Tag: Foundation

WordPress Adventure: Final Update and Wrap-Up

required+themeslogoWell, my one-week adventure to discover the best methodology and workflow for WordPress site development to suit my tastes, skills and needs, has ended after a minuscule time overrun of 200%. Tonight, I made the last decision I had left when I picked required+ Foundation for my starter theme / mini-framework. I had the hardest time with this last step, in part because I wanted to get it right and in part because the damn ground kept shifting under my feet.

First, I eliminated Reverie because the docs looked pretty sparse compared to roots and required+, the other two candidates.

Then I discovered that roots had dropped support for Foundation, which I’d spent a lot of time selecting over Twitter Bootstrap as the core platform for my work, and gone with…you guessed it!…Bootstrap instead.

Then I very nearly made a classic mistake and took the word of some Web folks that required+ Foundation — which I really liked a lot — was stuck at Foundation 3 and had no plans to upgrade to Foundation 4. But before I eliminated it on that basis, I read their support forum and found they were already at work on a new release that will in fact be built on Foundation 4.

The required+ codebase is readable, well documented, support seems sharp and responsive and I like the way they’ve integrated Foundation. As added bonuses, it is fully responsive out the gate and ships with a nicely crafted and documented blank child theme. I’ve spent about two hours rummaging through source code and I’m comfortable with their coding style and the amount of commenting they include.

Meanwhile, I made two additional minor changes to my workflow methodology based partly on a video I watched of CSS guru Chris Coyier describing his personal methodology.

I had indicated earlier that I would wait to adopt LESS or SCSS for CSS development but Chris convinced me I should incorporate that in my workflow immediately. He’s a SASS guy and I’m probably going to be using LESS but the principles are the same.

And I decided that where I need JavaScript, I’m going to write my code in a pre-compiler and use CoffeeScript rather than raw JS.

keynote-logoThe one place I differ from Chris is in his use of Photoshop. I prefer to do my graphics work (such as it is; I’m not good at it at all!) using tools that are more comfortable. So I use some combination of Apple’s Keynote (a vastly under-appreciated tool), Graphic Converter, and my friend and business partner Chipp Walters’ ButtonGadget to create my simple graphics. I hire professionals when it gets beyond the basics.

So to summarize my final workflow decisions:

  • required+ Foundation as starter theme
  • always work on a child theme
  • Dreamweaver as primary code editor, layout tool, CSS creator/editor
  • Local development stack
  • LESS for CSS
  • CoffeeScript for JavaScript

So, end of road. Now I get to go back to work and start mastering this toolset.

I want to express again my great thanks to the folks on LinkedIn’s WordPress Experts group. A more knowledgeable, kind, courteous and helpful bunch of people it would be difficult to imagine finding.


Update #3 on My WordPress Adventure: Miscellaneous Findings

I eliminated Roots from consideration because it feels just a tad on the geeky side to me from a preliminary investigation.

You have to config the thing through a config.php file and you have to edit another PHP file to  setup custom navigation menus and post thumbnail sizes.

That’s two too many PHP files that must be touched for my taste.

I also eliminated Thematic for a similar reason. So I’m down to Bones and Foundation assuming I go the bare-bones starter route.

I wish there were some standards or conventions to define how themes are to be modified and extended. For example, some themes have all their contents in the library folder, others in the standard WP places. Some themes don’t even have a functions.php file but instead have two files: one called source-functions.php and one called custom-functions.php. Without study, it’s not possible as far as I can tell to determine which loads first and thus is overridden by the other, or precisely which one to use for custom functions we want to add. All of this may exist in WP Lore somewhere, but it’s certainly not easily accessible.

If I end up deciding to go with a fully-loaded theme, I have about decided to go with Catalyst. It  has a staggering array of things I can control via a property-sheet style interface and the notion of using a Dynamik as a Theme with dozens of “skins” creates a looser coupling between design and implementation. I’m somehow more comfortable with that notion.

At the moment, however, it seems likely I’ll settle on a minimalist theme over a decent lightweight framework or starter theme because the sense of lock-in I get from heavy-duty themes and tools like Catalyst is a bit too restrictive.

I have ruled out the major drag-and-drop theme approaches. None of them is quite what I’d like to see yet and, as with heavy-duty starter themes and frameworks, I’m just leery of the sense of closed-in restrictiveness that comes along as part of the gestalt.

At the moment, Elegant Builder is leading the pack for the drag-and-drop part of the story and as far as I can tell, I can implement it on just about any theme by anyone, which gives it another big plus.

I’m down to choosing a bare-bones theme to accompany EB. Bones is feeling a little too bare-bones. I feel sort of adrift on it. So I’m spending this evening and tomorrow morning running Foundation through its paces before making this choice. Elegant Themes’ Minimal is still very much in the running as well. I have a feeling this one’s going to come down to personal preference and taste rather than winning feature sets.

Then it will be Truth Time as I’ll have to make a decision between the two remaining combinations:

  • bare-bones starter theme or framework with EB for drag-and-drop layout of the easy stuff;
  • Catalyst (with the open remaining question of whether I can make EB work in Catalyst)