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Thesis 2.3 Skin Data Management

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The first thing we are going to talk about is backing up and restoring using the Thesis 2.3 data manager.

Backing Up and Restoring Skin Data

Once you’ve setup a skin so that all its templates are the way you want them to be, you can come over here to the data manager and you can create a new backup. Let’s call it “part way”.

You can easily go back to any point that you have saved as a backup as you customize the skin. This is something that we’ve talked about but haven’t demonstrated in any way until now.

Restore to Any Place You Have a Backup

For example, we could go back to the end of the first seminar I taught about Thesis 2.3. I’ll restore this and look at the skin. Flush the cache and that’s what it looked like at the end of the Introduction to Thesis 2.3 seminar.

I just violated one of my cardinal rules which is never have more than one copy of the Skin Editor open at one time. If you end up with that happening you have to reload.

Come back over to the data manager and if we want to go back to where we were at the beginning of today’s class, we can restore this. Come back over and flush the cache. Here we are back at the beginning where we started today.

Restore Defaults Options

If you want to go all the way back to where we were in the very beginning, you can click restore defaults. When this brings up restore skin defaults, you get the choice of choosing what skin defaults you wish to restore. So you don’t actually have to restore everything. You could just restore some things if that’s what you want.

In this case we are going to restore everything which means our Custom CSS is gone. Everything is gone, this is just a plain old ordinary default Thesis install. But have no fear because we can come right back to where we were to “part way” and restore that. Here we are with our three boxes like we had before. So that’s backing up and restoring.

Exporting and Importing Files

You can also export here. We could export what we’ve done into a file. Let’s do that. Let’s export everything. And when we do that it creates this file down here, this txt file.

If you take a look at it, you can actually rename parts of it. You cannot rename the Thesis Classic R but you could come later and give yourself some information that’s useful besides just the date. In this case I’m going to say “part way”.

Now what you could do is come along here and import skin data. Let’s restore back to the end of the DIY seminar. Here we are. Come back to the data manager. We could import skin data. Choose that file. Open it and import the data. And now we’re back to that position again.

Doing this with “part way” has no value to it but it’s very useful once you get a skin done and you’ve exported it.

This is Not Just For Completed Skins

Once you’ve got your base templates set up and you export it, you can just come in and import that base any time you want in Thesis Classic Responsive.

We’re coming down here and this is the example where I’ve finished the skin restructuring. It’s the full width one. I’ll import that data. And you can see it’s there. Open up your Page, you’ve got all three containers. Open up an Archive and it’s all there.

View the site and flush the cache. Let’s inspect the element. You’ll notice that I lost my restyling of this button because that’s not part of the way this was set up. So when we finally get done with fooling around with this restructuring we’ll go back in and put the styles that we created before we got to this point back because we have that.

Sheri asks, “Is there any way to open up all the boxes at the same time?”. Let’s ask Chris. Is there a command to open up all the boxes at the same time?

>>Chris: She’s saying the ones that are live on the template part of the page?

>>Rick: Yes.

>>Chris: No. There was in the options page in the old Thesis, Thesis 1. I may institute something similar. I seem to recall probably 4 years ago playing around with that and for some reason decided to kill it. We may look at reinstating that.

Data Manager Benefits and Functionality

There are a few things that I want to say about this. This will tie into Sheri’s question as well. The idea with the data manager and the functionality that Rick has been describing initially was to make it super easy for a designer or developer to develop locally.

They wouldn’t need a client server or access, none of that stuff because everything associated with the skin is skin specific. It has nothing to do with the site that you are doing the development on. No data that gets saved with the skin is relevant to this specific site. It’s all relevant to the skin and therefore can be transported to wherever the skin exists.

That’s really nice because you can do your development work on Classic Responsive. Then do the export file and on the client’s site just go in with Classic Responsive installed, pull up the data manager and then import whatever values you wanted to import. You can do the whole thing, you can do just templates, you can do whatever you want.

On that note my original intent was to release different templates, these export files essentially with different template arrangements for the skins we made.

So, for example, in Classic Responsive with a full width CSS framework as opposed to the Page based CSS framework that it currently uses. We did not end up doing that, not because we decided not to but basically because so much of this stuff has come up through the years that that kind of fell by the wayside a bit.

But this is a perfect refresher. This reminds me that my intent for the original Thesis ecosystem was for there to be so many freaking download files for Classic Responsive that you could just install the skin and go to whatever resource you want like. Just like what Rick’s just did with the full width appearance. Download this file and boom it turns Classic Responsive into something else that is similar. It uses the same code base but it turns into a different design just by you uploading this data.

That’s literally how it was intended to work. Things haven’t really panned out that way but it does work that way. It’s just that we as an ecosystem have not developed 50 different variations of Classic Responsive skin. But I can see where that could be super useful to people out in the wild.

Especially those who say, well I like this design but I want to change this, this and this. In theory you could and then you could create a downloadable product to distribute that would help others do the same. There are so many ways to apply the data manager and what it can do. We’ve barely even scratched the surface.

Additional Ways Designers Use Data Manager

>>Rick: We’re going to see how I like to use the data manager and the dev box together. I do know of developers who have many different versions of Classic Responsive that they have created as bases.

Sets of Variables, Color Schemes, Frameworks

So they’ve created some of their own variables. They’ve got their basic skin color schemes. They’ve got their basic framework that they like to use, maybe it’s got a feature and a couple of different boxes in the header, different things in different landing pages.

They export those things and they have got literally a stack of them that they can go back to and load a base for and it dramatically streamlines their development process. Because they don’t start from scratch with Thesis Classic, they start from their own designed base.

Now Sheri was asking if there is a way to install a single template without replacing the others. The answer to that currently is no. I heard Chris suggest that he might like to do something like that.

>>Chris: Yes, I see that as being something that’s pretty critical actually.

Template and Style Libraries

>>Rick: Although, what you could do as a developer you could choose to create all the possible combinations of templates that you think you might use. Use that as a base. Import that base into a new version of Classic Responsive and then just delete the templates that you aren’t going to use on that site.

So you essentially can create a library of your layouts and styles and simply import that library and then delete the pieces of the library that you don’t need.

That’s what I’ve been advocating that web designers do for a long time. It’s a very straightforward way of essentially creating a very rapid development system for developing client’s website. It can make for very rapid development.

Geoffrey says, “I see the data managers greatest value in being it’s rookie screw up recovery functionality.”. Sure, I mostly teach rookies so I agree with that.

But I think for the design professional its greatest power is a library of tools. Back when I was an architect we had libraries of page templates, libraries of project templates that we would load into AutoCad. We would have all of our base stuff done and then we would pick and choose the stuff out of those bases that we were going to use in the project. We could then fly down the road with an entirely pre-configured project.

There’s nothing else like this out there for WordPress. There absolutely is nothing like that except for Thesis 2. This is what makes it perfect for people who are making their living building websites.

Create Your Own Customized Environment

>>Chris: There is one other aspect of this that really drove the design decisions that we made for the software. When I used to freelance and do project, work on other websites for other people, I would always encounter…like everyone who does this stuff has their own kind of naming convention they prefer. Have their own way of writing CSS that they prefer. There are all these little things that you would prefer not to have to adapt your style to every new project and I get it.

So like with skins we have to define some pre-built classes, the way we do CSS declarations, all that stuff. We set the tone for how that is going to go but the way Thesis works is that you are never stuck with that.

If you want to change to your own scheme, you are absolutely free to do so and able to do so with the software. So you could if you hate the Thesis naming scheme, you could address that issue in your data manager as well. You could do it one time and it would be done forever for you as long as that skin exists.

Although, all the skins are going to exist forever as long as you’ve got the files. It’s another way to combat that problem of really liking a framework but not liking how bulky all the references are such as bootstrap or something like that. Well, you could theoretically do your own.

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