Prepare Yourself for Infinity: A WordPress Anti-Framework for Extending WordPress, Multisite and BuddyPress


Infinity is a brand new free Anti-Framework developed by BuddyPress afficionados Bowe Frankema and Marshall Sorenson. It’s been a year in the making and it has just been released as a private beta (private including anyone on Twitter who follows them.

You can expect to see quite a bit about Infinity over the coming months as both Sarah and I are both signed up to the beta and will both be seeing just what Infinity can do. Later this week I’ll be posting an interview with the developers, but to whet your appettite let’s check out a few of the things that Infinity can do.

A WordPress Anti-Framework?

We’ve all heard of a WordPress Framework – in fact it seems like there’s getting to be as many frameworks as there are themes. Infinity is an Anti-Framework. I know, eh? right….

What makes Infinity different is that it sits between WordPress and your themeany theme. I’ve been testing it out with Twenty Eleven and it’s pretty impressive. It is a layer of tools and features that extend WordPress without comprimising on your current design.

Infinity makes features remarkably easy to add and remove, and you don’t need to be an expert in PHP to do it. So long as you know your way around your template files and can open a text editor you’ll be able to easily extend your theme.

But that’s not all….

BuddyPress Compatiblity

Unsurprisingly for two guys who love BuddyPress, Infinity is 100% BuddyPress compatible.  It is also compatible with every 3rd party plugin that works with the BP Default theme (which is all of them, right?).  And that’s not all:

  • to deal with the fast BuddyPress development cycle it’s been made upgrade safe
  • custom UI and design elements for BuddyPress

But what if you don’t care about BuddyPress? What if you don’t want these to bloat your WordPress site? Well they won’t – BuddyPress features only load if BuddyPress is active.

Infinite Child Themes Make Multisite Happy

Bowe and Marshall didn’t just want to make Infinity work with Multisite – they wanted to innovate. Network Admins often have a unique set of problems when it comes to providing themes for large networks. Infinity is the Granddaddy of Parent Themes – literally.

You can take Infinity and create an infinite number of child themes. It’s what the developers have called “The Scheme.”

The Infinity Family Tree

Not only do your templates cascade, but your features, options, widgets, shortcodes, images and stylesheets do as well. This means that you can add an option in Infinity and it will cascade through all of your child themes. Or you can work your way down the scale and add or remove functionality from just one or two branches of the family tree.

As if that wasn’t all, Infinity makes it easy for you to totally customize the dashboard across your entire network.

Phew… that’s a lot of stuff. But it isn’t all. Infinity is definitely one to watch. Keep an eye out for our interview with Bowe and Marshall, the brains behind Infinity, later this week.

Update: If you would like to get in on the private beta visit Presscrew and use the sign up code: The Royal We

(I should also mention that they are Big Lebowski fans! Important information for anyone making a decision about WordPress)

 (header image CC license thanks to Patrick Brosset)

24 Responses

  • Flash Drive

    Thanks for the great article Siobhan! You summarized the project better then we managed to do! I might need to go back to this article a lot when trying to explain people what Infinity is :-)

    For the people that are interested in joining the Infinity Beta, here’s a sign-up code you can use to register for our community located at The Royal We

    We’re big Lebowski fans you know!

    PS: You also forgot to mention.. That Infinity is completely free! Awesome :D

  • Great write up!

    Bowe said it all. You did a better job of explaining what Infinity is all about than us geeky developers have been able to.

    Really looking forward to more articles!

  • Froggy

    Great !
    I only have one question : I absolutely want a (Buddypress) responsive theme. But I saw that the demo is not responsive at all. Will it be fixed ? Soon ? Later ? Never ? Shall I just have to use Infinity with any WordPress responsive theme and it’s gonna be OK (with full Buddypress and bbPress support, of course) ?

    Keep up the good work !

  • Flash Drive

    Hi Laurent,

    Glad you like Infinity! To answer your question about a responsive version of Infinity Base; that is most certainly on it’s way! The demo is not responsive because with Infinity we aim for letting users pick the features they need for their projects. While you need BuddyPress and a responsive layout, others might need something else entirely! Where regular frameworks add all these options into their themes, cluttering up the experience, Infinity uses “extensions”

    These extensions can be anything from shortcodes, widgets, options AND new features like a responsive design you need. Developers can easily create these features for the community, and people like you and me can then add them to our theme by dragging a folder into your Infinity Child Theme (so they are not removed when you upgrade the Infinity Parent theme).

    We have many of these features planned, and Responsive Design is pretty much at the top of my to-do-list! Hope this answers your question!

  • Flash Drive

    The version we currently have is pretty stable.. Our clients have been using it for big projects and we have tested the Infinite Child Themes up to 6(!) levels deep.. The Private Beta allows us to receive feedback on problems that may occur on different server setups and to iron out smaller CSS issues in our Base Theme.

    So I say just give it a spin after you’ve signed up for our beta community and report any issues you may find, and hopefully we’ll release Infinity to the public by the end of Oktober.

  • I downloaded the source code, and it’s very nice, and for a beta-test version, has a lot of docs. Using grand-child-themes is one of the best features… I really think that wordpress should think about giving grand-child-theme support by default.

    But… like Laurent, I’d like to see how easy would be creating responsive-layouts. Another thing that I couldn’t see yet is about how to use php code when I need something very specific and are there no built-in support at infinity.

    Another really question… I don’t agree completely with the “Anti-Framework” term. I know that framework and parent-themes are different things, but infinity is really something very similar to a web-framework.

    If you see how they suggest about organizing their code and all infrastructure that they have to read the configuration files and generate options, features and shortcodes, I imagine that this is a real-case where framework and parent-theme has merged.

    What infinity created on wordpress is something similar to what ruby on rails created on ruby development, or django on python development.

    Maybe, it’s better another term that is not “anti-framework”. For example “Full Stack Parent Theme”.

    • Flash Drive

      Thanks for the kind words Thiago, very glad you’re liking Infinity so far! It would be great if you could repost your questions in your comment on our beta forums, because they are really good ones, and so I can answer them for the rest of our community to read as well! I’ll respond here as well, so the WPMU readers know how this stuff works :-)

      – Creating Responsive layouts with our Base Theme is in the works. It will be a matter of adding a line to your Child Themes configuration file. like this:

      responsive_design = on (or “off” if you want to disable it for a certain child theme)

      – You can add any custom functionality to your Child Theme by simply using functions.php. You can develop your themes exactly as you used to do, and these functions.php files also cascade nicely into your Grand Child Themes. If you know PHP you can also write your own options types and features. If you have more technical questions, just ask them on the forums and Marshall will help you out!

      As soon as you enable this feature all the responsive CSS code will be added to the feature.css file and Infinity Base will responsive. That really is all there is too it, and hopefully we can show you this soon.

      – I agree with you on a “technical” level about Infinity being a Framework. By following a set path during theme development and using certain files to make it easier, you are building a framework/development platform.

      But the funny thing about the WordPress community is that they like to take terms like “Framework” and change the meaning to something else entirely. “WordPress Frameworks” are basically Parent Themes with a set template structure, a fixed feature set and a certain workflow you are forced to follow. Infinity is not like that, although there are some ground rules you need to follow to make it extendable and flexible!
      do you agree?

      At the end of the day Marshall and I decided to just call it an Anti-Framework because it sounded cool, was marketable and we feel Infinity comes pretty close to being just that. Purely technical it could use a different term, but hey.. ;-)

      • Hi Bowe, thanks for you reply… and excuse-me ’cause I didn’t see it before.

        At the end of the day Marshall and I decided to just call it an Anti-Framework because it sounded cool, was marketable and we feel Infinity comes pretty close to being just that. Purely technical it could use a different term, but hey.. ;-)

        Yes, I agree that anti-framework is a cool and marketable term. Maybe people will accept it with no problems.

        But, about me.. well… I prefer seeing Infinity as a really good Advanced Parent Theme, but I agree that Infinity is something more than a simple Advanced Parent Theme.

        I just think that the therm “anti-framework” is dangerous. People has already did confusions with the therm “WordPress Framework”… maybe ’cause the term was something new in the community. Today people continue confused about the therm “framework” and you create the therm “anti-framework”, hehe.

        So why are infinity an anti-framework? Is it because people have used the therm “wordpress framework” wrong? Is it because you want to say to everybody that parent-theme is not a framework? Is it because you didn’t prefer to create some lib/core that could be reusable across many parent-themes?

        Today is ok if just you use the therm anti-framework. But if everybody recognize the Infinity success and start creating new parent-themes and sell them as another “anti-framework”… well, this won’t be cool, probably.

        After I will copy this comments to infinity-forum. And I’m not a very smart guy to discuss this… maybe it’s to advanced form me and propably many people won’t agree with me. But I will put Infinity in my day-to-day tools, certainly ;)

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