WordPress Theme Options Panel Framework

My Theme Options Panel Framework (TOPF) for WordPress is ready for public consumption and I have released version 1.0. TOPF is a WordPress Options panel appearing in the Appearance section of your WordPress Admin. It is useable within any WordPress Theme.

It was originally work done by Devon Price’s Thematic Option’s Panel and I have reworked it extensively. Devon has also released a non-Thematic specific Plugin for WordPress that others may find quite useful as well.

TOPF is fully WordPress Settings API compliant and integrates a number of useful controls for Theme Developers. Currently available option items are:

// heading
// info
// other
// background
// border
// checkbox
// color
// images
// multicheck
// radio
// range
// select
// select2
// textarea
// text
// typography
// upload

The Theme Options Panel Framework makes it easy to include an options panel in any WordPress theme. TOPF has been built so that theme developers can concentrate on making the real theme and not spending a ton of time on creating an options panel from scratch. It’s free to use in both commercial and personal projects.

I have made extensive use of TOPF in my Divergence Theme for Thematic and WordPress.

Here is a look at what the Typography Option Item looks like in an Options Panel:


• Place the options folder in your theme or child theme folder.
• Define TOPF_OPTIONS with the name of your options table entry for WordPress. All options are bound into an array and filed into the TOPF_OPTIONS entry.
• Include the main options.php file into your theme:

define( 'TOPF_OPTIONS', 'theme_divergence_options' );
require_once( get_stylesheet_directory() . '/options/options.php' );

• Setup the options you wish to use in The Array ($topf_theme_options) found in ./options/theme_default_options.php
• Alter the validation for each option in ./options/option-register.php
• Include the implementation file (change and add your own implementations here)

require_once( get_stylesheet_directory() . '/options/options-implement.php' );

You can download or view the source code from my GitHub repository. (the Download button is near the top right)



MockFlow Online Wireframe Tool for Web Design

Wireframes in web design can increase the designer’s productivity and reduce the back and forth between the designer and the client during the development process. It allows for proof of concept visualization and sign-off, and reduces the need for alterations after the fact. It is nearly essential for larger websites with a lot of content, but can be just as useful for the smaller websites as well.

Wireframing is the initial phase in the web design process, and this added phase improves communication between the designer and client in order to create a better website that suits what the client really needs and what they’re looking for.

OneXtraPixel has a fairly complete wireframing list of both off and online tools along with a good discussion on them and why a web designer might use wireframing for their initial design phase.

I have started using MockFlow and want to share my experiences with it. MockFlow is both a design and collaboration mockup tool with a wide range of capability. Their website lists an extensive array of wireframing features for it’s various components: Editor, Library, Publishing, Collaboration, Business Features and a few others. Here are a few for it’s Editor:

  • Easy-to-use and sophisticated interface
  • Provides all the editing functions you need
  • Presentation mode to test wireframe interactions
  • Zoom mockups with auto-size function
  • SiteMap creator with pages and folders
  • Interactive visualization of SiteMap
  • Graph, 960 grids and Rulers are provided for layout
  • Pages can be applied with multiple masters (recursive), to avoid rework
  • Support for manual and auto revisions of mockup

They have a free version for both online and desktop use and I have spent a few hours working with it.  I find it quite intuitive and was able to slap something together fairly quickly.  I have not had a chance to work with all of it’s features, but was impressed enough to see the potential and am looking forward to incorporating it into my workflow.  Click the image on the left for the full view of my first wireframe mockup with MockFlow.


Peek at Distraction Free Writing coming to WordPress 3.2

Full screen distraction free writing is one feature that is reported to be coming to the next major upgrade for WordPress.  WPCandy has a video showing it’s use.  It is still early days, but it looks like an interesting feature that could be useful.  We can only hope that the “distraction free” feature is not a distraction in and of itself.


Theming WordPress with the Thematic FrameWork

The past week has proved quite interesting and fruitful. I recently came across a tweet on Twitter recommending frameworks for WordPress theme development. After looking over the list and quickly reviewing the candidates, I decided to download and install the Thematic Theme Framework. There were several other recommendations, Hybrid and Genesis to name a few, but you have to start somewhere and the initial look and feel of the Thematic install was appealing.

For the longest time I have always hand rolled my themes for myself and others. I guess I have just preferred the hands on the metal approach but with increased business, the need to speed up the process and standardize has been at the front of my mind. So clean, tight, code with rapid theme deployment under the same GPL license as WordPress were key on my short list of features to have.

We can look at some of the advantages of using WordPress theme frameworks:

  • Time savings
  • Easier development
  • Community support
  • Optimized CSS, HTML, PHP functions, and SEO
  • Written with WordPress code standards and best practices
  • Ease of updating for future releases of WordPress

There are some disadvantages of using frameworks in the beginning, where there is always going to be a learning curve as you adopt new technology into your development cycle. Though the learning time is relatively short compared to learning a new language, you will still have to account for this time when considering the use of WordPress theme frameworks.

The best way to look at it is it will be a long-term investment. The time you spend learning the technology at the start pays off in the end in terms of development speed and efficiency.

With that in mind, the past week has been a good beginning down the road of Thematic’s Framework and I have gotten a good feel for it’s inner workings.  This DTI website now has a Thematic powered theme installed with a variety of customizations in place and I am calling it the Divergence theme.

I do intend to take a look at the Hybrid Framework as well in the coming days, but for now Thematic has proven to be a rich and powerful environment for WordPress theme development and I’m quite pleased with it.  Full kudo’s to the developers.

More to come …


Is AdSense for Websites Good, or not so Good?

AdSense is used extensively the world over to generate income from Google ads that are placed on the posts of a blog or website. These are marketing ads that are usually specific to the content of the page and when a user clicks on those ads, Google AdSense pays you a small referrer fee. As a website owner, all you have to do is place a small amount of code in your web pages after creating an AdSense account with Google, and wait for the paychecks.

It sounds good and everyone appears happy. Google makes money from advertisers, advertisers get targeted traffic and only pay for the actual ad impressions that people click, web users can find relevant information that interests them, and website owners can make money from not very much work. Even a small amount of earnings can often pay for the hosting fees for their sites.

Some people make a lot of money from AdSense, but it may not be for every site. Some time ago, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger explained Why I Don’t Use AdSense on ProBlogger Anymore.

Perhaps his reasoning is a little different because of the type of site, but it causes me to wonder though whether the money earned is worth it. If you have worked hard to provide useful, valuable content for your site for a product or service you are marketing and then provided a link that may have relevant content to take your visitors away sounds counter-productive to me.

Well known internet marketing guru John Chow posted an explanation of why he doesn’t use AdSense on his blog anymore.

I have several Adsense ads on my site and at times some of them certainly seem to be questionable. I will continue to research but I wonder how most people feel about AdSense on their sites?