What Starter Themes Do You Want to See Integrated with Toolset?


April 21, 2017

When you use Toolset, the theme needs to provide the aesthetics, while Toolset handles the structure and functionality. We want to offer you a complete package that includes Toolset plugins and good looking themes. However, I think that it makes better sense to integrate with good looking themes, rather than build yet more (of the same).

It takes us two days to fully integrate a good theme with Toolset. It will take us over a month to create our own theme. So, instead of wasting time and producing a mediocre design, I think that it’s better to team up with the authors of very good looking themes and have them fully integrated with Toolset.

These need to:

  • Be free or have a free version on the WPORG themes repo – this will make them accessible to anyone, so we can use them on reference designs.
  • Be fast and efficient – this goes without saying, right?
  • Have a good track record for updates and maintenance – we’re going to base a lot of work on these themes. You too. We want to know that they’re going to be around in the future.
  • Come from friendly folks – we’re going to need some cooperation with the authors of these themes, so we need to work with people who are happy to talk with us.

So tell us. What themes are you using (really using, not only heard of in a Facebook group), which fit this bill and you recommend for Toolset integration?

Leave your comments, introduce the theme (include a link) and tell us why it would be a good starting point for Toolset-based designs.


Comments 196 Responses

  1. Dont know the theme, but i would be really cool to have a theme like underscores http://underscores.me/, right now there is too much to disable with the toolset starter theme.

    My dream; a very simple theme, bootstrap friendly and only with basic css (no design).

    That would be my perfect starter theme ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Exactly my thoughts. Don’t wants loads of free theme integration. Instead very simple theme like underscore and bootstrap compatible is enough for any projects.

      • I’m also fan of a “a very simple theme, bootstrap friendly and only with basic css (no design)”. I use to work with custom design, so I don’t like pre-designed themes.

        I also like to design any element of the theme by Layouts. By default Layouts uses col-sm-x classes, but it would be great you add the option to modify it to add multiple bootstrap col- classes. I use to add col-xs-x, col-sm-x, col-md-x and col-lg-x (hidden and display classes) to the same cell to get different grids on different screens.

        I’d like you improve CSS and JS editors, and maybe a functions.php editor that prevent blank screens.

        thanks for the great job you do!

      • I would make that Foundation instead of Bootstrap ๐Ÿ™‚ And yeah an integration with either and Underscores would be an ideal way to go forward. It’d be the master of starter themes ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ll echo a lot of the comments here :

      Underscore, since it’s Automattic’s reference theme.
      – Keep working on Starter Toolset, since it’s Bootstrap, and we like that.
      – Perhaps choose the leader / most popular in the Foundation framework realm.
      Beaver Builder is getting a lot of traction, but their theme is only available when purchased, too bad. GeneratePress is a good alternative.
      Woo Storefront, for a reference of something always up-to-date with WooCommerce ?

      The goal, in my mind, is not to go after the Avada and Divi’s, but more lightweight themes.

      Of course, I’m biased as a developer/integrator. Designers who uses Themeforest themes may have different takes ๐Ÿ™‚

      • This is a solid recommendation.

        I would add that as a designer/developer the biggest issues I have with Toolset, especially Layouts, is its dependency on Bootstrap. It’s the Bootstrap classes and deeply nested divs in the HTML that are the problem. I want clean, semantic code with tags like and . There is just too much fighting the floats to get the layouts I want. I’ve moved on the flex and css-grid. Bootstrap is fine for protyping but it gets in the way once I’m ready to customize.

        Also, I am not sure what is involved with “fully integrating” Toolset with a theme but wouldn’t it be possible to build a routine/installer that does the bulk of integration for nearly all themes. It would seem like a better use of your resources.

        I say all of this as I just don’t see the typical Toolset customer uses a lot of “well developed” themes. Underscore that!

        • Actually, Layouts plugin renders plain Bootstrap HTML. Bootstrap uses floats for the grid, but that CSS is pretty robust and there’s a lot of material on how to customize it. If you need specific help with customizing the Bootstrap grid, best to ask in our support. You can add links to your relevant support threads here and I’ll follow up.

    • I second that, I use Layouts for all my pages, the only thing I have problem with is that awful menu-layout that is so dam difficult to alter. It is porly documented also, what do what? Where is the best place to place my changed css?

      • If you’re using Layouts, the simplest place to put your customizations is in the CSS editor that comes with Layouts. You can access it from the “Toolset->Layouts JS and CSS” menu.

        You’re right. The menu that Toolset-Starter theme is pretty basic. This was the subject of this blog post, to see which themes folks here like and then see how we can make them work perfectly with Toolset.

        Right now, I’m looking at GeneratePress. It seems to have everything that folks need and works smoothly already with Toolset. I preparing a list of improvements, so that this integration can be even better.

        • +1 with GeneratePress. Would love to see a return of the base Bootstrap theme. The Toolset Starter Theme, right now, is back to front. One has to remove styling and create colours and layout just to get it back to a starting point. That “blue” for the menu (aghhh!!). The way BB approaches this is slicker. A blank canvas.

        • I think Generate Press integration would be great.

          As a newbie to both WordPress and Toolset, I tried several themes prior to going with GP. The previous themes were very flashy but made it extremely difficult to integrate and work with Toolset. (I spent several hours with support to try to get these themes to work, but ultimately it required much customization almost ensuring other things would break going forward – btw, support was fantastic!

          Using GP and Toolset together has been very easy. I would like to see full integration built-in.

          The other thing that I think is important is to ensure that customization of the look of the theme via CSS is clearly documented and straightforward to do.

    • Storefront would be good. Not sure if they’re cooperative enough over at woocommerce/automattic

      • Probably not. In the past, we got much better cooperation from small/medium businesses.

    • WP-Forge uses Foundation CSS and the native HTML output in Layouts is Bootstrap.

      HOWEVER, there’s a way to make Layouts output the full Foundation HTML, instead of Bootstrap. We show it in the integration with the Cornerstone (Foundation based) theme here:

      If you’re using WP-Forge and you have some contact with the authors, want to reach out and see if they’re interested?

      I believe that integration with Toolset can be good for both them and us. We’re interested. If they are too, we’ll go for it. Please add another comment here and I’ll contact you privately when you know more.

      • Hi Amir,

        The author of WP-Forge is a friendly guy and I’m sure he is open to ideas of cooperation. He is talented and has the experience to build quality themes. He also mentions his motivation to build a very similar theme based on Bootstrap, called “BootStrapped”, see https://themeawesome.com/wp-forge-updated-foundation-630/
        You can contact him directly via his site’s contact form or just simply mail to thomas@ his domain. I also have his gmail address just in case you are having difficulties contacting him.
        BTW, he is also interested in site builder integrations, see: https://themeawesome.com/wp-forge-premium-version/

        • Thanks. I just used the contact for on his site and sent an introduction. I hope it goes well.

          • Cool ๐Ÿ™‚ It would be nice if you could at least join forces with someone who can build and maintain a decent starter theme for you. The current Toolset Starter Theme is too simplistic and kinda ugly for my taste. I understand that you do not want to compete in this area, but what if Thomas or someone else is interested in some sort of profitable cooperation and can provide a better alternative.

    • Yes, but for this purpose, we’re only looking at themes that have free versions, so that everyone can download them.

  2. I would say Total by WPExplorer. The most customizable theme I have seen and used so fa. I use it for my company website and it has tons of options, it is updated regularly and the author is really a nice guy.

  3. I’ve build 5 sites on Jupiter (by Artbees). Works pretty good with wp-types but could be better. Custom archives + taxonomies don’t work out of the box

    • I am having the same problem with Jupiter theme from Artbees. It would be great if it will work together.

    • We could definitely help with full compatibility for Jupiter. As their paying client, can you contact Arbees and see if they’re interested? We are.

    • Is that the evolution of Headway theme, or am I mixing between different things?

      Anyway, want to make an introduction between us and Maarten? Let me know if so and I’ll contact you privately to continue.

    • You can use any theme with Toolset. The integration that we’re talking about is to allow to design all parts of the page with Toolset. Without integration, the theme will always output its header and footer. With integration, you can also customize the theme’s header and footer with Layouts.

  4. If it has to be a different theme, then my vote goes to generatepress.

    But honestly I would prefer to see the toolset starter theme get some basic settings for Color schemes, font sizes etc.

    The rest can be handled in Layouts, so really some basic seetings in toolset starter theme would be my first choice. And if that is not the plan then Generatepress is my second choice.

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head with raw visual design and almost no customization options for things like menus, typography, colors and spacing.

    Any theme can easily be visually altered if it has a good options panel and the ability to use pre-defined & custom widgets and widget areas. Also, easy-to-read and modify css styles.

    One good theme like this is worth two in the bush.

  6. Everytime I find a theme and start using it, it is made ever more complicated to use or the company gets taken over and the theme is no longer maintained (usually replaced with a so called better one”. I only use the starter theme now and would only want a few simple enhancements and no fancy features. You could just use the starter theme and then add a library of css or guidance on how to do certain things like “centre the top menu”, “remove the logo” and “add a full width top picture”.

    I suspect most people are happy to add some css code / styles and using bootstrap to structure rows and columns is very simple.

    • Honestly, I think that this will happen to any theme and it’s happened to us too. We started with a theme that we called “Toolset Bootstrap”. It overgrew (we added way too many features) and because bloated. So we started the Toolset Starter theme and intended to keep it minimal.

      We’re getting very sensible comments about what we should ADD to that theme. If you combine all these sensible comments, you’ll get another bloated theme and we’ll start it all over again.

      Instead, I want to have a dynamic list of fully-integrated themes. It takes very little time to achieve this total integration. I just reviewed GeneratePress and came up with only a list of small and cosmetic changes that we’ll try to implement. This is far more efficient than us building a collection of themes.

      I don’t mind doing these integrations every few weeks. Use the themes as long as they stay lean and you like them. For new projects, you can always pick new themes, which have the latest-and-greatest features, but are not yet bloated.

      Does this make any sense?

  7. This post came at the perfect time as I was struggling to style the built in menu on the starter theme, which involved overriding lots of classes and several “!important” rules.

    Whatever theme you have, the “!important” tag should never make an appearance. The less opinionated the theme, the better.

    • I agree. We’ve learned this “the hard way”. So now, we’re looking to work together with great theme developers, who already know how to do their work correctly. From this post there are already two great theme developers that I’m talking with. I’m continuing through the comments to see who else we should contact.

  8. I’m using Toolset alongside Paid Memberships Pro. The two plugins complement each other very well imo. They have a free theme memberlite which I think would fit the bill.

    • I’m not familiar with this theme, but I’m very happy to hear that you’re using it and Toolset together.

      Would you like to introduce us to the theme developers? We’ll see how we can work together on better integration and cross promotion.

      Add another comment here if this is possible and I’ll contact you privately to continue.

  9. Hi Amir,

    I would mention:

    1) Storefront. That is kind of a “must” given its tight integration with WooCommerce.

    2) GeneratePress. I love this theme (I have the premium version, btw). However, this theme relies on unsemantic CSS framework rather than bootstrap.

    3) In general, if you were to make an “enhanced” version of the starter theme – which would be my favourite solution, btw – it would be great to add some “head start” functionalities, particularly when it comes to implementing bootstrap stuff via the Customizer (in this regard – even though it relies on a different framework – Generatepress premium is a great example, it offers basic stuff you need such as customizing mobile menu, headers, google fonts, parallax etc. without being a bloat Avada-style and with tons of hooks for developers to their things).

    Finally, as some people mentioned underscores, a project I’ve been following with interest (but not used in production yet) is UnderStrap: https://understrap.github.io/ which aims at bringing together underscores and BootStrap (v4, however).

  10. We are interested in writing some cheap / free starter themes for toolset, but that would not make sense if we need to pay $800 developer fee.

    So how do we provide starter themes and allow people to add toolset ?

  11. Weaver Xtreme is fot years the theme of my Choice. Although it’s not Bootstrap based it’s fully responsive and virtually every little thing is customizealble.

    Excellent maintainance.

    And, from the guy who made WordPerfect back in the days.

  12. WooCommerce’s Storefront would be a great addition. If Avada have a free version, that would be good as well.

  13. I think Underscores and/or Generatepress, they are free or super cheap and are maintained so a perfect match for Toolset <3.

  14. Definitely GeneratePress. This is one of the best themes for wordpress which already contain features like:

    โ€“ Dynamic Color pick up for all elements.
    โ€“ Adjust the typography for all elements.
    โ€“ Dynamic Sections changer.
    โ€“ Menu and Footer management.
    โ€“ Set background images for all elements.
    โ€“ Dynamic spacing for all sections.
    โ€“ Secondary Navigation Customizer.
    โ€“ Add custom copyright message at the bottom of the website.
    โ€“ Disable or Hide specific elements on certain pages and posts such as the (header, navigation, content title and footer).
    โ€“ Add hooks options that allow us to add our own custom content throughout various areas in the theme.

  15. I understand with your option to provide customization for popular free themes.

    I would ask you to also consider Top Paid Themes like The7 as well since it would improve your reach of WP-Types to more semi-professional web developers as well.

    Please add support for The7 theme.

    • We have integrations with a number of paid themes, including Avada, Divi and Genesis. These integrations are going great and pretty popular. However, we’re also looking to provide full integration with free themes, which are available to anyone, without additional charge or registration.

  16. Hi.

    No, PLEASE stick with the Toolset Starter Theme. Extra integrations just complicate things.

    But of course, it would be nice if you gradually improve Layouts with more easy customization options, like you said, options for menus, typography, colors and spacing.

    • We’re not stopping to maintain our own Starter theme. What we’re looking for is to integrate with nice looking themes, created by talented designers.

  17. I see that most of the comments mention GeneratePress, I have never used this theme but I had the chance to watch few videos in YouTube and I was really impressed by its flexibility, easy of use and features.

    So my vote is for GeneratePress.

  18. So far on TOP with 9+ for GeneratePress this is the only theme you need with Toolset
    no need to look for more.

    • What kind of integration would you need with GP? It seems to be handling the header, menus and footer just fine. Toolset will handle “the content” area (including with Layouts plugin). What would additional integration offer?

      • Hi Amir welcome back same to be you a way for a couple of days, kindly can you talk to TOM the GeneratePress developer to tune this theme for toolset, as for the missing:

        โ€“ Dynamic CSS editor or a wizard to style Views (top of the list).
        โ€“ Bootstrap HTML with enable and disable.
        โ€“ Layouts integration with Sections changer.
        โ€“ Hooks integration with Toolset.
        โ€“ Full Content Area integration.
        โ€“ RTL with WPML.

        With Many Thanks,

        • Thanks. This helps a lot. I downloaded GP and am mapping the things that could use integration. Besides your list, I’ve noticed several other points that I’d like to improve in such integration. I’m talking with Tom.

      • Most of all I would like to be able to use the Buddypress and the bbpress, together with the Toolset Layouts based on GeneratePress. Without writing code.

  19. We are using our individuel own designs. Mostly we build it with the grid classes from bootstrap (col-xs-n …)
    In this prozess we hide all css that comes from plugins to adjust the layout for our own.

      • Cool, in my opinion Sage and Toolset could complement each other nicely. Hope to hear more, when you have something to share!

    • I second this. Our main offering is WordPress + Sage + WP-Types and it makes for a very efficient and extensible development platform.

      • I wrote to Ben, the founder of Roots.io about this. I think that it will help if you contact them and let them know that you’re interested. The more people ask, the better chance we have to get this project moving.

        • Why not just fork Sage? Optimize it for the Toolset plugins and Layouts and keep it all synced with future updates from the upstream Sage repository.

  20. I know you’re looking for feedback on free themes, but my go to theme is Avada.

    For me it’s never about good looking themes, it’s about how easy it is to make one theme, that you know intimately, which is super easy to get the basics in place quickly, but is super customisable. I used to use Woo Canvas but Avada just has all the right header and footer opt built in. I can make Avada look like anything good.

    So a free theme that can do what Avada does in the following ways:

    The content area I’m not so concerned about, I can build custom, use Fusion Builder or Visual composer.
    The key to this is more about the client being able to easily edit content. So it’s all very well me building awesome pages with beautiful functionality, but if the client doesn’t have a flexible interface to add new content it’s an issue. I find VC and Fusion Builder work well.
    The area that Avada is great is the header options, I don’t have to build awesome menu’s, sticky menus, center them, left/right justify them, add top secondary menu, easily put woocommerce endpoints in… Responsive options great too. This header flexibilty is a big time saver and the base options are easily customisable with css.
    Footer, same as for header area the footer has multiple starting points that can be customised with css in every way.
    Sidebar flexibility is done well in Avada
    Can easily add endless Widget areas, very NB.
    Responsive breakpoints.
    Solid Woocommerce integration. (got good detailing style options, but could have more general styling options out-of-the-box – but really anything can easily be done with css anyway, so still Avada rocks)
    WPML compatibility essential, Avada good on this.

    Some additional things that are essential in a theme and to work seamlessly with Toolset, are:
    Gravity forms, essential! Clients need the simplicity of Gravity Forms, they can’t get all wrapped up in essentially codeing Cred forms “short-codes” to make a form. Cred forms is great for specific use forms that clients don’t need access to, like login/logout, but then you still run into problems where you can’t achieve something with Gravity forms user registration addon, and then it gets messy – usually have to dump Cred.
    Better Role Capabilities! Access needs more granular control of the key form (Gravity Forms) plugins capabilities. same really for all the main plugins (Woocommerce…). Not being able to manage Gravity Forms capabilities is a reason I’ve had to drop the whole of Toolset on projects. Which is a shame.
    There’s my two cents, I’ve not got a free theme in mind, but if there’s one that does the above. Awesome!

    • Thanks for the feedback. There is complete integration between Avada and Toolset. This allows to use Layouts to position all the page elements. Are you using it?

  21. Why should it be ‘free’ themes? Professionals don’t work with free themes afaik; they’re free for a reason. They are very basic mostly, and since they’re free, they’ll be out of the market or ancient and not updated within a year give or take.
    If it takes you only 2 days, why not make the effort and add some more paid themes to the list? Start with the most used towards the rest of the top 10 or 15.
    Personally we work with themeforest themes like The7, X and so on.
    What is biggest problem is the bootstrap demand of Toolset, since most of those themes are not build on it, and just adding bootstap to the source isn’t enough for perfect results.

    • We already offer full integration between Layouts and Avada, Divi and Genesis. These integrations are pretty popular.

      We cannot build reference sites on commercial themes. Our reference designs, which you can download and use as a starting point, have to work on our own or completely free themes.

      Does this make sense?

      • yes and no. We can’t build something more complex on a free theme for months, and next year find out that this free time is no longer supported (as many are).
        Avada was a bad choice imo, it’s the nr1 in sales on TF cause it’s there many many years, but i dont know of many who think that now Avada would be their choice – it’s a fossile. Divi and Genesis are no-brainers, but of no use for TF users.
        You say yourself that they are popular, so why not extend that way?
        The reference designs as starting point are just that, they’re a good base but for many, not good enough to build just on that (too much work making it visually more attractive), imo

  22. if I can add: it doesn’t make much sense to me to go for free themes when (total package) Toolset plugins are paid for. It’s not like “we’re gonna use a 200$ plugin on a free theme’…?

  23. Does this mean that Toolset themes are not as popular as you’d hoped? From a personal perspective I was hoping they would have used something other than the Layout plugin as I find it to be a little cumbersome and to some extent limited and especially when page builders can be used. Although I understand that they don’t create the theme as such. This is off topic TBH and I know that Toolset uses standard wowrdpress posts (or custom posts), but I really think extending the power of Toolset would be with greater integration with Zapier that could really enhance the functionality and provide huge potential for integration with lots of other programs. Done right a simple CRED form could populate all manner of integrations with other apps. But in my case sending info to a google calendar resulted in the field name number showing instead of the actual data that had been entered by using Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types as an example. Maybe a really good in depth tutorial would help us extend the power of Toolest with Zapier.

    • Many Toolset sites use our Starter theme. I’m not so concerned with how popular our Toolset Starter theme is, but with how happy people are with it and what better alternatives they can think of.

      We got here a lot of great feedback about which themes could work as starter themes. I’m already evaluating and checking what’s needed for perfect integration.

      We’re not abandoning our own theme. We want to offer you more options for a smooth start.

  24. Hi Amir,

    I have working with the Tooset suite of plugins for the last number of years. Yes the learning curve is quite high at the beginning but thanks to the training sites this pain point can be alleviated somewhat.

    One area I would like to see better developments in is with the layouts plugin.

    Firstly, I am not all that gone with the integrations for layouts. I have tried to use the integration for Divi but find it requires that the Header and Footer must be designed to used the layouts. Why not use the Divi default where no parent is allocated to a layout. Having to reinvent the wheel on this matter is time consuming on a site where other pages may not require Toolset layouts. For example on this site I am working only want to use layouts on custom post types:


    If you go into one of the courses:


    I am using a custom post type with a layout where I have a gravity form in the sidebar. On both pages I am using the exact same header and footer styled by simply using Divi. If say I want to have a custom landing page somewhere on the site, as suggested by one of the Toolset tutorials with custom header and footer, I would need to use the Divi integration but then my header and footer would need to be redone for the Courses custom post types, and we will agree, getting it to match the Divi default for the site is going to take a lot of hacking.

    Using my links given above for reference I want to move on to using Layouts without the integration plugin.

    My issue is linked to this thread:


    I highlight an issue whereby layouts is using col-sm-* for cells in layouts. Yes I understand the mobile first principal but the suggestion that I need to customise a filter in the API seems a little extreme when, if I am woking with Bootstrap in my own markup outside of Toolset Layouts, I donโ€™t have to fight against a hidden col-sm-* class so as to make my layout reflow the way I want on smaller viewports.

    Also (and you can check this with the Bootstrap Overlay extension) the division in columns in Layouts donโ€™t seem to match those in Divi and as you will see in the thread linked above I had to do some overrides in styling to get things to match.

    Anyway I think I will be using layouts on future projects as there are enough benefits from using it but it would be nice to see some of these layout issues resolved.



    • Thanks for your detailed comment. I’ll start with the simpler part.

      The upcoming release of Layouts lets you choose the column size (xs/sm/md/lg). You’ll be able to set a site-default and override it for specific layouts.

      About the Divi integration, we created it with what we had, restricting our implementation to Toolset elements without additional PHP. The current Divi integration will automatically install default layouts for you, which correspond to the default Divi layouts. From that point, you can leave pages with the default or create custom layouts for different parts of the site (like custom post types).

      What you’re suggesting makes perfect sense, but would require custom PHP integration. This, I believe, would be fragile and suffer frequent problems when the theme or Toolset updates.

      So, we picked the solution that we can implement without code.

      I think that if you use Divi with Layouts, you should choose one of two options:

      1. Don’t install the integration plugin and design layouts only for “the content”.
      2. Use the integration plugin and design all pages with Layouts.

      A third option is technically feasible, but like I said, would be very sensitive to changes.

      Does this make sense?

      • Yes. I appreciate that the work that layouts does is quite complex and could be susceptible to conflicts. Your reply makes sense to me.

        Delighted that we will able to chose the column sizes in future releases of Layouts.

        Creating great work with Toolset so keep up the great work.


      • Hi Amir,

        I have been testing and researching plugins for the last week for Divi and a number of them offer an alternatives to Toolset. They donโ€™t have the full power of the Toolset suite but they do offer some elegant solutions which might be worth considering for those of us using Divi.

        The two scenarios below allow us to work directly with Divi without the need to use Layouts.

        Using Divi Booster plugin we can enable Divi Builder on Custom Post Types and then create a custom Divi layout including shortcuts for fields. We can keep this in the Divi Library and add it new posts on our custom types.

        If you refer to my post on the forums you will see that I had a bit of work with styling to get a layout made with Layouts to match the cols spacing ratio of other pages using Divi.


        Using the Divi Booster method as mentioned above I get the exact layout I want with less work. Also I donโ€™t get the extra markup that is getting injected into my sidebar widgets when using Layouts. See this ticket for reference:


        The second scenario is to use the CPT Layout Injector and DIVI ACF Module by Sean Barton at Tortoise IT.

        You can either use Toolset Types or other plugins to make the custom post type and field groups. Then you create custom layouts in the Divi Library and when adding modules you get access to new modules that lets you add custom fields to the layout. Next CPT Layout Injector lets you target these custom layouts at posts of a certain type so that when you create a new post you use the regular WordPress interface with the backend custom fields. When published and viewed on the front end the Divi layout is applied automatically for that custom post type.

        This second scenario is much slicker the the first using Divi Booster but there are some caveats. For some reason fields that are set to have multiple instances and are then marked up with the
        [wpv-for-each field=โ€œwpcf-dates"][/wpv-for-each] shortcode tags for pressenting as lists will only render as shortcode jargon on page.

        Both scenarios have there drawbacks due to the use of third party plugins bat can you mull this over and see if Toolset could do something similar. I realise that Divi uses its own alternative to Bootsrap which is not as versatile in some cases but for most scenarios it does a good job.


        • Thank you for the detailed explanation. What you are writing makes sense to me.

          Toolset is not exclusively designed for Divi. As such, any plugin that’s built for Divi can have tighter integration.

          However, there are also very significant benefits in using Toolset, including with Divi.

          Toolset includes comprehensive functionality by itself. All of Toolset components work smoothly together and they all come from the same place. When you put together elements from different authors, they may or may not work together perfectly. If they work great at one point in time, there’s no guarantee that they will keep working together (or even exist individually). This is not the case with Toolset.

          Having said this, we will certainly look into the integration glitches that you mentioned and do our very best to resolve them.

          Does this help?

          • It does, which is why It would be good if Toolset could implemented a version of what those other plugins do in Divi.

            I will leave it with you.

          • Hi Amir,

            I am back to plague you again with feature requests.

            It came to my notice, in the process of woking with layouts, sans the integration for Divi, that we donโ€™t get to do layout sections in full width. the alternative methods that I mentioned previously does give us the option to use types and fields with Divi layout modules with far greater flexibility, albeit the need to set up the custom post page with some custom styling. For example, with Divi modules, you can run row 2/3 columns, first column with a block of text, the second 1/3 column with sidebar with some other module underneath. In layouts we only get a rigid run of cells in a row.

            From my experimentation I am seeing that using the Divi Booster plugin is the most flexible and reliable.

            Divi 3.1 release is purported to have many new improvements in the API, with hooks for new alternatives so it will be interesting to see what will happen.

            As usual I will leave it with you to contemplate.


            • Thanks for the feedback. I’ve asked Marine, who’s working on our Divi-Toolset integration to contact you. I want to make sure that we understand exactly what you’re suggesting.

  25. Wow … this idea and offer is wonderful. We would prefer to launch our WP Multisite with http://demo.themefreesia.com/freesia-empire as it has to offer the feature we are using but it is missing BuddyPress & Events Manager.

    It would be fabulous too if the Theme Freesia would have a 2nd HOME page which can be used for sub domains … By this occasion please allow to integrate vimeo videos as well embedding just youtube videos is to less.

    So, if Toolset has in it’s repository http://demo.themefreesia.com/freesia-empire with both additional BuddyPress + Events Manager you guys at Toolset Team would for sure brighten our day and the one of all our members.

    Thanks a lot.

  26. Hi, I would love for your pluigin to be integrated with Themler.com WP theme. Themler is used to build custom WP sites. If combined with Toolset, it would be the complete custom solution. I use it for all my client websites, but have struggled to get the toolset plugin integrated with it. They are always improving the theme code, maybe you can partner on a Version. Thanks.

  27. Hi.

    What happens if the makers of the free theme decides to make it not free in the future?
    So i still hope you just focus on improving Toolset Starter Theme (and Layouts). It’s great! Just a few more customization options and you will never need another theme.

    • We’re not going to stop work on our own theme. Our theme will stay basic, because we’re really not designers. I was checking here which well designed, well maintained themes are popular with Toolset.

  28. Please – if you do this, then only as an option.

    Keep the flexibility, Toolset has recently and had in the past.

    Don’t force predefined HTML-Tags and CSS. The great freedom for webdesigners and webdevelopers is, that they/we can use whatever and however we want in Toolset.

  29. I’m new to toolset and not a pro developer but I’ve built my charity sites during the last few years with several wp themes. I’ve read with interest through the suggestions in these comments and was interested to look at Generate Press after all the good reviews here.

    But after checking it out I think this a a very developer heavy suggestion. From what I’ve understood you are looking for great visual design. I think Generate Press looks very plain.

    The hard thing is to find a theme that is free and very well designed. But if you are just looking at the themes from a design point of view and disregard the price tag then check out ‘The Ken’ and ‘Salient’. These themes are very elegant. Especially salient really looks and animates gorgeous in my opinion. But yeah, their not free. Salient has also a huge followership, so maybe it could be the next of your paid integrations? Or it gives you some inspiration for your own theme.

    Hope this helps

    • Thanks for your feedback. What sort of integration were you missing between GP and Toolset?

      • We would like to see the awesome Toolset functionality with GP flexibility in term of :

        1. Any Views output needs to be look nice and format correct in the Content Area. (or any area with GP Hooks)
        2. CRED Forms should display nicely.
        3. If Layouts used the integration should work with GP flexibility sections changer with out any code conflict.
        4. WPML compatibility well be essential for both Toolset and GP.
        5. Any Toolset output elements can use color pick feature in GP.
        6. Toolset can adjust dynamically if typography for all elements change in GP.
        7. Integrate Layouts with GP Menu and Footer management and GP Secondary Navigation Customizer.
        8. Any Toolset output elements can use the GP flexibility spacing feature for all sections.

      • Hi Amir, Not sure if you saw it above, but Tom, the author of GeneratePress commented saying to let him know if you need any help with an integration.

        I did some testing of Toolset with GeneratePress and what I found was that the featured image, post title, and post meta were duplicated when you used Toolset to create content templates and views. The way to deal with that is to copy the theme templates to a child theme and remove those elements. An integration with GeneratePress might solve that problem.

        • Yes, thanks. I wrote to Tom and already got a reply. I’ll write more when we know what’s needed.

  30. I’d prefer you stay with the Starter Theme and keep it very simple since we can turn it into whatever we want with Toolset. The menu is the sore point with it. I usually replace it completely with Max Mega Menu. Otherwise, a bare bones Bootstrap theme is a good place to start for most of my projects.

    My key criteria if you do decide to focus on another theme:
    * Great menu with more than two levels, allowing hover on PCs and touch on touchscreen devices.
    * Bootstrap based as I output Bootstrap from my own plugins I use along with Toolset.
    * Just a tad more customization in Appearance | Customize without having to resort to child themes or plugins. Break out some color choices so links can be made more visible without making menus and accents distracting, for example. Let us set the font family for the headings and regular text.
    * Awesome image handling — too many themes fail on multiple images inserted in blog entries where alignments/floats run into each other and push / wrap text oddly.
    * Great excerpt handling — Toolset’s excerpt function needs work. Try it with a post that is a list to see why.

    I’ve been building on Toolset Starter Theme for the last year+ so I’m comfortable with it and its limits and how to work around them. Switching to a new theme will be disruptive to my business as I’ll eventually want to move all customers to it for consistency and because you will probably stop maintaining Starter Theme. That’s expensive for me.

    It also means I don’t have strong opinions on other themes right not so I’ll let others who have replied influence the choice and not offer my own view.

  31. I don’t really know if there needs to be a load of free themes. I think if the starter theme was advanced and was pushed somewhere near the capability of like a Divi, or something like that that has good css and a lot of options, that it would be a good option to have. The only reason I don’t use the starter theme now is that I don’t know how to write the .css to get it to look how I want.

  32. I have used GeneratePress (am using it on my site philcata.com right now) and I think it is a good candidate, but wouldn’t be my top suggestion.

    Personally, I’d like to see Hueman (completely free – I use on freewargamer.com) get the treatment. I also think doing one or more of Cryout Creation’s themes would be great (I currently use Parabola on ocddave.com).

    I’d also suggest looking at a way to let free theme authors add integration with Toolset without having to pay for the dev license – but only on free themes. This way you guys wouldn’t be primarily responsible for these…the one thing that surprises me about Toolset is that while it is such a popular set of plugins it seems to have a much smaller developer community releasing extensions/etc. than other projects – e.g., look at all the add-ons for ACF, compare to WP Toolset.

    Why is that? Whatever the reason, I hope it is found and eliminated, so that a community like that around many other free software / WP plugins / WP themes grows. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • @dave

      Re extensions, add ons et al. This is starting to change. Some are appearing. Not all are robust – but it’s a start. ACF is simpler to extend because it does one thing – fields. ACF doesn’t try to be non dev friendly- which Toolset strives for. So it’s power lies in hooks and filters. They lend themselves well to extending. But they are not non developer friendly. Having said that there are some folks starting to work in this direction. The Facebook Toolset group seems to be promoting a start to this. I suspect a few developers are only now seeing how we might be able to enrich the Toolset community. So – I think changes are coming…

  33. The 2 reasons I use TOOLSET are:
    1 – When I need to use filtering and more control of displaying posts.
    2 – The ability to create my own custom-design.

    EVERY time I try to use a pre-built them I run into problems of modification. Again I thought I’d be clever a few weeks ago and bought a theme – a day was wasted learning it and fighting it.

    I could have just built what I needed/wanted from scratch with TOOLSET STARTER THEME in under an hour. That is the joy and purpose of it, to start with a blank slate and quickly just fill in the areas you need.

    Just a reminder as other have stressed – DON’T DROP the toolset starter theme. Keep it simple. For most of the simple sites I would built that don’t need the power of Views queries specifically – It’s the REASON for still using toolset.

  34. Not in favor of free themes at all – They are supported for a limited time and then are dropped because there is no incentive for the developer to continue supporting them. I would much rather you develop your theme more and make it more user friendly.

  35. Amir,

    I have built my own starter theme that is essentially Underscores, Bootstrap, and WooCommerce integrated together with a bare bones stylesheet, and Toolset integration where I can use all Toolset plugins if they are installed, but if they are not installed, it defaults to generic theme files.

    You have very minimal documentation on how to integrate Toolset with themes.

    May I request, for those of us who like to do things ourselves, to create our own flow that works for us … would you be able to create more robust documentation that shows us everything we need to go through the process of integrating Toolset into theme for ourselves?

    I agree, having a ton of great free themes that are pre-integrated would be amazing.

    In addition to this goal, can you document your process of doing one of these themes, so we might be able to replicate this for ourselves?

    I think that would put the power in Toolset users’ hands, so if you don’t have what we want, we can create it for ourselves.


  36. Some things to consider… First we need to step away from WordPress and look at how a professional designer builds websites and web based applications. Please note I am referring to true website and application designers who have at least base level development skills, not those who just drops content into themes.

    With that as the premise, lets examine how to best leverage the WordPress architecture to end up with a professional design tool that allows for less coding. It helps to remember what WordPress is at it’s core, a blogging platform that uses themes to quickly make it look pretty. Now lets consider, how could we merge what is built into the WordPress Theme area, the customizer and such, with the thinking of a professional website and web based application designer using traditional static site building practices.

    I propose that we stop thinking of themes as themes but rather use the WordPress theme architecture as a place to house global site styling. So given this approach the theme I am proposing is actually far more stripped down then the current Toolset Starter Theme, in fact I would refer to it as a blank canvas. While this new theme would not provide the user with predefined look and feel or lets be more accurate in this context, impose a predefined look and feel, it would allow for a fast way via the customizer GUI for adjusting site wide styling.

    By doing this we have now turned the core WordPress theme area and it’s customizer it to a powerful companion design tool that would be built specifically for use with the Toolset Suite. Professional designers with strong development chops could easily use there own CSS but for those who have less skill they could quickly and confidently set the majority of their sites base styles, e.g. Typography, Forms, Lists and such.

  37. I think you should also run a competition!

    Maybe as a separate promotion, but for 3rd party people to create a base theme that can be marketed as developed with Toolset in mind. I would be interested in something like that.

  38. The Generatepress theme looks nice, but it really isn’t a free theme. The theme available in the WP repository is more of a demo for selling the the premium version. I’m not saying that’s wrong or that it’s a “bad” theme, it looks great…..once you upgrade to premium.

    The point of this post was for free themes and I don’t really feel that it fits.

    • Agree with Mark, the free version is fully featured, supported and constantly improved with the help of the pro income stream. It’s superior in its own right to the majority of starter themes in the repo, hence its success. It’s accessible and woocommerce compatible.

      Darryl.. What makes you think it’s an advert for the pro? Sure there is a freemium model, but it’s the free aspect is extremely generous. Give it a try buddy โ˜บ๏ธ

      A starter theme by definition is of course not supposed to come with all the addons of a pro upgrade.

      Also, all the pro stuff is GPL as far as i am aware. This is quite different as far as i am aware to for instance themes on theme forest where the licence tends to be different , i think that’s more a situation closer to your point.

      • Hey Paul, Mark,
        I have it running on a test site now, which I set up before I made my comment.

        Don’t get me wrong, it looks fine and if I didn’t already have a plethora of themes (most paid, 1 free) that I’m happy with I might buy it.

        I know I’m only one voice in a sea of fans but I really do think it’s a demo and not a full free theme.

        Tom should perhaps do the integration himself and promote Toolset for the purpose of an affiliate fee. The Toolset affiliate program is pretty generous.

  39. It would be a nice little feature to include something much like what Underscores or Bootstrap have on their download pages where we have the option of cleaning up, and simplifying the code before downloading the files.

    Not all of us use every Toolset or Bootstrap option in every website.

    It would be nice to be able to open the Toolset Settings area in WordPress, and literally have a one-click enable/disable for all Toolset and Bootstrap features that actually removes the code that we aren’t using, but allows for the enabling if we need it in the future.

    Enable would add the code/features back into the site code.
    Disable would remove the code/features from the site code.

    This would, in effect, speed up both the front-end, and back-end of our installs.

    I know this is a complicated suggestion, but it goes hand in hand with theme development.


  40. Will suggest to improve Toolset STARTER Theme specifically the Menu and more than two Menues.

    Wonderful would be, if Toolset offers Template Modules for GLOSSARY, ToolTips, FAQ’s, an OnBoarding section and WPML. Also Events Manager and BuddyPress Extentions.

    A pretty nice WP Theme ideally with suggested Modules as above would be http://demo.themefreesia.com/freesia-empire. That Theme appeals.

    Can’t wait to see it done.

  41. If you’re looking for another theme, my vote is for GeneratePress. Its flexible and meets a variety of needs.

    Ideally I’d like to use the Starter Theme. Unfortunately, when I tried it I hit a wall with customizing the menu. Its kind of amazing to me that Toolset would do so much great work on its products and not improve the Starter Theme menu for easier customization via css, or offer better documentation on the topic. Wouldn’t it make sense to put some time into a more flexible and Starter Theme and improve the docx on it? I really like the idea of keeping it in house and doing things the Toolset way. But, if Tom at GP is willing to work with you, then that seems like a good solution.

  42. My vote will go to Storefront because it is maintained and supported by woocommerce and based on underscores from Automattic. So there is no question of future uncertainty. Storefront is a perfect starter theme.

  43. I am inclined to say Divi full compatibility, but in reality it makes sense to integrate it with free themes like Woocommerce Storefront or underscores.
    If you are looking to integrate it with payed themes, then Divi should be a must, and also BeTheme and The7.
    Theses are all great free and paid Themes I use, depending on the project.

  44. Hello,

    I have a dream, export plugin for Adobe Illustrator so it would be possible to export/import layout directly into the Toolset solution.

    I currently use BB theme and plugin. I can’t understand why everyone is developing design plugin when we “designers” just love AI and have done so since 1986. AI has full html and css compatibility. For me its like inventing the wheel for every car made.

    To end up on a pink cloud you would develop database plugin for AI and full export directly to WordPress.

  45. What about this: Come at theme development as you have come at post types: Create a framework for adding or subtracting popular elements such as twenty-seventeen’s video header or customizr’s custom colors.

    Developers do this on the “backend-frontend” of wp-types and the clients are able to alter the look and feel of their site through changing content in the stock wordpress customizer.

    In application, what it looks like: Currently, I’m working on two projects for a local church. One, they want a dynamic video header, for which I am using the twenty-seventeen theme because it allows them to sign into wordpress and change that content as their messages/events change. They want their colors to follow their own specific pallet and never change. They also don’t want any extra things like color control or menu order on their customizer because they use volunteers to manage the website content and don’t want anyone exploring around. The way I am managing that is through custom types. However, it would be nice to be able to control the things that are viewed in the customizer through a framework like types.

    On the other side of that, I have a static project for a nonprofit. They want statistics manifested through bootstrap percentage bars on the front page that can be changed or updated using volunteers. They do not want anyone able to update any other content. This, I am able to achieve somewhat with types and views. But I would like it to be done in customizer to reduce the amount of complexity.

    My proposition: Build a stock theme with a theme plugin that makes it modular. You can add different modules to the customizer controlling logo, color, header video, photo, and other custom elements. Or if a customer doesn’t want people going into wordpress and able to change those particular things, remove them from the customizer, but the developer is still able to control them through the types plugin, or disable them all together if needed.

    • Thanks for the insights. It’s very interesting to learn about your actual challenges and how you’re handling client demands. Right now, we don’t have the capacity to build what you’re describing, but it’s still good to know it. This will help us when we work with different theme authors on an “ideal starter theme”.

    • Yes, and we’re currently working with Themeco on some very nice development together.

  46. Amir,

    My experience trying to integrate Toolset with prebuilt themes, either commercial or free, even your Starter Theme, hasn’t been good. Very difficult to customize headers, menu etc.
    To begin with, my preferred Framework isn’t Bootstrap which is the only one supported by Toolset Layouts. I’ve based my development on Zurb Foundation for reasons beyond this discussion.
    So my latest works all started with the blank JointsWP theme, which is based on Foundation 6, integrating Toolset Views manually.
    My wish is that you support Foundation 6 in Layouts. Give us this option please.
    Also invest in a single home-made framework-agnostic theme.
    This neutral theme could please both people who love Bootstrap and people who prefer other frameworks like me.
    Thank you

      • This sounds good.
        Can this integration be adapted to work with other Foundation-based themes like WP-Forge mentioned above?
        I read you are trying to contact WP-Forge’s author to make this happen faster. I look forward to this as this theme looks good. It does a great job integrating Foundation CSS editing with WP Customizer.

        One thing I noticed in the cornerstone tutorial is that it doesn’t say you need to unset the bootstrap version in Toolset settings page. Isn’t it necessary? I still feel Foundation support should be native.

        As a general note, I’ve hesitated to use Layouts so far both because of missing Foundation native support (which seems to be getting some attention now) and because I find Layouts workflow a bit difficult to get the work done. I miss a clearer GUI and straightforward options. I know it’s not simple to work it out and you’re striving to make it better. There should be a clean GUI for setting parent layouts and child layouts relationships and advanced options for those who need them.

        • Yes, it can. We’ll work on this integration in the next couple of weeks and see how it goes. The author of WP-Forge is very friendly and agreed to help if we need.

  47. Are you able to provide an approximate time line for the first release of the integration with another ‘starter theme’.

    For me, I’m really looking forward to be able to use other themes such as GeneratePress as a ‘starter theme’.

    Speaking as a perpetual novice, I have found the Toolset ‘starter theme’ and ‘reference sites’ too difficult to use for my purposes.

    • Right now, not yet. First, we wanted to know WHICH themes to look at. In the next couple of weeks we’ll have mapped all the little issues related to using these themes as started themes for Toolset. The authors of all these themes are very friendly and responsive. If we only find cosmetic issues, I’m sure that they will help us with them quickly.

      I’ll be happy to post more after we (at least) finish the technical review. Before that, it’s really a wild and unbased speculation.

      • Thanks Amir. “Wild and Unbased Speculations” – fantastic – that’s the land of creativity, innovation, great leaps forward mixed in with a dash of courage and a lot of fun. Go for it.

  48. Hello Amir,

    I know that this is out of topic but I wanted to suggest a tight integration with a new “website” builder that operate as a WordPress plugin, it is a premium product that is quite new : http://www.oxygenapp.com/. It is a very unique product since it doesn’t need to run on top of a theme and also do not require a child theme, all changes are safely stored in the database.

    I have noticed that they have already integrated WPML and Woocommerce and work well with all reputable plugins out there and I also know that they are going to create a friendly UI like Beaver Builder/Toolset to integrate Toolset, ACF etc. etc. I just wanted you to know about it. I would love to mix Oxygen with Types, Views and the rest of the Toolset family.


  49. — DIVI —
    Even if Amir wrote for one of the reqirements: “These need to: Be free or have a free version”
    still — DIVI —

    Petr April 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm wrote:
    “Divi and Genesis are no-brainers,… … so why not extend that way?”
    Yes, please support nobrainers ๐Ÿ™‚ — DIVI —

    Stephen April 21, 2017 at 12:17 pm wrote:
    “I have tried to use the integration for Divi but find it requires that the Header and Footer must be designed to used the layouts. Why not use the Divi default where no parent is allocated to a layout. Having to reinvent the wheel on this matter is time consuming on a site where other pages may not require Toolset layouts.”
    My words… — DIVI —

    Amir April 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm answered to Stephen:
    “What youโ€™re suggesting makes perfect sense, but would require custom PHP integration. … problems when the theme or Toolset updates.
    I think that if you use Divi with Layouts, you should choose one of two options:

    1. Donโ€™t install the integration plugin and design layouts only for โ€œthe contentโ€.
    2. Use the integration plugin and design all pages with Layouts.

    A third option is technically feasible, but like I said, would be very sensitive to changes.
    Does this make sense?”
    Yes, Amir it’s understandable, but… still — DIVI —

    Margarida April 23, 2017 at 6:26 pm wrote:
    “I am inclined to say Divi full compatibility, but in reality it makes sense to integrate it with free themes like Woocommerce Storefront or underscores.
    If you are looking to integrate it with payed themes, then Divi should be a must, and also BeTheme and The7.
    Theses are all great free and paid Themes I use, depending on the project.”
    Me too, dependig on project i use — DIVI — only…

    Amir April 23, 2017 at 6:28 pm answered to Margarida:
    “Thanks for your feedback. Have you used the existing integration plugin between Divi and Toolset?
    Yes amir i guess that most of divi users did already and came to find that what you recommended above:

    1. Donโ€™t install the integration plugin and design layouts only for โ€œthe contentโ€.
    2. Use the integration plugin and design all pages with Layouts.

    That is the key for the moment and i can remove lot’s of other helper plugins and only use DIVI with toolset because DIVI is extremely easy to use for beginners but also extremely flexible for endless modifications with toolset for the input and output everything from a simple feedback-email-form till shop is possible.
    Myself i plan to replace Gravity Forms/View with Toolset bacause of cost. Toolset with (optimized) Divi Integration would make me perfectly Happy.