In praise of traditional themes

For the first time in about 4 years, I started a new site the good ol’ fashioned Rapidweaver way - with an off-the-shelf 3rd party theme and not a blank one.

OK - there’s less pixel-perfection but it’s SO quick and easy!


Isn’t it just? I’m currently working on client sites using MDD’s Paramount and Weaverthemes Corp themes. Which one are you using?


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MDD’s ‘Affinity’. I swear the whole draft site was up in 45 minutes! It’s a local community ‘action group’ site with precious little funding and I just thought - yes, I’ll do this on the cheap but I’m going to use a theme! And it’s been great. Generally using F6 these days which is brilliant for it’s flexibility but a lot more time consuming - all those swatches!

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I’ve mainly been using Foundry recently because I find it a bit simpler and it seems to do most of what I want, but there’s no doubt that using a theme is what Rapidweaver was built for. :sunglasses:


Hi, I bought the Avenue Pro project file by . It’s a good compromise between a theme and time consuming custom design. I got the site I wanted in a few hours. I appreciate all the details and professional features about this project file. For now this is the most efficient way I found.


Yes - these are very nicely built projects and well worth the investment.

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It’s funny, @manofdogz I had the same experience last year… I found out I forgot how to use themes in RW :grin:
What always frustrated me about themes thought is the lack of flexibility. Which I totally get, they aim at speeding up the process as much as possible. Great tools!
I feel RW is getting used more and more in professional environments, that’s when professional project files come in handy.


@manofdogz, what was your best method for learning Foundation 6?

I was hoping the learning curve wasn’t so steep.

@robbeattie, do you own a copy of Foundation 6?

@Emanuele, when you’re ready, can you let us see your site built from Avenue?


Hi David, no I don’t. I’ve built quite a few sites with the original Foundation that did the job but when 6 came out it looked like a steep learning curve and - I think - I was already using Foundry. I’ve not used UIKit or Platform either. Though I still have a site built with Blueball’s Freestack Responsive, if anyone remembers that. Charlie was way ahead of the game!

Joe has provided a mass of short videos on weaverspace which are great. There are also a load of templates for specific things like menus, column layouts, mail forms. he’s definitely put a shed load of work into support.

The biggest single difference is that the included stacks no longer have much at all in the way of built-in controls. So things that are common in stacks are gone e.g. padding/margin, colour options, borders etc along with fonts, font sizes, colours and plenty more.

Instead, the Site Style area contains a large number of ‘Swatches’ for these things. So, for example, if you have a number of sections with a blue background, you create a background swatch in blue, give it a simple class e.g. (blue-background) and apply that class to anything you want to have a blue background.

Site styles still works as it did but you have a lot more options with the swatches. Swatches cover generic things like colour, margin, shadow, opacity, rounding, height and more. There are also targeted swatches for example ‘top bar styling’. There are also swatches for Fonts, Font Awesome 5 (pro licence included :slight_smile: ) and more.

One advantage is that stacks are extremely lightweight resulting in lean sites and faster edit / preview. A second advantage is making site-wide adjustments which just a change of swatch settings.

This does however require a different mindset and it can be frustrating when you want to make a small localised change and have to set up another swatch for just that rather than just tweak the stack in question. Swatches are very easy in themselves but you can end up with a lot of them so organisation and planning are required! There are long debates about the best way to organise swatches!

Overall F6 is a hugely versatile way to produce pixel perfect websites able to do literally anything. If you produce multiple high quality websites or want this granular control for your own site - it’s a great way to go. It is however a lot more involved than traditional Rapidweaver approaches. I’m on my third F6 site and don’t feel it is second nature to me yet.


Agree and it’s only when you want to do a particular thing that you find the theme doesn’t support it! Some themes have masses of options but that runs the risk of over-complication. Henk Vrieselaar (Rapidweaver legend) always built in masses of options which were great but made for a complicated HUD!

The thing that drew me to RapidWeaver was the ease of startup, followed by ‘choose a theme and quickly skin your site’

Sadly, that latter ‘benefit’ went stale very quickly.
A site created with sub pages in one theme usually just looks rubbish when used with another theme. I find myself moving pages about, which breaks the directory structure for search engines or other sites that had direct links to my pages.

I think any idea of jumping seamlessly between ‘skins’ is a marketing myth. WordPress is exactly the same - we have clients who have wanted to jump to another WordPress theme and had no idea it would take lot of work!

Been using RW since the beginning. Themes have come a long ways. I still swear by the ease of use and fast pace development using them. I’ve been very fortunate that Creamy (ThemeFlood) has been kept up-to-date. Foundation isn’t for me.

Two cheers for themes.

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This is a very thoughtful analysis of Foundation 6. Thank you!

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If possibile, can you provide links to the two Foundation 6 sites you’ve built out so far?

It’s ok if you can’t; I’d just like to see just one F6-built site.

Joe (@joeworkman) still hasn’t been able to provide a F6 demo site, which I’d love to see and pick through. See Foundation 6 Stack for RapidWeaver

I’m still trying to wrap my head around F6; I keep thinking I’ll get the hang of Foundation 6, and I’ll soon be able to build out an F6 site as fast as I used to build out a theme-based site.

I believe you are correct; I believe you are absolutely correct.

I just wish there was a way to combine some of the virtues of each RW developer into one combined ideal: @willwood creates demo stacks that we can try-out first; @Elixir creates awesome tutorials to efficiently teach users how to quickly understand Elixir Stacks and Themes–and now Foundry; @joeworkman is likely a genius who will show up in 2120 textbooks, but in the interim, I’d love a demo site of F6 with @Elixir created tutorials on using F6.

I know the feeling. It’s not like a theme.

I’m not criticizing; it is what it is; it’s the next phase/stage in the evolution of RapidWeaver. Foundation 6 and other frameworks are the future of RapidWeaver–not themes–which is why @nickcates made the adios.

Question. Do you think it’s worthwhile to buy an F6 project file just to pick apart F6, to see what’s under the hood, to see how it works?

When I first started with Rapidweaver I always found the themes back then far to restrictive. I spent a long time learning how to edit the theme to get things how I wanted, but was never really happy with the results.

I then worked out you could start with a blank theme and build something entirely from scratch, so to speak, so using Will’s Blank theme and a handful of mostly Doobox stacks I built my first commercial site, for a client.

Then I discovered frameworks and never looked at themes seriously again, until recently. Over the proceeding years I did dip in and out of themes but always ended up frustrated so went back to using a framework. Recently though I’ve done a tiny bit of beta testing for some developers on what I can only call the new generation of themes and have been blown away.

By “new generation” of themes, I’m talking about regular themes but with way WAY more control than older ones, plus a great selection of dedicated stacks to further customise the theme and add content.

To my mind these now represent the best place for those who have found the limits of “regular” themes but don’t want to go with a full-blown “blank” canvas framework.

Recently @Lucas has been making some incredible themes like the one described above. You get the standard theme plus a host of stacks to take things further. Parallaxis is one such example. It’s a beautiful theme and can be purchased with a bundle of its own stacks. Pizzaro is another example.

Lucas isn’t the only one doing this, a few other devs are going in this direction, and personally I think it’s the future of themes in RW.

As for frameworks, like most I started with Foundation, then added in Foundry, I picked up Platform along the way, Source too, and UIkit.

Over the last few years, my client base has grown to about 60 in total, of which about half are regularly maintained by us. I still have a few clients on old Foundation sites, but most now have been upgraded. For new projects I use UIkit; not particularly because it’s better than the others, but because it best suits my way of working. I have a staffer now and she uses Foundry. I opted for that framework for her because she’s new to the business and I figured it was the best place for a framework newbie to start.

I played with a few UIKit demos yesterday and none of the Nav links worked at all - I tried 3 browsers! Some update bug?