I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Essence. I’m going to try to do a series of posts answering the most common ones. I’m going to use the Genesis Framework by StudioPress as an example throughout. Please understand that I’m not picking on it, I’m using it as an example because I think it’s currently the best option out there.
There are several reasons for this, but I’d like to expand on two of them. First of all I don’t think anyone has quite got it right. Some of them, like Genesis, are quite good but still not right. They tend to put a ton of features into the theme, including many that I will never use, making it too big and complex. Essence follow the same 80/20 rule of thumb that WordPress does, meaning new functionality should be useful to 80% of users or it shouldn’t go in. Instead it should become a plugin. Essence will have a host of plugins, some developed along with the theme by the same people and some that are by existing plugin developers, which will add whatever functionality you want/need while keeping Essence itself compact, efficient, and easy to use.
However, the second is the most important. I do not think that it is in my best interest (or the best interest of any other developer) to rely too heavily on a product that is controlled by another company. The Genesis Framework will change based on what is most beneficial to StudioPress. Don’t get me wrong, the theme belongs to StudioPress so I think that’s as it should be, but what happens if what’s best for my company isn’t what’s best for theirs? What happens if StudioPress is some day ran by someone who’s not as community-minded as Brian Gardner? I was worried that this could happen last year when they merged into Copyblogger Media, LLC. It didn’t, but the fact remains that they could take the product in a direction that is beneficial to no one but them. Since Genesis is licensed under the GPL you could continue to use the code you already have, but you’ve lost the benefits of a regularly updating framework.
So what makes Essence different? Well, Essence will be guided by a team of lead developers much like WordPress. There will be no bottom line to answer for, and no one person complete control. My business relies on WordPress and that doesn’t worry me at all because WordPress isn’t a competitor and therefore there’s no conflict of interest. This is exactly how I want Essence to be positioned.
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