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Agility and PHP version?
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Marcy
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October 15, 2019 - 11:01 am
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What is the PHP version I should be using at this point? I read that php 7.4 is coming soon. My sites right now are on 7.1 and I'm getting a message from iThemes Security Pro that this is not optimal (I'm going to email them too). Should I update to 7.2 or 7.3?

 

Has anyone heard from Rick? I see he popped up in May, but I don't see anything since then. With PHP updating, and Thesis updating, I'm getting a little concerned about the future of Agility. I came here because the theme I was using, Headway, vanished overnight. I'd hate to have to change again. Agility is easy to use for me and has been great.:(

 

Thanks,

Marcy

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Paddy Duncan
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October 18, 2019 - 1:07 pm
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Marcy, I don't think anyone has heard from Rick since he popped in back in June and promised he'd be here regularly. 🙁

I too am concerned about the future of Agility and have started building sites using other options (in my case, GeneratePress). Focus wasn't going to cut it for me (or my clients), and Chris' interest in the non-Focus versions of Thesis appears to be limited, though he's still maintaining it and will answer questions on the DIYthemes.com website. Unless Rick shows up again and starts working on Agility again, I'll be shifting sites off it in anticipation of it eventually breaking. Because you know, sooner or later, something will go off the rails as WP, PHP and Thesis itself get updated. And Chris won't fix Agility; too bad he isn't interested in it - it would have been nice to have development continue if he and Rick could have come to some agreement. However, Chris' interests have gone in a radically different direction with Focus, so that's not likely.

This, unfortunately, is the risk one takes with using any theme/framework not produced by a large entity. I know GP is pretty much Tom Usborne, but with 200,000 sites using it these days, it's a going concern. I wish I felt the same way about Thesis - I've certainly invested a lot of time and money into it over the years (lifetime subscription here, many site licenses for Thesis, which I always paid, even though Chris never did get around to implementing the site license check) and the learning curve for 2.0 was considerable. It's totally familiar now and of course, it's hard to start using something else. But given Rick's absence for over a year now, other than the brief appearance in June, we've been left with little choice.

As for your PHP question - I think most of my sites using Thesis are running 7.1. at the moment. The PHP compatibility checker plugin (produced by WPEngine, methinks) which might help seems to have more complaints than kudos, so I don't know of any method other than simply trying things out. Back everything up, switch PHP versions, test. 

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Marcy
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October 22, 2019 - 2:09 pm
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Paddy,

 

Yes, I'm concerned about DIYThemes as well as Agility. I was on a webinar today where I got to ask about both PHP versions and theme recommendations.

The answer I got about PHP was to skip 7.2 and try 7.3. They said except for better speed, 7.1 and 7.3 should be the same. They said the same thing you did - back it up, change it, make sure the packages match, and try it. They said the site would break within 10-20 seconds it if was going to, and then I could just roll it back in the c-panel.

As for a theme, the recommendation of one that probably won't go away and is relatively easy to use was Astra theme. I need to look them up. I'll look up GeneratePress as well. If Agility goes away, this would be the second theme company that dissolved in 3 years. I was with Headway before this, and they literally disappeared overnight. I want a larger company next time because I'll be starting over for the third time.

Thanks for your responses to my questions,

Marcy

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Marcy
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October 22, 2019 - 2:43 pm
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Paddy,

 

How easy or difficult do you find GeneratePress compared to Agility? Do you need another framework type program like Thesis as well?

 

Thanks,

Marcy

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Carolin
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October 23, 2019 - 2:38 pm
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Marcy --

I guess I currently might be called a 'Thesis / Agility refugee' as I spent the past year+ checking into the various alternative options.

Personally I think GeneratePress, Astra are both fine themes.

My experience is that with each you really need to invest into the 'Pro' plugin to utilize all the various options possible with the theme. Both are built to accommodate builders -- ie Beaver or Elementor. But you would not have to also use a builder is you do want. You can do your own coding and not use a builder if you have coding skills. Just get the pro plugin for the theme and code away.

GeneratePress is currently another 'one-man-band', but the developer Tom Osborn is very responsive and nice, and as pointed out above the theme has more than 200,000 users by some references. He is known for providing excellent support.

Astra is developed as one of the products from a larger firm - BrainStorm Force. Currently it seems their support has stabilized more and is quicker that it was for a bit. For a long time the support was very good by many accounts - but then they seemed to be rolling out new features on the theme that were causing some hiccups with some users, creating more support needs and they seemed to go through a bit of a slow down on responding ---- but again, now they seem to have more stabilized and people report that support is faster now.

Another possibility is to check into BeaverBuilder -- their theme, plugin and themer -- with all 3 of those products likely any site can be built. The company is not as large as the one behind Astra, but it is not a 'one-man-band'. My experience has been the support has been terrific. One of the advantages is if you plan to use the Beaver Builder plugin then all the support is in one place for the theme, themer, and the plugin -- and they make all the products to be compatible.

After Rick went 'missing in action' and has by all visible signs here on BYOB, apparently has given up all support for redoing/updating the Agility & Carta skins -- and after Chris completely refocused himself onto his new creation, Focus , I began to investigate other options.

My experiences have been that all of the new themes will take a BIG learning curve -- and some have better knowledge base info, learning videos, etc than others -- but all the themes referenced above seem to currently have a large, and growing group of users, as well as having social media support groups to ask for help.

My suggestion would be to get a copy of the various free versions for Astra and GeneratePress, and use the on-line demo for Beaver - and fool around with them, and see which you feel more comfortable with as to how they work, and if you feel comfortable. And then move to invest in the Pro-addons and dig into learning. Again, the transition won't be without a BIG learning curve, whichever way you decide.

My 2 cents.

Carolin Benjamin WordPress Design & Consulting

Provide ‘white label’ support to web and advertising agencies that need extra help from time to time -
Also consulting, design & web construction for businesses, non-profits & sole-practitioners

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Keith W Jones
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October 24, 2019 - 9:50 am
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Members have been asking me what is happening with Rick? The answer is that I do not know.

Many are now concerned that Agility will just stop working and that is always a possibility with the updates that are coming out. I personally am continuing with Thesis and using Focus.

Thesis is now free and comes with Classic R, so there is no cost using this and any other Thesis skin that you own.

The latest skin is Focus but that is $100 per year. This is where Chris is concentrating his efforts. It is all about how fast the page displays and how it looks on a mobile device. He is aiming at a speed of one second for the page to display in.

Check how fast your page displays: https://www.webpagetest.org/

How easy is it to use? Chris has built various switches in to the backend to make it easier.

Support? Chris is actively engaged in the forum answering questions. His main aim is Focus but he has assured me that he will continue to support all of his old skins. I have even seen him answer questions about Agility. He has also built up a large amount of written documentation and YouTube videos.

Watch the videos first to see if Focus is for you.

When will Agility fail? Who knows, it may not. But you need to consider all of your circumstances, is the site business critical.? Make sure that you have a plan in place.

Keith

Keith W Jones
Make sure you backup before upgrading and making changes.
Best results when one question per thread, link to site, version of WP, Thesis and skin.
http://www.kwjassociates.co.uk - Wordpress 5.1.1 – Thesis 2.8.5 - Focus

 

*** Biggest cause of problems is now the cache, whether it is a plugin, the browser or your host's server. ***
*** Do not edit Skin and Editor CSS - make changes using Custom CSS. ***
*** Do not edit core files - make changes using custom.php or master.php. ***
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Marcy
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October 30, 2019 - 9:46 am
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Carolyn and Keith,

I'm not really a coder. I'm not really sure what a page builder is  - I'm going to look that up, especially based on what you said, Carolyn.

 

Trying the free versions on my dev site seems like the best thing to do. This is rather scary. I came to Agility when Headway disappeared, and here we are again! I specifically asked Rick at the time about the stability of BYOB. Of course, as we all know, things change in life.

 

I'm going to give serious thought to what you both have told me. Thank you both so much for your answers. 

 

Marcy

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Marcy
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October 30, 2019 - 9:55 am
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Another hypothetical thought. Despite what Chris said, if his focus is Focus (pun intended), as PHP and WordPress continue to update, will Thesis eventually break as well? I even thought about using the new WordPress 2020 theme, but then what happens next year when 2021 comes out? It is just hard for me, who is not entrenched in the WordPress scene, to know where to go.

Thanks, Marcy

 

PS - Carolin - sorry I spelled your name wrong.

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Keith W Jones
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November 2, 2019 - 10:18 am
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Marcy

Many are getting worried. Third party skins for Thesis now seem to be dead. The only way forward with Thesis is Focus. 

Focus is $100 per year, you can cancel after first year, it will still work but you will not receive updates. Compare that to $120 per hour for a developer to work on your site. 

Another issue that I am being contacted about is Thesis v1, still many sites operate on this. It is no longer available and finished in 2016. 

To make it clear I am not being paid to promote Thesis. I am not paid by BYOB or DIY, these are my personal views. 

Keith

Keith W Jones
Make sure you backup before upgrading and making changes.
Best results when one question per thread, link to site, version of WP, Thesis and skin.
http://www.kwjassociates.co.uk - Wordpress 5.1.1 – Thesis 2.8.5 - Focus

 

*** Biggest cause of problems is now the cache, whether it is a plugin, the browser or your host's server. ***
*** Do not edit Skin and Editor CSS - make changes using Custom CSS. ***
*** Do not edit core files - make changes using custom.php or master.php. ***
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Paddy Duncan
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November 4, 2019 - 2:46 pm
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Marcy, just to clarify - Focus is a skin which runs on Thesis. So Thesis will continue to work as long as Chris continues supporting Focus. At the moment he's continuing to support his own older skins, and one hopes will update them as needed to keep them functional, even if he no longer adds any new features. As Keith notes, third-party skin development for Thesis has pretty much died completely. In fact, Thesis 2.0 was responsible for killing that off to a large degree - in 2010, Thesis and StudioPress were definitely rivals. Thesis 2.0 was radically different and required relearning everything - an awful lot of people abandoned it at that point, fleeing to Genesis/Studio Press and other options (like Headway!). Initial reviews of Thesis 2.0 were generally scathing - not helped by the fact that Chris didn't provide much in the way of documentation. I stuck with it and built quite a few sites on the Classic Responsive skin, and then discovered Agility - which to me was what Thesis always should have been. 

Fast forward to Nov. 2019: the learning curve with another system is definitely there. I'm working on my second GeneratePress site now. I could go back to hand-coding everything using Classic Responsive & Thesis (it requires WAY more hand-coding than Agility, as I'm sure you're aware, unless you don't need anything but a bare bones site) but frankly, I'm far more interested in creating sites for clients that work and work well, rather than being a hand-coding snob*. There are an awful lot of options out there these days, and like Carolin, I spent quite a bit of time considering my direction. My two major considerations were GeneratePress and Genesis. Several recent comparisons convinced me to try GeneratePress. It was also cheaper; to get access to all of the StudioPress themes I'd have to cough up $500 US and that's a lot when you're not sure it's the direction you want to go in - GP Pro and Elementor Pro (so far for 3 sites for the latter) is considerably less. The first site I have been working on in GP doesn't use Elementor Pro or Beaver Builder. I still have a lot to learn, but am finding it relatively easy to find answers to questions; the GP forums and knowledge base articles are pretty extensive. I've added the odd bit of hand-coding (CSS) here and there, but generally haven't had to do that to get where I want to go. The second site uses Elementor Pro along with GP. It's got a ton of options.

I'm not ruling out taking Genesis out for a spin at some point, but one thing at a time. 😉 I've got quite enough to do with the new sites I'm working on. Eventually I'll have to tackle moving the existing Agility sites to something else, I suspect. 

 

*Like I was back in the days of static sites. 😉 

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Keith W Jones
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November 6, 2019 - 8:57 am
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Chris has assured me that he will make sure that his older skins continue to work with Thesis. 

That should mean that you can continue to use Thesis at no extra cost. 

Keith

Keith W Jones
Make sure you backup before upgrading and making changes.
Best results when one question per thread, link to site, version of WP, Thesis and skin.
http://www.kwjassociates.co.uk - Wordpress 5.1.1 – Thesis 2.8.5 - Focus

 

*** Biggest cause of problems is now the cache, whether it is a plugin, the browser or your host's server. ***
*** Do not edit Skin and Editor CSS - make changes using Custom CSS. ***
*** Do not edit core files - make changes using custom.php or master.php. ***
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