What is a theme framework?
According to WordPress.org:
The term “Theme Framework” currently has two meanings:
- A “drop-in” code library that is used to facilitate development of a Theme
- A stand-alone base/starter Theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme, or else to be used as a Parent Theme template
Wrapping your head around exactly what that means can be kind of hard, so I made this animated infographic to help explain what WordPress theme frameworks are.
Hopefully this clears up any remaining ambiguity 🙂
So in summary:
- Child themes are used to make modifications to parent themes without directly modifying the parent theme’s code. This way, the updates are future-proof
- Frameworks like Genesis offer more functionality and layout options than most parent themes (more robust). However, they often outsource more design to child themes
- Drop-in frameworks add functionality and/or layout options to a parent theme. Like a child theme, the parent theme never modifies the drop-in framework so that the framework can be updated and the theme stays future-proof
- Using a framework of any kind is going to decrease your development time and open up access to a community.
- Most Drag-and-drop frameworks work the same as normal frameworks, but have a drag-and-drop system for building the layout and designing the parent.
Brian Krogsgard has a more detailed exposé on the use of the term “framework” you should check out if you want to get more in-depth with theme frameworks.