Hybrid Core theme framework: Version 1.0

Hybrid Core theme development framework
Hybrid Core theme framework

When I wrote the first code for this site back in June 2008, I had a small idea of what I eventually wanted to accomplish and release for free into the wild. I wanted to release a WordPress theme framework.

I wasn’t 100% sure what that meant at the time, and it took me a long while to realize what direction to go in. Nearly one year ago, I announced that I would release something called the Hybrid Core framework, which would allow developers to create their own parent themes. Well, it’s a little late, but I think it’ll be well worth the wait.

Introducing Hybrid Core

Version 1.0 of the Hybrid Core framework is ready.

Hybrid Core is a development framework for creating WordPress parent themes. It is not a WordPress theme. It’s a set of conventions and PHP scripts for handling common, complex functionality within themes.

The framework takes an extremely modular approach. When creating themes, you only have to use the features that you want to use. It allows you to mix and match components to suit your project’s needs.

The code is a set of scripts that I’ve been building for several years and plan to continue building upon for even more years to come. They’ve already made my development much easier and quicker. I simply want to share what I’ve worked on with other theme developers.

Even though this is version “1.0,” it’s not the first version. Version 0.1 was the first, so this thing has went through a lot of changes in 2+ years. Version 1.0 just happened to coincide with the official, public release for this thing.

Who is the framework for?

If you’re an end user, this framework wasn’t built for you. You’re certainly welcome to use it, but you may find it tough if you’re not familiar with creating WordPress themes.

Hybrid Core was built for theme developers. Its purpose is to aid in the development of your themes while leaving the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript completely up to you.

This framework is also for people who are tired of trying to hack a single “theme framework” to bits via a functions.php file just to make simple changes. It’s for people that are tired of the misuse and misunderstanding of parent/child themes in the WordPress community.

How to get a copy of the framework

Like WordPress, Hybrid Core is completely free and open source. It is licensed under version 2 of the GPL. You’re free to use it for creating publicly-available themes on the WordPress theme repository, client projects, or even building an entire theme business like Theme Hybrid. As long as you follow the license, you’re free to use, modify, and distribute it in any way you want.

You can download the latest copy of the framework from the Hybrid Core page.

I hope you enjoy this release. As always, stop by the support forums if you need help.


  1. This framework is also for people who are tired of trying to hack a single “theme framework” to bits via a functions.php file just to make simple changes.

    Yes! This is exactly what I have been doing and hate it.

    Thank you so much!

    1. This is something I’ve found that many people just hate doing. It can be a useful technique for minor things, but when you have a 10+ kb functions file, things just get crazy. At that point, it’s just easier to create the entire theme.

    2. Same here – I think it’s been a learning curve for everyone in a best practices approach for relational theming 🙂

      The first versions of several “frameworks” had me turning more things off in functions.php, bypassing templates and re-widgetizing, just to get what I needed.

      So far Hybrid Core is looking pretty interesting.

      Thank you!

      1. In reply to Kel

        Spending time working with one of those types of themes really gave me some perspective on the entire thing. I’m not sure if this would’ve ever been released without all of feedback I’ve gotten, especially in the last year, from people actually creating full themes and trying to mold a single theme into something it’s not. It wasn’t fun for me or them.

        I think this approach will definitely cater to people that have been turning things off and completely overwriting things.

  2. Wow, I checked the source code and this is really top-notch, as expected from every code that Justin ships. Thanks for making this widely available!

    Should we expect to see a Theme Hybrid release with the new 1.0 core soon?

    1. There’ll be a new theme using core 1.0 out within a week. I’ve already submitted it to the WordPress theme repository.

  3. ovidiu

    Cool, would mind saying a few words as to how this stands in relation to the normal hybrid framework? Successor? Can one migrate? etc.


    1. I left this on the forums where you asked, but I’ll leave my reply here too.

      This *is* the normal Hybrid framework. For those of you that have been using the Hybrid parent theme at any point in the last two years, you’ve always been using Hybrid Core. Hybrid Core is the framework used in the Hybrid parent theme. So, it’s not a successor; it’s something you’ve already been using. There’s nothing to migrate to.

      Hybrid Core is just a separate, drop-in package for other theme authors to use when creating parent themes.

  4. Great work Justin! I’ve updated my article on converting websites to WordPress to mention the new Hybrid Core framework as well as Theme Hybrid. I’ll try and find some time over the coming week to put the Core through its paces.

    1. Cool. Thanks for mentioning it.

      Here’s a link to that article if anyone’s interested: Converting a Website to WordPress: 3. Themes.

  5. Awesome, I’ve already started playing with Hybrid Core via the SVN. I’ve also been working on my own premium themes for release. So I though this to be the best for building upon and already have one listed built of version 0.9 of the core. You can see them @ http://themelit.com.

    1. Cool. Be sure to really look at what’s going on in version 1.0 compared to 0.9. The number of changes to make this thing a viable framework is ridiculous. In many ways, it’s not even the same framework. Big changes like this won’t happen often, but it’s definitely ready for real use now.

      Also, check out the Prototype theme, which is a great example of how Hybrid Core 1.0 can be used.

  6. Yes! Thanks so much for this Justin. My major efforts with the Hybrid child theme were changing the widget output and often the breadcrumb code as well and then generally disabling a whole bunch of other stuff.

    Can’t wait to get a chance to use this shiny, new framework…

  7. ubcoltweb

    Thank you Justin! We’ve been using Hybrid since 0.5 here at UBC. Your work is truly amazing.

  8. Tiago Duarte

    Great job Justin!
    I’m having a small problem when installing the theme though: everytime i add it, i get some fopen erros about a style.css file… I searched for a solution and all i found was to edit PHP config to enable url fopen, yet that didn’t work…

    I thought it was some bug on the theme but everyone else seems to be okay.
    Any light on this problem would be very appreciated 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

    1. A direct quote from the blog post above should shed a little light on your issue:

      Hybrid Core is a development framework for creating WordPress parent themes. It is not a WordPress theme.

  9. What I love about your work: I learn a lot of tricks and some profound developement. You’re so meticulous and precise in your work, I just have to lif tmy head for that. Following your steps helps to save time and errors. Even if you have to think a lot at first. But you profit from the code in the future.


  10. Well I am not yet at the level of knowledge that this theme framework is intended for I will bookmark this for further reference. Thank you for making it public.

  11. oh great post. being doing premium theme hacking all day. final note@ better i use plain template from scratch. another thing all this plugins, i now got like 20 different javascript loaders. i will check out hybrid tonight.

  12. Thanks a bunch, Justin! Hybrid Core is exactly what I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now – only it is sooooo much better than anything I’ve been able to come up with so far!
    I’ll make this the foundation of my further theme development and I’ll keep you posted on the results if you’re interested.

  13. ery interesting, thank you for your sharing!

  14. I want try it… what the different between Hybrid and Hybrid Core? is it compatible?

  15. I as well as my pals came reviewing the great tips and tricks on your web site and unexpectedly I had an awful feeling I never thanked the website owner for those techniques. The women were totally thrilled to read them and now have sincerely been taking pleasure in these things. Thank you for simply being so helpful and also for making a decision on such helpful themes most people are really desperate to be aware of. My personal honest regret for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

  16. One good reason to use this framework ?
    What are the pros and cons (limitations), since you have made this ?

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