Today, I am releasing my first official open source WordPress theme. I’ve worked with WordPress for years, but have never created anything that is free to download … until now.
Being able to create open source projects, like WordPress themes, has always weighed heavy on my mind. Without WordPress itself, and the free themes released for it, I am not sure where I would have ended up in my professional career.
Open source saved my life.
I have always wanted to give back as much as possible. With the release of the Clean Blog theme, today is the first step in this never-ending process.
Clean Blog is a personal blogging theme, free of clutter, with a focus on the writers words while not sacrificing visual quality.
When I began thinking of a theme that I’d like to build, I knew that I wanted to base the main WordPress codes off of the Underscores theme. I also knew that I wanted to build a blog template that I would personally want to use.
Finding the Clean Blog template from StartBootstrap was an accident, but a happy one. As soon as I seen the template, I immediately started building out the WordPress theme.
Then I stopped writing code for 5 months.
The itch to blog never left, and the desire to release my own open source themes as way to give back to the community that allowed me to be my own boss was still burning in me.
Fast forward to three days ago and I was cleaning up my bookmarks and came across the Clean Blog template again. It was like a bolt of lightning hit me and I immediately got to work, starting over from scratch.
Three days later and the Clean Blog WordPress theme is here.
First, check out the live demo.
If you like it, you can download the Clean Blog theme on Github. I submitted it to the official WordPress repository and will update the download links below when it gets approved.
The simplicity of this theme is what I love most about it. No sidebar, no excess clutter, easy to read content and a bold featured image to instantly grab your readers attention.
Yet, I did want to give some options in the Customizer that would allow you to make the theme uniquely your own.
One of my favorite parts of this theme is the large featured images in the header of the home page, posts and pages. It’s an attention grabber and adds some visual appeal to a theme that is otherwise minimalist and void of design.
Home intro box
All posts and pages have the option to add your own featured image into the header, but the home page has it’s own section to edit in your own image, title and subtitle in the Customizer.
In the themes footer, there’s an area to link your various social profiles. The theme comes built with 10 of the most widely used social websites.
Link (hover) color
The Clean Blog theme comes pre-set with the same color that the Bootstrap version of the theme uses. But I don’t believe in making you change color codes in CSS to have the color you want. So, in the Customizer you are able to pick your own color.
This section of the Customizer lets you choose if you want to show a post excerpt on the home page. It defaults to hidden, like the original Clean Blog bootstrap template.
You can also add in your own copyright message. Would it be nice if you kept the links to WordPress and my website? Sure.
Is it required? Not at all.
Without the open source projects below, this theme would have never came together the way that it has. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who was indirectly a part of this WordPress theme’s release.
They’ve personally released a Jekyll theme based on this template and also have user submitted versions for Ghost and Anchor CMS. This WordPress version will be in good company.
There’s too many people to thank personally in this post, but the whole team behind the Underscores WordPress theme put out a great starter theme for WordPress. With it’s help, I was able to take the Bootstrap template from Start Bootstrap and build an amazing WordPress theme.
Philip Arthur Moore released a plugin that makes this theme really come to life. In the original template from Start Bootstrap there are subtitles for each article, but WordPress has no way to easily manage this … until the Subtitles plugin came along.
The Clean Blog WordPress theme will work without this plugin installed, which you can see by viewing any of the posts in the demo without a subtitle. But, I highly recommend using this plugin on your website.
Also, I would like to say thank you to Philip for his lighting fast response on Github when I was having an issue with the plugin. Even if it was just me overlooking the answer which was already in the release notes 🙂
Theme customizer codes
A large part of this theme’s awesomeness, in my opinion, is the ease of editing various options through the theme Customizer. This is where Tom Mcfarlin’s theme customizer codes came to the rescue. His code was clean and easy to manipulate for what I needed with this theme.
WP Test content
When I built this theme, I wanted to make sure I had all of the various content types covered, and the WP Test example content gave me everything I needed.
I imported their test content and found a few different issues with my code, and promptly fixed them. So, thank you Michael Novotny for putting this test content package together.
More thank you’s
Thank you to Dave Gandy for the Font Awesome iconic font set that this theme uses for the social profile links in the footer. With Font Awesome being included in the theme, it means you can add any of their icons to your content, too.
When adding the show/hide option for the excerpts into the theme customizer, I needed to be able to call a CSS class in order for the live preview to work properly. Thank you to c.bavtova for the code snippet used to add a CSS class to the excerpt’s paragraph wrap.
Thank you for taking the time to read this entire release post.
Thank you for downloading and checking the theme out, and thank you for any issues you find with it that you report through Github.
Up next, I have a few ideas for this theme that I’d like to implement. I also have plans on a couple more WordPress themes, and possibly a plugin or two.
Besides WordPress code, I also plan on releasing other open source work, but that’s information for a later post.
Update 3-16-2016: After finishing this article, you can read the most recent updates to the theme since it’s official release by viewing the Recent Projects post from March 16, 2016.