Last month we shared with you some news about the new Pagelines Framework 2.2 release. This is a more in depth review of this fantastic WordPress framework. I finally got some time to test it out properly by building a new site from scratch with it, and I’ll share some of the best features I’ve come across in Pagelines.
I used Pagelines Framework version 2.2, the latest and greatest version of this framework.
By the way, if you’re still working with Pagelines PlatformPro, you should know that Framework is a totally different beast, and a much better system. Check out the differences between Framework and PlatformPro.
Installing PageLines Framework is straightforward:
- Download PageLines from your LaunchPad Account.
- Login to your WordPress Administration Panel.
- Select the Appearance panel, then Themes.
- Select Install Themes and select Upload.
- Browse your computer to select your PageLines .zip file.
- Click Install Now and WordPress will work its magic and install PageLines.
- Login to your WordPress Admin Panel goto Appearance > Themes
- Activate PageLines
When you install Pagelines Framework you get two themes:
- PageLines Framework
- Base Theme
You can start working with the ‘PageLines Framework’ theme active. The Base theme is there for you just in case you want to build your own child theme. This is the description provided for the Base Theme: A starter child theme for PageLines. Use this as a reference for building your own child themes for PageLines Store.
Although the framework has the most amazing options interface I’ve ever seen for a WordPress theme, you can customise the PageLines framework even further if you wish. This is done through Child themes like the Base Theme.
You can make any change you need to the PageLines framework from a child theme without editing the framework. This way when PageLines updates the framework you won’t have to worry about losing any custom changes you’ve made. Template files that are copied into the base theme such as template.postloop.php will take precedence over the same file in the parent theme making it “safe” for editing, while the original code is still maintained.
Of course, you can also download child themes from the PageLines store
PageLines Framework Options
Pagelines framework comes with two options pages, each of which have a number of sub-sections. Don’t fear complexity though. Let’s break it down, the 2 major sections are:
- Site Options
- Page Options
The PageLines concept is that you can set up options on a site-wide basis, or for particular pages on the site. This will get a bit clearer once you start using the two options panels.
This is where you set site-wide settings. Things like Twitter integration, selection of a logo, favicon, etc are all done from here. You can also change the layout, colours, menus, typography and even add custom code from here.
Pagelines has taken care of including some helpful tips for those options which might have newbies a bit confused (see screenshot), very nice touch. The first time I saw how easy it was to change options using this interface, my jaw dropped. I still fail to prevent a smile forming on my face whenever I change a whole site’s look in under 5 minutes using this panel.
You might be familiar with the usual WordPress templates: blog page, archive page, category page, search results page, 404 page, etc. Well, now you have visual control over anything that appears on each of these templates. So you can basically build your own templates without touching any code, and this thing really works. You can drag and drop things like a carousel, sliders, banners, callouts, highlight sections and many more ready-made sections into your templates. I can’t describe in words how intuitive things are in this options panel, it’s something that has to be experienced. There is also the
Drag & Drop
Template Setup page. This is where a lot of magic is done with regards to laying out your site. Basically here you can enable sections for a particular template e.g. archive, then go back to the Page Options screen and set up the details for that section within the template.
PageLines Framework has a number of Core sections which can be added to your site’s pages. These sections utilize Custom Post Types for special displays on your site.
The Boxes feature is a great way to create segmented spaces for content that requires special attention.
The Features section is one of the most dynamic and useful sections included with the PageLines framework. It enables you to feature a number of posts wherever you want using a slider.
Banners are a great way to show content on your site. Specifically, they are inspired by a highly effective way of giving product tours.
Pagelines Framework 2.3 is compatible with most of the WordPress plugins we love including WPML. The PageLines Wiki does however dedicate sections to some of the more complex plugins, explaining how these can be seamlessly integrated with Framework:
- Jigoshop for PageLines
- bbPress for PageLines
- BuddyPress for PageLines
I love the PageLines website design, it’s all clean and easy to use. The documentation section follows the same path, so I’m a happy man. Documentation is excellent, also including video tutorials and articles addressing common concerns such as ‘How to migrate from Platform to PageLines‘.
Since Pagelines has many features, it can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning, so I highly recommend keeping the wiki opened for quick reference until you get the hang of Framework.
In the documentation section there’s also some space for Developer Docs. These are meant for those who want to develop extensions that can be sold in the PageLines store. This is still something quite new so understandably these docs are still under construction. You will still find the basics necessary to start developing for PageLines however. Being one of the early developers can put you ahead when it comes to sales and reputation, so it’s a highly lucrative opportunity.
My Favourite features in Pagelines Framework
Bootstrap is my favourite non-WordPress grid/framework, so its integration in PageLines Framework is a massive plus. Apart from that, what really does it for me is the speed with which I can build new sites when using PageLines. Most of the customisations I need can be done quickly through the options panels, and if needed I can always add some code or even modify the Base theme.
I see PageLines Framework as the perfect system for me to create WordPress sites for clients who want a solid website and retain the ability to change things around in the future. They are free to change things themselves using the easy options panels, else if they prefer to contact me to do changes, I can still do it very quickly by tweaking a few options.
A Professional licence costs $97 and a Developer licence costs $197. That doesn’t make PageLines Framework the cheapest platform out there. However when considering the time saved and quality of this WordPress site builder, it’s a great deal and well worth every dollar spent.
Is PageLines 2.2 For You?
If what you want is complete flexibility and ease of use, a system with which you can build your site (or multiple ones) and implement your own design and ideas, then this is perfect. If on the other hand you want a system that you can just install and start blogging with, this might not be the most ideal choice. Rather you should consider something like Genesis, which has a plethora of themes that you can start using straight away.
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