One of the reasons why we are able to produce so many themes is that we’ve managed to streamline and optimize our development process for the maximum productivity. At the core of that optimization lies our ThemeREX framework, the foundation upon which all of our themes are developed.
If it weren’t for the framework, we would be forced to code every feature from scratch, or at least copy pieces of code from project to project over and over again, which would make things rather exhausting. Instead, we have an all-in-one set of tools that can be used for various kinds of themes we have in mind.
The nature of ThemeREX Framework is that it’s continuously changing and adapting to meet requirements of new themes, make them more feature-rich and flexible. Also, there has been another crucial factor that influenced changes to the framework, which is Envato policy. We were obliged to meet constantly changing guidelines so that our themes could be approved by the Envato review team.
In this infographics, we’ve decided to show you the evolution of ThemeREX Framework from its very beginning stage to where it has to lead us today. You can see when it all started, how many themes were built, and what major changes were made along the way.
Come aboard with us to see the journey of ThemeREX Framework from the very beginning!
Now that you have seen an overview of how our framework evolved over time, let’s dive deeper and examine the changes that were made along the way, the reasons why we needed to do them, and of course provide some examples.
ThemeREX 1 — When It All Started
In the beginning, there were… Puzzles. It is not the first theme built on top of ThemeREX 1, but the one that manages to capture that time period in all its nostalgic glory.
Back then, designs were less pretty, and themes were known for their obtrusive animations that somehow managed to create WOW effect and impress visitors.
However, it was that period when the foundations had been laid down and we were able to implement features that would later be used heavily in all our themes. This includes some basic theme options, compatibility with popular plugins, translation optimized code, social media integration, and many other components.
In the case of Puzzles, we’ve adapted the mechanism of color scheme selection, included post rating system, and several blog layouts. Not bad for 2013!
Theme Options at Their Prime with ThemeREX 2
Just as 60ies are considered the prime of rock ‘n’ roll music, so is 2014 was a peak of popularity of theme options. It was back then when we implemented a super useful and innovative at the time inheritance system that enabled certain theme components to override global values. For example, you could use global settings to set up sidebar position for all posts or override that option and select sidebar for every post individually.
However, not only theme options were on the rise, page builders were gaining a lot of traction too! Visual Composer was the most prominent among them, and we decided to use it in our development. Starting from ThemeREX 2, all our themes were bundled with Visual Composer and included a set of custom shortcodes that enhanced the default functionality.
One of the best examples that can illustrate the second phase of the framework is Education Center.
Among other features, this theme is using a custom post type for courses and is also fully integrated with LearnDash, a popular LMS plugin for WordPress.
ThemeREX 3 — Starting All Over Again
The theme options period was too good to be true, and as with all good things in life, there had to be an end to it. The end came in 2016, in the form of new Envato review team guidelines. That’s when the big reconstruction of our framework took place.
The reconstruction involved some drastic changes, such as removing all theme options into a standalone plugin (ThemeREX Addons), and using WordPress Customizer as the main interface for theme customization. While the first modification was understandable, the latter was good only in theory.
The reason being, WordPress Customizer was useful for minor design tweaks and was not optimized for a large number of options. The things were getting even more complicated when dealing with settings of individual posts and pages. Customizer was created for global website adjustments and was not intended for individual post settings.
Although we moved a large chunk of theme options into the Customizer, we decided to keep post- and page-specific options in their initial place. We also kept the original Theme Options panel in case some of our users prefer the old interface.
On the good side of things, however, with such a global reconstruction, we managed to implement a modular design structure to our framework, with a clear division into components that helps us keep things separate from one another.
Here’s Street Style, an example of a theme built on top of ThemeREX 3:
The theme features a variety of blogging widgets and shortcodes, a custom lookbook post format, and is also among our first templates that use Customizer for personalizing blog pages. Considering the major changes we had to undergo, we’re quite happy with the result.
New Beginnings with Gutenberg
Now the WordPress community is preparing for a huge update that would completely reorganize the WordPress publishing experience. The codename of the project is Gutenberg, and it’s still unclear whether it be a positive or negative impact on the platform.
One thing we know for sure is that we want to prepare for the change as best as we possibly can, and that means adapting our framework.
We’ve already included the basic compatibility of ThemeREX Framework with Gutenberg, which means you can switch easily between Gutenberg and classic editor without any conflicts, and most importantly, Gutenberg now recognizes our theme styles, so you can have the desired WYSIWYG experience when editing content in Gutenberg.
What is planned for the future and is already in the development stage is rebuilding our main set of shortcodes and turning them into Gutenberg blocks. That would give freedom to our users to choose between a page builder and the Gutenberg editor and perhaps go for the latter.
That was an overview of the changes to our framework so far. Stay tuned for next updates and see what features will be implemented in the future!