For the last several months, I’ve been quietly developing a theme framework for iThemes — a framework we could use to offer solid code, killer designs, and futureproofing (one of our most common requests at iThemes).
A couple of weeks ago, I invited a few people to join a private beta of the theme (called Prodigy, in case you hadn’t gathered), and it has been silky smooth. Hardly any complaints or bugs, and TONS of compliments. So, I think the theme is ready for a public beta, and you’re all invited!!!
Just to be clear, this theme is definitely for developers (right now). After a little more work getting the framework settled, we’ll start pumping out some killer designs based on the Prodigy framework and everybody will be able to enjoy the benefits of Prodigy. Until then, I’d recommend waiting unless you are somewhat comfortable with PHP and CSS.
The Default Child Theme
Prodigy, by itself, is pretty ugly. It’s completely unstyled. But I’ve created a default theme for Prodigy called “Legacy” that will serve as a sample theme for you to use as your guide to creating child themes with Prodigy. To see it in action, head over to Prodigy Central and take a look around. Yes, it’s simple, minimalistic, and bare-bones. But it does offer a solid typographic foundation to build on, and with a splash of color via CSS, it could look pretty darn sweet.
Oh yeah, both Prodigy and Legacy are both COMPLETELY FREE, and always will be. We’ll probably develop some commercial child themes in the future, but the framework itself will always be 100% free and GPL.
What Makes Prodigy So Special?
Well, that’s a hard thing to explain. What I tried to accomplish with Prodigy is offer an HTML framework that could be utilized out of the box, but could be easily extended or replaced with your own creation by taking extensive advantage of Hooks. These hooks are scattered throughout various locations in the HTML output, offering you endless options for inserting custom code exactly where you want it without editing core files.
If that sounds like gibberish to you, fear not. There will be a variety of awesome tutorials to come shortly that will explain all these concepts in greater depth, with some real-world examples.
Along with offering a solid HTML framework, I’ve added some killer SEO options that make fine-tuning your SEO a breeze. The theme takes care of most of the work, but there are a few options that you can tweak from within the post/page edit screen. Take a look:
As you can see, Prodigy makes it super-easy to control the SEO of each individual post/page.
I could go on forever. There are functions to easily create new widget areas, feedburner redirection (say bye-bye to the Feedsmith plugin), hooks all over the place, included reset.css and WordPress recommended styles, and other stuff that just can’t be explained.
So How Do I Become a Beta Tester?
All I ask is that you help provide constructive feedback for me so I can make the theme better. I want this entire project to be one of the best themes available, and I can’t do that without you.
I’ve set up a P2 site that lets us talk about Prodigy features, bugs, requests, etc. If you would like access to post to that blog (the equivalent of starting a forum thread) just email me and I’ll set you up an account. Be brutal, but be courteous. I want to make the theme everything you want it to be, so I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts.
Also, I’m a VERY active Twitter user (follow me @nathanrice) and I’ve chosen #prodigywp as the official hashtag for Prodigy discussion on Twitter. Just hashtag your tweet with #prodigywp and I will absolutely see it, along with the rest of the Prodigy community. And if you want to track the conversation around Prodigy on Twitter, just follow the #prodigywp hashtag in your favorite Twitter client, or on search.twitter.com.
Oh, and By the Way
The site you’re looking at right now (NathanRice.net) was build completely on the Prodigy Framework as a child theme. It just goes to show you how flexible frameworks are, and how much the Prodigy offers you in the way of extensibility and flexibility. Yes, you CAN create a site like this one, and much more complex sites too, all on top of the Prodigy Framework, without ever editing core code.