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What’s New in Thesis 2.0?

This morning Chris Pearson announced the release of Thesis 2.0.  The Thesis theme is one of the most popular WordPress themes on the market and fans have been awaiting this release for quite some time.  Chris announced this release as an AppSumo offer in an interview with AppSumo.  I’ve edited that interview down to what I believe is the substance of this announcement.  In this interview Chris lays out the problem that Thesis 2.0 is trying to solve and gives some hints at the new features available in the new release.  Chris followed up on this interview with a blog post that you can read on DIYThemes.

AppSumo Deal

Full YouTube Video of the Interview with Chris Pearson

Thesis 2.0 will be released on October 1, 2012

Chris has been talking about Thesis 2.0 since 2010.  In the video he definitively states that the release date will be October 1, 2012.  There was an extensive Alpha period but no Beta period.  Thesis 2 is public now in its full production version.

Thesis 2.0 will solve every web development problem

Well, maybe not but Chris does identify a couple of problems that “most of the time” Thesis 2.0 will solve.  I’m assuming that by “most of the time” what he means is that for the majority of customization tasks these will no longer be an issue.  Having played with it for a week I can easily say that over 90% of the code related questions I answer here and on the DIYThemes forums will no longer have a code answer.  This demo site was created in Thesis 2 without a single piece of hand written code.

  • You have to know how to code to customize your site – With Thesis 2 you’ll want to understand some code concepts but you won’t need to know code syntax because you won’t be handwriting any code.
  • Too many pieces of software needed to develop a site.  You will very rarely ever need a code editor anymore and you only need FTP for problem solving.
  • FTP is a stumbling block for new users.  I know that first hand which is why I try to teach it early and often.  I still think it is an essential skill to have, but you aren’t going to need it nearly as much as you used to.
  • Code editing is a pain.  Editing in a code editor then uploading an edited file then testing is cumbersome.  Users should be able to do all of their “editing” in the WordPress dashboard.  This is absolutely the case, you will be able to create almost anything without resorting to actually writing code.

#1 – No FTP Client Will be Needed

I was skeptical of this at first .  However it does appear to me that the typical user will not need to use FTP when customizing their site.  Don’t loose the skill because there are plenty of other reasons for needing to use FTP.  However, customizing Thesis isn’t one of them.

#2 – No Code Editor Needed

Chris is saying 2 things here – First that you’ll hardly ever need to edit code and second that when you do you’ll be able to do so from the dashboard.  This is not hyperbole!  The god’s honest truth is that you will almost never need to edit code.  Period.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a list of things that never need code again:

  • You wont need to write code to create custom templates
  • Different template styles for different post types
  • Custom sidebars ANYWHERE
  • Different headers for different pages
  • Different templates for posts
  • Different template styles for different archives
  • Different styles for various pages and page elements
  • Feature boxes
  • Background images
  • Custom menus ANYWHERE
  • Custom menu styles

The one exception to this is when you ACTUALLY need to edit PHP.  In that case you’ll still use a code editor.

#3 Never Edit an HTML File Again

What he’s really saying here is that “There are NO HTML limitations WHATSOEVER!”  Seriously, if you felt constrained in the past by the HTML limitations of the full width framework or the page framework they’re gone now.  Anything you can imagine in HTML can be done with Thesis now.  And you don’t have to write the HTML.  All you have to do is drag the elements around.  Some of them are even smart enough to clear their own floats.

#4 – No CSS Code Writing Needed

He describes this as creating CSS by selecting and configuring options.  An example of this is creating and inserting a menu.  Insert the menu, configure the menu styles, call it good.  It sounds similar to what I’ve been doing with the plugins.  (This may make some of my plugins obsolete.)  He shows an example of the nav menu CSS editor in his blog post.

Enter Thesis Packages – apparently the real meat of this editor will be managed by Thesis Packages.  Packages appear to be collections of styles that you can apply to various elements.  It looks like you create a package, apply it to an element and once you’ve configured the CSS settings it’ll write all the CSS for you.

Feature #5 – Drag and Drop Interface

This one’s no longer a hint!  In a recent blog post (after the interview) Chris outlines, with screenshots, what he’s talking about.  Thesis 2.0 will come with an all new drag and drop “Skin” editor.  In it you’ll be able to add all kinds of elements including various column configurations, nav menus, loops, feature boxes and a new feature of Thesis called “Boxes”.  Boxes are like plugins – only better. (Surely not better than my plugins – perish the thought!).  Plus once you’ve dragged something in place there is the CSS interface that allows you to style everything by simply selecting settings.

Feature Hint #6 – New SEO Features – Thesis 2.0 will incorporate HTML Schema

This involves adding information to HTML tags to help search engines understand the content.  It tells search engines what “type” of content each element on a page represents.  You can learn more about that concept here.

Feature Hint #7 – Ability to Purchase and Add Modules or Snippets of Functionality to Your Site

The example he uses is of buttons or Aweber signup forms.  You’ll be able to purchase these little parts individually and then drop them into your site.  It kind of sounds like a new form of plugin.  Knowing how Chris feels about plugins I’m guessing he has a new “improved” system for adding additional functionality without adding plugins.

Feature Hint #8 – No Training will be Immediately Available

OK so perhaps this doesn’t sound like a feature to you, but it does to me!  That means that there will be plenty of opportunity and need for BYOBWebsite.  We’ll begin providing training the day Thesis becomes available.  In fact, I’ll be hosting a Thesis 2.0 release party where we will unwrap Thesis and see what it’s all about!

New Pricing Structure

So apparently the pricing and licensing structure is about to change.  There will be a “lifetime” purchase available for $197 that will give the user access to lifetime support and updates, but all other purchases will be subject to a 12 month renewal.  The good news for existing Thesis owners is that you will continue to receive lifetime upgrades and support.  There was a little confusion about this early this morning but it has now been definitively answered by Chris in his blog post.

Thesis 2.o Release Party and Training Sessions

The first week in October I will host 6 Live Free Public Seminars where we will examine Thesis 2.0 at length.  Sign up for any of those sessions from you BYOB Member Dashboard, from our Facebook page or for DIYThemes Forum.

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  • Jupiter Jim September 24, 2012, 10:17 am


    GREAT Summation of the changes. It will be interesting to see how it’s all interested. There are still people like you and I that still like to use code sometimes to get everything pixel perfect. I just read your summary quickly but I do have to wonder if there will be coding options for people that like to do that stuff!

    Look forward to all your great webinars and tutorials!!!

    Take Care,

    jupiter jim

    • Rick Anderson September 24, 2012, 10:41 am

      There may be less need to get under the hood but my guess is that it will still be needed. He did say “most of the time”.

  • Jupiter Jim September 24, 2012, 10:18 am

    Ok, so what are the payment options if you already own the developers’ license?

    • Rick Anderson September 24, 2012, 10:28 am

      According to Derek Halperin – I should also say that Thesis 2.0… for existing customers… will be a free upgrade.

      • Stacey Shanks September 24, 2012, 11:49 am

        That would be awesome that it would be a free upgrade. I am sure you will have all kinds of tutorials soon on how to upgrade. Thanks, Rick!

        • Rick Anderson September 24, 2012, 12:15 pm

          I’m planning some new learning events as we speak.

  • Brian Tozer September 24, 2012, 10:57 am

    Bloody Marvelous!!
    Bring it on….

    • Rick Anderson September 24, 2012, 11:05 am

      I’m planning the launch party right now!

  • Aernout September 24, 2012, 11:28 am

    Very curious!

  • Sarah Arrow September 24, 2012, 11:56 am

    I was thrilled to see the AppSumo email, I love Thesis but the learning curve for newcomers is just to steep. I’m glad to see the changes, and may have to move back to it now 🙂

    • Rick Anderson September 24, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Hopefully the learning curve will be easier. Of course I don’t want it to be so easy it puts me out of business!

  • Vanessa September 24, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Wow Rick. Thanks for sharing and keeping us informed! Now that I am finally starting to understand Thesis, he comes out with a new one. Go figure. Looks like I’ll be needing to watch your new videos. ;0)

    • Rick Anderson September 24, 2012, 2:46 pm

      There are lots of new tutorials in the immediate future!

  • johnhenworth September 25, 2012, 8:48 am

    hello I have an old copy of thesis and would like to pay for thesis 2.

    Is it easy to change over please . I am a relative newbie to all this.

    Thank You John

    • Rick Anderson September 25, 2012, 8:51 am

      We don’t yet know how “easy” it will be to upgrade from a one point something to 2.0. My guess is that the more complex your old customizations are, the more difficult it will be to upgrade. On the other hand Chris suggests that many of the things you used to do to customize Thesis won’t be necessary in this version.

      I will be doing a seminar on upgrading from 1.8 to 2.0 some time in the next couple of weeks.

  • Deborah Savadra September 25, 2012, 5:13 pm

    Glad to see 2.0 is *finally* being released. I’m looking forward to developing sites with the new version, but given Chris Pearson’s love for hyperbole, I’m deeply skeptical about the “you’ll [almost] never have to touch code again” promise. But if the new interface gets around some of the limitations that have frustrated me recently (ex: why on earth have font point sizes in a drop-down rather than just let the user input a value?), I will welcome it with open arms!

    I also find his use of the “skins” terminology a little confusing. A while back, it was all about “skins.” Then, it was “child themes,” allegedly because of some change that occurred with WordPress 3.x that made skins obsolete. Now, we’re back to “skins.” Since I really don’t understand the technical underpinnings of each, I’m hesitant to continue moving forward with “child theme” development for fear that I’ll have a ton of rework to do next week/month.

    All in all, though, this should prove interesting. I’m glad I got my developer’s license two years ago!!

    • Rick Anderson September 26, 2012, 5:10 am

      Deborah, from DIY’s latest blog post it does look as if something like creating custom templates won’t require the amount of code that it used to. Whether or not most folks will be able to realize their design without using any code is yet to be seen.

      Skin is not a very well defined term. By skin Thesis 1.85 means a collection of files and Thesis options that can be imported to a Thesis installation to add a certain design and functionality. This means something different to everyone who creates one. A childtheme is the same sort of thing except that it is a one-step installation process using the WordPress add new theme system. Now I gather from the information released the last couple of days that Thesis 2.0 will include the ability to more easily “install” a skin from within the dashboard. I’m hoping that this doesn’t mean that 2.0 retreats from the 1.84 system of supporting child themes.

      In any case there will be no urgency to upgrade, and by the end of next week we should know the answers.

  • Monty Patterson September 25, 2012, 6:10 pm

    HI Rick, I am sure many people want to know how those of us who have functional and active websites will be able to convert their 1.8 Thesis to 2.0 without totally starting over. I would hope you will start a lesson plan as soon you you see what is going on. Also, I wonder if we can take each of our published pages and convert them over without too much pain. It sounds like if you don’t convert you will be penalized by Google rankings.

    • Rick Anderson September 26, 2012, 5:13 am

      Monty, I wouldn’t worry about a Google “penalty”. There may be a boost in using 2.0 but there won’t be a penalty for using 1.8. I don’t know how much work there will be in converting from 1.8 to 2.0. I do plan on teaching a seminar on it as soon as I learn how 2.0 works. It does look like there will be plenty to learn.

  • Jeff Robb October 2, 2012, 11:01 am

    When can we expect the replays available from the webinar. I watched it and would like to see it again.