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Themeframe -- An Objective Summary


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From the author of Atahualpa, the #1 most
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  #1  
Old May 21, 2012, 01:59 PM
Dave Pitman
 
430 posts · Nov 2010
Pacific Northwest
Full Disclosure: I am just a general user of the application, and have no connection with "the company". I was an early adopter, and have a lifetime license. I have never used Atahualpa.

The Purpose of this Post: In my opinion, there is a general lack of information available to those interested in Themeframe. I don't think that this lack of information is "on purpose" or "malicious"; it is just lacking. If anything about this post is thought to be untrue, or objectionable, please let me know, as that is not my intent.

What is it: Themeframe is an application designed to allow folks that are not too comfortable with html, css, and php to visually build a WordPress theme.

Themeframe is a php based application. And, php is a server-based scripting language. So, what that means is that Themeframe (TF) lives on a server (more about this in a second) and the user uses TF with a browser.

The server I mention is not the remote server of your web hosting company, although some users do use it that way. TF is meant to be run on a "local server" running on your pc or mac. There are a few local server "packages" that are available for free online. You can search for "Xampp", "Mamp" "Wamp" "Easy php", "Ampps" for more information about these packages. What they all have in common, is that you install a web server on your local machine which is able to run php scripting, which is required to use TF. Most TF users have installed one or more of these packages without too many problems; But others have had some issues of one kind or another.

I would note here that installing a local server package is a great tool for testing your WordPress site locally, and you can do that (if you have not already) right now, without TF. The added benefit if you are considering TF, is that you will already have this component in place.

Also note that earlier in the development of TF, it was stated that the goal would be to rewrite the code of TF in a programming language that would allow it to run as a "typical" computer application without the additional requirement of the local server. But, this has not happened, and I would not expect it to any time soon.

How Does it Work?: How TF works is fairly straight forward. In the workspace, you see a rendered version of a webpage, and each of the elements in the page are able to be selected, which opens an editor where you can change the style of the element's css selector. The page in the workspace is updated with your changes so you can see the result. When you're all done editing, you generate/publish the theme. You then use it like any other WordPress theme.

Does it Work In short, Yes. Lots of nice themes have been built using Themeframe. After becoming comfortable (ok, how soon one becomes "comfortable" is somewhat subjective) with the application, users can knock out custom themes in fairly short order. If you have even a little html and css knowledge, and can use a browser's web development utility, e.g. Firebug, then the process will be even more productive.

Are there Problems?: The short answer here is also Yes.

First, as stated, TF is reliant on the local server package. If you run into problems setting it up, you will no doubt be frustrated.

Next, because TF uses a browser as an interface, it is also reliant on yet another piece of software. When a new version of a browser is released, it is possible that TF will not work with it. This is rare, but it has happened.

Both of these issues will be possible until TF is ported away from being php based.

As the TF application tries to do more and more, with layouts and responsive grids, sometimes php is not up to the task. And so the user must manually make changes relating to updating to newer versions, etc. Not that you cannot be successful, just that there are things that generally you don't expect to have to do with an application.

TF lacks "polish". Once again, I think this is mostly related to it's roots in php. The developer has a bunch of variables that he is trying to make play nice together, and sometimes there are "wrinkles".

Will TF be worth the money to you? There is no way for me to answer this one. If you are someone that is not happy with using a prebuilt theme, and are willing to accept that TF is not yet a typical computer application, then it could be your tool.

If you have tried a program like Artisteer, for example, don't expect TF to be on the same level as far as an application look and feel. You will have more issues with TF.

But, on the other hand, you will have more control over the design of your theme than a program like Artisteer affords. (Yes, I own and have used Artisteer)

In conclusion I think it is too bad that the powers here have decided that you must purchase TF in order to read the Themeframe Members section of the fourm. Other than distributing the software, (which could be handled another way) I don't see why it would not be beneficial for perspective purchasers to both see the successful results of TF as well as it's shortfalls before laying down the money. There is nothing secret on there that I can tell.

While this is just meant as a summary, if you are a TF user, and want to add something, have at it.

I hope that this will shine a little more light on TF for those in the dark about it.

Cheers,
__________________
Dave Pitman www.pitmandesign.com

Last edited by Dave Pitman; May 21, 2012 at 02:46 PM.
  #2  
Old May 21, 2012, 05:27 PM
Flynn's Avatar
Flynn
 
3,765 posts · Oct 2008
Munich, Germany
Thanks, Dave, for your review


Regarding Member Section of the forum: This is not uncommon, quite a few WordPress theme shops have this. ThemeFrame is not the same as these Theme Clubs or Theme Frameworks but the audience more or else is. The purpose is not to hide something. I might put some of it into the public but there will always be a members-only section, for various reasons (hiding is not one of them). Hiding only what moderators & me say could be an option. I've seen that on another forum.

The requirement of a local web server is probably annoying for end users who just want to create one or a few themes. For a web developer or designer it is probably not, at least not too much. As noted by you, a local web server is useful for testing all kinds of web things: WordPress or other CMS, Forum, WIKI or E-Commerce scripts, Apache & PHP versions & settings. That being said, something needs and will to be done about this because not everyone is comfortable with setting up yet another program.

As for having to do manual edits. I think you don't have to do manual edits, and if you have to, then you'd have to do with other tools or frameworks, too.

I agree that TF can be more polished, and it will be, but I think you can get quite far without manual edits. I am not sure if there is something else with the depth of non-manual CSS control. Theme Options are manual edits at this point. As far as I can tell manual edits are mentioned quite frequently on the forum of the tool you mentioned.

That being said I am not certainly not denying that ThemeFrame can be improved and it will be.
  #3  
Old May 22, 2012, 05:47 PM
Dave Pitman
 
430 posts · Nov 2010
Pacific Northwest
Flynn, thank you for your comments.

Again, the point of my post is simply to give an honest evaluation of Themeframe from one user's perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flynn
Regarding Member Section of the forum: This is not uncommon, quite a few WordPress theme shops have this. ThemeFrame is not the same as these Theme Clubs or Theme Frameworks but the audience more or else is. The purpose is not to hide something. I might put some of it into the public but there will always be a members-only section, for various reasons (hiding is not one of them). Hiding only what moderators & me say could be an option. I've seen that on another forum.
I respectfully disagree with this analogy.

I understand that the other "member" sections of BFA are restricted because Atahalupa is distributed for free and so support, at a higher level costs something. Since that support is provided via a forum, then it must only be visible to those that have paid for the right to, not only get answers, but also view answers that others have received. This is common to other theme mills, but not to application vendors.

An application like TF is different. You must pay for the application, not for the support. So, if folks that do not have the application are able to see the support Q and A of those that have purchased the software, they receive no benefit other than gaining a better understanding about the application they may be considering. If they do purchase, they have fewer surprises when starting up for the first time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flynn
The requirement of a local web server is probably annoying for end users who just want to create one or a few themes. For a web developer or designer it is probably not, at least not too much.
I think that if the hurdle of having to depend upon running TF within a server environment were removed, TF success would be greater. I have no way to quantify this, but I think so. Not to mention the benefit for you to be able to better secure licensing, being able to distribute demo/expiring versions, etc.

The market for TF is "front-end" web designers and individual site owners. If their skill set were more "middle-end" to back-end", then they wouldn't need what TF offers. You know it is much quicker to edit html and css (and php functions for that matter) with a comfortable code editor than with a visual editor like TF, if you know how! If you don't have the skills, then what TF does is magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flynn
ThemeFrame can be improved and it will be.
Of this, I have no doubt. TF is a unique application allowing folks with no coding skills to take a lot of control over how their WordPress sites look without being constrained to a ridged framework.

While I have learned to mostly hand code now, I have enjoyed using the software, and have enjoyed helping others find solutions. I look forward to seeing TF grow.

Sorry for the lengthy commentary. Hopefully it is helpful to someone.
__________________
Dave Pitman www.pitmandesign.com
  #4  
Old Aug 11, 2012, 10:50 PM
MacGyvr
 
1 posts · Oct 2011
Charlotte, NC
Send a message via Skype™ to MacGyvr
I agree that the forums should be open and available to everyone. I have been on the fence for months about ThemeFrame. I am ready, right now to purchase and start working on a site that I have to redesign, BUT how can I make an informed purchase based on A) ANCIENT videos showing the product, B) Version numbering that makes absolutely no sense (is is a beta or an RC?...when is release coming?, C) No access to forums where I can see problems and successes that other users are having.

$60 may not seem like much to many of you, but I don't generally just lay 3 20s on the sidewalk and walk away from them for no reason.
  #5  
Old Aug 12, 2012, 06:06 PM
Jam's Avatar
Jam
 
1,072 posts · Mar 2011
Perth, Western Australia
Dave, great post. More information is needed for new and existing TF users.
As an early TF adopter (pre annual licences) I am extremely happy with TF1.02.

MacGyvr (and other newbies), I am confident your $60 is well spent just for a copy of TF1.02.

I (personally) would not recommend TOUCHING TF1.2 unless you are significantly comfortable with php and coding generally, then yes, you will get more function possibly, but for the extra work involved, I wouldnt bother, not a chance.

TF1.02 (or I refer to it as TF102 sometimes) - you CAN pop out themes very quickly. From a complete basic standard theme, you can make global text, links, padding, margins, borders, backgrounds, sidebars etc changes within minutes, couple hours for really tweaking etc, but comfortably within a few hours. It really is brilliant in my opinion.

Fully responsive themes is now the "thing". TF102 wont do them out of the box, but it has been done very successfully (by Dave I think) with TF102. Again, more coding knowledge and you can do more with it. That being said, TF102 themes generally do look damn fine on most devices. They may not fit to screen, but it depends on what your objectives are. If you must have a fully responsive theme, then there are issues that you will have to work through, no doubt. We hope fully responsive will be easier to achieve with later TF's, but it's not quite there yet.

I'd like to see (personally) more development and time go into TF than Atahualpa, but thats totally up to Flynn, and I respect that. I gave up on ATA the day I bought TF and would never go back because you can pop out any variation to ATA you want to create, with TF102 in my opinion.

Happy TF1.02 user
__________________
May the learning curve never plateau... Thanks Larry for teaching me heaps.
My Themeframe built sites
  #6  
Old Dec 23, 2012, 07:59 PM
Splinty's Avatar
Splinty
 
14 posts · Dec 2012
Russia, Kurgan
Here You are a December, we have about -35 C degrees here But that spring's article is still useful . Thank You, Dave. It's great to see, that TF forms a positive community. The only thing of article is not so right from my modest opinion.

>Themeframe is an application designed to allow folks that are not too comfortable with html, css, and php to visually build a >WordPress theme.
>Of this, I have no doubt. TF is a unique application allowing folks with no coding skills to take a lot of control over how their >WordPress sites look without being constrained to a ridged framework.

Look at my example, please. I've just started a project with few initial resources and need to minimize a web site's coding efforts. Moreover, the matter is that web sites is important but just additional (entry) part of project's services. In the same time i need really good looking quite simple multiply sites almost for each my potential far-from-IT clients. And Yes, WP is not so bad solution of my task, i think. But is still poor one without TF!
Moreover I'd prefer to hire a good guys, who have a talent to create clear an light Atahualpa-like themes. TF successed again, because of giving a way of WP theme exchanging. I'd prefer to get a TF specific file to slightly correct it from time to time in the future.

Merry Christmas, guys!

Last edited by Splinty; Dec 23, 2012 at 08:05 PM.
  #7  
Old Feb 16, 2013, 04:17 PM
marty47
 
2 posts · Feb 2012
I came across this software "Theme-frame" when I started Googling for "wordpress layout builder" and also "Drag and Drop layouts for WordPress", and I came across "http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/wordpress/theme-builders/" and while looking a different products mentioned, I say Theme-frame from the author of "ATAHUALPA #1", I clicked on this and came here. I am registered user for ATAHUALPA theme and got in to the forum. I watched the three Screen Casts, I was not very clear about, if I can accomplishing what I want to with this Theme Frame. I started digging in and Found Dave Pitman's post and Splinty's this and other posts. and the replies by the Gold team members.Most of my things are clear.

I am currently using iThemes Builder version 4 which is responsive. It creates beautiful layouts designs. Lot of control. It has an excellent Style-manager. I want more control on the widgets bars than I get from the style manager. My biggest problem is expanding height of the widgets along with the content. That changes the layout. I will still use Builder, but for some of the sites I need absolute control. That is why I am looking for layout creators. There are two more I found that may do what Theme-Frame does, but they are on the live theme and after looking at this product, I want to dig deeper and so the following questions.


1) I am OK with the pricing. I would rather pay an yearly fee, than get it for life time (not my life time LOL) of the product (which may be only 6 months - Very loud LOL). Every one has to make a decent living and that needs some dough (Currency or Barter).

2) It looks like you can take out the design (i.e Theme1.zip file and load in to server, but can not put it (Theme1.zip) back in to (Theme-Frame) to modify the design.

??
1) So when ever I need a modification, I need to add the new design modifications to the theme file which is stored in the Theme-Frame, and then export that to Theme2.zip and install that on WordPress and activate it. Is this correct. Will this overwrite the theme-files. what are the precautions you need to take.

2) When you export Theme2.zip, what are the precautions I need to take, what is preserved and what is overwritten.

3) When I am doing an initial development, can I add the content, graphics files and videos(pages, posts, plugins) while am still in the Theme-Frame Program, to reduce the back-and-fourth with design and content adjustments.

4) (this may be a redundant?) Can I do the complete development of the site on my local server and then back-it up with Back-Up-Buddy or WP_Twin and restore it on my hosting account.

5) I am assuming that one purchase of $60 will give me license for one full year of updates and life time of the last update I have during that year. It is very clear. If I need two more licenses (total three) will there be a break, just have to ask.

6) What is the current version and will this do the Responsive (coded as % of width). Do you follow 960 grid guidelines (when not responsive).

7) Do you have a users manual that I can access prior to purchase to make sure that there are no buyers remorse later. If I saw a 30 or 60 day return policy, I would have bought it and tried it and kept it if I liked it.

8) I went back and saw the three screen casts (video tutorials), in the 10 min video, what caught my eye is to be able to export a single file. Does it mean, I can develop a new layout and name it different from the other layouts and export only that file and it will play with other layouts OK, if this is true, then my development time will be cut down a whole lot more. Hope that is so.

9) Would appreciate your lengthy answers. Thank you. I have a feeling I am going to like this program, so help me buy it. Thank you


Last edited by marty47; Feb 16, 2013 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Added one more question. thank you guys
  #8  
Old Feb 16, 2013, 08:13 PM
Jam's Avatar
Jam
 
1,072 posts · Mar 2011
Perth, Western Australia
Firstly, one question at a time, more chance you will get answers. I will try and answer as many as I can (quickly) because I want to do some work today too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
2) It looks like you can take out the design (i.e Theme1.zip file and load in to server, but can not put it (Theme1.zip) back in to (Theme-Frame) to modify the design.
Correct, but you still have Theme1 in Themeframe to modify/develop further.


Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
1) So when ever I need a modification, I need to add the new design modifications to the theme file which is stored in the Theme-Frame, and then export that to Theme2.zip and install that on WordPress and activate it. Is this correct. Will this overwrite the theme-files. what are the precautions you need to take.
Thats one way of doing it. I always FTP updated theme to WP site direct (faster than zip/load/activate). Yes it overwrites the current theme, but it's always better. If you wanted to keep original theme at the WP site, you just FTP to Theme1x folder, so then you will have both versions of your theme to choose from. But I dont bother, you will always have a point in History of the previous theme if you really want to go backwards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
2) When you export Theme2.zip, what are the precautions I need to take, what is preserved and what is overwritten.
No precautions other than you might normally. If you were over cautious you might backup your WP site, but I wouldnt. You upload Theme2.zip and activate it. You can "Preview it if you want to see first, but I generally just activate then make adjustments to the theme, FTP updated theme direct to WP active folder. Zips take too much time, just FTP direct to WP site.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
3) When I am doing an initial development, can I add the content, graphics files and videos(pages, posts, plugins) while am still in the Theme-Frame Program, to reduce the back-and-fourth with design and content adjustments.
No. Themeframe creates the WP theme which you install to your WP site. Your WP site can be fully loaded up with your content, graphics, videos etc. The new theme will possibly discard some widget areas, but generally they are still all there, you just have to put the Inactive widgets into one of the new widget areas (WP dashboard).

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
4) (this may be a redundant?) Can I do the complete development of the site on my local server and then back-it up with Back-Up-Buddy or WP_Twin and restore it on my hosting account.
I've never done it but you could I believe. If your local server is running a Wordpress site as well as Themeframe. Install the Theme into the WP (local) site, add your content, then export/backup/move.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
5) I am assuming that one purchase of $60 will give me license for one full year of updates and life time of the last update I have during that year. It is very clear. If I need two more licenses (total three) will there be a break, just have to ask.
Not correct. Yes your $60 license gives you the use of Themeframe (and updates) you download during that year forever, and for as many sites as you can/want to build, forever. It only gives you access to Themeframe Members forum for that one year and updates. You can continue using your last downloaded Themeframe on and on and on for as many sites as you wish, forever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
6) What is the current version and will this do the Responsive (coded as % of width). Do you follow 960 grid guidelines (when not responsive).
Themeframe1.2.5, you can have % based or px based responsive themes, 12 column etc
Layout examples (2 of about 30 preset layouts):
  • 12-960px-24px = 12 columns, 960 px width, 24 px gutter width
  • resp12-px-m24px = Responsive 12 columns, pixel based, 24 px gutter width
And then you can modify those, create custom layouts etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
7) Do you have a users manual that I can access prior to purchase to make sure that there are no buyers remorse later. If I saw a 30 or 60 day return policy, I would have bought it and tried it and kept it if I liked it.
The screencasts are it right now, but I have created a BAsics Tutorial that hopefully helps newcomers to get up and running. You can also see many more screenshots to see layouts etc Themeframe Basics Tutorial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
8) I went back and saw the three screen casts (video tutorials), in the 10 min video, what caught my eye is to be able to export a single file. Does it mean, I can develop a new layout and name it different from the other layouts and export only that file and it will play with other layouts OK, if this is true, then my development time will be cut down a whole lot more. Hope that is so.
Yeah baby. While working in Themeframe you can choose which Theme you want to work on, update it, switch to another, update that, switch to another, upload any theme to any WP site. Your Themeframe can have unlimited Themes available to work on, create new, copy one, call it a new name, modify it. Each theme you create can either be based originally from a default theme, or a development of yours from that theme.

I hope that helps. I'd buy Themeframe again in a second, but I have a Lifetime access. Themeframe 1.2.5 is by far, FAR the best version to date, so I would personally recommend buying it now.
__________________
May the learning curve never plateau... Thanks Larry for teaching me heaps.
My Themeframe built sites
  #9  
Old Feb 16, 2013, 09:29 PM
marty47
 
2 posts · Feb 2012
Hi Jam,
I really appreciate your quick and clear answers. I will definitely give it a try. How is every one learning without a manual or video tutorials. I learn by reading or seeing. Looks like the Forum is very active, which is a A+ for any theme. How intuitive is the program, do you have tool tips on each of the action items, so that you know what each of the buttons will lead you to.


I will take the plunge if I can do the following:

1) When I create a widget-bar (three parts of 33% each) can I control different aspects the three parts (Left, middle and the right), having different color backgrounds, different fonts and be able to control the height(fixed). If the content put in the widget is more than that can be accommodated, with that part of the widget bar, show Scroll Bars automatically.

2) Can you create Tabbed widget and put content , videos and graphics in to , have a fixed length and height and with scroll bars.



Jam, I really appreciate your time, if the answer to the above questions is Yes, or Yes with some doable limitations (please state those) I will be in

Thank you once again
Marty
  #10  
Old Feb 16, 2013, 11:25 PM
Jam's Avatar
Jam
 
1,072 posts · Mar 2011
Perth, Western Australia
Quote:
Originally Posted by marty47
I learn by reading or seeing.
Well, Themeframe you learn by playing, exploring, experimenting, tweaking.

We (all existing Themeframe users) have put a LOT of time into playing, exploring, experimenting, tweaking. If that's not for you, your call, but that's what it is. You wont get results without investing your time + Themeframe.
__________________
May the learning curve never plateau... Thanks Larry for teaching me heaps.
My Themeframe built sites

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