Eric Hamm from CobaltApps, the developer of the Dynamik Website Builder as a childtheme of Genesis asked if the Extender plugin could be useful for Beaver Builder theme. Our thoughts.
Not everyone in the Beaver Builder communities knows about Genesis and/or Dynamik and even less people know the Extender plugin. So first Genesis is al well known WordPress framework. A framework must be seen as a technical building foundation on which childthemes can be build with all hooks (actions, filters) build into the framework. Genesis is well known for its very clean code, its own SEO panel and its excellent set of hooks.
Developers created their childthemes based on their programming skills and did in that way what they could do best. However the more creative webdesigner wanted to be more flexibel in choosing colors, setting widths, choosing fonts, playing with header and footer, flexible sidebars and many more design objects. They were looking for a tool and Dyanmik Website Builder was ands still is for many the right answer.
Setting parameters where you can and programming where you need
Eric Hamm found the right balance to serve both creative designers and programmers to use Dynamik ‘under’ Genesis, with even the possibility to export all settings to a ready to use childtheme, just like the developers did that by ‘just’ programming. Dynamik has its own community, which also balances between creative designers and various levels of programming skills.
We used the Genesis/Dynamik combination for many of our customer websites and it became ‘sort of standard’ for us, to build anything our customers asked form us. That was and still is the biggest advantage of this combination. Yes, the learning curve is there, but the savings too. Learning every commercial available high-end theme everytime again a customer ‘asks’ for something fancy, has a huge cost effect influence on every project. With our experiences over the years, we saved many hours per project based on our growing know-how on this great combined platform Genesis/Dynamik. We even extended our PHP/CSS knowledge enormously. We are faster, more creative, more skilled and more productive for our customers.
Why not the same technology for existing childthemes?
Dynamik acts like a childtheme under Genesis, but could better be described as a web developing tool to generate childthemes. Eric did not develop Dynamik as a plugin. In many situations web designers leave Dynamik as the active childtheme in their setup. If you export all settings to a childtheme, you have to de-activate Dynamik, before using your own generated childtheme. This is a unique feature!
So because of that concept users of existing Genesis childthemes could not use Dynamik. Eric solved that be developing a nearly 100% equal tool as a plugin for existing childthemes. This product is called Genesis Extender. You run Genesis as a framework, under that an existing childtheme and the Extender plugin gives you all possibilities to set parameters where you can and programming where you need. The best of both worlds within existing Genesis childthemes.
We asked CobaltApps to be able to do a beta test
‘Intimidating’ user experience
At a first look both Dynamik and Extender might give some level of ‘intimidation’. It gives you the feeling that you will never get through the massive amount of parameter settings. Just to give you some examples, look at the screenshots below, to see what we mean.
So, yes the learning curve is kind of steep. You can’t be fully unexperienced with the concept of CSS before using the standard settings in Dynamik/Extender to get CSS things done. You need to know something about colors, pixels, fonts, margins, paddings, borders, widgets and many more details on how to make a site the way you like. Please search for terms like ‘CSS tutorial’ and learn it all along the way.
What happened after Beaver Builder pagebuilder plugin arrived?
We had seen some pagebuilders before, but were not impressed. Especially the generated code with lots of overloaded content like shortcodes, gave us the impressions that pagebuilder were no good for SEO, speed and page editing maintanance at that time. That changed after the arrival of Beaver Builder pagebuilder plugin. The code was clean, the plugin was relatively light and integrated well with our Genesis/Dynamik setup. Eric Hamm even made a pagelayout well suited for pagebuilders and he even promoted Beaver Builder on his own website.
Starting to work with Beaver Builder plugin gives you the impression that you manage about 80-90% of every page within Beaver Builder for design/layout and content. Beaver Builder also sells their own theme (together with one basic childtheme). We just bought it, when we came te realize that we had a question left in our minds: ‘What role would be left for Genesis/Dynamik if 80-90% is done by the Beaver Builder pagebuilder plugin?’
At first we were very confused, since we were so confident about the choice Genesis/Dynamik we made a couple of years ago. That would be and should be our roadmap to the future of webdevelopment. After installing Beaver Builder theme we started to see that after the plugin acting in the front-end, also theme settings were in the front-end with the WordPress customizer. When we started to set some parameters for header and footer, with some responsive settings, we became even more confused. The smoothness of ‘thing’ surprised us all. We did not dare to say: ‘What is left for Dynamik?’.
We still like Dynamik a lot, Extender for BB theme might bring the Dynamik concept back alive in our BB work
Close the limitations
After developing a couple of Beaver Builder only websites, we learned that we could serve even more midrange webapplications for customers with little low(er) demands in design. No need for editing CSS, heavy conditionals, hooks in any way. So no PHP and or CSS at any place in the overall design. Beaver Builder theme is clean, generates SEO friendly code (words from the developers) and even has an enormous amount of hooks available to do even higher-end jobs! Together with the add-on Beaver Tunnels, some of the conditionals like we used to use in Dynamik were possible in a more interactive way. So the BB theme can do more than just low-end jobs!
Depending on the demands from your customers, you could go the CSS route in customizer to get things done. The current version of BB theme and BB plugin together do miss some nice layout features in the blog part of the combination. With extra skills you could achieve the results you want, but again, you have to dig into technical CSS/PHP details.
With the arrival of Extender for Beaver Builder Eric Hamm supplies a nice solution, which take away the limitations in both easy to access CSS settings and giving the possibilities to configure more (conditional) programming within Beaver Builder theme. Yes, and learning to use PHP a bit where needed.
Who might need it?
Well, in our opinion Extender for BB is aimed at the previous Genesis/Dynamik developers who jumped into Beaver Builder plugin and Beaver Builder theme but just want one step more in little details to just make a difference. The BB plugin does everything on a page by page design. The global CSS settings in BB plugin are ‘handwork’, that is also true for editing CSS in the customizer for the BB theme. Extender for BB will play that in-between role, where web developers just want to go further than just the standard BB theme settings. Will that be a huge market for Eric? I don’t think so. Many current Genesis/Dynamik users might stay away from the BB theme and rely on their trusted combination. People who don’t know Dynamik/Extender yet, might not be the most logical audience for this plugin. I think a lot of marketing efforts from Eric is be needed, with the possible help of the Beaver Builder community. We will at least give it a try as soon as the beta is available. We will share our findings here.