Upfront theme platform beta: The ultimate WordPress theme

Hi Everyone,

A couple of years ago we were puzzling over how to bring WPMU DEV members beautiful, functional and customizable themes.

We were fed up with shortcodes, hideously complex preference windows and the world of WordPress theme customization being limited at best to brave and at worst to the developers amongst us.

We wanted to make these themes as easy to use as is humanly possible, as simple to customize and edit as we could manage, completely elegantly coded to take care of responsive layouts and (no small deal) work really well with plugins.

We figured it'd take roughly 3 to 6 months... we were much mistaken :slight_smile:

But we persisted, and two years later have built up a great team of designers and developers who are super happy to present to you the very first version of what we've come to call 'Upfront'.

What is Upfront?

Upfront is a User-friendly, extremely versatile and infinitely customizable drag-and-drop WordPress theme platform.

To use regular WP parlance, Upfront is a parent theme that allows you to simply customize, edit and manage a WordPress site, design 'n all, more or less entirely from the front end.

Getting Started

We have prepared a short guide for you on getting started with Upfront. You will find it in attachements as well as Upfront & Spirit. Please have a quick glance, we've kept it very brief (6 pges) because we know that no one likes to read long manuals.

Important Caveat

This is an incredibly early beta, there will be bugs and issues, do not use this on a site you care about (and if you do, please backup witH Snapshot first https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/snapshot/)

Please have a go and let us know what you think! We're really interested in problems, bugs, issues and things we can improve on.
We've created a new private forum for this: https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/forum/upfront

Please post there - although replies are welcome to this post too.

Below this we will post a list of know bugs / issues and some potential work-arounds. Please check with it before reporting a bug.

Oh and of course we also care a great deal about features, and functionality... but we're thinking we should really get this out there now and build those in organically, so we're unlikely to consent to it making you a nice cup of tea just yet, but maybe in 2.0.

Really looking forward to your feedback... I hope we've made something that you'll find useful and enjoyable.

The Upfront Team

  • Victor Ivanov
    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    List of known bugs:

    (we will be updating this as we go)

    Also, please note, we have not yet had time to do a lot of testing Upfront with plugins. You will most likely see bugs.
    It is our intent to make sure that Upfront is compatible and plays well with top 100 wp plugins and we will be working on that.

    • Image Captions don't work when writing a new post

    • sometimes after creating new page & saving it, user needs to manually refresh the page to see the result

    • Posts Element is broken :slight_frown: Needs de-coupling from Composer Exp.

    • 'Add New Breakpoint' in responsive is broken

    • Image Captions need Link Indicators / Triggers UI

    • Posts / Pages / Comments popup – page templating doesn't work there

    • Awfully slow ion Firefox (please use the latest version of chrome for now)

  • nicolas
    • The Bug Hunter

    First i would like to say that it is a wonderful framework. very nice a easy to use. Now little fixings.
    Ok just a few for begin
    On pdf guide page 3
    "Click Upfront in youa admin bar to launch Upfront"
    On edit button the box for editing is little to small. A few pixels larger could be needed
    Problem with deleting regions in home page. No regions can be deleted when i click the red button.
    Keep going...

  • Jack Kitterhing
    • Code Norris

    Hi there @nicolastergiopoulos,

    Hope you're well today! :slight_smile:

    I've been doing some testing here and haven't been able to replicate the issue with deleting regions, I've tried the latest versions of Safari, Chrome and Firefox, can you let me know which browser your using please?

    Also could you grant us support access following the guide here https://premium.wpmudev.org/manuals/wpmu-dev-dashboard-enabling-staff-login/

    Thanks! :slight_smile:

    Kind Regards

  • Site Division
    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    @Jack Kitterhing

    I am having the same issues with deleting elements and content areas. They look to be deleted but when deactivating Upfront they are there again, reactivating and they are gone. I refresh page and clear cache but they are still there.

    It looks as if the content area may be gone but the elements are all there and aligned left.

    This is only happening with the default content, when a new page is created it works as it should.

    • James Farmer
      • CEO (of WPMU DEV, honest)

      Three plans at the moment:

      a. Make sure Upfront works with all WP plugins as they are, just like a regular, well coded WP theme

      b. Make sure the themes we release have *beautiful* styling for our core plugins (Marketpress of course being top of that list)

      c. Introduce 'native' UF integration into our plugins so they have their own elements and alike and can be managed and configured entirely within Upfront (eeek)

      Gonna be a fun ride in 2015 :slight_smile:

  • Jack Kitterhing
    • Code Norris

    Hi there @nicolastergiopoulos and @Fla0,

    Thanks for granting access @nicolastergiopoulos, everything looks good on your site now, had you activated the Upfront parent theme at all? That should always be deactivated and only the child theme activated.

    We also have added a new Upfront section to the forums, @Fla0 Can you use the ask a question link https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/#question choose "Upfront" from the dropdown and we'll be along right away to assist. :slight_smile:


    Kind Regards

  • amused
    • friend of Bill. W.

    this looks way more professional, intuitive and feature rich than i thought possible.

    would there be any guides on making our own themes ?
    is it that we simply take "Spirit" or one of your other upcoming themes and design them on the front end and save them out to be used with "new blog templates" etc. ?

    • Victor Ivanov
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      HI Randall,

      I am delighted to hear you are enjoying Upfront.
      You will also be happy to hear that we are working on Upfront Builder. In fact, Spirit was built using Upfront Builder. Right now, our priorities are with finessing Upfront and building a number of great themes to release with Upfront. After that, we intend to dedicate some time in improving the Builder, and release it to the public. We want to make sure that we have the best product possible, and that Upfront themes are the easiest, most intuitive themes to build. In fact, Upfront Builder is very much like Upfront itself. It allows you to design you page layouts via the same Drag and Drop interface, and with some basic knowledge of CSS you can take you theme very far indeed. So far in our experience, the builder is great, it really streamlines the process of creating a theme, however there are a few things that we need to improve on before we release it.

      • amused
        • friend of Bill. W.

        ok so help me understand it all clearly,

        "upfront" is as mentioned in initial post is a "theme platform" that works by installing a "parent theme" called "upfront" - in basic terms.

        so "upfront" just sits there in the themes folder and nothing is really intended to be done with that directly ? one only works with the themes like "Spirit" etc. which are ready made themes where most of the basic html structure (menu, footer, etc.) is already done together with some styling. we just add or arrange the elements to suite ones needs.

        the "builder" would allow to create such themes completely from scratch with a complete blank slate ?

        sorry to be so specific, but i just want to make sure i rap my head around it all properly to understand and appreciate the complete concept.
        also can/will the themes ready made (like Spirit) together with what is built with "builder" be used with "new blog templates" ?

        kind regards.

        • Timothy Bowers
          • Chief Pigeon

          Hey Randall,

          We'll be releasing more themes just like Spirit. I'm sure you're going to love these! :slight_smile:

          You can use UpFront Builder to design your own, the builder will let them be independent in the same way as Spirit so you could build a theme on one site, then move it to your clients site (or wherever you wish) when ready, and build another, and another, and yup, you guessed it, another. :slight_smile:

          Take care.

        • Vladislav
          • Dead Eye Dev


          In addition to what @Timothy Bowers already explained, let me try to further clarify the basic concepts :slight_smile:

          Upfront platform is, strictly speaking, a parent theme in WordPress language, and that's where the core functionality is at. It isn't meant to be used on its own - you also need a child theme, such as Spirit, to be active. In turn, all the editing and other Upfront-y features of Spirit will be coming from Upfront core. However, all the changes you make will be Spirit-specific. I hope this makes sense :slight_smile:

          Basically, in the setup I described above, all the changes are per-site. This is a mode meant for custom tailoring a stock child theme to better fit with your particular site. The changes made in this way won't travel with the theme if you copy it over to a different install - they are stored locally, on your site.

          On the other hand, the Upfront Builder that @Victor mentioned is meant to be a tool one can use to produce child themes from scratch. The themes created in this manner will be self-contained child themes - meaning, these themes can then be distributed, copied over and juggled across sites like any other normal WordPress child theme, as Timothy said. Also, once they're deployed on their destination site and activated, these child themes can then be further customized and tailored to a particular site, just like any other Upfront child theme.

  • nicolas
    • The Bug Hunter

    it they right place for placing opinions and debugging staff?
    some problems that i found.I cannot highlight the text for deleting or editing.
    I can only write in the begin of the text box. I cannot add something at the end.
    When I delete text and save page the text is not delete. I check that with 3 browsers chrome (main for work) mozzila, opera.
    When finally it decide to work (after deactivating and reactivating theme) it is very slow on deleting the text. But if you touch the text box the deleted text come back.
    Finally that text was entered in the post. So I delete the content from the regular post content and done. All other works ok now.
    It is also missing a box to put elements together with line style and different background colors.

  • Dev4
    • Champion of Loops

    @Timothy Bowers Absolutely! With round one pre-beta, there was a great potential, but there was nowhere near this level of functionality and it had some speed issues. This beta took those concepts and built upon them. Sharp and clean.

    @Timothy Bowers

    Hats off to the development team on this one.

  • kennibc
    • The Crimson Coder

    I am not sure if this is just my site or an overall problem but when I use the Child theme the images are not quite right. See attached.

    This is an Amazing tool. I really love the intuitive, friendly editor.

    This theme is a game changer. I might never see the dashboard again!!!

    • Victor Ivanov
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      hi @kennibc,

      we have pixelated the images for 2 reasons:

      1. they are not royalty-free, so we can not re-distribute them
      2. we wanted to keep the overall theme size as small as possible, pixelating the images took the overall theme size to 1/3 of what it was before.

      and we figures, one of the 1st things users would want to do is to add in their own images :slight_smile:

  • Arom77
    • Froggy

    OMG I didn't see this message!
    That must be the greatest WPMUdev news of the year.
    I don't know yet if it's a game changer but this is sure a "WPMUdev changer" as there will obviously be a huge buzz about it.

    As Randall said a live interactive demo would be GREAT. I'm sure you'll work on it very soon :slight_smile:

  • Site Division
    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    So after playing around with what we've been given and loving it!

    What is the timeline for a stable more complete product that we can start using? I only ask as this wonderful theme framework has the potential to really change our business models from signup to site creation for the end-user. :slight_smile: (VERY USER FRIENDLY)

    Thanks for the hundreds or thousands of hours dedicated to this project.

    • Victor Ivanov
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      hi @Fla0,

      I'm glad you have enjoyed Upfront. We don't have a definitive date just yet, but we intend to make it early next year. Given that we have implemented 98% of the functionality we wanted ready for the release, we are now focusing about 90% of our efforts on making Upfront more stable, destroying as many bugs as we can find and doing significant work to improve the performance of the platform. The other 10% will be spread across various small improvements, UX/UI, consistency and re-factoring various bits and pieces.

      Though of course, we are also working on building more themes. We already have completed designs for >10 themes and want to launch with at least 5 :slight_smile:

  • johnnymestizo
    • HummingBird

    Just wanted to raise a few things:

    - upfront is awesome! It is really a massive jump ahead for WPMUDEV and its theme design offerings
    - white label, is it possible to completely rebrand upfront
    - it is semi-difficult to insert a Google font text box. You can change a theme wide H1 to be a Google font, but cannot select a Google font for a new text box? Also, because there are 100's of Google fonts you cannot quickly scroll through the fonts to see the look. I had to goto Google.com/fonts to quickly preview it.
    - will there be tight integration with blog templates and a way to quickly flick between upfront only themes via the front end? This integration should be available at release
    - can you offer these themes for $1.99 per month ? for example a theme marketplace
    - once there is a theme builder, can the theme designers sell their themes in the marketplace?



    • James Farmer
      • CEO (of WPMU DEV, honest)

      Thanks Johnny :slight_smile:

      I'll go inline:

      "- white label, is it possible to completely rebrand upfront"

      It will be, but definitely post 1.0.

      "- it is semi-difficult to insert a Google font text box. You can change a theme wide H1 to be a Google font, but cannot select a Google font for a new text box? Also, because there are 100's of Google fonts you cannot quickly scroll through the fonts to see the look. I had to goto Google.com/fonts to quickly preview it."

      We'll take a look.

      "- will there be tight integration with blog templates and a way to quickly flick between upfront only themes via the front end? This integration should be available at release"

      Yes, there will be, but right now we're focusing on making this work for regular WP users who are familiar with wp admin... this will likely come with white labelling and other multisite features (as you can imagine I'm extremely keen to get this onto edublogs!)

      "- can you offer these themes for $1.99 per month ? for example a theme marketplace"

      It shouldn't be hard to build this into pro sites.

      "- once there is a theme builder, can the theme designers sell their themes in the marketplace?"

      We'll definitely be looking for ways to allow users to share their themes... if there's demand for a marketplace then sure, we'll give it a crack (although, being 100% GPL, there's no reason people couldn't sell Upfront themes at them forest or similar).

  • Carlos
    • The Incredible Code Injector


    I am a new member and I was received with this amazing surprise.

    I just installed it and will be playing around with it for the next couple of weeks to see what ideas I can come up with.

    I was planning to buy http://www.pagelines.com/shop/club/dms/ to have that drag and drop functionality, but I think that will not be necessary anymore. (you should definitely check that one out if you haven’t already :wink: )

    From the top of my mind, I think about possible clients. What comes to my head is that maybe it could be a good idea that certain elements should not to be eligible for certain users roles and/or payment levels (possible integration with pro sites).

    That is all I have at the moment, but hope to come back soon with more feedback! Take care!

      • Victor Ivanov
        • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

        hi @Carlos Divas, and Welcome!

        In terms of creating various restrictions to different user roles, we have that in-mind and are going to be looking at that in the future. We have had that idea in the back of our heads for a while, but have not yet had the time to explore that :slight_smile:

        As for switching the themes, at the moment, here's what happens:

        • the layouts that you create in Upfront using the elements are tied to the theme that you are running

        • switching to a different theme will load the initial design and layouts of that theme to your site

        • while all of the 'dynamic content' such as your post content & dynamic page content will still be there, the elements that you had on the previous theme will go


        We have tried a few strategies and this is the one that seemed most reliable / error prone. When we tried to not tie user created elements / layouts to the theme, the results were unpredictable and switching to a new theme did not look good (like a frankenstein of 2 themes).

        We do intend to work on some sort of element / element content migration interface for that purpose, but for now it is not there yet.

        • Carlos
          • The Incredible Code Injector

          I understand.

          The project is fantastic! I have been playing around doing nothing haha, and just can't stop.

          I think I should get to work soon though haha.

          Have you considered to add the "Hide and Show" functionality to the editor, so that it can be a little more clean and less invasive?

          Thank you!

          • Victor Ivanov
            • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

            actually, we did have a 'collapse sidebar' option in one of the earlier iterations, but I think it got lost along the way somewhere. I am still very keen to re-introduce that option back. I am a huge fan of clean / minimal UIs, and that approach tends to only improve the usability of the platform, so I have no doubt we will bring that back :slight_smile:

            Happy to hear you're enjoying it, we'll be posting updated versions with bug fixes, and other improvements in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out :wink:

      • James Farmer
        • CEO (of WPMU DEV, honest)

        Just like another WP theme, all your pages and alike would still be there and you could switch back that UF theme.

        Obviously you would have to do a redesign in another UF theme (it'd be impossible to make changing themes seamless in terms of content) but that's true with pretty much every WP theme.

        Things like posts elements (just being rolled out) will, of course, show your latest posts etc.

  • Vinod Dalvi
    • WP Unicorn

    Hi there,

    We have released Beta version of upfront theme so that members can use it and provide us feedback about it so that we can improve it.

    We will release the stable version of this theme ASAP after sufficient testing with this Beta release but sorry we don't publish ETAs to prevent disappointment if a deadline is missed.

    You will find more information about the stable release of this theme in the following reply posted previously in this topic.


    Thank you for being a WPMU DEV member and have a fantastic day!

    Vinod Dalvi

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