Introducing the Genesis Framework

I am very happy to announce Genesis – an advanced theme framework for WordPress. This project has been in development for quite a while, and was something that has been on my mind for well over a year. We’re closing in on a beta version, something that we are very excited about!
Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress

About the Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis theme framework is built on a simple vanilla blog-type parent theme, and can be extended with the use of child themes. Each child theme will come with it’s own home file, which will make extending the parent theme very easy to do. It will also have it’s own functions file as well.

A Note to Current Users and Developers

Don’t worry, we have built the Genesis theme framework in a way that will continue making your work of customizing our themes just as easy – if not easier. Theme files will still have organic WordPress code as our theme files do now.

Why Did We Build the Genesis Theme Framework?

The answer is simple – it will allow us to create and make available a number of professionally designed themes with the ease of basing them all on one set of core files. This will make it much easier for those who use our themes.

It’s All About Making Things Easier

When we started development of the Genesis theme framework, we took into consideration that both new WordPress users and advanced WordPress developers would be using it. We have created a number of custom widgets that will make things easier to use and more customizable as well. In addition to that, we’ve also placed over 30 hooks into the theme to give advanced users and plugin developers the ability to hook into various locations throughout the theme.

Here’s a List of Custom Widgets We’ve Built

  • My Tweets – displays an unordered list of your latest Tweets (view widget)
  • User Profile – displays the Gravatar of a user, as well as their biography and a link to an about page (view widget)
  • eNews & Updates – displays an opt-in box for users to sign up for delivery of your posts by email (view widget)
  • Featured Posts – displays post excerpts and a thumbnail to be used in a homepage featured section (view widget)
  • Featured Page – displays page excerpts and a thumbnail to be used in a homepage featured section (view widget)

Extending the Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis parent theme will serve as the foundation of all of our current themes as well as new themes going forward. You’ll notice the demo site is a simple blog theme – and from there, it can be extended with the use of child themes. All child themes will include their own stylesheet, images folder, home.php file and functions.php file which will register additional widget areas and define custom post thumbnail sizes. Take a look at the Durango child theme, which will be available for purchase.

WordPress 2.9 and Post Thumbnails

With the release of WordPress 2.9, we’ve developed the Genesis theme framework to utilize default post thumbnail functionality. For a number of reasons, we have abandoned the use of Tim Thumb for displaying thumbnails, and will be in a position to easily update as WordPress works towards dynamic resizing. In the meantime, we have built in the ability to display custom thumbnail image sizing.

SEO Optimization

You honestly can’t have a great framework unless you have great SEO built in. Unfortunately for most themes, good SEO is a complex and difficult asset to build in. Fortunately for you, Genesis lays the groundwork for excellent on-site SEO. And because it’s a framework (easy and free to update), the evolving web will be met with an evolving theme, providing you with superior SEO today, tomorrow, and for years to come. Specifically …

  • Site-wide SEO settings so YOU can control what you want the Search Engines to see
  • In-Post SEO to give you even greater control on a per-post and per-page basis
  • Semantic markup for search engine readability
  • Modern, standards-compliant markup structure
  • Lean code for faster search engine crawls
  • An evolving SEO strategy for evolving SEO standards

Because Genesis is a framework upon which many themes will be built, as Genesis evolves, all child themes based on Genesis inherit the benefits. Everybody wins!!!

Layout Options

The Genesis theme framework comes with 3 default layout options – content/sidebar, sidebar/content and sidebar/content/sidebar. This is easily changed on the theme options page, and gives you the flexibility with all themes (Genesis parent and any child themes) to choose whichever layout you want.

Child Theme Marketplace

Once we launch the Genesis theme framework, we will be opening up a child theme marketplace – this is something that will begin as invite-only, in order for us to establish a good process with folks. Ultimately this gives designers a chance to develop child themes based on Genesis and an immediate place to market and sell themes here on StudioPress. This will operate under a revenue share, which is yet to be determined.

Genesis and BuddyPress

We’ve been asked many times if our themes are compatible with BuddyPress, and up until now – we’ve unfortunately had to say no. At this point we’re very happy to say that WPMU/BuddyPress gurus Ron and Andrea Rennick will be developing “add-on” packages that can be purchased/supported on a site of theirs. We felt that made sense, since they both have extensive knowledge with the software and how it can be implemented.

Estimated Release Timeline

The estimated tentative release date for the Genesis theme framework is February 1st, 2010 – though we are planning on making a beta version available to Pro Plus All-Theme members early/mid January for testing.

Nathan Rice Joins the StudioPress Team

Lastly – but certainly not least, I am very happy to announce that Nathan Rice is now a part of the StudioPress team. He’s been working with us since November – and together we have developed the Genesis theme framework. His main role with StudioPress will be Genesis development/support, as well as will be writing a number of plugins and widgets that we plan on releasing to the WordPress community. Nathan and I go years back, and I’m very proud to call him a team member and know that he’ll be an incredible asset to our team.


  1. Looks great You’ve done it again in twenty ten !

  2. Wowza is all I can say, can’t wait!


  3. Brian and studiopress do it again. I can’t wait to get a good look at this theme! A great way to start the new work year!!

  4. Congrats! Very cool and i’m excited to see it. I think this is a great move for you and StudioPress. Continued success this year!

    • Thanks Kevin, it only made sense – as having individual themes was actually holding us back from releasing more. This gives us a chance to put out a lot more product, and have it all share one set of files to make it easier on folks to update.

  5. Wow! This is exciting. Tops on my list of to-dos for 2010 was to revise my site using a theme framework. I can’t wait to start using Genesis. (Wish it were being released TODAY).

    • Thanks Regina – and sorry it’s not being released today! We want to get some additional eyes on it and working with it to get any kinks out to make sure when we release it that it’s good to go.

  6. Another great job! Brian likes black and white colors same like me :)

    Genesis is real personal blog theme for all bloggers. Thanks Brian!

  7. Well done guys, looking forward to seeing this. One request, some colour options built-in would make life so much easier, please?!

    • Are you referring to offering 5 color schemes for a particular design? Or the ability to choose colors/fonts, etc through an option page?

    • That’s on our radar, but it won’t be part of the framework, most likely. That’s child-theme territory. But the outcome will be the same.

  8. I’ll happily give the beta version a whirl when it’s made available. Looks like great work, and it’s brilliant to see that Nathan’s on board.

  9. We’re also really excited! :) Thanks for the opportunity to lend a hand.

  10. This looks really promising! I love the the whole framework idea. Keep up the great work!

  11. Congratulations! Can’t wait to see what turns up in the child theme marketplace. Also, excited that since you’re using the built-in post thumbnail feature, you guys might wind up contributing code back to core to help it evolve.

    • Hey Jane – thanks for dropping by. Yes – we’d love to be in a position to do that. The marketplace is what I am personally most excited about. Not only does it give users more to choose from, but helps the ecosystem evolve to more folks who can make money using WordPress.

  12. WOWIE Brian! The new structure looks AWESOME and alot like Core on the outside, but I see you’ve really pumped up the volume under the hood. Looks very promising and I’ll give it a “twirl” when it’s released. Congrats on NR joining the team. – Fred

    • Thanks Fred – Genesis was actually evolved from my idea of Core – we changed names to avoid any conflict/confusion with the WordPress Core terminology.

  13. Wow! I’m so impressed! Congratulations!
    and now: let’s start with child themes!
    Marco (aka october-29)

  14. I’ve been looking at frameworks all last year, and I just couldn’t justify the time to make the plunge. Glad to see my favorite Themer is about to release a framework, and with Nathan Rice no less. Wishing you continued success in 2010.

    • Thanks Ian – we are so excited about this. I get to do what I love, which is develop the front of of themes, while Nathan gets to do what he loves, which is the backend of themes.

  15. Wow… There’s ahead of the curve then there’s completely reinventing the curve.

  16. I’ve never really understood ‘child themes’ anyone care to explain as simply as possible?

    • Child themes are basically an extension of a parent theme. In other words, the Genesis parent theme is a full theme with all files that make it what the demo site is. (a simple blog theme) Child themes are separate, and activated like any other WP theme – Genesis child themes will have a home.php file which will add a customizable homepage to the theme, as well as new CSS which will give the theme a much different look. In the next week or so, Nathan is going to be writing a blog post on parent/child themes – how they work, etc.

      • Thanks for that Brian, now at the risk of pre-empting Nathan’s post… what’s the point of having them?

        • The ability to offer 100 designs based on one set of core files.

          • The cool thing for me is being able to work on a customisation, and still update the core set of files independent to my customisation. Having to reapply customisations every time the theme is updated is something of an overhead, which goes away if you’re using child themes.

  17. Not sleeping late does pay off. Even though I’m a complete noob, I’m excited over this becuase I know that anything Brian, the Studiopress team and Nathan do together will be amazing. Cant wait to see what it is as I’m moving forward in my WP education.

    • Thanks Carrie – the idea of a theme framework might sound complicated, but it’s actually not – and even moreso when it’s being used, makes things SO much easier on the both the developer and user.

  18. Congrats guys – that’s a nice looking framework.

  19. Michael Montgomery :

    Hi Brian – Sounds like a great project , With all those hooks I’ll definitely be interested in developing some child themes. Will keep an eye on Twitter for updates. Keep well from sunny South Africa

  20. Looking forward to test the framework and develop some child themes. If any alpha/beta testers needed sign me up!

    • Rebecca Diamond :

      thanks, Stefan! All of our Pro Plus All-Theme members will have access to help us beta test the framework…so if you don’t have that package yet, go ahead and pick it up to get access!

  21. Cool Can’t wait – The themes are already incredibly versatile – sounds like skys the limit now (or reasonably close).

    • That’s the point Jason, to take an already good set of code, universalize it and then be able to develop all kinds of various theme designs for user!

  22. Woohoo! 2010 is off to a bang with all of my favorite folks. πŸ˜€ I just can’t wait.

  23. Really looking forward to the Genesis framework. Will be nice to have standardized functionality available no matter how the final design looks. I haven’t been that supportive of child themes in the past but Genesis is about to give me an attitude adjustment :-)

    Also great to see Nathan onboard. I have always admired his coding skills.


    • Thanks Brad – yes, that is our full intent – to offer up the ability to have the same set of core files for any designs. And to have one theme per se to support, etc. Looking forward to the child theme designs that users come up with as well! (wink)

  24. Looks cool. Is that what you and Jason (Schuller) have been working on? Or is he not involved in this?
    One question: i bought the all-theme-package… now with genesis and the marketplace will i still get free access to every theme here? What will change?

  25. Everything sounds great! I’ve been reviewing all the available frameworks for the past couple of weeks because I’ve decided to offer my clients child themes based on a good, solid framework. No reason for me to try to reinvent the wheel. :) I look forward to getting my hands on Genesis!

    • Thanks Susan – that’s exactly why we developed it. So that folks like you have a central product to offer up with child themes that can provide the design/front end element to a theme.

  26. I suppose I’m old fashioned as I like to get my hands on the html elements and wp tags. I’m relieved to see that you’ve included a home template in the child theme. But I’m less than excited about a theme framework. I’m done a child themes (skins) for semiologic, thematic and thesis (would those be classified as child themes?) and I’ve yet to feel like I have the flexibility that I do with a straight up (old fashioned?) wp theme!

    I see the benefits. But I also see the learning curve to learn how to WRITE plugins – uggg… Plugins will work the same right, so we don’t have to use a custom functions file to write everything ourselves?

    And I’m SUPER glad to see that timthumb is being abandoned. I nearly always replace those calls with the get-the-image script from somebody… can’t remember.

    Anyway, these frameworks sound like the way of the future… but I appreciate the convincing that you’ve done on this post. I need more convincing too! :)

    • Hey Cathy – like I said in the post – no worries, our files are still going to have organic WordPress code. Meaning the only difference you’ll see with any of them (index.php, page.php, etc) will be hooks added in various locations. You’ll still be able to modify the theme as you do now, with css and through theme files. Plugins will work like they do now with any of our themes.

      • Yeah, I *could* but that would negate the whole point of a child theme, no?

        • Cathy,
          Well, obviously we prefer that people use a child theme to do their custom mods … but consider this …

          1. We are building widgets for nearly everything you can think of. Don’t want the byline? Uncheck. Want to include the post image (thumbnail)? Check.
          2. By taking advantage of post_class() and body_class(), you can use CSS and the existing markup structure to accomplish pretty much any layout you want.
          3. Using the child-theme’s home.php file and the standard Genesis functions, make the homepage look however you want, just like you did before.
          4. Yes, we have hooks and filters galore … so if there is something that you simply HAVE to change that can be modified by the previous 3 methods, we’ll teach you a VERY straightforward way of doing it with hooks.

          Finally, the benefit of doing things this way is the fact that whenever we release an update to Genesis (to fix bugs, add new features, etc.) you simply overwrite the old genesis folder with the new one without having to redo any of your custom mods.

          We think that is a HUGE benefit.

          But as Brian mentioned, we do not prohibit you from modifying Genesis directly. We’ve kept pretty much everything in its proper place in the template files, so if you feel so inclined, feel free to make changes wherever you want. You lose the easy upgradability, but that’s the way it goes.

          Hope that helps!

          • 2.9 has included some way of holding plugins within the theme folders, right? So many questions!! I’d love a chance to test this for you(if you’re looking for non-coders) :)


    • The nice thing about frameworks is that you can replace any template file with a file by the same name in the child theme. So you can still work with the template tags and completely customize as you see fit.

      • Thanks Ron, I didn’t know that. I suppose though, that if you overwrote one template, there is a chance that any upgrades to the parent theme would break the ‘connections’, whereas the home.php template will be programmed to work alone (I’m guessing!)

        • Since 2.7, the way the WP looks for theme templates is following the heirarchy that’s in the codex. For each file it looks for the file in the child theme folder (if using a child theme) and then in the parent theme. So, a request for the home page goes to the first template

          – home.php in the child theme
          – home.php in the parent theme
          – blog.php in the child theme
          – blog.php in the parent theme
          – index.php in the child theme
          – index.php in the parent theme

          And, when one of those templates request the sidebar, it checks the child theme first, then the parent theme.

        • Think of child themes as skins. Makes it easier to wrap your head around. :)

  27. Best Theme Brian.. By by Thesis πŸ˜‰ Good Luck πŸ˜‰

  28. Genesis is going to be fun!

    I’m really glad to see Nathan here and Andrea. Yippee!

  29. Awesome! Great to see another theme framework :)

    • Rebecca Diamond :

      Thanks – we’re pretty excited about it!

    • Thanks Ryan, hope your WP services are going well. Have not been on your site in awhile, wow many changes. Looks like you are in this full-time now.

  30. I wonder about client’s upgrades – will it include an upgrade feature similar to plugins? Or will we, as designers, need to upgrade everyone ourselves?

    • The goal is to eventually provide a way of pushing updates to everyone. But we need to figure out authentication and delivery before we can offer that.

      But it definitely IS on our radar.

  31. Brian, you and the entire Studiopress Team, amaze time and time again! Looking forward to Genesis! The price of pro plus is peanuts next to the service and amazing themes and innovation you provide to your customers.

    • Rebecca Diamond :

      Thank you Sanchay – we strive to give above and beyond to our clients, and it’s great to hear it’s working :)

  32. Very much looking forward to this. Glad to hear Nathan is behind this. He helped us with our very first foray into moving to a Blog format for our small business. Cheers to a blessed 2010 Studio Press staff.

  33. So basically you guys following and copying Thesis Theme Framework??
    Thats so lame of you. Common!

    • I think you need to have a little better understanding of what we are developing before you accuse us of ripping Thesis. Other than the fact that they are both called frameworks, and that they both have hooks – there’s not much similar. Chris has one theme, and most/all customizations are made from within the dashboard. Ours are extended through the use of child themes.

      This is an apples to oranges comparison – enough said. Besides, any troll comment made by a person who fails to leave a real email address or website won’t be taken seriously by me.

  34. It is indeed a good time to celebrate new year. Thanks for making it possible for us users of studio press theme. God Bless Studio Press..

  35. Awesome!
    Very much looking forward to it!!!

  36. wow!.. really very nice.. to hear about it…

  37. i am really looking forward to Genesis. Hope to get into the team of child theme developers.

  38. Brian and all…I cannot wait for this! Making design easier is what you guys have been about from the beginning. now…WOW, just wow! I fight with other popular frameworks daily for clients and when I say fight I mean FIGHT.. Keep me posted, my Clients love your work!

    ps: me too!

  39. Definitely looking forward to this. Having only just started using a Studiopress theme, I’ve been really impressed, and was about to start requesting a more personal/textual blog design I could use for another couple of sites.
    And then this appears!
    Can’t wait till I can get to try it!

    • Hey Dan – and thanks! We also think this is coming out at the right time, and look forward to seeing how users respond and getting feedback with it.

  40. Gotta love Christmas in January! Will you be carrying the Genesis framework over to Agentpress as well?? Looking forward to working with it to say the least, Bravo!

    • Hey Cam – yes, once the Genesis beta version is out and tested, and once we make it available here at StudioPress, I’ll be porting over the AgentPress theme to it. This is the #1 reason why we haven’t come out with a second theme design there – waiting to move the first one over to Genesis and then will hopefully be developing more AgentPress themes.

      • That is just fantastic to hear! I’m sure you probably have willing participants lining up to test the beta versions but if you’re in need of another – it would be my pleasure! Talk to you soon!

  41. Will Magazine and Streamline be moved over to Genesis framework as well?

    Just curious… would love to start using native 2.9 functionality instead of tim thumb.

    Congrats, BTW! Exciting news, great idea + execution, a good omen for 2010.

    • Thanks!
      Yes, that is the game plan, plus a bunch of new ones.

      • Do you know if any of the new themes will have a HuffingtonPost/SBNation feel to them?



        • Hey Brian, yes – at some point one of the child themes will be a news/magazine style one. I should be porting over the current News theme to Genesis, and will probably take it to another level or two.

          • Awesome!

            Any idea if we are looking at a Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 release for News/Magazine theme to Genesis?



          • Hey Brian – once Genesis launches (hopefully Feb 1) it should take me long to start cranking out child themes. More than likely both the current News and Magazine theme here will change in style to some degree, primarily because of the added flexibility with them being based on Genesis. That being said, I’m guessing it’s possible that News/Magazine child themes will be out in Q1, but Q2 worst case scenario.

  42. Brian (and the whole SP team),

    It really looks like you’ve hit it outta the park this time. The StudioPress themes have been the foundation of my business and this new release writes a whole new chapter.

    Anxiously awaiting the beta – just don’t even think about telling me to be patient.

    You guys (and gal) are the best!

  43. hey mate
    when is it coming out , want to get my hand on it asap

  44. I’m not clear whether you are selling this or offering for free?

    Will it be GPL?

    Looks nice.

  45. looking forward to Nathan cooking up some treats

  46. Brian – good to see the new direction – wise move – and a huge step for developers. I am proud to say I have seen you come a long way since you started.

    I do think it will be very helpful for someone in the WP community to compare and contrast Genesis vs. Thesis – surely this will happen over the coming months/year.

    Is Joost de Valk still involved with StudioPress?

    • Hey Mike – thanks so much, and glad we’ve been together since the beginning. (which, by the way if you can believe was over 2 1/2 years ago!) As stated in a previous comment, Thesis and Genesis are very different. Although I guess by definition they can be considered frameworks, Thesis is one theme with a lot of design options, etc from within the dashboard and IMO aimed more for beginners than developers. Genesis is built more to extend our reach with various designs, and it’s only a matter of convenience that they will all be based on one set of core files. As for Joost – he’s no longer involved with what we are doing. That was a temporary arrangement we had with one another.

  47. released to Gold members Monday? Hmm.. what about those of us who have purchased two or more themes totaling nearly the same price as a Gold membership? πŸ˜‰

    • I think you mean Pro Plus Members, not Gold. Ping me with an email & I can give you a discount code so that you can upgrade.

    • You can upgrade to the Pro Plus membership if you want for the difference in what you’ve spent to far and the $199.95 – that’s one option. Another, is that we might be offering folks to purchase Genesis tomorrow as well (jury is still out) with the understanding that it is BETA and that things will/can change with the theme/code. (and of course, a 25% repeat client discount will be offered.

  48. The theme looks were awesome.. seems to be a perfect competition for Thesis.. πŸ˜€

    • Quite honestly, Thesis and Genesis are very different. Although I guess by definition they can be considered frameworks, Thesis is one theme with a lot of design options, etc from within the dashboard and IMO aimed more for beginners than developers. Genesis is built more to extend our reach with various designs, and it’s only a matter of convenience that they will all be based on one set of core files.

  49. I’m an avid fan of your themes Brian and each time someone tries to lure me away with another theme, you give me another reason to remain loyal. I did so with the previous theme I used for almost 3 years and forgot how many blogs I built using it.

    Since converting to StudioPress, I’ve built twice the number of themes in less than 2 years than I did with the previous theme. Why? People love them!

    I’m as impatient as Joe!! :-)

    • Hey Trish – first off, thanks so much for the email you sent, and all of the kind words. It’s so great to hear about your experience with not only WordPress, but also our themes. I love hearing stories like yours, and how people have been able to make a living (while doing what they love). Keep up the great work, and cheers to a successful 2010!

  50. Brain, this is fabulous news. I first became familiar with your themes at revolution2 and downloaded them all before you made the change to studio press.

    My clients ask for your themes more than any others, and I am excited about this Genesis framework. It sounds like it will make my work much easier. Thanks for your creative thinking and the value you include in your products.

  51. Seriously, this is great news. I purchased the thesis theme a month ago but that’s still in the bin and continuing with the Studiopress News theme. And regarding the SEO options, if those are included with in the these (without the use of SEO Plugin?), try making a simple function that can import all existing meta data into Genesis theme’s table.
    Finally Genesis should be a Nemesis to Thesis :)

  52. One more thing, sorry for the double wobble, I didn’t see the hooks tab before in the Demo of Genesis which I saw now. Which totally means to me that thesis is your main target. For me this is the way to go. One main thing that thesis lacks is the usability of the theme ‘as is’. I request you to make the Genesis theme, without the need of any mods, a good clean 2/3 sidebar theme with the Nav bars (with good color combo) built in.. That would make the life a lot easier for duds like me :)

  53. Congratulations Brian… another great release! As I have said many times before, why would anyone go with anything other than Studio Press? It’s clearly the best!!


  54. This is great news Brian – I have a Thesis theme that I’ve been testing and this sounds like it will shelf that venture if what I read and hope you’re going to do with hooks is true. Your themes have some of the best coding and structure, can’t wait to see the Genesis evolve!

  55. Hi Brian

    Great idea with the Genesis system and like the idea of having the child one you can develop yourself.

    I’m going to put one of them together as a demo but once the final version is released, will it be easy to switch between the beta and live?

    • Richard, if you have the beta now, the most-likely update will be just replacing the functions file.

  56. I am wondering how Genesis picks which of the post images it places on the home page. It doesn’t seem to be the first image. It actually seems like it picks the last image.
    The posts I work on always have more than one image. Is it picking the last image or is it totally random? Just trying to understand how it works. Thank you

    • Andrea – actually, the Genesis theme takes the most recent image that has been uploaded through the media gallery. (which can also be re-ordered as well.)

      In other words, if you upload 4 images, it’ll show the last one you uploaded. However, if you want it to show the first image you uploaded, you can go into the media gallery for that post, and reassign “order” to the images so that the first uploaded image will be shown.