wpmudev UPFRONT multisite genesis framework themes etc

Thankyou for your help on this topic. I sincerely appreciate it.

I've been running a wp single install on genesis framework with child theme. SEO, speed, clean code, easy customization for non-developers, large range of child themes, low cost, fantastic support and community plus large market penetration which means high levels of easy integration with whizbang widgets; these are the benefits I've enjoyed.

I've upgraded my site to a wpmu install and have been running the same genesis framework, child theme and plugin array I was using before with good success.

Now I've purchased wpmudev.org membership and will be employing all its features for a hybrid web hosting website design business. My wpmu site will be hosting around 2000 sites by the end of the year so I need some scalability. I am providing a high level of customization ability and choices to every user which means there are more variables at play. (and we all know how friendly different technologies are when playing together :wink:

On the topic of frameworks and themes, which is sizeable and important portion of this endeavour, I need advice regarding how to go about the implementation of;

(a) configuring/reconfiguring my core site setup
(b) providing themes and/or frameworks to clients
(c) the technical benefits and consequences of allowing more/less choices

Question: Is your new UPFRONT theme a framework? or a parent theme?

We've been running UPFRONT through the gauntlet for the last couple of days and it's quite frankly mind-blowing for customization but currently there's very limited starter themes. A large amount of our users will not have the skills or inclination to develop their site at that level which is why we need good, fast, simple, easy, bug-free, "plug-n-play" themes that also cater for unique requirements.

We intend to maximise the use of the wpmudev plugins and legacy themes as they're 100% multisite compatible plus we want to keep as much of the overall tech properly built and tested specifically for wpmu. The users will also be extensively using the plugins so we're going to be dealing with everything from pro marketers, job and classified boards, membership sites, ecommerce sites, to bloggers, affiliate marketers, social and community builders right down to users who'll need to watch the training videos on 'whats the difference between a post and a page'.

Question: Are the wpmudev.org plugins built to work perfectly with the genesis framework and studiopress child themes etc? And do the wpmudev Legacy Themes work well with plugins from here there and everywhere?

--- I've researched a lot about this and found many reports of problems and compatibility errors but they were 2011/12/13 timeframe posts. From what I could find very recently everything was very positive, even right down to your own wpmudev blog recommending genesis as a top framework to use.

<ref> https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/choosing-a-wordpress-theme-framework-the-ultimate-guide/ </ref>

BUT this post was made before UPFRONT was released...

So Question: Where would UPFRONT fall in the ultimate guide to choosing a wordpress theme framework?

I've got a lot of things I'm trying to figure out and need to choose a direction so if you can provide me some good advice please that would significantly help me out.

So for (a) is there any point redeving my core site and its design by migrating it up to UPFRONT or shall I just leave it on the genesis framework and continue to use child themes and work with its good level of customization (but not incredible level of custom control UPFRONT can provide?)

For (b) I feel that UPFRONT will be too complex for a good portion of my users so can you advise regarding the extent of child themes wpmudev.org intends to release moving forward?

Regarding the wpmudev Legacy Themes I haven't for the life of me been able to download the Farms 133 Pack. There are broken links and the only working link delivered a zip file that was empty. Are these only installable using the wpmudev dashboard plugin or something?

And again for (b) In your opinion do you think it would be wise to deliver a range of different frameworks and themes that cater to different clients (considering the fact this increases costs, technical issues and support requests and higher requirements of broadened expertise for us)... or do you think buckling down with just one [ UPFRONT ] and drilling only into that would be sufficient and possibly even more beneficial?

Question: Does UPFRONT allow for building of themes and designs that can be templated and cloned and distributed and still be further easily customized by general users > in effect, instead of having a (possibly very expensive) repository of child themes that suit a massive range of users, does UPFRONT have the depth of functionality for us to essentially do this more so in house faster, cheaper, better etc?

Question: Is UPFRONT matured enough to be using for absolutely everything? Because obviously we all know Genesis is matured and quite prolific.

And for (c) can you advise on the key technical benefits that we could receive by simply only using UPFRONT and wpmudev.org plugins etc versus the benefits of using a variety of frameworks/Genesis, and child/premium themes and plugins etc?

I apologise for the length of this support request but you did say "the more detail the better" :wink: Really I just threw every question I had about UPFRONT in here because I'm wondering which strategic direction to blaze a trail down.

I would really appreciate some decent guidance from you guys as I recognize you're the leaders in the wpmu arena and your technical knowledge and therefor intuitive foresight is going to be far superior to mine on this particular topic.

Plus I'm interested to see the quality of support you guys deliver.

Thankyou for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Warmest Regards;
Sincerely,
Alex

P.S. I'm relying on you

  • Tyler Postle

    Hey Alex,

    Hope you're doing well today! Welcome to the WPMU DEV Community :slight_smile:

    I'm going to do my best to address each of your questions individually here.

    Question: Is your new UPFRONT theme a framework? or a parent theme?

    In my understanding, the terms theme framework and parent theme are pretty interchangeable when it comes to WordPress. Upfront is a parent theme; however, I think framework describes it better as we will have many many more themes being released that will all rely on Upfront for the core functionality.

    Question: Are the wpmudev.org plugins built to work perfectly with the genesis framework and studiopress child themes etc? And do the wpmudev Legacy Themes work well with plugins from here there and everywhere?

    Our plugins are built to work perfectly with WordPress standards. With that said, not all themes are developed according to WordPress standards, which is when you run into theme conflicts. As you mention, our plugins work well with the Genesis framework and if you do run into conflicts then more often than not we will be more than happy to provide a fix for you to make sure it works properly :slight_smile:

    Our legacy themes work great with our plugins and the majority of plugins out there - I say majority because there will always be plugins that conflict with themes and vice versa.

    With that said, our legacy themes are just on a maintenace basis now. No more new features will be added to them. Focus is 100% on Upfront as far as WPMU DEV themes go :slight_smile:

    So Question: Where would UPFRONT fall in the ultimate guide to choosing a wordpress theme framework?

    At the top of course! :slight_smile: okay maybe a bit of bias there; however, that is fully where we expect it to go. One thing to keep in mind here is that 0.1+ up to 1.0 is still early development. It's out of beta and we've squashed a countless... countless! Number of bugs during months and months of testing; however, now that it's out in the wild there will inevitably be a bunch of improvements to be made. User feedback will be crucial.

    (a) is there any point redeving my core site and its design by migrating it up to UPFRONT or shall I just leave it on the genesis framework and continue to use child themes and work with its good level of customization (but not incredible level of custom control UPFRONT can provide?)

    I would setup a sandbox version of your site first and make sure Upfront works well with your current setup. Obviously switching to Upfront and getting the benefits of the Upfront editor would be fantastic, but I wouldn't want you to switch a live site to Upfront and find out that there is some compatibility work to be done with one of your plugins. During testing we aren't able to test it with every plugin out there, which is where user feedback will be a massive help so we can tweak and solve any compatibility issues :slight_smile:

    (b) I feel that UPFRONT will be too complex for a good portion of my users so can you advise regarding the extent of child themes wpmudev.org intends to release moving forward?

    Basically every theme we release from now until probably the end of time, will be an Upfront theme :slight_smile: at least that is the plan and we have I believe 3 or 4 that are well into their development right now. We know 3 child themes isn't much, a major focus right now is getting more child themes out for all our members.

    Regarding the wpmudev Legacy Themes I haven't for the life of me been able to download the Farms 133 Pack. There are broken links and the only working link delivered a zip file that was empty. Are these only installable using the wpmudev dashboard plugin or something?

    Temporary error, sorry about that! You shouldn't have any problem downloading it now :slight_smile: let us know if you do.

    (b) In your opinion do you think it would be wise to deliver a range of different frameworks and themes that cater to different clients (considering the fact this increases costs, technical issues and support requests and higher requirements of broadened expertise for us)... or do you think buckling down with just one [ UPFRONT ] and drilling only into that would be sufficient and possibly even more beneficial?

    Personally, I would go with 1 framework. Building your network around multiple frameworks/parent themes would no doubt cause problems down the road. ie. plugin/theme conflicts. With 1 framework you are able to standardise everything a lot easier :slight_smile: you can make sure every plugin you add works with that 1 framework and then you're good to go.

    Question: Does UPFRONT allow for building of themes and designs that can be templated and cloned and distributed and still be further easily customized by general users > in effect, instead of having a (possibly very expensive) repository of child themes that suit a massive range of users, does UPFRONT have the depth of functionality for us to essentially do this more so in house faster, cheaper, better etc?

    We are working on an Upfront theme builder, that will allow users to create and export their own child themes. This is still in early development so it won't be released for awhile yet; however, it will be awesome and I can't wait to see all the designs members come up with :slight_smile:

    Keep in mind, any Upfront child theme you can remove all the regions and start from scratch if you want. They're completely customizable. I expect members to create some amazing variations of the child themes - look forward to seeing those!

    Question: Is UPFRONT matured enough to be using for absolutely everything? Because obviously we all know Genesis is matured and quite prolific.

    Upfront was only officially released yesterday, so to say it is mature wouldn't be right - as mentioned above, inevitably there will be a lot of improvements to be made. There are a lot of other great frameworks out there that have been around for awhile, but it won't be long before we are in their review mirror and moving into the passing lane :wink:

    And for (c) can you advise on the key technical benefits that we could receive by simply only using UPFRONT and wpmudev.org plugins etc versus the benefits of using a variety of frameworks/Genesis, and child/premium themes and plugins etc?

    We will have complete integration between our plugins and Upfront moving forward. For example, MarketPress 3.0 is coming soon and there is an Upfront theme being developed now specifically for it to complement the functionality of both products. Using a third party framework like Genesis, you would miss out on that bonus functionality. As mentioned before, using just 1 framework on your network will be beneficial from a technical standpoint so you don't run into issues with different themes.

    I know up above you mentioned that you think your clients will have difficulty using Upfront; we do plan on having tutorial videos that I think will significantly reduce the learning curve :slight_smile:

    Okay, I hope I addressed everything here Alex and I expect there will be some follow up questions :p so let us know if you do have any further questions - more than happy to assist further.

    All the best,
    Tyler

  • alex

    Thanks Clark. Things are going good. I'm still primarily running Genesis and using Upfront in a Dev environment as advised. I'm envisioning a phased rollover where I replace Genesis with Upfront as the primary framework but leave Genesis and it's child themes accessible. Then later on have Genesis a request-only activation. As Upfront grows and matures, with it's new child themes coming out I can see it taking over - users want "customize-ability" which Upfront provides, but I think the extent of the training videos for it will determine how useful it will be to less technical users.

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