add a background to the title that way if that is more what you’re after:

      Hopefully I’m not misunderstanding the question! Thanks for the feedback cmwwebfx :)


      • Flash Drive

        Thanks Tyler,

        I have already done it the way you presented above, but it is a bit backward in adding a complete element, then unselecting the parts not needed, then pressing save.

        I believe a page/post title element with settings for this element being (heading style, heading class, color). That way it is a matter of the element just parsing the name of the post/page automatically. {{ post.title }}

        I haven’t looked at the markup, so am assuming the function above.


  • Flash Drive

    Please consider adding structural action hooks to the the theme. This way any developer can make use of adding repeat regions through add action.

    Scenario where I would use this:
    I would create a single Call to action row that has descriptive/emotive text and a button to subscribe. I can then control through an action hook where I will place it (before_footer, footer_top, footer_below, after_content, after_header, below_header…..etc). I can then control it through conditional logic on what posts/pages/post types this will display.

    • Hey cmwwebfx,

      Thanks again for the feedback :) I believe it’s been mentioned earlier on in the comments, but we are looking into more flexibility with repeat regions. Adding conditionals to them would be especially awesome! The option would be added right into the editor itself too. To keep everything “Upfront” :)

      Thanks for bringing this up. Enjoy the rest of your day!


      • Flash Drive

        Repeat regions might be ok, but if I use the same template throughout the site for all pages, I will then have to make a new region for pages that will need the call to action bar.
        Lets take this scenario a little further and you will soon see that if I have 3 different repeat regions, I then need to be very careful on manually adding and removing per page template.

        It is better to be able to provide hooks for developers to be able to hook into for this type of more complex scenario.

        however a way around this will be able to build out your repeat regions and control them from their own tab in the left side editor.

        Point > click repeater, repeater opens on the screen, user builds out the repeater, the options display conditionals for this repeater, the repeater is then updated site wide. That is my logical way I have done this. For this you need to use the action hooks through Upfront.

  • Flash Drive

    Hi Tyler,
    I have tried the posts and removed all the part except for title, but what that does is add the posts titles, but not the title of the page you are on Dynamically.

    What will be handy is to have an element that is purely title, as it will solve this. I am in no hurry as I will not use this in development just yet.


  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    Playing around with upFront thus far, it’s awesome. A couple of bugs or suggestion I saw, regarding the youtube module it was kind of hard to move the module around because whenever I click to move it around the video plays.

    Also the code module, it’s possible to write php code or it’s it just limited to html, css and js?


    • Hey Sophek,

      Glad you’re enjoying the theme so far! Thanks for your feedback.

      Even after re-sizing and removing the title/description the Youtube video widget should still leave some space at the bottom that you can grab on with and drag it around :) without the video playing.

      Here is a screenshot example:

      As for the code module, yes only html, css, and js. Adding php in that manner would be bad practice, not to mention if you made even a small mistake in the code it could take your site down and you would have no way to get back to the editor to fix it.

      Hope that helps Sophek :) if you run into anything that you think might be a bug then please post it in our support area:

      Then we can track it and get it fixed asap!

      Enjoy the rest of your day.

      All the best,

  • Flash Drive

    I’ve downloaded UpFront and the child themes onto both my sites and tried to configure them- only to give up. I don’t understand why the blur is necessary once one is trying to select or edit an image. I don’t understand why getting out of media mode is so difficult. I want a clear X button on the entire editor so I can easily go back to my regular dashboard. I would like it to be easier to select an image I just dropped in a region – and if it becomes hidden under another region I’d like to be able to select a layer so that I can either adjust it or delete it. I don’t understand how I keep losing the elements sidebar and why it is that clicking on an element doesn’t consistently bring it back. And did I mention I hate, loth, and despise the blur? If not I’m telling you now. There should be better explanation for both the menu element, and the accordion element. Under the elements box and other options I should be able to see a list of my existing pages, the configuration should not be spiteful of the existing WP system – but should be an intuitive enhancement and right now it’s just not. I feel like I wasted hours. The thirty second video showing the happy goat is entertaining but not very uninformative. I’ve now deleted all of the new themes and I’m looking though the legacy themes for alternatives.

  • Hey Robert,

    Hope you’re doing well today! Really appreciate all your feedback here :)

    As mentioned earlier in the comments, we are working on documentation and tutorial videos to help reduce the learning curve. In the meantime, if you have any troubles setting up an Upfront site just let us know in the support area: more than happy to help you get everything setup :)

    I like your idea of a button to go straight to your admin from the editor too.

    As for the blur, are you referring to the dark overlay when adding an image? You’re the first that I’ve seen mention that so far. We’ll keep an eye on feedback for that and see if others bring it up as well.

    Thanks again for your feedback Robert. If you wanted to give Upfront another shot, I think we could help you through any issues you’re facing in our support forums:

    Enjoy the rest of your day!


  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    Hey there,

    Looks great and the main reason I became a paid member. I was I would have read this blog post earlier tho. On the front page of the themes tab Upfront is presented as THE new theme of WPMU dev. Much better than the now legacy themes.

    Yet here I read it’s a long way before it’s out of beta. So right now there are only 0.x1 version of a new theme and legacy themes?

    Kind of feels a bit odd and I am wondering what to do; I don’t like the legacy themes but do need to start building my new website.

    • Hey there Durk,

      Hope you’re doing well today and glad you think the themes look great!

      Just to clarify, Upfront is out of beta – we spent several months testing the beta versions out internally and then releasing it privately on the forums for members to get their hands on and test for a couple more months before finally getting to where we are now and officially releasing it :)

      Versions 0.1 up to 1.0 we are considering as early development, even though we feel it’s ready to be out in the wild – it is still just the beginning. Lots of exciting stuff on the way! Inevitably, as with any release, there will be many improvements to be made in the early going and our Upfront devs/designers are hard at work doing just that.

      If you run into any issues(or just have feedback/suggestions), just create a ticket in our support area:

      We’ll get it sorted for you asap :)

      Look forward to seeing you around the community Durk!

      Enjoy the rest of your day.

      All the best,

      • WPMU DEV Initiate

        Hi Tyler–
        I respectfully have to disagree with you here. The product doesn’t have documentation, tutorials, has existing bugs that have been reported to you here and elsewhere, and is missing some critical features. While I applaud all of your efforts, and I think Upfront has the potential to become a really powerful tool, I think it’s a little disingenuous to keep insisting that it’s out of beta, and a full-fledged release candidate. A 0.1 version is not a final public release candidate anywhere I’ve ever worked.

        I’m not commenting to pick a fight or an internet argument at all, but I do think WPMUDEV needs to be a little more careful about how you’re speaking about Upfront. It’s a great product, and has the potential to be a great solution in the mid-to-long term, but I think you’re overselling how far along your development is on it, which could lead to some pretty unhappy users and customers in the short term. From my perspective, I absolutely would not install this on a client’s theme at this point, simply because there’s an awful lot that can happen between a 0.1 version and 1.0 version.

        • Hey Andrew,

          Thanks for your feedback.

          You’re right, an awful lot can happen between 0.1-1.0 and we plan on it :)

          If it’s a start over again or update incompatibility issue you’re afraid of then I just want to mention that during the 2 year development time of Upfront so far, we have started over a few times to ensure we get it right before releasing it. So that situation doesn’t happen.

          Yes, there are bugs – there will always bugs, I think that’s fair to say about plugins/themes in general, especially in release stages. Our dev/design team will be here to fix them up all along way!

          Inevitably, in this early stage of development there will be lots of features, improvements, and compatibilities that everyone wants – if it doesn’t fit your needs now then we would love to hear your feedback so we can make it fit your needs in the future :)

          I totally see your point on documentation and tutorials – we need to get that out asap. We’re working on it. In the meantime, if anyone runs into an issue just let us know in the support forums and we’ll help you out.

          I am really glad you see the potential and I look forward to hearing your feedback as development continues Andrew.

          Thanks again for your comment and by the way, I didn’t see it as trying to start an internet argument at all :p maybe reddit has just raised my standards for what an internet argument is. haha.


  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    As a rank amatuer I’m a little hesitant to post here but I’m about to make a big decision…well…a big decision for me anyway. The two incentives? Upfront and your 50% off deal. I’ve been struggling for some time trying to use Headway to build a website. I’m not a web developer but I want to make a website that’s a level above amatuer. I need something that’s easy. Headway is not.
    Upfront looks good. I’m using your Popup pro and have experienced, first hand, your superior customer service (and I mean SUPERIOR…a third incentive I would say). So…

    Would you say that I could create my website using Upfront? If you don’t mind, take a look at what I’ve achieved so far using Headway and Popup Pro:
    It’s not much, but please click on the “yodelers today” and then on the photo to see how I’m using Popup. This is the basics of what I want to do…but much more easily than struggling with so many side bar controls in Headway and no really true WYSIWYG. A true drag and drop solution would be amazing. I’m willing to trash everything I’ve done so far and give UPfront a try if you think I can achieve this. I already know that I can rely on a lot of support. I was literally blown away at how far your team went to help me with my meager Popup attempt.
    What do you think?

  • New Recruit

    Hey, I am just wondering if there is a url that can check on Upfront’s Changelog in future (similar to woocommerce extensions) so can keep track of the improvements and a email notification for when new version are released (that does not rely on login into wpmudev dashboard).
    Looks like a really great theme that will continue to get better.

    • Code Norris

      Hi there easypeasyadmin,

      Any changes you make to the Upfront child themes via the Upfront interface are saved and display on your site. :)

      If you want to make a custom child theme, you could take one of the existing child themes and modify the code as needed, you’ll need to change the child theme name so it shows as a separate child themes in wp-admin > appearance > themes.

      We’re also working on a builder, that will allow you to create custom Upfront child themes, all from the easy to use Upfront interface.


  • Flash Drive

    Took a look at the ready-made child themes, but none of them are what I really was looking for. The closest thing to what I needed was “Publisher” by Array Themes, so I went with that.

    I’m curious to watch how Upfront develops, though.

    Will it work with Aesop Story Engine and Lasso front-end editor?

    • Code Norris

      Hi there Dylan,

      Thanks for your feedback! We’re currently working on new child themes and welcome any suggestions. :)

      I’ve just tested it with Aesop Story Engine and it appears that it works quite well with it, it’ll require some custom css which you can add through the Upfront editor.

      With regards to the Lasso front-end editor, as that was premium I couldn’t check if it works, but Upfront includes it’s own front-end editor, for posts/pages/content, I’d imagine that the Lasso front-end editor, would conflict with our already existing built-in editor.


  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    Since it’s been a few months since this was released, I thought I’d ask; has there been any progress made on incorporating other WPMUDEV plugins into Upfront? Right now, I’m using PageLines and CSS Hero for theme customization, because Upfront supposedly doesn’t play well with CoursePress (among others).

    • Code Norris

      Hi there Andrew,

      Thanks for your question! The development team is working hard on getting Upfront compatible with most plugins, while not released yet, we do have compatibility patches for BuddyPress, CoursePress and a few others that are almost ready. :)

      Any plugin that doesn’t use virtual pages and rather outputs it’s content via shortcodes, widgets or physical pages will work fine.

      Thanks! :)

  • Syntax Hero

    It is not easy to centralize an image gallery too. It is still not possible to put thing between two sections. It is still very, very slow. I didn`t get how I can decrease a section height. Tabs don`t seem to generate anchor urls. I was not able to post a page from the frontend. But the speed is the main issue I see on it, do you think that it can maybe be my browser? Is it done with Angular.js?

    • I agree, it could definitely be easier to center the image galleries, we’re working on improving the gallery element :) right now, reducing the element size to the size you want then turning on the Upfront grid tool to help you center it will be the best option.

      As for it not being possible to put things between two sections, I’m not sure what you’re referring to here? Are you wanting to put something between two regions? The best way to do this would be to add a new region between them where you can then add anything you like. If you click the fold icon in the top right corner of any region to edit the background it will also allow you to add new regions above, below, or either side:

      Could you create a ticket on not being able to post a page from the frontend: – I’m not having that issue on my install.

      As for speed, we have had mixed feedback on that so far – it will differ from browser to browser and server to server, so if you can also create a support ticket on that with details on your setup(server and browser used) that will help us further optimize the platform :) speed is of course a major focus for us as we know how important that is for everyone.

      Thanks for your feedback diegpl!


    • You mean from editing the post/page? Back to the Upfront editor? If you publish/schedule it or cancel then it should bring you back to the Upfront editor :)

      If that’s not what you’re having trouble with then a little more information would be helpful here – same with the drag and drop issues you are facing. It’s better if you create a support ticket in our forums because then you can allow us to securely login to your site if needed to investigate these issues further.

      Talk to you soon!


  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    These recent comments bring up an interesting point, and one I was worried about at the outset of Upfront (and why I haven’t yet tried it in any design project). Have there been any significant updates to Upfront? Last I checked, it wasn’t compatible with the overwhelming majority of plugins WPMUDEV offers. Based on activity here, and in the blog, it seems like Upfront’s either stagnant, or stuck in the mud.

    • Hey Andrew,

      It’s quite the opposite actually! Thanks to all the feedback from everyone, we quickly realized that there was some fairly big issues that *needed* to be addressed. Plugin compatibility of course being one of the obvious ones that we had hoped to get sorted a lot sooner. At any rate, our developers are working on a ton of improvements/fixes now and even completely re-working some areas that we found weren’t performing as we hoped.

      The next update will be a big one and there will be many more big ones to follow thereafter, we hope to get to version 1.0 by the end of the year. A few of our key focuses right now are plugin compatibility, speed, and smoothing out the editor experience.

      We also have 4 more child themes that will be nearing release after the next Upfront update, with several more that are in development.

      Thanks for sticking with us as we improve it! When you do give it a try definitely let us know what you think.


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