Why I Use The Free Buffet Framework WordPress Theme

This is a run down on why I chose the free Buffet Framework WordPress Theme by Melvin Lee of zy.sg as my very first WordPress theme.

When I first started Code My Own Road I was fairly new to WordPress and hadn’t really looked into the different array of themes available.

This is around the time when the Thesis theme was just starting to pick up steam and get popular around the internet. Because I was aiming to keep my costs low I wanted to look around for a lower cost alternative.

Although I’m not currently using Buffet Framework anymore, I originally chose The Buffet Framework for a number of reasons which are still quite valid today.

Hopefully it can be as great a start in your WordPress theme development as it was for me.

Here’s some cool features of the Buffet Framework:

Easy To Administer Stylesheet

Access to the CSS stylesheet can be via ftp or the WordPress admin editor. I really like this because I can tweak my design while I’m away from my development computer.

I hate noticing things that are out of alignment, or just look messy. It sooths my inner impatient child to be able to edit things right away from within the WordPress administration panel.

The Admin Panel

This is probably where The Buffet Framework gets let down a little as it’s not as comprehensive as a pay theme such as the Thesis Framework. However! With that being said, it’s still quite powerful.

The admin panel for The Buffet Framework (located under Appearance->Options) allows you to customize RSS feed settings, feature categories and news categories, navigation, and layout.

I find the navigation particularly useful and it’s not something that you would normally find in every framework.

To create your menu, simply create a Link category and call it “menu” or something similar. Add your desired pages, to your menu category and change the Link Category section in your Navigation settings located unto the admin page.

This is a great way to offer maximum control over the contents of your menu, and in particular, it’s useful for highlighting any squeeze pages or series of posts.

Clean PHP Code

The php code featured in The Buffet Framework is of a great standard. It’s easy to follow, and mostly follows accepted coding practises. Function names are appropriately named, and it’s easy to follow the execution path of any part of the code.

I have had to make a few customizations, especially to the header code and other parts where it wasn’t quite what I was after, but that is the whole point of using a framework – to extend it into something of your own.

It seems to be designed for people who are too lazy to create a theme right from scratch, but would still like to create something unique by extending the code that is already there.

SEO Friendly

All the outputted HTML seems quite SEO friendly. It plays nicely with the All-In-One SEO plugin because, again, unlike some paid themes this is really barebones when it comes to fancy add ons like SEO control settings.

Fast Loading

One thing to note in that the Buffet Framework is quite light weight and therefore page loads are quite fast if you don’t load up with too many plugins.

One of the advantages of having just a framework and building your own customized theme around it is that your site will start out loading extremely fast. This makes it simple to discover if any of your changes effect performance unsatisfactorily. Something that I’m very mindful of when altering the theme code.

Notable Features

The Buffet Framework supports uses default WordPress actions and filters which allows developers to use child themes. You can learn more about child theme basics here. As mentioned on Melvin’s site, here are some of the most notable of features of this framework:

  • Search Engine Optimization – includes many SEO features such as breadcrumbs, headings, canonical URLs
  • Support for Microformats – compatible with some of the microformats like hAtom, hCard and XOXO
  • jQuery Powered – comments form validation, SuperSleight for IE6, Superfish menus, jBreadcrumb included
  • Packaged with CSS Frameworks – comes with 960gs and Blueprint CSS
  • Action & Filter Hooks - using the parent-child theme concept (with inline documentation)
  • Theme Options – organized in tabs, with features such as custom RSS feed links and custom footer messages
  • Theme Extensions – allow end-users to enable/disable features using the extensions feature
  • Plugin Compatibility – works with WP-PageNavi, WP-Print, Subscribe to Comments and more
  • Localization – fully localized, ready for translation
  • Free, Open Source – under the General Public License (GPL) v3

Conclusion

I’ve got to hand it to Melvin. He has put together a nice, lightweight framework that is easy to develop with. I give it a thumbs up as a great alternative to paid frameworks. My only words of caution are that you might been to know a little PHP and CSS in order to get the most out of this theme.

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About Josh Kohlbach

Josh is a programmer, entrepreneur and the founder of Code My Own Road. He started this website to help programmers with business stuff and also to get things straight in his head. You can read more about Code My Own Road and Josh on the About page

18 Responses to Why I Use The Free Buffet Framework WordPress Theme

  1. Ty Andor July 7, 2009 at 4:31 am #

    Great analysis of the Buffet-Framework. I've been using the theme as well for some time, and I'm wanting to play a bit more with the styling. I wonder if you can tell me how to enable the 960gs and Blueprint style sheets…?

  2. jkohlbach July 7, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    Thanks Ty,

    My immediate guess would be to import them into your child theme stylesheet, but as I don't have the files in front of me I can't say if there is anything else you may need to do.

    If you're not sure about how to work with child themes, I'll be doing a post on here in the coming weeks about how to get started with them and do some basic CSS styling.

  3. hungovered February 10, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    Any idea how to change the homepage so that it displays full (or longer) posts so that video and images are shown on the homepage?
    .-= New from hungovered: Getting Totally Bombed in Beirut =-.

    • Josh Kohlbach February 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

      As far as I know Buffet doesn’t provide this option (one of it’s downsides is you have to do a lot of this kind of work yourself).

      The good news is there’s loads of plugins to fix the issue.. try the Homepage Excerpts plugin from DailyBlogTips. I’m using that even with my current theme (hybrid) and highly recommend it.

  4. nightfever March 30, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    I couldn’t get this framework to show post thumbnails on the main page. Any idea on how to do it?

    • Josh Kohlbach March 30, 2010 at 10:12 am #

      Hey nightfever,

      As of WordPress 2.9 (or maybe even earlier, I wasn’t paying attention), while adding images to a post using the image tool, right next to the Use this image in post button there is a “Use as post thumbnail” link. If you click that it will set the image as the post’s thumbnail.

      Not sure if this will work, but give it a shot. Good luck.

    • Jay April 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

      The same author also recently released the Arras theme. I’ve tried the Arras theme and it’s pretty good for thumbnail support. I don’t recall it having some of the cool features of the Buffet Network like breadcrumbs though.
      .-= Jay´s last article: Chinese red yeast rice for lowering cholesterol =-.

    • Josh Kohlbach April 18, 2010 at 9:40 am #

      Look like the Arras theme is quite well supported too with it’s own forum and community behind it.

      Enabling thumbnail support though is actually quite easy under recent versions of WordPress. Simple add this line to your functions.php file under your theme’s root directory:

      add_theme_support(‘post_thumbnails’);

      I had to add this into Theme Hybrid for a site I was working on recently and the exact same could be done with Buffet Framework
      .-= Josh Kohlbach´s last article: 1 Technical Reason Why You Shouldn’t Load Full Posts On Your Home Page In WordPress =-.

  5. Jay May 3, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    Hey Josh,

    I just checked your CSS wth Firebug. I hadn’t realized that you’re using the Hybrid theme framework now on this site.

    Did you just modify the CSS for the basic Hybrid theme on this site or did you build up this CSS from the Skeleton child theme? I like the look of this site clean and fast loading/few images. It looks somewhat like a Thesis site.
    .-= Jay´s last article: Is coffee bad for you? =-.

    • Josh Kohlbach May 3, 2010 at 8:41 am #

      Yep you guessed it Jay.. good detective work. I am indeed using just the basic Hybrid theme.

      I’ve created my own Child theme from it because I like how fast Justin’s code loads and there’s plenty of extra hybrid hooks you can place code into.

      A lot of the customization is via my style sheet so you can see how I’ve created the child style from there. But I also make custom overrides to the home.php, single.php and have added a bunch of extra functions into functions.php to suit what I was after.

      I like Thesis’ style, but think that pretty much all the parts that I’m after (and I like all the extra control) can be done by coding it myself.
      .-= Josh Kohlbach´s last article: 1 Technical Reason Why You Shouldn’t Load Full Posts On Your Home Page In WordPress =-.

  6. Yusuf Fikri November 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    HY, i try use the buffet ramework, but found problem. in dashboard, i can’t click screen options and help, can you tell me how to resolved it.? Thanks

    • Josh Kohlbach November 3, 2011 at 8:45 am #

      Hi Yusuf, I have since developed my own framework for developing my sites and have moved away from Buffet Framework. If you’re after a good free alternative (I’m not sure but I think buffet may not be under active development anymore) you could try Hybrid which is pretty solid, or Thematic.

  7. Asho June 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi Josh,

    Nice article… Currently i am learning Buffer Framework to create my own framework… It seems that you have your own framework, can you please give some tips or write an article about creating custom framework… It will be very helpful for theme developers…

    Thank you

    Ashok

    • Josh Kohlbach June 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks Ashok, yes this is an old article. I’ve been using my own framework for a couple of years now.

      I’ll see about doing a post on it, just a bit short on time!

  8. Asho June 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Buffet also seems very old (2009)… And also there is no update from developers… Can you please suggest me a good framework to learn “how to build framework” ? I plan to create my own framework for my new company for easy development…

    Thank you
    Ashok

    • Josh Kohlbach June 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      Yeah sure,

      You should check out Hybrid or Responsive. Both pretty good – Hybrid is more of a framework, but you can use Responsive as a parent or modify to suit your needs more. I’ve used both, but more recently worked with Responsive.

      Cheers,
      Josh

  9. Asho June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Thank you for the info… I will have a look…

    Thank you

    Ashok

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