By now there is a considerable amount of WordPress code around that is meant to be re-used by other developers. Unfortunately there is little to none practical and solid information on it and generally you are stuck going through frameworks one by one until you find the first you like or think they all suck terribly (whichever comes first).

Let's make community writeup on which frameworks and parent themes we really use and why.

Please include:

  • purpose (parent theme, theme framework, helper code, etc)
  • strong features (which make it interesting and useful)
  • downsides (what it does inconveniently or different from usual)
  • licensing and pricing (if not free)
  • 3
    Great question, posted it to hacker news. news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2070878
    – Evolve
    Jan 5, 2011 at 13:39
  • 1
    @Evolve thanks! I guess that is the reason of nice bump in views on this one. Question was getting dusty so I decided to pin it with bounty to attract some attention and more answers.
    – Rarst
    Jan 5, 2011 at 18:18
  • Not sure I understand what your bounty is looking for. This is a wiki, so there's no "one right answer" ... what's the criteria to win the bounty?
    – EAMann
    Jan 6, 2011 at 17:32
  • 3
    I think down-/upvoting should be (if possible) disabled on this thread. With 6k views and a lot of text I guess most of the readers will likely scan the content, order by votes and take the one with the most upvotes without really reading the pros/cons. I also think it should be devided into commercial/free frameworks.
    – kaiser
    Jun 26, 2011 at 19:16
  • 1
    @majick Just head over to wpgear.org – was built by one of our members, now mostly maintained by me. It serves the exact same purpose. Please keep in mind to read the contribution guidelines before posting PRs.
    – kaiser
    Feb 18, 2016 at 13:16

11 Answers 11



Theme Hybrid, developed by Justin Tadlock. Scope of code is primarily PHP internal functionality and front-end templates for themes.

Interesting features:

  • code aims to minimize template edits, most of functionality can be controlled via hooks;
  • context-aware - extended body-class, dynamic context-aware hooks that allow to hook events that fire only in specific context;
  • tightly integrates with several generic and Hybrid-specific plugins from same developer;


  • backwards compatibility can be an issue, especially if trying to use older child theme releases with newer parent theme.


  • all code is freely available, under GPLv2;
  • access to support and non-basic documentation $25/year.

There is range of releases for different stages of development.

Hybrid Core

Standalone framework for developers making their own parent themes. Highly modular with most of the features loaded on demand by custom add_theme_support() calls.

Hybrid parent theme

Long established parent theme (earlier versions were from before standalone Core release). Includes considerable amount of ready-made templates with more available for download separately.

Has multiple child themes available (both native and from other developers).

Prototype parent theme

Latest cutting edge release to show practical usage of Hybrid Core.

  • I joined Justin's theme club (themehybrid.com) and have received unbelievable support. He usually answers Hybrid questions in 24 hours or less. It's $25/year
    – Carson
    Jun 29, 2011 at 5:57
  • Ironic that you Answered this Question, and then a year later closed it. :) Is this off-topic to comment on a closed Question? :-P
    – akTed
    Jan 20, 2013 at 11:05
  • 2
    @AKTed plenty of questions from earlier days got later closed, as rules got refined and we got more experience with what works in stack format and what doesn't.
    – Rarst
    Jan 20, 2013 at 11:37


Developed by StudioPress


  • Barebones parent theme providing mulitple sidebars; custom, configurable widgets; and a configurable multi-column display
  • Parent theme works as a highly extensible framework - the different variations in design that exist for Genesis seem endless

Strong Features

  • Automatic updates
  • A new settings import/export feature is promised with the next version
  • Massive support community of professional designers and developers
  • Instant credibility if you're re-distributing child themes elsewhere in the WordPress ecosystem


  • The theme's expansive set of options are lumped together on one page. This makes it very difficult to find certain options and tweak your settings.

Licensing and Pricing

  • GPL (Theme license statement does not specify a version. StudioPress FAQ links to v3).
  • framework itself costs $59.95
  • child themes run $20-$40 each on top of the framework cost
  • framework and all child themes (including future) in bulk $250
  • 1
    I've used Genesis on a few sites now and it's a great way to get started. The GPL nature of it makes it a great one to use because you don't have to worry about licensing issues once you've purchased it.
    – calvinf
    Jan 5, 2011 at 17:53
  • Is the entire framework covered by GPL or is it a split-license where only the code is released under the GPL but not other assets like images and stylesheets? There's a big difference and it's not discussed on the product info of the site. Jan 5, 2011 at 20:28
  • The "entire framework" in this case is an advanced parent theme. The entire theme is covered under the terms of the GPL, as is standard practice with most themes on the market.
    – EAMann
    Jan 5, 2011 at 21:39
  • How about the dozens of Genesis plugins which have been written to add more functionality & customization flexibility based on users needs. Dec 28, 2013 at 12:16


Developed by ThemeShaper


  • Free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework

Strong Features

  • 13 widget-ready areas
  • Grid-based layout sampels
  • Built-in styling for popular plug-ins
  • Massive support community of professional designers and developers

Bonus Credibility

  • Third place in WPHonors 2010 for Theme Frameworks

Licensing and Pricing

  • Free and open source
  • Reason for choosing was best support for multi author features. Jan 11, 2011 at 12:55
  • 1
    From July 2011 through May 2012 there were no updates but active development recently resumed. 1.0.1 released to WordPress Theme Repository May 30, 2012 and 1.0.2 on June 30. New home: thematictheme.com Blog: thematictheme.com/blog
    – Joe Golton
    Jul 9, 2012 at 18:28
  • The fact that it's free, just like WordPress, is a huge driver for me. It's a matter of principle more so than frugality. Additionally, support is excellent. Thematic's forum community have always yielded answer to my questions within 1-2 days. Feb 7, 2013 at 0:11

Twenty Ten

I have tried several frameworks and not liked any of them at all for heavier development. For quick stuff they are ok but all the extra stuff can make custom work a nightmare. Often the frameworks are so custom that it is like learning a new system.

For that reason I often just use Twentyten or a similar blank slate or sandbox theme.


  • parent theme, bundled with WordPress

Strong features

  • Uses the standard WordPress folder structure and template hierarchy, great for support and Codex.
  • Implements latest theme-related features.


  • No custom hooks or filters like you find in other frameworks

licensing and pricing

  • Free and GPL
  • Thanks for sharing your experience. I just want to note that I am more interested in frameworks that do work for developers and are used in practice, rather than tried and didn't like (which is way too common way it goes). btw if you use Twenty Ten extensively you can write it out as separate answer, it is advanced/parent theme and fits the question.
    – Rarst
    Nov 10, 2010 at 6:43
  • OK just wanted to say they so far I have been disappointed by frameworks with the exception of pod cms. I will edit my answer to be more concise.
    – Wyck
    Nov 10, 2010 at 15:19
  • Could you please write about POD CMS in separate answer? I'd like to cleanup and remove it from here.
    – Rarst
    Jan 10, 2011 at 7:10


profile for scribu at WordPress, Q&A for WordPress developers and administrators

Developed by scribu.


Set of plugin development helper classes for creating forms, widgets, admin pages, database tables and more.


  • can be bundled with plugin or specified as plugin dependency
  • automatically loads latest version of itself, if multiple are present in different plugins


  • poorly documented
  • tends to use code-generating methods for HTML, which can be inconvenient

License GPL

  • this is not a theme framework.. am i missing something? Nov 15, 2011 at 14:54
  • 1
    @Ünsal Korkmaz the question formulates it as "frameworks", not "theme frameworks". Every theme framework is a framework, but not every framework is theme framework. :)
    – Rarst
    Nov 15, 2011 at 17:50



Advanced standalone/parent theme, uses WooFramework.

For sketching out sites and concepts. Building a version 1 without having to do so from scratch.

Strong features

  • I find the theme code very easy to hack for my purposes.

  • Canvas uses a lot of new HTML and CSS features in a smart way.


  • Not free (but free software)

Licensing and pricing

  • Standard: $70
  • Developer (comes with PSD files): $150

Headway Theme

Developed by Headway Themes


  • Highly advanced parent theme with a built-in drag-and-drop visual developer (for non-coders)

Strong Features

  • Visual layout designer
  • Built-in SEO features
  • Deep documentation and tutorial content
  • Massive support community of professional designers and developers

Bonus Credibility

  • First place in WPHonors 2010 for Theme Frameworks

Licensing and Pricing

  • $87 for personal sites
  • $164 for developers (use on multiple sites)
  • GPLv2 licensed


'Carrington is a theme platform for WordPress from Crowd Favorite.'

Carrington is a new (we think better) way of organizing a WordPress theme, coupled with a core framework engine that provides a bunch of exciting functionality for free, just by creating different named templates. -- What is Carrington

Purpose Development Framework

Strong features Conditional based file/folder system. The idea behind the framework's folder structure is to allow you to create templates that meet specific conditions. This way you can create smaller acute templates. For instance you could create a unique comment block for a specific user or all logged in users just by adding one new template file ( Framework Overview ).

Carrington comes in a few different flavors, I personally like the trimmed down version Carrington JAM (Just Add Markup). Download

Downsides In my use cases I have had no real trouble using Carrington. A possible downside maybe the requirement to stick to the framework's required code conventions.

As a program developer Carrington may be a little light and only offer a nice way to organize your templates. For designers, Carrington removes the need to dive into PHP and create template conditions. If you are neither programmer nor designer then you will need something like Carrington Build which allows you to create drag and drop layouts. Which I have not tried and is not free.

Licensing and pricing Carrington is free, GPLv2

  • How tight Carrington Build integrates with it? For context of question - should someone edit in details in this answer or is it better put in separate one?
    – Rarst
    Jan 11, 2011 at 12:40
  • From my own research into Carrington Build it appears that Carrington Build is built upon the above Carrington core to allow for easy theme development. While, the Build addition is more of an updated/augmented WP CMS. Jan 12, 2011 at 1:34

Thesis Theme Framework

The Thesis Theme framework is a premium template system for WordPress that is designed to serve as the rock-solid foundation beneath any kind of website.

Features (And i quote):

  • Thesis option panels
  • Unique designs
  • revolutionary layout generator (with 1, 2, and 3-column layout combinations)
  • pinpoint font controls

Additional Features

  • Built in SEO features like custom titles and custom META for pages and posts
  • Active online forum available to all registered users


  • Personal Option (single website) $87
  • Developer’s Option (unlimited for own websites, access to betas, additional deployment tools) $164


On my private blog i use : http://swiftthemes.com/

purpose: standalone theme but child themes are supported with demo childtheme Kill Bill theme included

strong features:

  • out of the box it includes a real handy template adjustable in the end user menu system
  • nice friendly creater and user community
  • its easy to understand and easy hackable which a lot of people do
  • it's "different" than the rest in terms of setup and "commercial approach" thats why i like it
  • lots of updates

not so strong:

  • there is probably still a lot to develop in it to align with all wp standards (but actually that is the nice thing)


  • Personal License $47
  • Developer License $84


Starkers is a bare-bones WordPress theme created to act as a starting point for the theme designer.

Purpose: A great starting point for any WP theme. It containings all the basic template tags you need to create a theme without any unnecessary markup / images / js. In my opinion one of the best themes to use when learning to develop for WP

Features: All non-semantic, presentational class names (e.g: class=“center”, class=“alignleft”) have been removed; all non-semantic, presentational HTML elements (e.g: hr, br) have been removed.

Browser defaults have also been reset in the stylesheet (based on the YUI Reset) to provide a true “clean slate”.

Downsides: Essentially this is a theme to build on, therefore you need to be proficient enough in HTML/CSS to implement a design around the theme from scratch.

Licensing and pricing: GPLv2 ( assumed, it being Twenty Ten derivative )

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.