A while back (a while being a few years), I began working on a WordPress theme called Evans. Evans is a premium magazine style WordPress theme that I created with the intent of sticking on Themeforest. That never happened, and for good reason, as Evans was essentially a collection of everything I could think of, wrapped up in a cluster of weirdness. The structure made no sense, functions were hard to find, and some features just didn’t work. When you can’t find your way through your own work, there’s a problem.
Evans still exists and is live in various places on the web. The idea behind what I wanted to do with it wasn’t the problem, it was the execution. Looking back on it now, I have to wonder what I was thinking when I did some of the things I did with it. Then again, developers sometimes have a habit of creating something in a way that makes no sense when it comes to future maintainability, instead opting to build something functional right now that does what it needs to in this very moment.
Last year I decided to take Evans and redevelop it into a framework. I was working on the new version of WP Big News and decided it was time to stop doing things over and over again. What was initially an additional feature of my web design and development company here in Asheboro soon became a large part of it. Basic Start, the almost boring WordPress theme I started with (yeah, I said it!), was only the beginning of what would become a major force in this business. I needed to find a way to do things better and faster.
I hate to say it, but ACWP Framework was basically doomed from the start. I started with the collection of crazy that I mentioned before (Evans) and simply built on top of that. Listen, if you’re about to develop something useful, make sure your base isn’t filled with problems. I spent quite a while working on ACWP Framework, but soon found myself doing more design work than development. I was working toward creating things for a specific design rather than for the functionality needed to support that, and many other designs.
There is some good that came out of what was otherwise a waste of time. A theme called Nicols is on it’s way, and was actually the driving force behind several changes to the framework itself. It’s sort of strange to say it, but in going the wrong way, I managed to hit several good points before deciding to turn around. I guess this particular mistake wasn’t a complete waste of time after all.
Starting from the Core
At the moment, I’m taking a break from writing ACWP Core, the thing I should have been creating so long ago. ACWP Core is the framework for our premium themes. I’ve been pouring through everything that made up Evans and ACWP Framework to pull together this framework, with a lot of code auditing going on at the same time. I’ve dropped a lot of old junk that is no longer needed, and added vast improvements to what we kept.
The structure also makes a lot more sense now. Before, I couldn’t find many things myself. That’s a problem, one which was high on my list of things to correct. Now, it’s easier to understand the code (complete with lots of easier to understand comments) and where to find things (no longer will you need a GPS to find your way around).
Unlike a lot of theme developers, one of the primary goals we have is to pay attention to resource usage. Most people host their websites on shared hosting, which means they don’t have a wealth of resources available to them. Thankfully, tools like WP Page Load Stats can help keep these things in check.
Anyway, back to work. I’m in the middle of tearing up the breadcrumbs extension of ACWP Core. Once that part is complete, I’m turning on my grill and throwing a bunch of chicken on it.