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With the release of Thesis Theme 2.0 this past week, I’ve had to change my focus a bit for this post. Originally I wanted to talk about how I use Thesis, what benefits I gain from using it, and what hurdles I face being a non-coder. Over time I’ve converted the majority of my sites to use Thesis. In that time I’ve learned tons from the helpful DIYThemes community, so with each new site I switched to Thesis, the easier and quicker it got for each transition.

Now that Thesis 2.0 is out, I feel like the learning curve has been reset. This version isn’t a continuation of version 1.85, it’s an entirely different product. Most of my sites are finally working the way I want them too, so with the idea that I will have to rebuild each one with Thesis 2.0 (no simple upgrade process), I’m naturally feeling a bit frustrated and overwhelmed. I’m hearing from others that there’s no immediate need for upgrading if you’re happy with the way your sites are running now, be it’s only a matter of time before the 1.8X versions become outdated and eventually unsupported. Like it or not, the clock is now ticking.

What Thesis 1.85 is to me

Thesis 1.85 is a WordPress theme framework that provides me with flexible layout options and the ability to customize my sites by only editing two files. I didn’t always think of it that simply. When I first ordered Thesis, I realized I was immediately in over my head. There was no demo so I assumed the default looked something like the DIYThemes.com site, but that was far from the truth. What you get with Thesis isn’t a polished looking design like you might get with Templatic or WooThemes. Thesis gives you the “ability” to create, but not the creation itself. That part is up to you.

So what was my only option after spending nearly two hundred bucks on a theme that I didn’t know a thing about? Learn Thesis. I spent the time to go through nearly every Site and Design option there was to see what changed for each setting. Then when I learned just about everything there was to change via configurable presets, I spent time searching and posting in the forums, asking questions about php hooks and filters and css classes, and probably being a pain in the ass to some extent.

Over time a funny thing happened. I grew to really like Thesis. So much so that I moved nearly all of my sites to Thesis. I still can’t figure out php, and even with the help of Firebug I can’t make css changes to save my life, but everything I picked up in the forums was enough to hook me. I used the changes I made on one site to change the next, and the changes from those two to customize the third, and so on.

Thesis 1.85 represents the culmination of my theme design accomplishments since version 1.6. I’m comfortable with it, I know it fairly well, and I’ve got my heels dug in pretty deep with so many sites running a 1.8X version. I know what most if not all of these options do, and I’ve developed an affinity for that Big Ass Save Button.

What Thesis 2.0 is to me

Looking over Thesis 2.0 brings back memories of the first time I installed Thesis 1.6. I don’t know exactly what to do with it. Supposedly it’s better, but I can’t quite affirm or deny that yet. I always try to see how much I can do before reading any docs or watching any videos (which they’ve announced is lacking at the moment in order to not miss the promised launch date) to test how intuitive it is, and so far there is nothing I could pick up from just browsing around and clicking.

Actually, I take that back. I managed to drag the header box above the navigation box which magically moved the logo about the menu on a test site. This used to require code in the custom_functions.php file, so I admit that’s a pretty cool. Although, after one glance at the css package section, I doubt everything is that simple.

Other than that little morsel of knowledge, I’m a bit overwhelmed so far. I usually take quite awhile considering whether or not to change a theme because I know it will be a commitment in both time and patience. I have to be sure to spend enough time acclimating myself to something new. With 2.0, I feel like the changes were sprung on me suddenly. I’m not ready for a redesign. I’m not ready to relearn an entirely new theme either.

I should be thankful I’m receiving this product as I know there must have been a boat load of hard work that went into building this new theme. I often wondered how it was a sustainable business model to keep offering new versions to everyone forever, but it makes more sense now with Thesis 2.0. I suspect there might be new product offerings for “skins” that would help keep the revenue flowing for quite awhile.

Maybe when time allows I’ll get to read, watch, and learn all I can about this new theme, and maybe it will turn out to be the framework of all frameworks. Thesis won me over before, so perhaps all I need is to put in the time to learn it all over again. I just wish I didn’t have to, you know, start over.