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Include a page builder friendly theme in the installation package.

October 7, 2018 · 20:46 · Anonymous

As I have had the opportunity to discuss this with another participant, I think it would be worth considering the inclusion of a basic theme and a theme built with multiple page builders in mind.

The idea stems from a free theme already available on Repository ( ). While I understand there is resistance to builders due to the Gutenberg issue, page builders are a very active part of the WordPress ecosystem.

I personally think that including a theme that is built for use with multiple free and paid page builders would be a valuable asset in helping people begin building their site(s).

This doesn't involve making any changes to core. It isn't something that is automatically activated. It's just a useful tool I think would be nice to see included in the installation package.

+7 more
James Nylen

"considering the inclusion of a basic theme" - We've been thinking that this could be which is tiny.

"and a theme built with multiple page builders in mind" - I don't much care for page builders personally, but I know a lot of people do. Can you provide specifics on what this theme does differently to accomodate sites that use page builders?


I will be out of town for the next several hours. I will be happy to include more detail either later tonight or tomorrow.


I like the idea of something like Susty. Their github page indicates there might need to be some adjustment to the theme for the average website. But I agree with the idea they have.

With Page Builder Framework Theme, they also are focused on lighter loading pages and cleaner code.

I sent them a message asking if they would like to come here and provide some more specific information. I think the developer would be more equipped to say exactly how they do things differently. I use their theme with a great amount of success on sites I don't even use page builders on. To be completely honest I'm actually not a lover of page builders myself. I do use them, but not extensively. I like to be able to have flexibility this theme provides without major conflicts between theme and plugins.

Based on what I see, they coded the theme to stay out of the way of page builders so that there is less opportunity for conflict with styling or configuration of pages.

They have a plugin that can be bought to enhance the theme, but I have found it easy to use with pretty much any plugin.

I think it is better to use their own words on what they do and how they do it.

I have to say, I am not affiliated with the developer or their project in any way. I have no agenda for mentioning the theme except to see something included in CP install that is simple, easy to use, doesn't tell people what they have to do, and isn't a hog.

From their site:

"The Framework Approach
Page Builder Framework takes a very minimalistic approach to code and design. To start off, the codebase contains as little code as possible. The reasoning behind this is simple: I didn’t want to force a preset design on the users. Instead, I wanted to give them the complete creative freedom that comes with designing and developing a website.

Additionally, Page Builder Framework is highly extendable and customizable through numerous hooks that allow you to extend its basic functionality. The theme is also very attractive for developers because it was built with Sass and comes with full support for gulp and browsersync.

Unlike other multipurpose themes, Page Builder Framework doesn’t come with options pages or dozens of custom post types nor does it require dozens of extra plugins to function as intended. Instead, we leave most of the content area to the Page Builder.

As such, Page Builder Framework is super-lightweight and lets you focus on the Header, Footer and comes with deep integrations for Beaver Themer, Elementor Pro & WooCommerce.

When it comes to the features, Page Builder Framework loads lightning fast which is crucial nowadays, both in terms of SEO and in terms of conversions. The theme was built from the ground up with SEO in mind. On top of that, Page Builder Framework makes use of the WordPress customizer so you can see all the changes you’re making in real time without the need to refresh the page or load a preview."

I hope they will take the opportunity to visit here and share their own words. In the event they don't. Anyone wishing to try the theme and share their experience I would encourage them to do so.

James Nylen

Ok, so it sounds like a fairly minimalist theme with some integrations for popular page builders and some nice development tools.

I haven't looked at it, but it seems like a good candidate to use for inspiration for our default theme!


I agree. Inspiration is a great response. Thank you.

David Vongries

Hey James, Hi Louis!

David here, creator of Page Builder Framework.

Thanks for considering adding Page Builder Framework to the installation package. I saw Louis already pointed out the post over at our company website ( that describes the purpose & intention we have with the theme pretty well! :)

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions.



Thanks David. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Daniel Hendricks

I think that there would be multiple benefits to having our own default theme (and I would be interested in assisting, though I lack the time to lead the effort).

  1. Obvious marketing advantages.
  2. As mentioned, a good base to demo the product with alternative page builders.
  3. As a developer, I frequently spin up and then delete WP instances simply to test a plugin or test compatibility with my own. It would be nice to have a "normal" theme that presents a typical web experience, unlike the very irritating Twenty Seventeen.
Tim Kaye

Page Builder Framework may indeed have some features which we might use as inspiration for a default ClassicPress theme. But I don't see how we could adopt Page Builder Framework itself -- or anything like it -- because it comes in, unzipped at 3.6MB. Susty, by contrast, is just 82.2KB unzipped.

Pieter Bos



Great, glad y'all have the ideal solution. How's that project coming along? Is it complete?

Daniel Hendricks

I have concerns about Susty without a bunch of modification. I'm not really a fan of the non-traditional menu, though that's just personal preference. Don't get me wrong - I am a big supporter of lean!

However, given the intent of ClassicPress, I think that it is important that a default theme has solid sidebar support. Some other standard bells and whistles might be nice as well, like footer widgets, support for jetpack_social_menu() [which adds no bloat as it's just calling a function if exists), some basic Customizer options (header, footer, link colors), etc, etc, etc...

I am <strong>not</strong> disrespecting Susty (at all), but I'm wondering if it is ideal for our intent. (?)

Before I post this and get yelled at, please note that I lifted this screenshot from a premium theme. I am <strong>not</strong> affiliated with the vendor (identity blurred so nobody accuses me of having an agenda) and am <strong>not suggesting infringement</strong>. However, I envision the theme to feel something like this:
(please focus on the design elements, not the actual theme itself!)

  • It's modern looking & clean
  • The <em>design</em> embraces the <em>option</em> of sidebars & widgets well
  • It has several typical elements that a casual user may want in a default theme

Now, features <strong>do</strong> add bloat, however, some features <em>aren't a bad thing</em>, particularly if you're interested in showcasing a product. WP 5 is irritating in that it is currently difficult (not impossible) to find themes that embrace sidebars well (by intent, since they want to move that all to an all-block system in phase 2+). However, it is another "selling" point for ClassicPress.

I doubt that there is interest because frameworks add bloat, but I would volunteer to create a like-minded HTML theme using Bootstrap 4 (sorry, it would be the only way that I'd have time). Sadly, I just started a new job and have been swamped (at the moment) to convert it to a proper theme - I'd need help with that.

My offer aside (which admittedly isn't that great), what are your opinions on, "How lean should it be?"

Tim Kaye

Daniel, I don't think anyone's suggesting we just use Susty as-is. In fact, it's very easy to add sidebar support and a regular menu. (I have done both.) My view is that we should modify Susty to include both, and then add some attractive artwork (which is, after all, what really "sells" a theme).

I don't think we should do much more. The point is simply to provide a sound basis for those who want to use it while encouraging a distinctive, lean approach. If individual users want something else, they can install their own theme.


So, are you sure you will wind up with 82.2KB unzipped when you are done? Or do you just not like the idea of the page builder framework?

It's interesting the comparison done with sizes when you don't know the size you will wind up with. Thus my questions.

I believe, in the course of discussion and debate the questions are relevant, based on the foundation of the objections. Don't you think so Tim?

Fabian Wolf

Personally I see Susty as a very well-groomed starter theme. The menu situation indeed is a bit .. strange, but changing that back to "normal" behaviour is easily done.

Which is what a starter theme is for.

cu, w0lf.

Tim Kaye

Louis, I think Fabian has just given you your answer. Like him, I see it as a starter theme. I cut my WordPress teeth on the Bones starter theme, and I see Susty as taking that approach to the next level.

So what I envision would lead to an increase in size for Susty only to the extent necessary for (a) the sidebar code and (b) any graphics. That's it. (The menu is essentially there already, just deployed in an unusual way.)


So, I'm wondering if what the team is proposing isn't much more than "Hello Dolly" just in theme form?

If the theme isn't anything more than a "starter" and the goal of the ClassicPress project is to focus on businesses, wouldn't the starter theme be basically a throw-a-way, much like what Hello Dolly has become in plugins?

Why bother in the first place if that is the end result?

Sure, it may be great for use on a unique site set up the way ClassicPress site is set up. For practical, flexible usage, is it worth putting into the set-up package?

The argument seems to be nearly only regarding "weight". It seems the preferred approach is so stripped down it really doesn't fit the bill for many use cases at all.


We need a default lightweight theme for 2 reasons:

  1. To have something to run to check the install worked,
  2. As a fall-back when you're trying to debug a conflict/wsod/etc

So, basically not of any real use to users for their live sites. Got it.
I approached this petition from the wrong angle. I thought it would add benefit to the user for live sites. You can remove this petition. My idea was obviously misguided from the standpoint of it being something users would actually use for their sites.


I think you slightly misinterpreted what I said.

We do need a theme for those purposes - but that's not to say exclusively for those purposes - Susty is a good starter theme.

I don't think we should include any other themes by default for all sorts of reasons - bloat is only one. Another is simplicity: the less we have to include in a release the easier it is to ensure high quality.

We're building our own plugin and theme directory, so we can much better handle providing a good "ClassicPress" theme that way.

In other words, I'm not objecting to a page builder-friendly theme, just where it lives.


Like I said, I believe I was misguided in placing the petition here. I was encouraged to do so because the idea seemed viable as a user-centric approach to providing something a lot of people use.

Having heard from a large portion of the "team" on this matter and what their preferences are, I don't believe this idea will get past the committee should it ever reach the required number to even be considered.

Therefore, I don't believe this thread is really beneficial. Clearly, when someone says "We need a default lightweight theme for 2 reasons:" that's not a definitive statement.

It appears more to me that there is a concerted effort to come up with reasons rather than to have a clear, collective, rationale.

Talk about tag-teaming.

Fabian Wolf

@Louis Hester: I think you are still misunderstanding things ..

As a matter of fact, I happen to have developed a site with a theme based on Susty + reduced Bootstrap 3, which combines ACF for more static parts and Tailor WP for more flexible ones.

That really works well. Yes, I had to change that strange menu view, and yes, I had to add a few more, responsibly-placed widget areas, but aside of that, Susty is already VERY page builder-friendly, beside its minimalist approach.

Alas, generic "page builder friendliness" can be easily achieved. On the other hand, several page builders use very specific templates with very specific internal functions, and thus could not be supported easily. So, no tag teaming involved - expect maybe frustations of developers ;)

cu, w0lf.


Thanks for pointing that out to me, again.

I do see the tag-team thing happening for sure.

Each of you have a slightly different approach. It's your project. I have no problem with that.

What is being said is a little different from what Tim said.

It's not worth the battle. Please remove this petition. Or put another author on it.


Daniel Hendricks

@invisnet - It is true that is all <em>developers</em> need. However, I believe that the default theme could showcase a modicum of usable features. That said, I also concede.

I doubt this will happen anyway unless someone has the time to lead it (or a Go Fund Me that would provide resources to get it done).


Sounds an awful lot like WordPress to me.



Tim Kaye

Louis, you asked whether the approach of using Susty that I outlined above is practical. Yes, it is. Very much so. In fact, we are currently testing our own child theme of Susty for use on the ClassicPress website. You can actually see it here:

It's not ready because, apart from the need to replace the lorem ipsum and blank image spaces, it needs to undergo a full security and accessibility audit. Once we have completed those things and modified things as necessary -- and they come below the priority of getting CP v1 released -- we will have that theme go live on our own main site. We can then use those lessons to create a version of Susty that will act as a useful starter theme.


Seems to be quite a few needs identified for a theme here:

  • works for blogging out of the box (with basic options)
  • works for ecommerce (not mentioned, but that is the CP target market)
  • a starter theme that is developer ready (but devs will prob just use their own anyway?)
  • well structured page elements so it is ready for use with page builders

It all seems doable, but I think the fundamental question could be asked... is the aim to create and include an all-in-one theme that does all things, or have separate themes for different purposes? As there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

Pieter Bos


> works for ecommerce (not mentioned, but that is the CP target market)

Actually ClassicPress focuses on businesses, which might include some ecommerce sites, but is a lot more than only that :)

Tim Kaye

@majick The aim is definitely not to have an all-in-one theme that tries to do everything with lots of options settings. That just means bloat for pretty much everyone who uses it.

What several of us here are talking about is a starter theme: in other words, a theme constructed with (a) proper semantic elements, (b) a stylesheet that is built with CSS inheritance in mind, and (c) takes account of accessibility/inclusion. It can then be easily extended in pretty much any direction that the user wants to go.

James Nylen

This thread seems to have gone off the rails a bit. I just want to confirm that code and file size is definitely a major consideration for anything we would add to the core software.


@Tim Kaye I think there are probably enough people here aware of what theme territory (design) and plugin territory (features) are to prevent that kind of bloat. But that said, it wouldn't make sense either to go the other extreme of not having the basic design options at all (too minimal), There is definitely a balance to be struck in what basic options are made available.
Maybe the term "starter theme" is a bit confusing in this context, as that is also frequently used to indicate a starter for custom theme development, eg. underscores or roots, not just for a basic starter theme. (At least, that's what I originally thought was meant by the term here.) In any case, agree that those 3 points definitely need to be that, but there SO much to a theme, a much more extensive list of requirements would have to be built over time.
I also think some forethought needs to go into identifying what those directions a theme could be extendable in, otherwise the foundation work will not be laid in the theme to make some extension cases easy, or in some cases possible at all.

@James Nylen Well the OP seems to have left the discussion... but I thought it was just getting interesting..! I'm curious what kind of size limitations were you thinking and why? To my mind, what goes in a theme or not should be laid out by a list of project requirements (plus a list of optional features/ideas also), according to which clear decisions could be made as to what is necessary and what not... a filesize requirement seems a bit arbitrary when simply including efficient (to reduce size) and well modulated (to remain optimized) code seems more important. I think that especially for themes, end user experience is paramount, since for new users that is all the options they really play with.

Tim Kaye

@majick I think there is room for disagreement on what the "basic design options" should be. But let's remember that we are just talking here about the theme bundled with ClassicPress. It's primary function would, therefore, always be for testing, in the same way that bundled themes are used with WP. After that, its next purpose is to showcase best practices and maybe some new ideas, but in a way that makes it extensible.

In other words, it will never be intended to be replace themes created by independent designers, and nor should it be. ClassicPress is about providing a sound and extensible core, so that others can extend it as they wish.


@Tim Kaye fair enough, I agree it makes sense to have a simple theme bundled for simple blogging and testing purposes, similar to the twenty-x themes. On the other hand I don't see it has to be the only theme that is bundled. Perhaps a more business/ecommerce focussed theme with options for that would be a natural choice for a second theme given the branding of ClassicPress.

Fabian Wolf

I agree with majick - adding a basic AND a more page builder-oriented theme probably won't hurt :)

cu, w0lf.

James Nylen

> I'm curious what kind of size limitations were you thinking and why?

I don't think we should set a hard limit. All code added into the core software needs to be reviewed pretty carefully, which becomes much more difficult if there's a lot of it.

There is also a trend to make themes have "everything but the kitchen sink" full of options. This is fine if people want to use them on their site, but not really a good fit for a theme included with the core software.


@James Nylen agreed the kitchen sink would not be appropriate, however, getting the "basics" right in themes from what I've seen tends to go the other extreme of simply not having enough... and when you add that stuff from scratch where it is missing there is of course a development process of breakage, which ClassicPress could really do without - especially for the base/test theme.
My suggestion would be then, to build off an existing theme that is working already (has its main bugs threshed out) but maybe has a bit too much and then "trimming the fat" so to speak, rather than trying it the other way around, starting too minimal and adding the missing basics in (I see this approach a lot in custom theme development, and it often leaves a lot to be desired.)
After that maybe a review of those trimmed theme features - and other key identified add-on features - which could be incorporated in the intermediate "business" theme (ie. with more inbuilt ecommerce and page builder supports?)
Even further into the future, having a more advanced theme for custom development purposes would be great too, but it is hard to know what that would or wouldn't include until the basic/intermediate themes are sketched out more fully.

James Nylen

>My suggestion would be then, to build off an existing theme that is working already (has its main bugs threshed out) but maybe has a bit too much and then "trimming the fat" so to speak

I think this is generally a good approach. We need a list of candidate themes then, and ideally support from the author(s) to include some of them into ClassicPress.

See also:

Tibor Csőszi

I also recommend the following topic to your attention:


Sutsy is wonderful. As a default theme Sutsy is perfect. even better Sutzy AND a Sutzy child theme (with small modification) would perfect. So you can show the "power" of CP from the beginning.