What exactly are we doing here folks? Why do developers create software products? Why does McDonald’s pack who-knows-what together in less than 5 minutes for a few bucks? Why are umbrellas so popular?

It’s simple. Products and services solve problems. Developers create automated solutions to complex problems. McDonald’s satisfies hunger (at the expense of everything good in the world). Umbrellas keep you from getting wet when it rains. If you have a problem, chances are there’s a product ready to solve it for you.

So when the question of why we need another WordPress Framework is asked, the answer lies in what problems it solves.

Let’s talk about that in regards to the Volatyl Framework.

Volatyl’s Problem Solving Style

Every software developer that creates automated solutions to technical problems has done so based on his or her interpretation of how those particular problems should be solved.

That is to say that not every solution will be the same because not every developer will see problems like the next developer.

Here, I’ll attempt to explain to you my problem solving style and why I feel Volatyl solves the right problems for a specific group of people.

Learning Web Development Languages

I would argue that the vast majority of WordPress users do not have a programming background. It’s not very hard to set up a self-hosted blog so it’s safe to say that without knowing any web development or programming languages, one can successfully launch a fully functional website.

It’s also safe to say that you won’t last very long as a website owner without hearing a few acronyms — HTML, CSS, and PHP. While there are more languages that can be used to build a website, those three will most definitely work their way into your life as a WordPress user.

I’ve noticed a unique pattern about how these languages are approached by newcomers, including myself. It usually goes something like this:

  • Learn that HTML is necessary for very basic content creation as it is responsible for links, lists, headings, and many other basic content elements.
  • Learn that HTML is boring by default and sometimes needs to be styled to match the look of a website… and CSS is responsible for styling HTML.
  • HTML and CSS alone are perfectly capable of building a great website. But almost every “cool” thing you want to do requires a little PHP.

The first step is inevitable. At the very least, you can get away with publishing content with WordPress that doesn’t include any HTML elements besides paragraphs. But guess what? That’s still HTML.

Unless you intend to have a site as basic as Craigslist, there’s no doubt you’ll dabble in a little CSS as well. It will most likely begin with a lot of copying and pasting but it’s CSS, nonetheless.

PHP is a special one, though. You can effectively duck and dodge PHP for years and never feel like you’ve missed out on much. But that’s no fun.

This is where Volatyl comes in.

Understanding the “Why” Before the “How”

While HTML is responsible for displaying content and CSS is responsible for styling that content, PHP is a different type of ballgame.

Without going deep into the details of this powerful language, all you have to understand is that it is a server-side language. That means it’s not just about what you see on the screen. The heavy lifting is done before the content reaches your screen… on the server side.

What I’ve learned is that for most, knowing when and why to use PHP needs to be understood before knowing how to use PHP.

This is where Volatyl shines.

PHP Heavy Lifting Options

The majority of Volatyl Options are simple checkboxes that do one thing or another.

  • Either activate a menu beneath your header or don’t.
  • Either show an HTML single post footer beneath your articles or don’t.
  • Either activate a 3-column widgetized footer or don’t.

It’s that simple. While these are things that can appear to be done with HTML in WordPress theme template files, that’s not practical, less flexible, and most users will not be able to perform these tasks.

So using PHP is an easy way to dynamically manipulate HTML based on specified conditions, resulting in tasks like the ones listed above.

With Volatyl, you’re introduced to reasons why you’d want to perform these tasks and the options necessary to make them happen. As stated before, I think these prerequisites are necessary before learning to write PHP itself.

So Who Should Use Volatyl?

If you haven’t already guessed it, Volatyl was not created for complete beginners. Beginners have certain problems that they need solved and Volatyl was not created as a solution to those problems. 

Volatyl was created for those who have learned to effectively use HTML to display content and style that content with CSS.

The reason why I targeted that audience is because you can very well sit at a level where you know HTML and CSS but don’t understand PHP for years. I’ve done it and I’ve seen many others do the same.

Volatyl handles the HTML structure for you because that’s what WordPress themes do. However, Volatyl does not handle your CSS. Why? Because my target audience already knows CSS or they are willing to use their resources to copy and paste CSS where necessary.

There is absolutely no reason for Volatyl to provide basic options that are more limiting than your ability to write the languages that you already know yourself!

Once you’ve reached that point, though, Volatyl steps in to help you get acquainted with PHP… plain and simple.

Why Volatyl Should Not Be Compared to Other Frameworks

No more than 30 minutes after its release, people immediately started mentioning Volatyl in the same sentence as other frameworks.

Cut it out.

The problems that Volatyl solves are not the same problems that other major frameworks attempt to solve.

The Genesis Framework is by far the best WordPress framework for users looking for turnkey designs built on a strong foundation. The Thesis Framework is by far the most flexible framework for users who are not interested in living within the imposed limits of WordPress’ structure and functionality.

Other frameworks also have their purposes for being what they are.

Volatyl is different for the reasons outlined in this article. If you’ve read articles of mine like A Ridiculously Helpful Guide to Creating, Styling, and Using Aweber Forms On Your Thesis Site, you already know that I’m a teacher.

I couldn’t care less about making your life easier by handing you everything you need and teaching you nothing. That’s not my style.

I’d rather you learn something every time you interact with me or one of my creations. With Volatyl and its awesome documentation, I see to it that you first understand the concepts in a ways that spark your curiosity, and then I point you in the direction needed to learn what you didn’t understand before.

Does that make sense? Let me know in the comments below.

photo credit: just.Luc via photopin cc

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. One of the things I think you’ve done really well with Volatyl is that you’ve laser-focused your target, and really customised the framework to their needs. Your writing speaks directly to them (me included).

    I learned rudimentary HTML and CSS with my first sites, then Thesis 1 showed me what I could do with WordPress. But php was something I called my web guy to mess with. Now with T2, I’ve gotten stuck in with php and advanced my understanding of CSS to where I’m relatively fast and creative. I’ve got a future project Volatyl looks perfect for.

    I’m going to be all over this when I finally get my current project done!

    Thanks Sean.

    • You got it, Jim. I definitely don’t see the need in another framework that does exactly the same thing as other frameworks and speaks to the same audience. So I knew that if I was going to do this, I’d have to really concentrate on understanding why it was needed and who would be the ones using it.

      That has shaped my plans big time and is really steering Volatyl in a direction that will make it more unique as time goes on.

      Thanks for the support and let me know when you get started!

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