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Being that most of us are working against multiple deadlines at one time, we need to be able to save ourselves as much time and headache as possible, and help prevent ourselves from unnecessarily re-inventing the wheel. That is why frameworks are such a time and life saver in the development arena. (Actually, frameworks are simple time savers regardless of whether or not you are facing a deadline.)

These standard code containing frames come with the basic ‘shelves’ that you need for your project, you just have to now fill these ‘shelves’ however you see fit…and possibly tweak some of their settings.

Whether you use your own or one of the pre-made frameworks listed below, you will need something to prevent you from having to write the same basic code project after project. It would be like writing sheet music and having to draw the lines on the paper yourself before you started piling on the notes.

So that is where frameworks come in the picture. They cut out the perpetual repetitiveness of placing all the code that accompanies your web based WordPress projects.

All of the themes included here are completely free to use for both personal and commercial projects. For a more in depth look at what WordPress Frameworks are, see WordPress Theme Frameworks Explained.

Child Themes

One of the benefits of using frameworks is that they allow for the creation of child themes.

WordPress child themes inherit the functionality of the parent framework of your choice. They generally only contain two files, a style.css file and a functions.php file along with any image folders, script folders and include folders necessary for the child theme.

To create a child theme simply upload the parent framework to wp-content/themes then create your css file beginning with the following code. Make sure that the “Framework Name” is the same as the name of the folder of the parent framework.

/*
Theme Name: Name
Theme URI: http://themesite.com
Description: A description of your theme goes here
Author: Author Name
Author URI: http://authorsite.com/
Template: Framework Name
Version: 1.0
*/

Tutorials and Links

Thematic

Thematic is a free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework featuring 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for popular plugins, and a whole community behind it. It’s perfect for beginner bloggers and WordPress development professionals.

thematic

For a much more bells and whistles kind of package for your framework needs, Thematic is an awesome, fully loaded WP framework for a wide range of users. Naturally, with all the extra features and included goodies, Thematic comes with a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you will find almost all your framework needs right at your fingertips. Not to mention the resourceful community that has sprung up around this framework ready to help out when and where they can, provides some peace of mind.

Thematic Features

  • Fully Search-Engine Optimized
  • Includes a sample WordPress Child Theme for rapid development
  • Ready for WordPress plugins like Subscribe to Comments, WP-PageNavi, and Comment-license
  • Fully compatible with All-In-One SEO and Platinum SEO plugins
  • Multiple, easy to implement, bulletproof layout options for 2, or 3 column designs
  • Modular CSS with pre-packaged resets and basic typography
  • Dynamic post and body classes make it a hyper-canvas for CSS artists
  • Editable footer text—remove the theme credit without harming the theme
  • Options for multi-author blogs

Breakdown

Ease of Use: 2/5
GPL Licensed: yes
Power of Framework: 4/5
Number of Wiget-Ready Areas: 13
Documentation: 5/5

Tutorials and Links

Hybrid

Hybrid is a user-friendly, search-engine optimized theme framework, featuring 18 custom page templates and 9 widget-ready areas, allowing you to create any type of site you want.

hybrid

Speaking of frameworks that have an awesome community behind it, Hybrid is one such framework where you can find extremely in depth tutorials and documentation to assist you all from the community supporting it. Want bells and whistles, too? Well, Hybrid has those as well. Along with a flexibility to be adapted to whatever type site you are looking to put together. Hybrid is another high ranker among framework users.

Hybrid Features

  • Search-Engine Optimized
  • Print CSS File Included
  • 14 custom page templates
  • Advanced action and filter hooks
  • Basic Theme and Footer Settings
  • 20+ Language Packs

Breakdown

Ease of Use: 2/5
GPL Licensed: yes
Power of Framework: 5/5
Number of Wiget-Ready Areas: 9
Documentation: 5/5

Tutorials and Links

WP Framework

WP Framework was created to serve as the starting point in WordPress theme development.

It accomplishes this by providing you with commonly used functions and features that modern WordPress themes should have. So when you start a brand new WordPress project, using WP Framework you’ll already have the basic functionality set so you don’t have to worry about mundane tasks like creating the loop, or recreating all the standard template files.

wpframework

Let us ditch the learning curve for just a moment while we discuss the next WordPress framework, WP Framework. Catchy title, no? Anyway, WP Framework takes us back to basics so that you can get started without all the elements that often complicate the other frameworks. Even though these complications are often related to the customization factor of your project.

WP Framework Features

  • Search Engine Optimized
  • Modular CSS includes ( reset.css, base.css, screen.css )
  • Favicon & iPhone webclip placeholder images
  • Basic print.css Stylesheet ready for printing web documents
  • jQuery enabled + screen.js (an empty .js file pre-loaded and ready)
  • 3 sample layouts

Breakdown

Ease of Use: 4/5
GPL Licensed: yes
Power of Framework: 3/5
Number of Wiget-Ready Areas: 1
Documentation: 4/5

Tutorials and Links

Whiteboard

Whiteboard is a very basic framework of WordPress. It is designed to speed up the process of designing and coding a WordPress theme by eliminating the time spent on WordPress’ back-end PHP that is used in every theme.

Whiteboard is clean, noted, and compact (only 76KB in size – unzipped!). It includes all the standard PHP tags and PHP files needed for a WordPress theme – plus a few extras.

whiteboard

Once again, for the minimalist developer who likes to start with little more than the basics to build on, Whiteboard may just be the framework you are looking for. Priding itself on its relative lightweight and usability this framework focuses on providing the basic WP PHP code for the back end without the excess that tends to gum up the works and slow things down for the user.

Whiteboard only includes the basic back-end PHP, a CSS reset and a list of all of the DIVs included. One of the most basic frameworks available.

Whiteboard Features

  • Categories Page Template
  • Archives Page Template
  • Pagination Posts
  • Socialization Links
  • A list of all the included divs

Breakdown

Ease of Use: 5/5
GPL Licensed: no (licensed under Creative Commons BSD)
Power of Framework: 2/5
Number of Wiget-Ready Areas: 1
Documentation: 1/5

Tutorials and Links

Sandbox

Sandbox is a powerful tool available for WordPress theme designers and developers. The Sandbox can be easily designed just with CSS, so beginners will feel comfortable not bothering with PHP.

Experienced developers and designers can accomplish almost anything with minimal work, thanks to the rich, semantic markup and profusion of classes dynamically generated by the Sandbox.

sandbox

The next framework I wanted to take a look at is Sandbox. This framework has strong appeal to two different classes of user. Those profficient developers who can comfortably manipulate the PHP, and therefore, they can easily tweak this framework to make it fit their needs. And those beginners who would rather just focus on the CSS end of the framework, and leave the PHP as written. Either way, this dynamic framework is an awesome starting point.

Sandbox Features

  • Full Widgets compatibility
  • Valid XHTML 1.0 (Transitional)
  • The basis for your own GNU GPL-licensed theme
  • You can totally customize it with CSS alone—no need to bother with other files.

Breakdown

Ease of Use: 3/5
GPL Licensed: yes
Power of Framework: 4/5
Number of Wiget-Ready Areas: 2
Documentation: 4/5

Tutorials and Links

Buffet

Buffet is a theme framework designed not only for the theme developers who will be using the theme actions and filters to create the child themes, but also for the end users who would be able to add and remove what they want.

Another key feature of this framework is the usage of extensions. Theme developers can group a set of action and filter functions into a class and register it as a theme extension. With it, users of the child theme itself can enable/disable that extension easily whenever they want via the options panel.

buffet

Buffet is another powerful framework tool focused more for theme developers, and also loaded with another steep learning curve. Loaded with features, this flexible framework offers developers so many options when constructing their themes that not only simplifies things for the developer, but allows for easy customization by the end user as well. Buffet’s strength and the amount of modifaction it allows by both parties involved, make the learning curve that it comes with worth the tackle, especially if you are all about developing themes.

Buffet Features

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • jQuery powered comments form, SuperSleight for IE6, Superfish menus and jBreadcrumbs included
  • Packaged with CSS Frameworks – comes with 960gs and Blueprint CSS
  • Theme Options – organized in tabs, with features such as custom RSS feed links and custom footer messages
  • Theme Extensions – allow end-users to enable/disable features using the extensions feature

Breakdown

Ease of Use: 2/5
GPL Licensed: yes
Power of Framework: 5/5
Number of Wiget-Ready Areas: 4
Documentation: 4/5

Tutorials and Links

That is all from this end…

That is pretty much all I had to say on the subject, but that does not mean there isn’t more to say. So leave your thoughts in the comment section to share your two cents. Ever used one of the frameworks mentioned above? What did you think of it?

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