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Theme upgrades, WooFramework updates, version numbers and what they all mean

Written by Matty Cohen on March 16, 2012 Blog, Product News.

Here at Woo, we have a few components that make up each theme we release. The two main components are the theme’s design and code and the WooFramework. Our themes and the WooFramework alike, are updated regularly with improvements and bugfixes to enhance our products and keep them up to date with current trends and developments, as well as code improvements and refinements. Each theme, as well as the WooFramework itself, carries a version number, which is increased with each update or bugfix.

As the WooFramework is so seamlessly integrated into all of our themes, it can be confusing at first as to which pieces are what, which files to upload when upgrading your theme and how the WooFramework fits into the bigger picture. While we have support documentation that explains theme upgrades, the rest of the pieces may require a bit more explanation. Today, I’ll be explaining what the version numbers mean, how to keep your theme up to date and what role the WooFramework plays in our themes.

The WooFramework

The WooFramework (found in the “functions” folder in all our themes) is the engine that powers our 100+ themes (and growing). Functionality such as the woo_breadcrumbs(), woo_pagination() and our theme options are all run through the WooFramework. Periodically (quite often, in fact), we update the WooFramework with enhancements and code improvements, as well as fixes for the occasional bug that presents itself. These updates are rolled out via an automated update system built into the WooFramework (The “Update Framework” link in the WordPress admin). Also included in the WooFramework are the Sidebar Manager and an easy to use backup facility to create downloadable backup files of your theme options.

The WooFramework files in the Functions folder within your theme.

If a new feature is developed and isn’t specific to a single theme, it would be included in the WooFramework for use by everyone.

Theme Components

Each theme is made up of the core WordPress template files (found in the main folder of the theme) as well as several theme-specific functions and components, found in the “includes” folder. These files, while pretty consistent, can change from theme to theme and, therefore, are not included in the WooFramework. Theme options are specified in the “includes” folder, as well as theme setup-related functionality and specific enhancements (custom typography and styling generation, for example).

The theme option's panel are dictated by the code in the Includes folder of your theme.

Version Numbers… what do they mean?

Our versioning system consists of three parts; rewrites/major upgrades, new feature updates and bugfixes. For example, V1.0.0 is a new theme with no features added after release and no bugfixes, where as V2.4.3 is theme that has had 1 rewrite/major upgrade, 4 new features and 3 bugfixes after the 4th new feature.

Knowing this versioning system is important when upgrading and maintaining a website using one of our themes. If you’re running, for example, V2.4.0 and V2.4.1 is released, you can instantly know that this is a bugfix, is usually minor and may not affect you.

That being said, it is important to keep your theme up to date. For this reason, each of our themes includes a “changelog.txt” file, denoting each update made to the theme, which file it was made in and what the update was. Reading the changelog for the version you’re looking to upgrade to, along with understanding our version numbering system above, can go a long way to improving your upgrade experience and understanding how best to manage your theme maintenance. Speaking of theme maintenance, using a child theme is always a good idea.

When it comes to the WooFramework, this is where the majority of major updates are released. For this reason, the WooFramework provides a neat update notifier that adds a message on your theme options admin screen when a new version is available. We’d recommend activating this if you would like to be notified of the latest updates.

I hope this helps to provide a clearer understanding of our versioning system, when and how to upgrade and what it all means, as well as enhancing your overall WooThemes experience.


15 Responses

  1. John
    March 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    With regard to creating child themes, i abandoned this idea because there were issues with some themes not being compatible?
    Are all the latest themes child-friendly now?

    • Matty Cohen
      March 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Hi John.

      Yes, our latest themes are child theme friendly.

      We’d definitely recommend child theming as the best method of customising your theme of choice.

      If you require assistance with how to override functionality via your child theme, our ninjas are happy to help out in the Support Forums. 🙂

      • Ryan Ray
        March 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

        Child themes FTW. Especially if the parent theme has hooks and filters, AKA = Canvas. 🙂

      • Eduardo Alberto
        March 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

        Is there an article addressing this? Is it possible to overwrite any files with a child-theme?

        That is a very interesting feature to me.

        • Matty Cohen
          March 17, 2012 at 8:19 am #

          Hi Eduardo,

          Strictly, it’s only possible to override default WordPress template files (page.php, index.php, etc – aside from functions.php which can reside in both the parent and child) unless the theme developer has added support for overriding of other files.

          While we do support this in our latest themes, we don’t recommend it as there are better ways to override functionality in our themes. 🙂

          I’d recommend viewing the child themes section of the WordPress Codex and our child theming guide for more information on this. 🙂

          • Baron
            March 21, 2012 at 9:20 am #

            And child themes don’t work with files inside sub-directories correct? I tried once and it didn’t work so I have modified my parent theme files in the sub-directories.

  2. Sarah
    March 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks for that info, it’s very useful when you have a lot of sites on the go!
    BTW – has the theme update notifications stopped working? I get the framework notices but not theme ones any more.

    • Dale Wright
      March 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      I have the same problem, no theme notification updates for ages.

    • Matty Cohen
      March 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi Sarah,

      We’ve seen reports of this. The latest version of the WooFramework should contain a revised version of the theme update notifications (which we are working on and improving regularly).

      If you encounter issues with this in the latest version of the WooFramework, please let us know in the “General Support” section of our Support Forums. 🙂

      Thanks Sarah. 🙂

      • Baron
        March 21, 2012 at 9:23 am #

        Would be nice to have built-in email notifications. Sometimes I’ve gone awhile not knowing a theme for a website I built got upgraded.

  3. Frank McClung
    March 18, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    Very helpful article. Thanks Matty!

  4. Jonah
    March 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    The only thing I would say is that your themes should at least prompt for when there is an update. I find myself having to keep siging into my account just to see a new theme update.

  5. leader
    March 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I will definitely forward this to my colleague we were just talking about this the other day!

  6. Lão Còi
    April 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Failed: Copy Failed

  7. Todd
    May 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Every time I try to update the framework automatically from the dashboard, the page tells me I have the latest version of WooFramework. But it is not the current version. How can I get around this?