Well, it’s been a month since Thesis 2 was released to the public and it’s been one hell of a scene since then.

Some folks feel like Superman (or Superwoman) with such a powerful new tool. Others feel cheated because what was once handed to them on a silver platter now requires a baseline understanding of exactly what they’re doing.

To me, though, 95% of those who have reacted negatively to Thesis 2 have a bigger problem they need to address… and I’m about to get this thing started. Check it out.

The Preamble to My Rant

First of all, I’d like to point out a few issues that I know will appear in the comments. Not to discount those issues, but simply to say “get over it.”

Thesis 2 was released with no documentation

Got it. We were all hit with a brand new user interface with no real way of understanding how to use it. Actually, there was is a way of understanding it, but I’ll speak on that later.

The real problem with the documentation gripe is that Thesis 1 was packed full of amazing tutorials and articles about how to do just about anything with Thesis. We loved that.

So what’s better than an awesome framework with awesome documentation? An even more awesome framework with awesome documentation.

I understand your frustration… okay? But let’s get over it.

The Goodies were Promised but weren’t Delivered

Totally understandable. You were told that if you signed up early for Thesis 2, you would receive a basket of nifty gifties. It didn’t happen and you’re a little pissed about it.

While there are no excuses for this (that most people will actually care about), it happens. I assure you that the DIY Themes team did not let you down on purpose.

So I understand your issues here. But still, it’s not the end of the world (that’s in about a month and a half, I heard).

If you really want to use Thesis 2, you will… extra goodies or not. So let’s get over that (in regards to at least getting started with using the framework).

Everybody Hates Chris

I love that TV show. Meanwhile, there are a ton of character accountants keeping tallies on how many times Chris Pearson, the founder of DIY Themes, can do something to piss people off.

From complaining about his attitude in the AppSumo video (if you haven’t seen it, you’ll live) to things that happened years ago, some of you just don’t like Chris.

That’s okay. If you are not a fan of Chris the person, that’s totally your right. I don’t see how it has anything to do with Thesis, but that’s just me.

If you don’t hate him enough to stop using Thesis, get over it.

The Final Safety Net

I’m sure there will be a few people who have things to say that I couldn’t have possibly predicted. So, I’ll just say that if it doesn’t have anything to do with the specifics of Thesis itself, let’s get over it. We’re all here for Thesis, remember?

Now let’s get on with the show.

The Real Problem with Thesis 2

Thesis 2 came bundled with one big expectation of the user. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, you can’t just walk into Thesis 2 knowing absolutely nothing about webpages in general and expect to know how to use it.

The truth is that you have to know something about what you’re doing to use this advanced framework.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the root of the madness we’ve seen over the last month. People don’t know what they’re doing and it pisses them off. If they knew what they were doing, even without documentation, there would be fewer gripes and more badass websites “rocking” the Thesis Framework.

So the problem is obvious… people are confused.

I’m not here to fight with you about how the launch was conducted. I’m not here to argue with you about best business practices. I don’t get down like that.

I’m here to do one thing and one thing only… teach you how to think about webpages so you can shut your face and start using Thesis 2.

Sean’s Guide to Using Thesis 2

First, let me point out that I am not about to teach you how to drag and drop a box in the Skin Editor. Those days are over for me. Basic tutorials are great but I’m not a fish salesman. We’re about to have a fishing lesson so you can take care of yourself in the future… documentation or no documentation.

To use Thesis 2, it’s not an understanding of the user interface that you need; it’s a basic understand of webpages that is most important.

Let me share with you something that Chris told me back in July when he gave me my first sit down with Thesis 2.

He explained that WordPress has done a wonderful job of making people think that a webpage is a bunch of things that it’s not. Pages, Posts, Archives, Landing Pages, etc… all of those things can be (and should be) categorized into one general group… webpages.

There is no difference between a Page and a Post. They are both documents that are served to your browser and display content for you to read, view, click, type into, or whatever you heart desires.

Simply because one webpage allows you to leave a comment on it and another webpage doesn’t does not mean they are not the same thing.

They are… they just have different content that is structured in different ways. In WordPress, this content is structured differently depending on what the intent of the webpage is.

These different structures are called templates. A Page is a template. A Post (also called “Single”) is a template. Archives, whether they are search results, listings by category, whatever, share a template.

They are all just webpages… displaying content through predefined templates.

Stay with me here.

The Three Pillars of Webpages

Every single webpage has three dimensions, or “Pillars,” if you will. No matter what website you visit, I guarantee you can break it down into these three parts.

The Content

Content is displayed by HTML. Content is what you see on the screen. The text you’re reading right now… the logo… videos on YouTube… the stuff you look at when you’re home alone… it’s all content.

The Style

Style is handled by CSS. CSS is responsible for styling the aforementioned content. If HTML produces a link, CSS makes the link orange… and green when you hover over it. CSS styles HTML.

The Behavior

Many different languages can fall under this category. I would argue that Javascript is the most widely used behavioral language. CSS3 and its awesome animations are starting to creep into this space as well.

An example of a webpage’s behavior would be to click on an image and the image expanding to cover most of your viewport and darkening the rest of the webpage… also known as a lightbox. That’s a demonstration of an element’s behavior on a webpage.

Get it? Content, style, and behavior make up all webpages. Remember those… particularly content and style, which will be the only two I speak on from here on out.

How Content and Style Apply to Thesis 2

Now, let’s jump into the purpose of Thesis 2 and why the pillars of webpages matter so much.

If you can accept idea that a Page is no different from a Post in WordPress, and you can also understand that all webpages have content and style, the Thesis 2 user interface will start to make tons of sense to you.

The Skin Editor – HTML

When you enter the Skin Editor for Thesis 2, it may seem a little confusing. But chill… it’s not that complicated at all.

By default, you will start out on the HTML tab. As stated above, HTML is responsible for… say it with me… content!

So if there is something you expect to display on your webpage, you better believe that HTML will have something to do with it.

In this tab, the HTML tab, you will have the freedom to create a content structure for your website (this could very well be an aha! moment for some). As you can see in the above image, you’re on the HTML tab and the “Home” template is active.

What this means is you are literally creating the template for your homepage! Again, you are creating a custom template for your homepage! Should I say it again?

You are no longer stuck with a basic header that has a logo in it positioned to the left and a navigation menu above the header… juuuuust like everyone else.

No. You, the owner of this website, have the freedom to drag and drop these HTML elements wherever you would like them on… your… template.

Is this making sense?

If you stop and think about it, a Single Post in WordPress is usually a block of text followed by a block of comments and then a textarea for you to leave your own comment.

No, it’s not a special, WordPress-specific invention. It’s just a webpage with those elements arranged a certain way.

Don’t forget that.

Thesis 2 is simply trying to give you the ability to arrange those things exactly how you want them. That’s a good thing.

So if you start with the “Thesis Blank” skin, all you will see is the <body> of your of your webpage. There is no header. There is no footer. There is no content or sidebars. You just have the body of your webpage with nothing in it.

On the right side of the editor, you have a tool for creating and adding new “Boxes” to your template.

If you were to select one of the most basic of those generic boxes called a “Container,” give it a name for you to remember it by, like “Header,” and simply used the awesome drag and drop functionality to place it inside of that standalone <body> box that is on your “Home” template by default, you have now just added a new HTML element to your webpage without writing HTML.

I’m getting excited over here. I’m not excited because I didn’t have to write HTML… but more so because it used to take PHP to do that very task in WordPress and Thesis 1. Now, it doesn’t.

This is what we call “leverage.”

Now that you have a container called “Header” in on your home template, there’s still nothing to see. The HTML for the header element is ready to display content… so you need to give it some content to display.

There are certain boxes that automatically come with Thesis 2… like “Site Title.” Ladies and gentlemen, the “Site Title” box pulls your site title directly from the “Site Title” field in your WordPress Settings under the General menu.

Understand that your content is created just the same as before… with pages, posts, categories, settings, etc. Thesis 2 is now giving you complete control over how that content will be displayed.

If you were to just drag the “Site Title” box inside of the “Header” box you created, your site title will now display in your header.

You haven’t written any HTML. More importantly, you haven’t written any PHP, which was previously responsible, in Thesis 1, for manipulating that HTML for you. You don’t have to write any hooks. You don’t have to know HTML or PHP.

You just need to understand what a webpage consists of… and then drag boxes!

It’s safe to assume that most of you will not be using “Thesis Blank” at this point. So everything from here on out will assume you are using the “Thesis Classic” skin as a starting point.

The Skin Editor – CSS

The first pillar of a webpage is handled already with the contents of your custom HTML templates from the HTML tab… thanks to Thesis 2.

Now it’s time to handle the second pillar of a webpage… style. Remember, CSS is responsible for styling HTML elements. So the CSS tab is where this is done.

Listen. Don’t psych yourself out here. Ampersands and dollar signs… I know… you’re confused. Don’t be. Just stick with me here.

In Thesis 1, you had two options for using CSS.

  1. You could use the Design Options and simply make selections that would change the style of your content. Whether you realize it or not, those options you chose were writing CSS for you.
  2. In the custom.css file… you could write your own CSS and it would style your content just like the Design Options would.

In Thesis 2, you have the same two options. However, what has replaced the Design Options is so powerful, I can’t even describe how lucky Thesis users are.

The Custom CSS panel is just like the custom.css file… period. If you know how to write (or copy and paste) CSS,  you can do that in the Custom CSS field and it will style your content as expected.

The Packages, which are like Design Options on steriods, are where you’ll find the most leverage, though. Using them is simple (it really is).

If you look on the right side of the screen while under the CSS tab, there are “Packages” and “Variables.” Ignore the variables for now… let’s talk about packages.

Above is a screenshot of the packages in the skin I am using on this very website. Look at the names… “Site Title,” “Header,” “Body,” they should all sound familiar.

Packages are chunks of options (think Thesis 1 Design Options) that apply specifically to a certain HTML elements that you have in your templates.

In other words, Packages are CSS… and CSS styles HTML, which are your Boxes (another possible aha! moment). Get it?

Now, back in the Thesis 1 days, we may have written CSS in our custom.css file to give our website a custom background. If you remember, it probably looked something like this:

body.custom {
    background: #080 url(images/noise.png);

That CSS had to be written in the custom.css file. You had to know CSS (or find a place to copy it from) and have an image (like noise.png) uploaded somewhere to place in the URL for the pattern to be used as your <body> background.

Not anymore.

Have you been noticing that “Images” tab up there next to HTML and CSS? You can use that Images tab to upload images directly to your skin. Here’s the image I have uploaded for for a portion of my site that uses the noise.png pattern as a background:

Notice the relative URL for the image on the right side. It looks an awful lot like the relative URL in my CSS code above, eh?

The actual noise.png image is also displayed on the left of that screenshot. Look closely. After uploading your image, you could simply copy that relative URL to your clipboard.

Now, back over on the CSS tab, it’s time to use that image as the background pattern for our website.

This time, we don’t need to write, or even know, CSS. All we need to do is create a Package.

If you are using “Thesis Classic,” a Package for the Body is already created for you. Let’s look at it.

We’re not going to complicate this. The “Name” of your package is for you and you only. Name it something short and descriptive. This Package is for the <body> of our website… so it’s called “Body.”

The bottom field called “CSS Selector” is what the CSS uses to reference the HTML element it is responsible for styling. In this example, your site will only have one <body>. So we’re good to go.

However, if you were creating a package for a generic box that you made up, like a text box beneath your post, you would need to enter a CSS selector that specifically references that text box using the CSS Class or ID that you chose when you created the box.

Basically, the CSS Selector works exactly as you would expect CSS to work.

If the last portion makes absolutely no sense to you, or you are unfamiliar with how CSS selectors work, it may be time to hit W3Schools and learn the basics of HTML and CSS.

The middle field called “Reference” is key… name it something, again, short and descriptive. My Reference almost always matches my Name.

Those are the only three required fields of your Package.

At this point, you can save your package and it will display in the Packages area for your to go back and edit at any time.

The “Reference” field you filled out represents the link between your Package and your Box. Without placing the reference in the Skin CSS panel, regardless of your CSS Selector, the CSS will not work.

The Skin CSS panel needs to know that you are using a given Package in your skin. To let it know, place an ampersand (&) and the “Reference” value in that panel as seen in the image on the right.

That’s it. Save the CSS and your package is ready for use.

Now if you go back into your Package, you can start to use some of the other options for styling your HTML.

Notice the tabs at the top of the Package this time. Let’s look at the second one called “Options” (think Design Options… again).

Basically, there are certain things that almost always get changed (in regards to style) about particular HTML elements. Many sites don’t leave their <body> as its default background value of white.

So based on what people normally change, Thesis 2 provides a well thought out combination of options for you to change those things without writing CSS.

Let’s get that site background changed.

This picture itself is another possible aha! moment.

Remember the custom CSS we had to write for Thesis 1?

body.custom {
    background: #080 url(images/noise.png);

Remember the image we uploaded and copied the relative URL for?

Let that soak in for a minute and then answer this question for me, folks…

Do we need a lesson in Thesis 2 or do we need a lesson in how webpages are built?

If we know what HTML is responsible for, and we know what CSS is responsible for, is Thesis 2 really that hard to use?

As promised many times by Chris and the DIY Themes team, you do not have to be a web geek to understand how to use Thesis 2. You don’t have to know HTML, CSS, PHP or anything else to know how to use Thesis 2.

However, you do have to understand what each of those languages is used for. If you simply understand their responsibilities, Thesis 2 does the rest of the work for you.

Am I making sense?

After saving that Package and saving the CSS, your site will now have the green (#080) background with a “noisy” texture over it, just like the custom CSS would have done for Thesis 1.

So if you understood it (not just copied and pasted it) in Thesis 1, you should understand it in Thesis 2… period.

Okay, Sean, but Now What?

What I just showed you was so incredibly basic. What you have to understand is that Thesis 2 is not designed to hold your hand through WordPress anymore… and that’s a good thing.

Not everyone wants a header up top, content on the left, sidebar on the right, and a footer on the bottom. In my Thesis 1 freelance experience, the first thing people always asked me for was a custom homepage like I did for Chris Ducker.

Before, it took PHP to make this happen. Not anymore. Now all I have to do is place those HTML elements on my “Home” template and then head over to the CSS tab to style them with Packages… or even the Custom CSS panel.

So if you want a single post footer beneath your articles, you don’t need PHP anymore! All you have to do is drag a new text box to the position beneath your post box on your “Single” template!

Want a different sidebar on Pages and Single Posts? Okay. Place different sidebar boxes with different content in them on Page and Single Post templates.

It doesn’t take a plugin. It doesn’t take PHP.

Folks, is the amount leverage and flexibility you have making sense?

It’s not up to WordPress or Thesis to build it for you anymore. You have been given the freedom to go custom. Use it.

The Real Purpose of this Article

This is not a guide on how to use Thesis 2. I left out quite a few details because I will leave those things up to the DIY Themes team and community.

What I want you to take away from this is that you have not been screwed over. You have been given the most powerful framework in the history of WordPress (my opinion… and I stand firmly behind it).

Erase the word “Theme” out of your head. Let’s try to shift focus to the word “Framework.” Thesis is a framework with template building capabilities like no other.

Developers, Thesis makes your job so incredibly easy, it’s not even funny.

Quick tip for developers: As of now, I find it easier to start new projects with “Thesis Classic” and simply delete the Packages I don’t need and adjust the Variables to my liking instead of starting with “Thesis Blank.” Free code!

Beginners, take advantage of this little nudge in the back to start wrapping your head around what it is you’re doing here.

I know you’d like to believe that only the geekiest of geeks can build websites. But it’s just not true. The process is simple (at basic levels) and anyone can do it. Thesis 2 makes it even easier.

You just need to graduate from psyching yourself out to taking responsibility for the title you hold… “webmaster.”

If you do not want to be a webmaster, you can simply outsource all of your website related work to someone else. If you choose to go that route, are you really in a position to speak on Thesis 2 anyway? 😉

Final Thoughts on Thesis 2

There are some kinks that need to be worked out. Got it. There’s no documentation at this point. Cool.

But the honest truth is that you don’t need to worry about any of that right now.

If you know how to use Thesis 2 already, you’re good to go. If you don’t know how to use it, it’s not because of the absence of documentation, it’s because you don’t understand the basics of webpages.

Dig in and play around with the features. Thesis 2 is just as amazing as a small group of us say it is. I promise.

Get the hell off of the #thesiswp hashtag talking crap and start using what you paid good money for.

Published by Sean Davis

When I'm not developing WordPress themes and plugins, I'm usually helping further the Easy Digital Downloads project, traveling, or playing racquetball. Say hi on Twitter. @SDavisMedia


  1. Brilliant from start to finish Sean. You have captured my thoughts on Thesis perfectly. Unfortunately, for the reasons you’ve pointed out, some folks should simply NOT attempt to build a website on heir own. For them they would be better off spending the money on a designer/developer.

    From the minute I “got” Thesis 2 I’ve seen nothing but opportunity. The fact that many closed minded “developers” have chosen to get on the criticism bandwagon is even MORE of an opportunity for me. Eventually their customers will work out they are using second best technology.

    If you actually understand how a website works you can’t help but be impressed with Thesis 2.0.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. It’s not like it wasn’t rough for everyone when they first put it to use. It takes a second to get used to. But if you understand webpages, it’s not about how Thesis 2 works, it’s about how Thesis 2 helps you build webpages. Simple.

      As for those who took off to use something else BECAUSE of their issues with Thesis, I’d argue that they weren’t real Thesis users to begin with.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. You sure it’s not the “CSS Selector” that’s the link between your Box and CSS?

    Pwetty sure…

    • Yes… the CSS selector links CSS and HTML… definitely. However, if you are using a Package, what links your Packages (CSS) to your Boxes (HTML) is what you put in the Skin CSS panel.

      I should have worded it more clearly. But I did state that ‘The bottom field called “CSS Selector” is what the CSS uses to reference the HTML element it is responsible for styling.’

      Simply placing the appropriate CSS selector in that field on a Package does nothing… until you place the reference in the Skin CSS panel, your CSS does not style the HTML. So the reference is how you link your HTML and CSS together in that sense.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Right.

        Well, personally, I work faster in code than I do clicking through endless packages, variables, and menus, so I’ll probably stick to ignoring that part of the interface for now and just deal with code.

        I do enjoy Thesis 2 so far but look forward to some of the issues being worked out (and documentation + promised skins to come, too).

        It has potential, although the seemingly unlimited ways of reaching the same goal isn’t necessarily awesome, as you can get stuck pretty easily.

        Still, good framework. I’ve used others that are comparable and in some cases exceed T2, but I like it.

        • I agree totally that getting straight to the code is better… for me, at least. If I attempt to build a skin using Thesis Blank, it’s not long before I’m terribly annoyed with Packages. I’ve found, though, that starting with Thesis Classic and simply deleting the Packages I don’t need and adjusting the Variables makes it a LOT easier to get started.

          I definitely wouldn’t argue that Thesis is the best tool for every possible web development task. But for most projects, I’ll probably lean more towards Thesis 90% of the time.

          • Good tip – I started doing that (stripping Classic) and yes, it makes the process a bit more bearable!

  3. Hi Sean,

    I think that you make some very valid points here for the beginners looking to PWN without having to have a basic understanding of what a website actually consists of.

    I see a lot of people that are new to DIY Themes and Thesis looking for instant gratification using the logic that a Website should have the set it and forget Microwave Instant Gratification thing going on, in short that is just not going to happen regardless if you use Headway, Catalyst, Genesis, etc, etc!

    People need to come to terms with the real problem which is ….they need to educate themselves on the various elements that a website is comprised of and also understand that there is indeed required learning and tons of it if you wish to be a Web Master.

    Me personally I have been hard core at being a Web Master for the past 5 years now and my god… there is still so much to learn and the NET landscape is continuously changing and continues to require further learning on a regular basis.

    Everybody, Sean makes some excellent points here and they are based specifically on Logic and you cannot hide from that or avoid it either.

    Very nice post Sean and I hope that the beginners that are new to web design and Thesis will find worth and merit in your words through the logic that you have imparted to them.

    Cam : )

    • Thanks for the awesome comment!

      I agree totally that people want most everything done for them in regards to creating a website. Honestly, there’s room for that mindset and I have no problem with it. It just needs to be applied to the correct products.

      Thesis has never been one to do everything for you… and it shouldn’t. The heavy lifting is one thing, and I love the fact that Thesis handles it with ease. But giving you an understand of what you actually have in a website?

      Come on, man. You have to learn something about what you’re doing. Spend a few hours reading basic tutorials. How hard is that?

      With the little I know, I am self-taught just like you. I don’t think it’s that hard to look into this stuff for at least a basic understanding. If people don’t want to, that’s fine. They can outsource. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Indeed Sean…Indeed

        Personally, here’s my 2cents..

        People have 2 Choices in Life..

        A: They Can Empower Themselves Through Education & become The Victor


        B: They Can Choose to Remain Ignorant & Become the Victim!

        I recommend the latter of the two. : 0 )

        In the End, we all have the choice of which road we will walk and in simplest terms…..Being a Victim is a Choice!

        You cant argue with logic ……….

  4. Hey Sean,

    I get what you’re saying, and the flexibility is certainly there to be taken advantage of once you get your head around it all.

    However, there are other legitimate interface/usability concerns (and I speak as a supporter of Thesis in general, though I’m not using it as we speak).

    For example, going into the Skin Editor makes your WP navigation disappear, and there’s no clear way to return except hit ‘back’. Also, getting popup block warnings is a bit weird. And lastly, having a ‘click to edit’ button in the visual area when you view the site, instead of putting it in the WP admin bar at the top, is, well, I don’t know what it is. I could get negative, but instead I’ll reserve myself to the fact that I just can’t understand why they have chosen to do these things this way when there are clear alternatives.

    Those are just a few of the concerns I see that seem to add to the confusion people are already going to feel with a new interface and approach.

    No doubt when the dust settles it’ll all become clearer for the many who feel like they’ve just paid to come into a fog. However, I think some of the changes are unnecessarily confusing.

    Good work on the post, though. It’ll certainly be helpful to many.

    P.S. You might want to add some padding to this comment box, as the text hits the edge when you’re typing up a comment. And rolling over your submit button makes it go completely gray. 😉

    • See what happens when you don’t test everything? 😛 As soon as I replied to my first comment on this post, which was the first comment I made on the redesign, I noticed the same thing and gave myself a facepalm. 🙂 Thanks for pointing them out.

      I agree that there are some UI issues. There are many of us providing feedback about them and the changes are slowly being made. Rick Beckman had a lot to say about UI and I know for a fact a ton of his suggestions are being implemented. So no argument there.

      There are bugs. There are issues. But if they are in the front of people’s minds, I’d argue that what really should be there is not there because of a lack of understanding the more obvious pluses to this framework.

      I do hope to see the “community” hop off of Chris’ back and do all they can to help make Thesis better, though. It’s really more powerful than any of us ever expected… whether we realize it or not.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Sean,

    All it took was a little reminder from you about frameworks which unlocked my wordpress conditioned mind and an entire new world of design possibilites using 2.0.

    As always another stellar tutorial.

    P.S. If you really want to leverage the power of 2.0 and you don’t know jack, head on over to byobwebsite and watch Rick’s intro video series.

    I’m rockin 2.0 and lovin Chris for it.

    • So glad you hopped on board with T2, Les. When we first spoke, I know you were hesitant to step away from 1.8.5. I don’t blame you… I miss it and still use it here and there. 😛

      Glad to see you getting into it, though!

  6. BTW – Loving your new 2.0 look

  7. Sean,

    I get what you’re saying.
    But, the valid points you have made are not reflected in the thesis sales page. If peoples expectations are raised by marketing blurb, and then dashed when they find they have to go to w3school after all, it’s understandable they’re going to feel pissed.

    • I’m not mad at that at all. It’s totally understandable. My issue is that people are not solution-oriented. So they screwed up a bit with this launch. We all know it. I’ve had my own words about it… I won’t lie.

      But the fact of the matter is, people are drowning because they never learn how to swim… period. Had docs been delivered on time, more people would be able to use the framework, I’m sure. But they still have a huge problem whether they want to admit it or not.

      If you own a website, do one of two things:

      1. Learn the basics about how your website is able to do what you want it to do… when you want it to do it.

      2. Outsource to someone who is willing to do it all for you.

      If you find yourself in the middle, you don’t know anything about your website, but you don’t want to pay someone else to do it all for you, what should really be addressed here? The shortcomings of the launch or the lack of knowledge by the user?

      Maybe it’s my military background… I don’t know. But I think solution first and to me, the answer is everyone learn the basics and never be at the mercy of a framework again.

      Thanks a ton for reading and for your feedback.

  8. Bravo, my friend. Bravo.

    Very insightful and informative, Sean. I just picked up Thesis 2 and will be tackling all my sites next week and this came at a perfect time.

  9. Heh.. that’s what I thought!

    Most people got a creativity shock by the blank page 🙂

    • It sure did smack me around a couple of times. I’m really not sure why. I guess it’s because I’m used to working off of the original Thesis 1 starting point.

      In the very near future, though, I plan to use Thesis 2 for sites that aren’t necessarily blogs. I’m sure the custom creativity will flow well, then!

  10. Hey Sean, this is actually the first blog post on Thesis 2.0 that doesn’t bores the heck out of me.

    What an amazing walkthrough and seriously bro, you should consider writing books man!

    You have that special “something” in your writing and I believe you definitely should exploit your knowledge and skills.

    Speak soon man, take care and keep rocking on Thesis, I am going to start wetting my feet in a few days with it.


    • Hey thanks a ton for the support, Sergio. I know we’ve had our discussions about frameworks in the past but I really feel like this one is miles ahead of everything else… to include Thesis 1. It’s crazy.

      Let me know once you get into it. You’re going to love the control!

  11. I hope you continue with more actual tutorials as I’m guessing it will be weeks before DIY Does It Themselves.

    Personally, I am happy to have so much control. I’m hoping in the next few releases things get buttoned up even more but I think the best thing is that other developers will share boxes and packages which will be great to use.

    • I agree, Chris. It’s really the Thesis community that needs to stand up now. I will be the first to admit that I haven’t done much since Thesis 2 dropped. However, I believe in leading by example. I wasn’t going to push Thesis 2 heavily until I put my own site on it… which was only a couple of days ago.

      I don’t know what the future of my tutorials will look like. I can still write detailed tuts for non-Thesis things but I don’t know if the basic tasks in Thesis will actually need those kinds of tuts anymore. The things that may actually need tuts may be a little too technical for my current audience.

      We’ll see how everything goes. For now, I just want everyone to take this opportunity to learn. It can only help!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Very well written, Sean.
    As a website non-developer person who has been trying to learn Thesis, CSS and HTML in my spare time, I think Thesis 2.0 is great. It makes the trial and error process less scary. Before, I would see a site feature I liked and then go try to figure out how to get it with a widget or using some code I did not really understand. Although Thesis 1.0 had lots of reference info about using hooks, etc. it was/is still confusing to me. I know nothing about PHP. And I’m always afraid I’ll make some error that blows up my site and not know how to fix it. With 2.0 I feel I can at least look at the classic theme template boxes and packages and learn from what’s there.

    I’m very grateful for the people who created the early how-to step by step posts and videos because they are very valuable (DIYWPBlog/BYOBWebsite).
    That said, I think the lack of documentation on launch was a huge tactical error if the goal is to attract more non-developers to Thesis. Nobody wants a white screen of death and the bad news and critical comments about Thesis 2.0 will scare many off. Developers probably pick up 2.0 quite easily. But what is the DIYThemes goal – more use by developers or adding more non-developers?

    I think the market is huge for the in between user that wants to design and control the look and feel of their site and content, and know how to easily create new content, marketing pages, landing pages, etc. without paying a designer. Maybe I’m overestimating that, because more people really just want a WP blog site built on a free/cheap theme that does everything for them. I want to understand how it works. It seems Thesis 2.0 has created a huge opportunity for the developer/consultant that wants to teach the basics of starting a website, so the user can get started and build from there. And that means creating step by step training materials and process documents that document repeatable steps with words and pictures and everything. I agree with your comments that people need to teach themselves the basics before declaring that a product is flawed.

    I’ll keep chipping away at my slow learning speed. Thanks for the article and all your contributions to the users forum.


    • I love your comment, Angie.

      That’s exactly what I am asking people to do… just be willing to learn.

      I definitely think that documentation is 100% necessary. I wouldn’t be in my current position now if it wasn’t for Thesis 1.x docs. They taught me the basics and I was able to take things from there. I loved that.

      So the sooner they can get the docs out, the better. What I am scared of is when people finally get the docs and realize that they still don’t know what they’re doing. Sure, they will get step by step instructions on how to do the basics. But if they simply click on a package right now in the Thesis Classic skin, they will see things… like background colors and font settings.

      Change something… save it… refresh the site… take note of the difference. That’s all it takes, you know?

      So if there were no gripes and insults being thrown at DIY Themes, I probably wouldn’t have written this post. But the simple fact that people are placing all of their reasoning for being totally let down on the lack of documentation is just flawed reasoning to me. I think it’s time to take some initiative.

      I love your attitude on the matter. Your expectations of DIY Themes are justified but you’re still doing what you can to learn certain things. That’s awesome. If everyone did that, we’d have a much better Thesis community right now and Thesis as a whole would probably be pushed in a much better direction.

      It’s all a growth process, though. Thanks so much for the comment and thanks for reading. Contact me anytime if you have questions about how to do something in Thesis 1 or 2!


  13. The sooner you and Alex build your own premium framework the better.

    Why let someone else dictate your future?

    Why wouldn’t you?

    • Who’s dictating my future? I don’t have a business based on Thesis. Likewise, you’re mistaken if you think that Alex’s skins, which are based on Thesis, are what he has to offer the world. It’s his skill that he has to offer, which is not based on Thesis… it’s based on web development and web design in general. Thesis is just a tool.

      That’s like saying Chris Pearson’s future is based on WordPress… totally incorrect.

      With that being said, I’m not a coder, per se. So I won’t be coming up with my own framework lol. That has never been my space. But yea… my future has always been and will always be in my hands.

    • Man, Brad, what an absolutely ignorant thing to say.

      If I was going to let someone dictate my future, I’d probably be working for a boss right now. I’m not forced to use Thesis, I’m not forced to use WordPress. A lot of the work I’ve been doing the past few months has nothing to do with either platforms.

      I like Thesis 2 a lot, and I can tell you either a) hate Thesis or b) didn’t read Sean’s article, because in no way does Thesis dictate anything when it comes to building a website.

      • VERY good point in that last paragraph. The clear meaning of this article is that Thesis is just a tool for doing what we’re all here to do… build websites. So if you don’t know how to build websites, how Thesis works is irrelevant. Very well said, my man.

      • Have you changed your Avatar? Look different.

        Yes very ignorant. Maybe Dictate wasn’t the right word. Apologies guys.

        See, if you had those editable comments i could have taken out that word and it may all be different! hahaha

        Hate? There’s no real hate with WordPress.

        Actually, why don’t you also build child themes for Genesis?

  14. Love it……brilliant, only read down to Home Page, and will be taking it all in later. What’s the saying? KISS – Keep It simple stupid.
    I am a beginner in this world, but I will get there and design a simple Thesis website in the next few weeks with your help, Sean
    Keep the posts coming………….. or is it content? Prefer a BLT rather than an HMLT….
    Mark B

    • Haha thanks for the comment, Mark. I’m always here to help so let me know if you have any issues. It’s definitely not instinctive but with a few days of intentionally trying to soak it all in, it’s a lot easier than people think. Good luck!

  15. Just what I needed to read today. I know HTML and CSS, but I still wanted to sit back a bit and let the kinks work themselves out, and let the good tuts like this flow before jumping in.

    • Hey, Shane. I wanted to do the same thing… and I kind of did.

      After a few weeks, I realized that I didn’t really care about the tutorials… because I almost never read them (unless they come straight from DIY). I realized that the only reason I hadn’t been using Thesis 2 was because I let the “culture shock” of the new user interface get to me.

      So I decided to give it a day or two of undivided attention… working through any annoyances I may have had. And what do you know… I developed a love for it.

      I say dig in, man. I don’t think any super high quality tuts are going to come because I REALLY don’t see the need for them. That’s just me, though.

      Let me know when you get started. I can’t wait to see people in action with T2.

  16. Thanks for the article Sean, and you make some good points. I think once people “get” Thesis 2, they’ll realize how powerful it is.

    There doesn’t seem to be much discussion about developers having to use the new package interface to write css. I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m going to feel comfortable writing my css by inputting values into text fields and selecting from options in a drop down. Using a text editor to hand write css is how many developers do it.

    I was curious as to what your opinion is on this. And would you consider writing all css in an editor then just copying and pasting it all in the custom css section of Thesis 2 when you’re done.

    • Hey, Reggie.

      That’s a good question and the same exact concern I was having in my first week or so of using Thesis 2.

      Plain and simple, Packages were just overkill for me. When you are starting fresh with Thesis Blank, creating and editing Packages to do the most basic things seems like soooo much work. It didn’t make sense to me and I was much happier with the idea of just using the Custom CSS panel… or at the very most, the Additional CSS tab inside of a package.

      Once there are a ton of Packages and variables up and running, things get a little easier, right? It’s getting up to that point that’s annoying.

      With that idea in mind, what if you could skip that Package building process but still start off with a pretty clean slate? That sounded great to me… and I found a way to do it.

      Instead of starting a new project with Thesis Blank, I now start with Thesis Classic and delete certain things. For example, I delete column structure and associated CSS. I also delete all of the preset background, and general color variables.

      Once I’ve done that, things become MUCH easier to deal with because now I don’t have to write my own CSS for complicated things like comments. Who wants to write CSS for comments? I’d much rather adjust comments CSS to my liking than write it from scratch.

      So to answer your question, no… I do not like the initial building of my CSS by using Packages and Variables over raw CSS. However, If I can have the majority of it already built for me, simply editing Packages and Variables is nowhere near as big of a pain in the neck, if you ask me.

      Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

  17. Great article, thank you! It encourages me to start over right next week with Thesis 2. I already did about 8 Project with Thesis 1

    • Your stuff looks good, man! Very unique.

      Thanks for reading and be sure to stop by and drop me a line once you get rolling with Thesis 2.

      • Sean, I did it! This is my first project I implemented with Thesis 2:


        Now that I jumped through the first hoop, it’s becominge more an more easy! I’m starting to love Thesis 2!

        • That’s outstanding, man! I was actually at Pearson’s house when we took a look at your comment and site! It’s great that you said you would dig into Thesis 2 back in November and did what you said you would do. We were thrilled about that.

          Keep it up and be sure to let me know if you need any assistance.

          • Thank you, Sean, for your gracious offer! But the guys on the Thesis support forum are doing an excellent job. I think there will be no further help needed … 🙂

  18. I noticed that your Thesis site is no longer responsive. How do we add that to a Thesis 2 site?

    Thanks for sharing all this information in your post.

    • Hey, Evan. This new version is not currently responsive, correct.

      Contrary to popular belief, responsiveness is not some feature that can be added to a site. It’s CSS that has to be written based on the site itself.

      I wrote my own responsive CSS, which I will do soon if I decide to make this site responsive. But there’s no switch to flip… it’s styling… just like the color scheme you see or the background patterns. It has to be done intentionally and I haven’t done it yet.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Hi Sean, Thanks for responding. In the starter responsive skin DIYthemes provided for Thesis 1, there was a custom loop defined in custom_functions.php and other functions. Is that not necessary? Is only css code with media queries needed to make Thesis 2 responsive?
        Thanks for your help.

        • Oh no that custom loop didn’t have anything to do with responsiveness. That’s just how the starter template was structured but it’s only the CSS that pertains to responsiveness.

          What I will be doing is writing new CSS with media queries to adjust how the site looks on certain screens…. that’s it. It’s as simple as can be (in regards to writing CSS).

  19. Sean,

    I look forward to learning more about Thesis 2. Two years ago I stopped using Thesis because there was a bug in it that even Chris couldn’t fix.

    Very informative post. Thanks,


  20. “Beginners, take advantage of this little nudge in the back to start wrapping your head around what it is you’re doing here.”

    That one sentence just gave me enough motivation not to ask for a refund for 2.0. lol, I’m brand new to web design, so i was having trouble with it at first.

    Great post man!

    • Man! That comment makes it all worth it. I’m thrilled to know that you’re going to hop into it. I’m going to email you with my Skype ID and if you have ANY issues with Thesis or web development in general, I’ll help you personally.

      Great stuff, man. You just made my night.

  21. I’d like to see a list of all the ways Thesis 2 makes it easier on developers to build WP sites. Everything I’ve seen so far will just make my job harder.

    They shouldn’t have called this product Thesis as it shares no resemblence to the 1.8x versions and there was is way to upgrade to it without rebuilding your entire site. Toyota doesn’t build a pickup truck and call it a Camry, do they?

    • “I’d like to see a list of all the ways Thesis 2 makes it easier on developers to build WP sites. Everything I’ve seen so far will just make my job harder.”

      How about everything you’ve done? How did that work out?

      • I’m not sure I understand. How did my three years of faithful Thesis development turn out? Quite well in fact. The question is how I move forward with a theme that my clients want me to use but is a mess of drag/drop with no new added features.

        I understand you make money off Thesis, but for the benefit of your readers please try to be objective here.

        • Negative… I don’t make money off of Thesis. I make money by being a web developer whether I use Thesis or not.

          Now I sat down to write an article about why you don’t know how to use Thesis 2 and what you need to do about it. From what it sounds like, you DO know how to use Thesis 2. So please tell me in what way, shape, or form does this article apply to you?

          It sounds to me like you have legitimate gripes… like the fact that if you put people on Thesis 2 who have paid to have you build a site for them because they don’t want to do it, they won’t know how to move forward without your assistance. Guess what… that’s true. And I agree.

          So please tell me… why are you here? The article is not written for you and that’s pretty obvious if you have three years of faithful Thesis development.

          I understand that YOU make money as a web developer and Thesis 2 put you in a tough position because your clients can’t use it. But that doesn’t justify you going to the wrong place and complaining about it. That’s what the DIY Themes blog is for.

          I know exactly what I said, why I said it, who I said it to, and how I make my money. My judgment isn’t clouded by money. Instead, I think yours is clouded by discontent with Thesis and you picked my article to release your frustrations on. You picked the wrong place for your legitimate complaints.

  22. Great article Sean, no more hand holding; I like it!

    I think what people are forgetting to separate is the launch of Thesis 2 and the actual framework & features of Thesis 2.

    Yes, the Thesis 2 launch was brutal; continuously delayed, lacking material, and not presented properly.

    Yes, the Thesis 2 framework does exactly what was promised, remove the limitations of designing a beautiful site – without having to write manual code. This is not to say that you don’t need to know how the code interacts with the site, as you mentioned 😉

    At the end of the day, people need to decide if they want a simpler cookie-cutter website, or if they want an actual custom designed website(and the work that goes along with it). Thesis offers both solutions.Thesis 2’s functionality was the reason I originally purchased Thesis’ developers license and 3 1/2 years later, it’s here!!

    • Boom! Very well said, Justin, and I agree with every word 100%.

      Whether or not people want to get caught up on the launch chaos is totally up to them. But they shouldn’t take their frustrations out on the integrity of the framework itself. That thing is wonderful. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, bud.

  23. “Beginners, take advantage of this little nudge in the back to start wrapping your head around what it is you’re doing here” – you’re talking to me here, and, OK, I’ll take that challenge!

    I’m brand new to this, and yes, right now I feel as though I may have bitten off more than I can chew in deciding to use Thesis 2 instead of buying a done-for-me theme. But that’s to be expected, and it’s fine – I figure that the time I invest now will be more than paid back by the ability to manage my own site design for evermore.

    I had a hunch that an understanding of CSS may prove useful … and am currently staring down a copy of “Stylin’ with CSS”. Your article has given me the prompt to get reading. Thanks for such an informative site : )

    • Thanks for the comment, Sarah. I love to hear things like that. What a lot of people don’t realize is that when I first bought Thesis in 2009, I did not know HTML, CSS, or PHP. But I wanted to use Thesis. So instead of running from it, I learned what I needed to learn to accomplish each individual task to get my website where I wanted it to be.

      I look up 3 years later and I know some stuff! So I say to all beginners out there, just go for it. You will eventually pick it up and maybe even find a new passion. And like you said, being self-sustaining online is key.

      Thanks a ton for stopping by and let me know if you need any help!

  24. Hi Sean — When I bought Thesis in 2009, I did know a bit about HTML and CSS, but, since then, I’ve had little need to use them, so I’m more than a little bit rusty. That was the beauty of Thesis before 2.0. I guess I expected more of the same — only better.

    I’ve worked with computers since the mid 80s. I started learning programming and database management, but quickly realized that I was more interested in working with content than I was in the underlying processes. Thesis was perfect for me.

    You’ve written a wonderful and helpful article.

    Unfortunately, I came across it a little too late. After a couple extremely frustrating — and totally wasted — days of trying to figure 2.0 out, I decided to wait for documentation, checking in now and again to see if there was anything new worthwhile. A few days ago, I decided to just dive in and figure it out myself.

    I set up installations of 2.0 on two separate sites. On one, I started with a blank skin and, on the other, the thesis classic skin. Then, using the classic skin as a reference, I started building a variation of it on the blamk skin, box by box, package by package, and variable by variable.

    I’m not done with it yet and I may not finish it. However, I have come to see what an incredible framework Thesis 2.0 and see a ton of possibilities for things that I’d like to do with my blogs and websites. I’ve got a pretty good feel for what I have to learn and this article has shown me that I am on the right track.

    • Thanks a TON for stopping by and leaving a comment, Mike. This is exactly what I think everyone should do at this point. I totally respect everyone’s frustrations but there comes a time when you either have to do something about it or move on.

      Like you, I spent a week or two on the edge. I really started to feel like the new framework wasn’t right for me. And for some projects, it won’t be. But after giving it an honest chance, its power is just impossible to ignore.

      I think you did the right thing by hanging in there. You only learn and gain more when you do it that way. Once you find your groove, if you haven’t already, it’s all of a sudden the best thing in the world to use.

      Good for you, sir. I hope others decide to follow your lead.

  25. Dude.

    This article is amazing; I haven’t crossed the chasm yet into Thesis 2, but the moment I heard about what it was I suspected it was going to be a game changer.

    As a developer & a designer, I can’t wait to be able to pump out beautiful, functional sites in half the time.

    No bullshitting around with PHP & hooks? I think it’s time to take a new client and give 2.0 a spin.

    • YES!

      Go for it, man. I will say that you’ll have to find out how you like to use it best. Like I said in the article, personally, I like to start with the Thesis Classic skin and just modify it. Depending on what you want to do, you may go that route or just start from scratch.

      Thanks a lot for reading, man, and even more for leaving a comment. It’s most definitely appreciated! Let me know when you pump one out with T2.

  26. Thanks for this post, Sean. You’ve got a nice way of writing, and I found it gave me the perspective I needed (and the ‘aha’ moments!). This is a great post to precede Rick Anderson’s video series. I sent an email to diythemes suggesting they add this to their sticky section on Thesis 2.0 resources!

    • Thanks a lot, Christene! I really appreciate the kind words.

      Rick’s video series is great from what I hear, so if this article can help complement his efforts, that’s outstanding.

      Let me know if you have any issues using Thesis 2.0. I would be glad to help! 🙂

  27. After reading this and watching a few videos i got back into my Thesis2 test mode and played a bit more. Am I wrong — or is using the packages pretty much completely optional? To me that’s the weirdest part of the the new thesis as you can’t ever tell what popup box or modal something is done in. (Also the reason i think i will stick to starting from blank rather than editing a skin…)

    That realization gives me great hope for it — as the code it produces seems to be pretty darn good.

    • You are totally right. Packages are optional and if you don’t want to use them at all, you don’t have to. Variables are also optional but I do feel that if you plan to use the same property:value; or just value; more than once, it makes sense to use the Variables.

      I think people have to find their own way of using Thesis 2. If there is something you like to do with all of the sites you work on, the great things is that you only have to do it once. You can export those things and import them on future jobs without ever having to write the code again… which I also believe is written well.

      Getting started with Thesis 2 is the most annoying part. But once the momentum is built, the amount of leverage you have is just plain ol’ insane.

  28. Sean!

    Just recently started to follow you. I got thesis along with Marketers delight and saw you ad an administrator over in that forum, but your profile said you no longer answered questions!


    Anyways…I really like the new thesis framework, a lot simpler once you get the hang of creating packages and defining the element you want to edit…but at the same time I’m no smarty pants when it comes to web design!

    My current blog is on the old thesis framework but it’s still a bit boring and bland to look at. Hopefully DIY throws some tutorials up!

    • Hey, Chris! Yea I used to work over at Kolakube but not anymore. Of course I’m willing to answer questions but only through my own channels at this point. I know Alex is handling business over in the forums, though.

      The great thing about Thesis is that if you’re not a web dev geek, using Thesis will teach you to become one. Not everyone wants that… but at least you’ll learn the universal elements of web design and that knowledge can carry on outside of Thesis.

      Thanks for following and thanks for reading. I appreciate it!

      • Yeah most definitely! At first it’s a big pain in the behind to learn something new, mostly because it’s unfamiliar territory, but once you start to get the hang of it, it becomes a lot easier to use.

        And no problem Sean, definitely look forward to reading more of your stuff on the blog. While I have you, can you take two minutes out of your time to see what is going on with my buddy and I’s site?

        We’re designing a website for a client and we can figure out how to center and align our footer columns.

        We have it looking pretty good but we definitely think there is a much cleaner alternative as far as the code goes.

        Appreciate your two cents on it in advance.

        Here’s the site: http://jonpaq.com/


        – Chris

        • Hey, Chris. There’s definitely a lot going on with the HTML and CSS in your footer.

          I really can’t tell what the deal is because some of the HTML elements have IDs or Classes that I can’t even find in your CSS. I can tell you this, though…

          If you have columns in the footer that you are wanting to line up side-by-side-by-side, you can float every single one of them to the left and give them widths where the total width of all of the horizontally aligned columns add up to the full width of the page… or less.

          I haven’t seen MD3 myself yet… so I don’t know how the boxes are structured. But it looks like some boxes are being used wrong… or maybe some packages being applied to boxes that shouldn’t be.

          I would have to look at the boxes and packages themselves to tell you exactly where you guys have gone wrong at this point, though.

  29. My thoughts Exactly Sean.

    Many people felt like they could build websites because they can do it with wordpress.

    What thesis has done is show how little knowledge some people have, but thats not a bad thing. You should have a basic understanding about anything you do.

    I have been hard at work creating boxes that solve issues that are wordpress related.

    Thesis 2.0 has allowed me to do this because of its ability to place small snippets of code anywhere.

    Example Tag cloud found here

    What people didn’t know is that tags and categories, blogroll etc are exactly the same and the only different is one value change.

    So I made a box with all the options except a few advanced ones that will come later and now people can place categories, tags, custom links where ever they want, as many times as they want, choose how many to display, how to display and never touch a single piece og PHP.

    As more boxes are released it will just get easier and easier for people.

    Need a certain header layout, find a box download upload and instand header layout, fat footer, download upload done.

    I mean its just so easy, but as a developer, it is giving me a chance to really make some great stuff that I have thought about for some time, but put off because some of the complex stuff still requires people to edit code.

    • I hear that, man. What a tool Thesis 2 can be when it comes to leverage.

      Like you said, you need to know at least a little bit about everything you do. So I don’t feel bad for those who feel stranded with Thesis 2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

      Learn to do it yourself


      Hire someone else to do it.

      There is no middle ground a.k.a. shortcut.

  30. What a bunch of dog doo! There is NO replacement for a user manual for a new user to a software package regardless of how you may denigrate our knowledge of web pages, php and css and every other darned thing required to set up a website. Give me a manual every time and I’ll read it and learn. You may have thought you clarified issues with this monster of a quasi-tutorial but you still have not touched on the basics for using Thesis2. For instance what is a class to Thesis, I know what it is in Visual C++ and VB.Net and other languages but just what is it to Thesis? Does it have anything to do with object oriented programming or is it just a word this Chris person decided to use to confuse us who know about object programming? Of what use is an HTML ID? What is it’s purpose? When do you use an HTMLID versus a class ID? Can you use both on the same box? When labeling fields do you have to put a dash or an underscore between the words in a multiple word name? Are either required? Do you just put any old symbol between the words and Thesis will accept them all or will it barf on some. Just what are the naming conventions in Thesis; for instance what symbols can you NOT use when naming fields? Is there a list of reserved words or keywords that we should never use when naming variables or other items? What if any classes have been predefined in Thesis2? Good lord man; this is the tiniest portion of the basics I expect to get when I buy a package that is not only new to me but new to the rest of the world. So get off of you condscending horse and try to understand where we “negative” folk are coming from; It ain’t from a lack of knowledge at all but from a ton of knowledge of programming requirements and documentation which we never received.

    • You do realize that the list of questions you just asked proves my point right? 🙂

      “For instance what is a class to Thesis, I know what it is in Visual C++ and VB.Net and other languages but just what is it to Thesis?”

      That’s HTML.

      “Does it have anything to do with object oriented programming or is it just a word this Chris person decided to use to confuse us who know about object programming?”

      It’s just HTML.

      “Of what use is an HTML ID? What is it’s purpose? When do you use an HTMLID versus a class ID? Can you use both on the same box?”

      This requires an understanding of HTML.

      “When labeling fields do you have to put a dash or an underscore between the words in a multiple word name? Are either required? Do you just put any old symbol between the words and Thesis will accept them all or will it barf on some. Just what are the naming conventions in Thesis; for instance what symbols can you NOT use when naming fields?”

      The fields follow the rules of HTML… because they are HTML.

      “Is there a list of reserved words or keywords that we should never use when naming variables or other items?”

      All of the variables are displayed right there in the user interface. If you do not see a variable that has used the name you want to use, it is free to be used. If a variable is not displayed, it does not exist.

      “What if any classes have been predefined in Thesis2?”

      The classes that are already used can be seen in your boxes (HTML) and Packages (CSS). You could even view your page source and search for a class name if you’re unsure if a particular name has been used or not.

      If you don’t know HTML and CSS, it makes perfect sense that you would ask these questions. What I am trying to tell you and everyone else (most people got the point) is that even with documentation, you’re going to be lost. Why? Because what YOU want to do with your site is not always going to be a tutorial. You will still find yourself deciding where to place a box or what CSS to put in the “Additional CSS” tab of a Package because there is no prebuilt setting for it.

      Those kinds of situations are inevitable when building with Thesis 2. So, when the docs are out and you’ve learned how to drag a box or create a variable, will you know how to manipulate these TOOLS to implement HTML (Boxes) and CSS (Packages) the way you’d like?

      Nope. You’ll need to understand HTML and CSS for that. So, like I said in my article:

      “Beginners, take advantage of this little nudge in the back to start wrapping your head around what it is you’re doing here.”

      Thesis 2 is HTML and CSS. If you don’t at least know what those languages are used for (which is why I explained the 3 pillars in my article), you’ll still be stuck. If that’s the case, you’d be better off uploading a skin (whenever they come out) and calling it a day. OR… you can pay someone who understands HTML and CSS.

      When you learn more about Thesis 2 (and hopefully HTML and CSS), you’ll see why most of the people here do not feel the way you do.

  31. Here are a bunch of comments from dissatisfied users of the Thesis2 product. As you will see they are not a group of ignoramus no-nothing-about-website developers as you may have implied in your writeup here. I read every line of your writeup here so I think you owe it to us to read these. Mind you I found these comments on just one site. Just think how many others there must be out there by a user community on which a fraud has been perpetuated.
    Here they are:
    “As of October 2nd, there are no documentation, skins, packages, or boxes in the Thesis backend. On top of this, I felt like I was jumping into a maze as I was playing with Thesis 2.0. Chris Pearson was available through twitter to answer small questions, but why would there be an update released without having some type of documentation or tutorials in place?

    Because of this lack of documentation, I don’t fully understand what many of the Thesis 2.0 features are. In a Twitter conversation that Matt Gross (@mattonomics) and I had, Matt said, “we are operating under the assumption that getting the software out there was more important than anything.” I believe this was a slightly flawed idea because if people don’t know how to use the new Thesis 2.0, then it is essentially useless.

    Most confusing to me is the CSS section of the skin editor. I am assuming that the “Skin CSS” is a list of variables that correspond to the CSS packages on the right, but it is hard to confirm that as there is no documentation. Adding custom CSS is very similar to Thesis 1.x. You click the “Custom CSS” button, enter your css, then click “save and compile css.”
    But be aware that, as of now, there is very little documentation and you will soldiering ahead mostly blind.
    Thanks Eric! From my understanding so far, I can say that 2.0 has been able to survive just because there are a bunch of people helping users in the support forums.
    But, right now, the time I’d have to put in to learning Thesis is irritating.
    I have had a similar problem. After activating the default skin, my website went white. I know nothing about the boxes and stuff and had to scratch my head to find out the possible clue. Only after an hour, I realized that there is no document available. I feel that they should have provided a default skin which doesn’t show a blank page.
    It may be good for developers, but think about a normal user like me for a second. We don’t want to get overwhelmed by features, but adaptability.
    But bottom line, you wouldn’t have ha an issue with it if there were some documentation or a proper walk though.
    No documentation, no backup… sounds like an absolute nightmare.

    After two years in the baking, you would expect a decent cake.

    I’m a Genesis man and glad of it.
    I have the feel this Thesis 2 goes into the wrong direction. I was speaking with many people, WordPress users like me (not developers) who know how to move some code around and all of them say: don’t get it.
    If Thesis 2 is a developer’s dream (so it is iBuilder, Headway Theme and so on) then I’ll keep away from it until I’ll become a developer myself.
    I think Chris Pearson has made an unwanted gift to the competition by waiting two years to release an incomplete product (because without documentation the theme is pretty much useless).
    When I see developers scratching their heads over how this thing works it doesn’t bode well for the complete novice. I’m a complete novice and I was sold by Chris’ hyerbole about it being the holy grail of stunning site design without the need to know anything about code.

    Even ‘with’ documentation, Chris’ claim is vastly overstating the reality. Every single bit of the UI is dominated with HTML and CSS language. I’m sure I could spend a day reading up on what classes, selectors and variables are and how they relate to each other, but the whole point of 2.0 was supposed to be that I didn’t need to.

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that the release has been organised by a bunch of high-fiving teenagers, with no appreciation for it’s target market and an emphasis on up-selling for maximum pre-launch conversions/sales.
    Well, here we are a few weeks later….. still waiting!

    Pearson hasn’t addressed any of his customers concerns via any official DIY channel (blog or forum), but has spent a good amount of time spouting drivel on twatter (sorry, twitter).

    The man is a joke.
    Couldn’t have said it any better, Dave. I’ve been with Thesis a while, and it is not the ‘easy’/wonder solution for all as they profess.

    I even recently paid for a separate package (not from DIY Themes) to learn how to utilise Thesis, then they’ve changed to 2.0. I thought I’d use 2.0 as it was meant to be so much ‘improved’ – it was a nightmare – taking my data limit over capacity on my host straight away, so I’m back to 1.8. I’m also kinda kicking myself for bothering to spend on learning about Thesis, when I might have been better off to suck it up and move on to a different and better-supported theme.
    Personally, I feel quite ripped off by Chris’ claims and feel like an idiot for being sucked into the hype by his affiliates (I did quite a bit of research before purchase).

    I do feel like it has been released exactly like you say ‘by a bunch of high-fiving teenagers’!

    Documentation should most definitely have been produced. Chris is lazy in leaving it to other members of the community to sort out. This was an example of a very poor release.

    I love Thesis 1.8.x as much as I love Genesis Framework but honestly, Thesis 2.0 does not make any sense. If this is a drag-and-drop framework then this came late as there are plenty out there. As it stands today Thesis 2.0 is a developer’s heaven (as the guys say above) but for an average WordPress user like me just doesn’t click.
    The interface of Thesis 2.0 is not intuitive. I’ve got 4+ experience of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal but even Drupal is more intuitive than this Thesis 2.0.

    Honestly, I’m glad I didn’t upgrade to developer’s licence as I’ve got the feeling this is not going into the right way.
    I know, there are a lot of developers out there involved in selling, promoting and investing in Thesis theme but I’m not so I can speak up my mind here.

    I think Thesis 2.0 is just like iPhone 5: great expectations >>> confusing outcome

    Krystal October 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

    The way 2.0 was released shows how little Chris Pearson cares about his customers or customer support. We waited how long for the promised upgrade? He delayed previously, might as well have delayed some more and done it right. For this reason I am hesitant about continuing to use Thesis. And his snarky attitude in the DIY blog in response to people having difficulties only adds to my impression.
    With that said, I still think it was a poor decision to launch the theme with no documentation, skins, packages, etc at the same time. This puts both novices and experience users in a tough spot because they are having to learn a completely new system with no roadmap, so to speak.

    And yes, Pearson does seem cocky, and I can understand your aversion to that.
    Without documentation, I found it useless. Still ‘rocking Thesis 1.84′ for now.
    have to believe that he must have either been counting on the Thesis community to rally and teach ourselves about 2.0, which we’re doing, and/or be smart enough and have enough time on our hands to just figure it out. I have a feeling he lost a lot of potential sales and happy customers by releasing an incomplete product, which isn’t as intuitive and user-friendly as he’s been hyping. If you don’t know the box-model and how HTML and CSS work, it’s got to be terrifying to look at. They’ve been rightfully careful in the wording when marketing 2.0.
    So in that respect, Chris’ customers are saving him from a full-out mutiny and revolt. I’ve read more disappointment than cheer about 2.0 and his roll-out.
    “I completely understand. That’s why we put off using Thesis 2 for now.” Which means I could not have used it during my 30 day refund period. Do you people now under stand my chagrin?

    1. Chris’s ego got in the way – he wanted to show off his powerful new invention without waiting for documentation. HUGE mistake and at this point I’m sure he knows it.

    2. Chris advertised this as an intuitive new tool without need of tech skills. Point of fact, it’s exactly the other way around, packed full of developer’s taxonomy that will scare away all the Luddites who just want easy site development. In other words, he’s scared away a big audience.
    Since I’m not a developer I am at last saying good-bye to Thesis (or at least waiting for Skins I might use). My days of tinkering with Thesis are over. There are simply too many very good, slick, sexy themes out there at modest prices with which I can build a killer site in hours.
    That’s a broken promise that Chris isn’t going to be able to hang his hat on anymore.
    It’s also is going to run off people new to web design, at least until there is solid support, a nice library of skins, and all the bugs are worked out. I can think of quite a few easy things that would make the workflow of 2.0 better that were overlooked.
    So, developers don’t need it, designers don’t want it, newbies are scared of it, and existing users are frustrated by it. That doesn’t leave a lot of people making websites out there. And free themes are pouring out onto the web by the truckload every day. This will be interesting to watch play out, from a marketer’s standpoint. (Sort of thinking of “New Coke”) And I’m with you RE: Chris’ ego. I’ll be looking for a way to remove the ridiculous photos of him and his dog that now permanently reside on the admin panel.
    That’s a broken promise that Chris isn’t going to be able to hang his hat on anymore.
    It’s also is going to run off people new to web design, at least until there is solid support, a nice library of skins, and all the bugs are worked out. I can think of quite a few easy things that would make the workflow of 2.0 better that were overlooked.
    So, developers don’t need it, designers don’t want it, newbies are scared of it, and existing users are frustrated by it. That doesn’t leave a lot of people making websites out there. And free themes are pouring out onto the web by the truckload every day. This will be interesting to watch play out, from a marketer’s standpoint. (Sort of thinking of “New Coke”) And I’m with you RE: Chris’ ego. I’ll be looking for a way to remove the ridiculous photos of him and his dog that now permanently reside on the admin panel.
    Something that’s interesting to me – and this launch is a prime example – is the way a lot of internet businesses seem to have just totally abandoned the concept of user manuals/support/whatever… they just dump their stuff out there and let users fend for themselves or self-organise through e.g. third party forums.
    I don’t believe I should cut a company slack when they choose to release their product into the wild with absolutely no documentation. That is fine with open source software, sure. But, Thesis is not open source. In the end, people will vote with their business, and there is no shortage of great themes on the market. But, when I make a living using software… I can not afford to take the extra time to learn it when there is no documentation.
    These new skins within Thesis confuse matters. Its another cottage industry, that’s essentially sitting on the back of the open-source WordPress, but the money is going into DIY’s and skin maker’s pockets. It just seems like a slightly corrupt extension of the WordPress idea and pointless in many ways. If developers could create child themes (similar to thematic) and sell their whole package, without the end-user having to buy Thesis, then that would make sense, but having already invested a good deal of money in Thesis in the first place it seems like a kick in the teeth to have to spend more on skins.
    Not with it’s potential, just with the fact that it was marketed as something ‘anyone’ would be able to tackle without code. What rubbish. To do anything decent with it you need to get into the code. So I thought I’d check out 2.0. Once again it is a great hype fest. It’s NOT for the people they claim it is for. It is a dream for developers, but that’s it. If you don’t know the vocab of code and development, it’s far too steep a learning curve.
    I think they may well have alienated most of the customers they aimed all their hype at. Seems like a giant marketing fail to me. Pity!
    To release a product marketed as a DIY template suitable for everyday people without any documentation is a nearly unforgivable breach of customer support.

    You see rushed and confusingly structured tutorials from third party Thesis affiliated people where even the presenter is struggling at spots, and you’re left scratching your head saying, “I’m supposed to that?”.

    Ask specific questions on Thesis forums about simple documentation and get zero answers, ask moderators direct questions and get logged out of the forums altogether.
    Anyone please suggest a good alternative for guys like us who want to create content for the web.. not code for their blog
    I definitely agree that the marketing behind this theme isnt accurate. It is NOT for novices at all and looks like it never will be.
    I am really new to Thesis but I bought the license which allows me to implement the theme on any webpage I personally use – so I spent some money on it.
    Because I am not a coder at all and don’t have too much idea of how to programming a site from scratch I am really upset now waiting on a documentation which explains me how Thesis 2.0 really works and I am about to cancel my purchase.
    How can anyone release a software without documentation!
    Thesis 2.0 is a huge cluster*^&k if you ask me. It’s bad enough that it doesn’t have documentation and isn’t as intuitive as it claims to be. Ok, developers will come out with instructions eventually, right? But you can barely load the theme up without problems. It took me forever to even get to the point where I could tinker with it.

    I’m really hoping things get better soon. I’ve been looking forward to 2.0 to work on new site ideas but every day I’m waiting is another day I just might plop the money down for Genesis, which I hear is truly intuitive for the non-developer.
    Oh yeah, the whole documentation thing is just ridiculous and I cannot believe that it was not available 2 days MAX after the release of Thesis 2.0.
    You are not the only one who is disappointed with Thesis 2.0. I purchase this theme for $197 on the premises that a newbie can design their site (or any part of their site) without touching any coding just with drag and drop feature. Surprise, surprise you are made fooled.

    you did not even get the documentation for the theme even you have paid $200 for it. Comm on even free theme provide some kind of documentation.

    Every new things has a learning curve but what kind of learning curve is this when we are not handed even a documentation from the owner of the theme.

    I purchase this theme on the premises of making sites without coding and using drag and drop feature. but the hell is that i do not know how to use the drag and drop feature. If you see this theme from the stand point of a newbie than you know that how difficult it is. I communicate this on their forum and find that even developers are not able to make a simple site with drag and drop without touching code.
    I am still have some hopes for Thesis but if the die hard fans of thesis theme closed their eyes does not mean that thesis is perfect theme.

    By the way i am a newbie and completely noob in technical area. But i find that spending $57 is much more profitable in every single way than spending $200 on Thesis.
    If it’s any help to other non-coders, here is where we’ve gone as a result of the abysmal T-V2 fail. We are now developing again–with Genesis Framework, and the Dynamik for Genesis child theme. You might want to check out Eric Hamm’s Dynamik–it appears to offer all the tweaks and customization possibilities (for non-coder/non-CSS folks like us) that Thesis 2 promised. It has been supported, updated and maintained for over a year(?) now. With no hype–just personable, consistent support and professional videos, etc.

    We’re NOT affiliates, just very grateful former Thesis users.
    In an email/posting from Mr Halpern to DIYThemes owner/members, he stated a recommendation that Thesis Version 2 was NOT ready for implementation; suggested holding off upgrading, and to await the ‘polishing up’ (or words to that effect) of Thesis version 2…which would likely ‘take some time.’

    To me that’s the official state of the release–from a core member of the theme/framework company itself.

    Now, from a business ethics/integrity pov, it’s literally dumbfounding. This isn’t freeware or shareware we’re talking about here. After official company communication from Thesis2/DIYThemes (#thesiswp) such as that, how is it that DIYThemes’ web site apparently currently continues to sell and take peeps money for Thesis 2? This is a product which the company itself communicated NOT TO USE at this time and is a product release which is not yet ready for prime time? Yikes.
    Thanks for the Genesis heads up. I lost my whole freaking site due to the 2.0 update and had to park it. I am not sure what happened but all my posts vanished and or were corrupted. I will give that a shot.. I now offically hate DIYTHEMES and all the falsehoods they stand for. Derek, Chris can go ……fill in the blank.
    It’s the main reason I use Genesis and child themes on all my sites. I can get up-and-running really quickly while still being able to differentiate a little bit if needed.

    Sounds like this was a rushed job to try and placate users going elsewhere – which makes me wonder if Chris has actually sped up that process as opposed to avoiding it, with this botched released.
    “Because of this lack of documentation, I don’t fully understand what many of the Thesis 2.0 features are. In a Twitter conversation that Matt Gross (@mattonomics) and I had, Matt said, “we are operating under the assumption that getting the software out there was more important than anything.” I believe this was a slightly flawed idea because if people don’t know how to use the new Thesis 2.0, then it is essentially useless.”

    I am with the people that are less impressed. In fact I feel ripped off and and totally PO’d that I spent nearly $200 on something I can’t figure out how to use. And I am pretty darn good and figuring out complicated things. I don’t have any more time to waste trying to play around with things and figure them out through trial and error. I have clients to support and projects to get done.

    As exactly pointed out above, releasing a product with no documentation is a stupid move and Thesis 2 is useless at this time.

    Why can’t CP take a few minutes of his precious time to respond to the growing list of complaints that are piling up on the DIY support site? This makes no sense on a personal or professional level. At least show the people who paid their hard earned cash some level of courtesy. And NO twatter/twitter responses are not an acceptable form of communication in this situation.
    So far, I really hate Thesis 2.0. I installed it on a new site a few days ago and ended up uninstalling it and using 1.8.5 instead.

    • Oh man there are a TON of complaints. They’re all over the internet really. They’re on personal sites, the DIY blog, in my email inbox, in the DIY forums… they’re everywhere.

      Want to know how I feel about them? I AGREE! None of this was done right, in my opinion! The best thing about Thesis 2 is the code… which no one can expect the masses to be excited about because the masses don’t code!

      What you’re missing is MY position. I don’t work for DIY. I didn’t create Thesis 2. In no way, shape, or form have *I* let down the Thesis community. NONE of that responsibility falls on me. I am simply a customer just like everyone else.

      However, I’m a self-motivated customer. When I bought Thesis 1 back in mid-2009, I had no clue how to write HTML and CSS. PHP was gibberish to me. It’s the attitude you see in my article that led me to Googling the hell out of things and slowly learning what was what.

      As I stated in my article, everyone’s complaints are legitimate. I can’t take that away from them. But here are the facts (maybe it’s my decade in the Army that causes me to skip the BS and get right down to business):

      1. Thesis 2 is out and available to the public.

      2. A portion of the public has paid for Thesis 2.

      3. It is up to those people EXTRACT value from the product they paid money for or stop wasting their time hovering around that product.

      That’s how *I* feel about it and that attitude is what taught me web development. And because this is my personal blog, I can express that attitude and it have NOTHING to do with DIY Themes or Chris Pearson.

      Right now, the Thesis community is a big group of people, including myself, sitting in a room waiting for Pearson to walk through the door and lead us. But I’m not built like that. I’m the guy in the room that stands up and leads regardless of how the real community leader behaves.

      You can knock that all you want and act as if I’m a representative for Chris… but I’m not. I’m a guy who had the same decision to make that everyone else had… and that was to move forward without docs or be pissed off waiting for Chris to come fix all of my problems. I chose to move forward. Even I had a rough time understanding Thesis 2 when I first got it. I figured it out, though. How did I do it? By understanding HTML and CSS! It was the single most important step in understanding how to use the software… understand what the software does! THAT is the reason for this article.

      If you don’t want to do that, do NOT be confused about who your arguments should be directed towards. You are more than welcome to remain in that room waiting on Pearson… completely wasting your own time. Or, you can listen to what I said in this article as it is the THE most solid and highest quality shortcut to understanding Thesis 2 that there is on the internet. I guarantee that. How? Because I’m telling you where to get fishing lessons as opposed to where you can buy a fish to eat right now. Most won’t understand that, though.

      If you don’t understand my position here, it’s because you’ve let emotions (and yes… they’re justified) get the best of you. But the fact of the matter is that we’re in the same boat… I’m just handling it differently. If you don’t like my style, you simply continue to wait on Chris to fix the problems.

      How is this not clear to you?

      • Man Sean,

        Great comment mileage from this post and a great response to Don.

        Although I never got angry at Chris for screwing up the launch I did get overwhelmed by what I found when I upgraded.

        After the brief conversation I had with you where you reminded me to think again in terms of web development language and not wordpress language I was able to dive in a rock 2.0 to my hearts content.

        I also made a wise decision and signed up for Rick Andersons 2.0 tutorials and scooped up some additional training that has taken my web development skills to a whole new level.

        If I’m being completely honest, I just thought I knew something until Rick showed me how dumb I was in a nice way of course. Now I’m doing things with development and design I never dreamed possible in such a short time.

        • Glad you’re still moving forward with it, Les. We were all a bit overwhelmed with the new Thesis… no shame in that at all.

          I don’t want to take anything away from Don’s complaints. As I’ve stated many times in response and to others who have complained, it’s all justified. But we’re left with a problem and I’m solution oriented.

          My solution is to learn HTML and CSS. What has to be understood is that if you understand HTML and CSS, you see just how small of a role Thesis 2 actually plays. How else would we be building sites with Thesis 2 without the docs? It’s because we understand those languages. I don’t understand why that point isn’t being understood.

          Anyway, I heard Rick’s courses were great. It just proves that documentation is not the only solution. I just feel bad that so many people are waiting to be saved by the docs when in reality, the docs won’t save them at all.

          Keep rocking it, man.

  32. This is the best post on Thesis 2.0 that I’ve seen so far. Thanks so much for this amazing resource

  33. Hey Sean,
    As someone who knows very little about HTML & CSS (I took a $25 HTML & CSS 101 class once at a local community organization years ago) and 0 about PHP, I decided to give Thesis a try to build a new website. It took me a few days, multiple viewings of videos on sites like byobwebsite & girlsguide but once I got it… it clicked. I still don’t know much CSS & HTML (and still 0 PHP) but despite that I’m close to launching a pretty nice looking (& acting) site that’ll be launching soon (it’s not my personal website… that was built with a free WP theme, but it’s up next for the Thesis treatment!)

    It’s been hard and at times frustrating, but I think not knowing how to code going in has helped me pick up the Thesis system quicker because I had no reason to be resistant to understanding how it works. I have to admit I like it and am excited to tackle redesigning my personal site next.

    • That’s what I love to hear, Duane. I think there’s a naturally process that all self-taught web developers go through. It always seems to start with a little understanding of HTML first… and then snippets of CSS as it interacts with their HTML. Eventually, you get familiar with the capabilities of both languages and things become clearer.

      I think the reason most people (including myself) end up learning quite a bit about HTML and CSS and nothing about PHP is because PHP isn’t always required (or at least you’re not required to write it where it’s needed). It’s pretty hard to do anything good with HTML without needing some CSS. And there’s no reason to touch CSS if you’re not writing HTML. So it all makes sense.

      While Thesis 2 definitely won’t teach you to write (or promote the learning of) PHP, it’ll help you to understand what database driven websites are capable of. Eventually, you’ll find yourself using something other than Thesis and possibly something other than WordPress. When that happens, you’ll still desire the functionality you had before… and you’ll need PHP to make it happen. And just like HTML and CSS, you’ll find yourself learning what you need to learn until it clicks.

      It’s a slow process but I think you can speed it up by making things with these languages. Don’t shy away because you don’t know it… dig in so you can learn it. It sounds like you have the right mindset and before you know it, you’ll be pumping out Thesis 2 sites while most still sit around talking about what they don’t know.

      Kudos to you. Let me know if you need help with anything.

      Thanks for reading.

  34. Hi Sean,
    First time commenter, found your post through google looking for thesis 2.x resources. I am Java programmer who has done all kinds of crazy programming the corporate sector so coding doesn’t scare me a bit.

    I was much comfortable with custom functions in thesis 1.x and it seemed more manageable. You enable/disable a hook here and there pretty much like lego building blocks. Need to override a style, put in the custom style sheet and firebug was my best friend.

    And most of all zillions of ready to use code snippets available all over the net..

    With Thesis 2.x, kinda feels as if most of those resources are out the window and can’t be utilized much. Pretty much have to start all over.

    As an academic exercise, it may be all well and good to learn new things but in a business env. where you have site running on a software and all of a sudden they stop developing/enhancing the current framework.

    Imagine if all of a sudden wordpress said ok everything is drag and drop and no more code or looking under the hood..

    anyway what I’m not sure about it should I be building new sites with thesis 1.x with all the knowledge I have in my back pocket or start with thesis 2.x as a newbie (kinda)

    Loved your post though and agree with the need to know the web design basics.

    Love to hear from you.

    PS: More well though tutorials like this please?

    • Hey, Joe!

      I totally understand what you’re saying. It’s almost like the rug has been yanked from beneath your feet which can be even more devastating if Thesis 1 is where you learned a lot to begin with. That was the case for me so the switch to Thesis 2 wasn’t as easy as I wanted it to be.

      The cool thing is that everything you learned from the Thesis 1 tuts regarding PHP snippets, most of that is done now simply by dragging a box. So while it may not be the preferred change that everyone wants, if you knew what the PHP snippets did in Thesis 1, and you don’t get your fix out of writing PHP (I do lol), then using Thesis 2 should actually make each task more pleasurable. No code is needed and it all happens faster.

      The main problem is that with Thesis 1, even though it was more hands on, you still didn’t really have to understand site structure and how HTML and CSS play a role. With Thesis 2, you have to know it. So the transition from Thesis 1 to Thesis 2 is kind of like a trade-off. Both of them have their elements that make things easier. Likewise, they both have their elements that makes things harder. That makes them feel totally different.

      The best thing to do is to just dig in. Once you get it, the power at your fingertips is crazy.

      I don’t know how many tutorials I’ll be writing in the near future. Everything is much easier with Thesis 2 if you know HTML and CSS. So it puts me in a position where there isn’t much for me to teach except for HTML and CSS… and I’m probably not the best source for that. So we’ll have to see.

      Don’t hesitate to hit my contact form if you need any help, though. I am more than willing to answer questions here and there if you’re trying to get familiar.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Thanks you very kind sir for your detailed reply. I understand you are not a spokes person for DIYThemes but do this out of your love for thesis.

        Believe me I want to feel the same way. It’s not that I don’t want to learn web design. I consider myself fully at home with web design concepts.

        What concerns me little bit is the attitude of DIYThemes towards their customers. I feel that they have literally turned off hundreds of “not die hard fans” to other frameworks/options.

        It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth after the botched launch. that could have been very easily remedied by providing the rest of the guidance and goodies if not right away at least little soon.

        Can I ask you of your opinion on Genesis or other thesis alternative out there?

        • Hey, Joe.

          My opinion on Genesis is that despite what the bloods and the crips say, to me, Genesis and Thesis 1 are similar. The deeper you go into the technical stuff, there are plenty of difference. But as tools to build WordPress websites, for most people it just comes down to how hands on they’d like to be.

          If you’re wanting solid SEO, speed, and flexibility, I say Thesis is the better platform. While Genesis can achieve the speed and SEO (or at least close to it), I don’t feel like it was designed for that flexibility. I think it was designed for plug and play child themes. For a guy like me, that’s a no-go. But for those who want a nice design, don’t mind that it’s not custom, and they want it fast, I see nothing wrong with Genesis.

  35. I wonder if you have noticed after telling us all we are idiots in your ‘rant’ that after more than two months there is still no documentation for Thesis2 and the negative comments keep on pouring in from new and old users about the impossibility of deciphering this new version of Thesis. Many long-term users of Thesis are baffled by this product and I can only hope they have had better luck getting their money back than I did. After two months of trying to make something work on Thesis, I finally figured out that without a proper user codex or manual I’d never get a website up on. I asked for a refund but in spite of the false advertising of this product being click and drag(utter nonsense) they would not give it to me because I spent more than the 30-day trial period working with it. You’d think they would be grateful I gave it that much of my time but oh no, customer service be damned; they are keeping my payment. Inglorious assholes I’d say.

    • Guy… stop being so sensitive. No one called you or anyone else an idiot. You’re the only person pissed off about this entire launch that doesn’t seem to understand that this article has nothing to do with any of that. That’s fine, though, because you obviously don’t want to understand that. So I’m not going to waste anymore time providing solid premises for a conclusion that you refuse to acknowledge.

      Meanwhile, I don’t like how you were done at all. You and everyone else were given an incomplete product but the policies weren’t adjusted to reflect that reality. Because not all of the goodies have been delivered to this day, I feel like everyone should still be inside of the refund zone. If it was my call, I’d feel obligated to make that happen.

      Like I said a million times before, the gripes are legit. I’m not a dumb ass. I do know how to look at things objectively. This article was written from that standpoint… as opposed to your subjective standpoint. I made sense out of nonsense for MANY people… not only with this article but with a ton of my articles before. Everyone knows my position is to help and I’ve done that here. You just want someone to hate. That’s fine. I don’t mind that being me since it obviously means so much to you.

      The bottom line, though, is that (once again) all of this was done wrong. You and everyone else got screwed. If you want your money back, I honestly feel like you deserve it and I’m sorry it’s not being given to you. Again, I have nothing to do with that. If you don’t like me here, though, you really won’t like my entire site dedicated to telling people to take control and set their own pace. I’ll never be the guy to encourage you to sit around and bitch about what’s not being given to you by someone who doesn’t want to give it to you (even though you paid for it). I’m just not built like that.

      So, as of right now, if you want to put the software to use, my article will clearly explain what you need to know to do that. If you don’t want to put it to use, be sure not to spend too much more of your time with this hatred in you. I’ve seen you on other blogs (like Art of Blog) ranting and let me tell you… it’s not healthy. The damage has been done and you were wronged. At some point, though, you have to move on… period.

  36. It’s clear that T2 is a powerful framework and I hope one day to be able to get my head round it.

    What has annoyed me is the mismatch in the proposition for T1 (which is/was perfectly positioned for people like me — know what they want but have no code/developer skill — who loved the fact that they could do everything themselves and it just looked great); and T2 (which requires a background understanding of how web pages work). I wouldn’t mind except that key difference was not made clear at the outset.

    But hey, I’ll just have to step up, as I can see the immense benefits.

    • I hear you, Mick. I actually feel the exact same way. I sometimes think about what the real difference between T1 and T2 is and it really comes down to how people interact with it.

      Sure, the UI is different but the UX is the real difference… and it’s a big one. When I first got T1, all I knew was a little bit of HTML. I knew what CSS was but that was about it. It seems like T1 has built in it a teaching mechanism. It allows you to take steps forward without knowing much of anything. But at the same time, it teaches you things on the side. So you get to learn and produce at the same time.

      T2 is different. Somehow the UX doesn’t promote learning. It’s simply a tool that you either have to know how to use or you don’t. That’s the key difference between the two that I’ve noticed. Lucky for me, though, I already knew HTML and CSS so using it wasn’t very difficult. I understand how it is for most, though.

      Hang in there and trust me when I say that understanding HTML and CSS is the key. If you can build a very basic site structure using HTML and CSS in a text editor, you can use T2. So a few simply practice applications of HTML and CSS should do the trick for understanding T2.

      Good luck and thanks for commenting!

  37. Yes, this is the most comprehensive review about T2 that I have ever read since its release and also agree with you that we need to know at least some thing about it.

    First I hate T2 and after a month learning it and now I love it 🙂

    • I’m glad you’re finding value, Tinh! T2 definitely has a strange learning curve and it sends you through an emotional roller coaster. But once you finally settle down with it, you see just how powerful it is.

  38. Most people use wordpress and thesis for ease of use. I have been building websites since 2001 and learned how to use html, css, php and mysql in order to build them. I started using wordpress to save time. Then I discovered thesis, easy to customise and the search engines love it and wordpress together. Why should I now bother to pay for thesis? With the amount of customization I may as well go back to using notepad.

    • I can’t argue that at all, Harry. I actually feel the same exact way you do. Thesis 2 is extremely powerful and it does more than any framework out there. I started out just like you, though… using Notepad and writing everything from scratch. So with the amount of time it takes to configure boxes and setup packages, I find myself wondering why I’m going through all of that trouble for simple things. The only real leverage that dramatically saves ME time is the use of variables.

      So yea, no arguments here. I’m right there with you.

  39. I really don’t understand what thesis has to offer? If you say it to a “pro thesis” person, they will say you need to be a developer to understand….well I am a developer. I work for very large companies and have got many to use wordpress. BUT for the life of me I don’t understand , as a developer, why would I want to use thesis, and learn all the custom hooks and the messy control panel, instead of just starting with a blank theme, and coding what I want. WordPress has a great template system, great docs, and everything you can do with a hook you can do in wordpress’s theme/function files, in less time without the need to learn the hooks thesis uses. I really don’t see a reason for any of these “frameworks” really. I code around 3-4 sites a week, all from scratch , many with custom plugins, all with custom from scratch ( blank) themes, I just don’t get the need for thesis? I gave the benifit of the doubt and took a look at a bunch of the “hooks”…before the content….why not at the top of the page file? before the widgets…once again, why not the top of the sidebar….the cool menu tool…doesn’t wordpress have this built in? yes , yes it does…so why learn all this bs , when its easier without. Ive built massive wordpress sites, commercial plugins ( mowpop for example) everyday blogs, large ecommerce wordpress sites, etc. And have never had an issue using my functions file, and editing the theme I created for the client. And know exactly where everything is, because I put it there.

    anyone ? please explain to me what thesis offers that stock wordpress and a blank theme doesn’t offer?

    • Well that’s easy as hell to answer.

      If you know how to do it all already, and you are willing to dig into the WordPress Codex as well as your own experience to put a theme together from scratch, there is absolutely no reason to use Thesis. Isn’t that a given?

      I am currently doing that exact same thing. I am wanting to move on to my own custom work from the ground (WordPress) up so I have developed my own platform to work from. So I agree… if you can do it, there’s no reason to use Thesis.

      Now with Thesis 1 in mind, there’s a great reason to use it if you’ve dabbled in HTML and CSS but know nothing about PHP and how WordPress works in general. The reason is that Thesis 1 has a way of teaching you what is what. Hooks… yea they can be pointless if you don’t need them. But when I was first introduced to them, I barely even knew CSS. So simply using the old Openhook plugin taught me a concept. And as time passed and I gained more experience, I took control myself and let go of the training wheels.

      Thesis 1 is DEFINITELY good for ushering people into a new level of coding, assuming they were at a lower level when they first started using it. You had to learn all of this stuff at some point. Maybe your primary learning tool was another theme. Maybe your learning tool was the Codex. None of that matters. For many, such as myself, Thesis 1 was that learning tool. Now I don’t need Thesis 1 (or 2) anymore. But I owe that to Thesis 1. It’s just natural progression.

      Thesis 2 is a completely different story. It’s powerful as hell but I totally understand that it’s not necessary if you already have that power. Personally, I don’t see myself using it very much. I hate to say that but things have changed and that’s just how it is now.

      So… I’m not sure if you were just ranting or what, but no one’s arguing your point here. If you know how to do it, go for it. Anything else would be complicating things if you ask me.

  40. This is an awesome post, Sean. I was trying to search for posts where the writers/bloggers are happy with Thesis 2.0. All I saw was negativity (including myself). Now that I want to change the design of my blog, I’m thinking to migrate my Thesis 1 to Thesis 2.

    I’m more like a developer so I don’t understand how CSS layout works etc, but looks like Thesis 2 makes it easy for people like me, as long as I can understand how boxes etc work. Thanks for clearing them up!

    • No problem, man. Just remember that the key to understanding it all lies in the languages themselves… not the actual theme controls. So if you have to continuously reference HTML and CSS, that will definitely help you get the hang of how to use the boxes and packages.

      Good luck!

      • I think I get the hang of it now 🙂 It’s just that I’m no designer (more like a coder), so I need a good skin to start with to create some snappy looks. The good ones are premium skins but I guess I should start with the Classic and see what I can tweak from there

  41. Nice read, Sean. Definitely a refreshing view of Thesis 2 among all the negativity surrounding the release.

    The frameworks I use have taught me one thing and that is users are quick to learn that all the hype around “drag and drop”, “point and click”, or “no coding required” doesn’t cut it to achieve what aspire to achieve with their site and are are soon in the forums asking for help with CSS or PHP.

    I have also learned that major releases are not exempt from major issues or the lack of current documentation long after the release date.

    No framework is perfect. Each has its fans and critics but none deliver that magic bullet we are all looking for.

    • I agree totally, Tom… especially with the idea that once new users get all of the gadgets they were looking for, they find themselves running back to do the basics. Some people just have to see it for themselves, though.

      Thanks for the positive comment, man!

  42. Great article, Sean; it really put a smile on my face. I waded into refurbing my website into a WordPress site and followed a recommendation to use Thesis. I think the recommendation was for 1.85, and I splashed out for the new 2.0 and yes, I was expecting microwave-ready.

    Hesham Zebida’s comment above

    Most people got a creativity shock by the blank page

    was certainly true for me.

    Anyway, having paid for it, I didn’t want to write the money off straight away, and found this web-site really helpful: http://thriftyzizel.com/complete-guide-to-thesis-2-theme-for-wordpress/

    Doug MacKlem has done a great job of hand-holding through the basics; enough so that your article makes sense and I’m dimly perceiving an advantage to Thesis 2 after all.

    • ach – didn’t use the blockquote function correctly.
      Hesham said “Most people got a creativity shock by the blank page”

      True for me.

      • No worries! I’ll correct it for you.

        Thanks a ton for reading and commenting. There are so many people finally understanding what Thesis 2 is all about now. When I wrote this article, it rubbed a few people the wrong way but it was the plain and simple truth. The more people learn about the basics of web development, the more they realize that Thesis 2 is miles ahead of the rest.

        I hadn’t seen that resource you linked. That is outstanding and exactly what I was not willing to do when T2 came out. Kudos to Doug for making that. T2 will continue to pick up momentum as people are forced to learn at least the basics. Then, we’ll really see Thesis start to shine again.

  43. “If we know what HTML is responsible for, and we know what CSS is responsible for, is Thesis 2 really that hard to use? … As promised many times by Chris and the DIY Themes team, you do not have to be a web geek to understand how to use Thesis 2.”

    After having worked with Thesis 2 on more than one site for the past six months (and after being a Thesis 1.x user for a year prior and doing my own CSS/PHP), I have to say I categorically disagree with the “you do not have to be a web geek” statement. Every time I pick up Thesis 2 to tweak something, I have to re-learn basics. Yes, I remember how to drag the boxes all over the screen, but connecting the HTML and CSS elements correctly *never* makes sense to me, and the contextual help is clearly written for “web geeks.” I have had a membership to a site that does Thesis tutorials for two years running, and I am continually having to go back to square one and relearn the basics *every* *single* *time* I open Thesis 2 to adjust *anything*.

    • At this point, I’d argue that “web geek” is a relative term. I’m finding, as of late, that people consider me a web geek and I wholeheartedly disagree.

      I think it really just comes down to how far along everyone has gotten in understanding exactly what’s happening on and behind the screen mixed with how they view what it is they understand.

      Personally, I don’t think the connection between the HTML and CSS of Thesis 2 is difficult at all. But I was writing HTML and CSS standalone websites before I ever knew Thesis existed. So what I consider basic, HTML and CSS (it really is in regards to web development), is not very basic to others, I guess.

      I don’t really care anymore to be perfectly honest. All of the drama is getting pretty old to me considering I don’t even work for DIY Themes. Thanks a lot for reading and for you input. You could very well be right in your assessment of Thesis 2.

  44. Sean I’ve noticed that Thesis 2.0 has really bad press. I do know html and css. No PHP. Would you still recommend a freelancer get into Thesis or go with one of the other Frameworks such as Genesis, Catalyst or iThemes. BTW I had been hand coding but discovered WordPress several months ago and I can’t get enough.

    Just looking for a framework to dig into and decrease project completion times.

    Thanks for any insight.

    • Hi, Summer!

      Thesis does have bad press but I stand behind the notion that 99% of people who have something bad to say about Thesis simply don’t know how to use it… or build websites from scratch, which I think is an essential skill for anyone claiming to build with WordPress.

      Of course, there are plenty of frameworks you can run with and all of them have their advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I would only use Thesis 2 or my very own framework, Volatyl. I would use Thesis if a client specifically asked for it (which is not happening very often as of late) or if I needed to build a theme with incredible flexibility or functionality. I would use my framework for everything else. Not that it can’t handle variation, but it would be more manual work that Thesis is great at taking care of.

      I know that’s not really a solid answer but I’d have to know where you really stand with HTML and CSS to really help out. Many people know the languages but haven’t had to use them from scratch to build layouts. If you have, you’ll be fine with Thesis 2. If not, I would suggest my framework or something similar.

  45. I’ve got REALLY good at customizing (in a sense) WordPress themes. I bought Thesis last year and wasn’t too impressed. So when I heard about 2.0, I thought let me give this thing another try. I even watched some tutorial videos and got bored out of my mind. I guess my problem is I’ve never coded from scratch, but I understand HTML and CSS. I really want to take my developing to the next level, I have all this creative stuff in my head that I want to be able to skillfully create. Thanks for the post, it’s given me some motivation to figure this thing out. People pay me to design their WordPress themes all the time, maybe I can make a whole lot more money if I really knew what I was doing….lol This darn learning curve…UUUGGGHH!!

    • Haha…. sorry for the delayed response. If you’re familiar with customizing WP themes but understand T2 is difficult for you, it sounds like you’re right at the point of transitioning from a tweaker to a creator.

      If that’s the case, you need to start getting wild with your customizations. Don’t follow the standard content-sidebar layouts anymore. Try to do things like have a certain layout on all Pages and then a different layout on all posts. Try putting things where you want them as opposed to where the WP community usually has them.

      When you do this, you’ll start to learn the different methods for manipulating WordPress and websites in general. At that point, it’s all about finding great tools to help you do that. That’s where Thesis 2 comes in. If you just want to write/tweak some CSS, T2 may be over the top. But if you start getting unique and need some real control, T2’s worth will become evident.

      Hope this helps!

      • Sorry for MY late reply! Funny…I never thought of myself as a “tweaker” but I guess you’re right…lol. I do want to start getting unique and need some real control. I need to find some time to just sit and drown myself in T2 to learn how I can really make some unique cool things! I’m ready for my transition. 🙂

  46. Nice article but pointless! An here you are an argument – customers are upset because the first customers were really busy people, who wanted to DIY, and they did, and when the 2 version came out, they were busy with the learning curve instead of doing what they are best in – and this is not coding.

    But there is solutions and alternatives 🙂 There are reports about significant decrease of thesis usage since 2.0.

    • What does that have to do with me? Haha… like I said many times before, I didn’t create Thesis and I don’t work for DIY Themes. I’m a regular customer like everyone else… Thesis 1 user since 2009 and I used it for the same reasons everyone else did.

      Here we are now and I can use Thesis 2 just fine. It’s because I learned what I outlined in this article over the years. Others didn’t. For those who can’t understand it, they can most certainly use something else. I don’t care at all… it’s just a freakin’ WordPress theme.

      As for the decrease in sales, again, that’s not my bank account so telling me that is, in fact, pointless! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  47. I’m new to web design and have fallen in love with Thesis 2 already. Honestly I haven’t used it but it’s #1 on my list of Framework to use to develop my clients’ websites and I wanted to read as much information on the web as I can on Thesis 2.

    I find your piece very direct and great about the basics to appreciate the framework.

    Thanks for doing it. One year after and this is still fresh information.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article! It’s really about web development and not about the framework. So it will forever remain fresh content. Thanks for stopping by!

  48. I chose Thesis because of the hype and the displays of wonderful websites built with it. Drag and drop – sounds like point and click. That was music to my ears. I could have a great looking website by doing it myself. (I don’t have thousands of dollars to spare to hire a self-absorbed design master) All I wanted to do is to get my content up in a great looking, easy to use platform. I wasn’t planning to go back to school to learn Thesis. All I’ve been doing since I got it is trying to figure out what to do with it. I feel I’ve been lied to and played for a sucker. Well, he has my money – good for him. I still don’t have what I paid for. I see that a lot of the silver-tongued chit-chat on the internet is fools music. Defend him all you want – I still got cheated.

    • You have no business using a WordPress framework. It’s very clear that you don’t understand what to expect from it. Every desire you described says you should use a standalone WordPress theme that’s ready to go out of the box. Instead, you followed the masses and decided to grab a framework not understanding that you do not have to use a framework to have a quality theme. You’re not alone. Everyone is obsessed with frameworks. No one can tell me why.

      If you do have a reason for wanting to use a framework, that means you should understand what it means to piece together a WordPress theme. A framework is a code library for development use. It’s not a website builder. You either learn web development, as I described in this article, or you pay money to the “self-absorbed design master.” Don’t get upset with anyone else because you want what you can’t produce but the shortcut to getting it didn’t work out for you.

      The bottom line is way too many WordPress users have no clue what they’re doing in regards to web development. You all float around the internet defining right and wrong based on what the latest theme developer’s sales copy has told you. Wrong. Web development is a real world profession and promises to make it easier are lies. The work still has to be done by someone. The difference between many of these themes is who’s doing it… the theme developer or the theme users. In the case of Thesis 2, though they may have said it’s the developer (DIY Themes) that does all the work, it’s really the user. And in this article, I explained why that’s true and what you can do to get over the hump, in the event you seriously just wanted to use Thesis but didn’t know how.

      I didn’t defend anyone at all in this article. I’m pretty sure I made that clear. I told you the truth about web development. Pull out your wallet and pay someone, use a standalone theme that’s plug & play, or learn web development. Those are your choices. Stop reading sales copy and thinking you know what is what. You don’t.

      And yea… you kind of did get cheated. Listen to what I’m telling you in this article and it’ll never happen again. It’s your choice.

  49. search result is not working in thesis2. can you tell me, how to use search result template?

  50. it shows blank page when i search the posts, pages etc………..

  51. Hello again, Sean.
    I got an email in regards to a comment made to you from monika. It has nothing to do with me but I was notified anyway. So I came to look at it. I also went back to look at the comments from the beginning of this article. Well, it has to do with Thesis – of course. I commented a few weeks ago about feeling cheated with buying Thesis 2. It wasn’t what I expected – didn’t live up to the hype – and it simply wasn’t for me (or anyone else at my level of understanding of websites) It is – as you have said – for those who are more advanced and well-practiced at this. I misunderstood.

    Moving forward, I wasn’t about to just give up on it. I searched – I scoured the internet for “lessons” and came across a lot of different you-tubes, etc. But I also came across one excellent website dedicated to teaching Thesis and Genesis. I have so far only joined as a free member which gives me some access to training. When I am employed again (hopefully soon) I intend to join as a paid member for full access.

    If I may give him a plug here to help your other visitors/members – that website is
    http://www.byobwebsite.com/ . Rick Anderson is quoted on the DIY THEMES Thesis sales pitch page and his website is listed in the Thesis Help documents page. (I didn’t go there at first because I thought the package should come with some documentation of its own – I shouldn’t have to pay extra for it)

    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind my plugging his website. It has helped me tremendously. I am actually able to use Thesis 2 and will be expert at it in no time.
    I can now see why the veterans rave about it. But it really is not for newbies.

    • We’re definitely on the same page here, Jkor! Rick’s site was one of the (if not “the”) very first sites to offer tutorials and training on how to use Thesis 2. I wrote this article exactly a month after Thesis 2 was released and I’m pretty sure his site was already rocking and rolling (in regards to Thesis 2) by then.

      I don’t mind you plugging the site at all. People need to know what it takes to use the framework and Rick’s information is solid. It’s really unfortunate that Thesis 2 wasn’t as easy for the average user as a lot of us expected it to be. But like you said, once you understand it, there’s definitely a reason for those who understand theme development to call it powerful. It really is.

      The great thing about you learning to use it is you’re also learning WordPress theme development, probably gaining a better understanding of web development in general, and you’re becoming an experienced user of a software that a lot of people need help with. So there’s definitely a business opportunity there.

      So I’m glad you stuck with it. It’s not for everyone because web development is not for everyone. But sticking with it puts you in a totally different class of user… and that may prove extremely beneficial. Good for you and thanks for stopping by again.

  52. I think it’s awesome how Thesis is all about separating code from content, and word press itself is constantly toted as some super simple DIY website builder.. But neither is true.

    Then when I go looking for help with this “wonderful” premium theme, which cost me more than 2 years of hosting, all I find are BS articles ranting about how great it is or how crap it is – how about somebody, ANYBODY, actually help?

    The one or two sites that actually tried are so out of date it’s a joke, which really just further highlights how terrible the documentation of Thesis 2 is.

    And, by the way, anybody who has a stick up so far up their butt that they feel compelled to write an entire webpage dedicated to telling people they’re wrong for wanting what they were promised has some serious, serious issue.

    • You’re so emotional. No one’s wrong for wanting what was promised. Who said that? Read every word I wrote again and tell me who you’re really upset with… me or DIY Themes. Then adjust accordingly.

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