After people have been waiting for over 4 years the folks over at diythemes have finally released Thesis 2.0! They have completely re-written the framework from the ground up – so it is no longer the same framework we are all used to. I can say after taking a closer look after initially walking away from it in frustration it is pretty friggin sweet! Take a look as I go over the initial settings and thoughts on Thesis 2.0.
What is Thesis?
Thesis is a custom framework/theme to use with your WordPress blog. With the use of Thesis Hooks (snippets of PHP code) and custom CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) you can turn your plain WordPress blog into a professional looking site quickly. I currently am using Thesis 1.8 to run this site avgjoegeek.net! And although there is a pretty high level of learning at first once you get the hang of it will make you wonder why you tried to use anything else.
Whats Changed with Thesis 2.0?
So what has changed with Thesis you ask? EVERYTHING. From the interface on how you will actually use the framework to their home page. They have re-written it from the ground up. The entire idea and thought behind Thesis 2.0? You won’t need to actually code anything ever to get. And you still gain the maximum flexibility to change your site anyway you want it.
Re-Design of diythemes.com
They have changed the front page of diythemes . It is now a huge landing page outlining the features and changes to Thesis 2.0. So if you want to skip my version you can just read it.. then come back so I can try and explain it a little further.
This was the easiest part for Thesis 2.0. I only had to go into WordPress, go to Appearance -> Themes -> Install Themes -> Upload and I was done installing it. Unfortunately when I went to do a preview it showed up as blank so I didn’t activate it.
Then I went back to diythemes and downloaded a plugin that allows me to work on Thesis 2.0 while you the regular visitor will see the current site using Thesis 1.8! And I can tell you although it does work great I still created a separate sandbox and installed it there as I don’t want to risk it breaking anything in production.
Read More: I would highly suggest reading Kristarella’s Thesis_2.0 Install Guide if you want to look at Thesis 2.0!
Everything is WYSIWYG
The whole idea of the changes in Thesis 2.0 is so you no longer need to go into the code to make changes. You can now use the WYSIWYG editors, packages and boxes to make the changes to your site on the fly. For me I absolutely loathe with a passion WYSIWYG editors. They never really work right… if you have used WordPress for any amount of time you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
With Thesis 2.0 it is all about using visual elements that you click and drag and pop a few lines of text into to creating your site. Gone are the days of having to pour through a text editor and make sure your code is accurate. And although I personally don’t like it. I’ll probably be in the minority!
So you’ve got the greatest website template system on the planet…now what?
Your going to be asking yourself this a lot as you try and play with it. Gone is the “Big Ass Save Button”. No more intuitive menus to make quick changes to your site if needed. Nope you’ll get the options on the top to get you where you need to go.
You’ll get the following options: HTML Head, Tracking Scripts, 404 Page, and Home Page SEO. These are all pretty explanatory and are fairly simple to figure out. The folks over at diythemes have set it up so you can easily make changes to any of your meta tags, add google analytics or any other tracking scripts, add your Google+ for authorship, and even customize your 404 page easily and quickly.
This is where you will do a majority of your work when changing your site. You will either be changing an existing skin or creating a new one. From here you will move the Boxes around, and add or remove packages you have installed in Thesis 2.0
This is the skin management area. With Thesis 2.0 you get a “Blank” skin and the “Thesis Classic” skin to start you out with. In here you can preview what a skin will look like, upload or delete a skin.
Read More: Kristarella saves us again just in case we screwed things up – we can now reset the classic skin back to normal following this method ! Thanks again!
When you click on the Skin Editor this is where the real magic begins. When you enter this menu option a new window will popup with a current view of your site called the Canvas. As you make changes within the editor you will see them update ‘on-the-fly’ which is pretty sweet! No more mashing the reload button every time you make a change. You can now see it in real time.
What makes Thesis 2.0 completely nuts though is the fact that you can change virtually ANYTHING on your site now. No longer are you stuck with the limitations of WordPress or what other Themes/Frameworks offered. The only limitation is your own personal ability and imagination! This is going to be a blessing for web developers and a possible hindrance to the hobbyist.
Boxes and Packages
This is where Thesis 2.0 gets interesting. You have to think of Boxes as the add-on or what you might have used as a WordPress plugin, and Packages are the snippets of CSS code that will make them look great.
“Add-on functionality without having to write a line of code” – diythemes
Boxes are the equivalent of WordPress plugins. You will be able to easily create and place Thesis Boxes onto your site. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to download another WordPress plugin or try to code it yourself by using Thesis 2.0.
This is how you will manage your CSS or the way your site looks and behaves. It is a pretty ingenious on how Chris Pearson did all of this. Although I’m used to hacking in the back end of the code by hand and praying it works. This seems like it might be what folks are looking for as an alternative.
Well they released Thesis 2.0 on October 1rst like they said they would. But diythemes did not release any type of documentation on how to use it. Like nothing, nadda, zip. Considering how counter intuitive I personally found Thesis 2.0? This is sorely needed in order to figure out how to use it.
Update: There are some great beginning tutorials over at byobwebsite.com! He goes over Thesis 2.0 and even shows you how to actually use it.
No Way to Import from 1.8 to 2.0?
I can understand this since they have completely changed everything. There is no way to realistically have it import your existing site to the new framework. So your going to have to re-learn how to use the new framework and then figure out how to transfer your existing site to Thesis 2.0.
And remember – I am NOT a developer. I don’t do web design for a living. I just want a framework that will allow me to easily manage and tweak to my liking without having to learn scripting, css, html, or php. This could be a final step in that direction.
diythemes have raised their prices with the release of Thesis 2.0. If you want full support for life and be able to run Thesis 2.0 on multiple sites? It is going to cost you $197.00. If you purchase any of the other packages? You will get 12 months of updates. But you can always upgrade to the Developer package later if you like it. And they still offer a 30-day money back guarantee. So its not as risky as it sounds.
Note: As of this writing they still offer Thesis 1.8.x as a download. This is what I use to run this site and I still absolutely love it!
When I first started writing this article I was frustrated and thought the changes were ridiculous. Now that I have had a chance to step away and then come back to it? I can see that just like the original Thesis after taking the time to learn it? Thesis 2.0 has the potential to be completely awesome.
Now unfortunately I would NOT suggest going out and purchasing this quite yet. It is still very new and I don’t think it is 100% ready for the masses. I would let some of the dust settle. Let other people finish beta testing for you and then you can go out and buy Thesis 2.0. If you absolutely cannot wait and wish to get started? You can click anywhere that says Thesis and it will take you to their site to go purchase it! (Its my affiliate link btw.)
This is an ambitious project and they are taking a huge risk by taking the familiar and completely re-doing their software. Will it pay off? It remains to be seen.
Update Whew boy was I salty or what when I originally wrote this? Well I’m still glad I ended up making the switch to Genesis. Overall it just made more sense to go to a simpler platform with less WYSIWYG interface. I like having more control over how a site will look and work with less overhead. But… I could’ve been a bit nicer about it I guess?