After working with WordPress since my teenage years and trying all sorts of ways of building websites with it I came across the Flynt WordPress starter theme about two years ago. It allowed me to build a lot of websites since then. I’ve come to love it’s component based approach so much that I’ve decided that more people know about this great tool. So I decided to make a “Getting started with Flynt” video about it:
It’s actually the first screencast video that I’ve recorded in English – which turned out harder than I thought 😅 I would really like to receive feedback by you (I mean you!) in the comments of this post or on YouTube, whether it’s related to Flynt or also the video itself.
Full transcript of the video
In this videos I want to talk to you about a fantastic way to build WordPress websites. It begins with a starter theme I’ve discovered about two years ago, called Flynt.
Flynt is not your average theme or site builder: it’s a starter theme for developers that want to efficiently build custom sites. So, if you are looking for a path to get better at developing with WordPress, want to write maintainable code and provide a good flexible admin experience for your editors – THIS IS THE WAY!
In the next few minutes I will tell you about
- what makes Flynt great
- then show you how your content editors workflow is going to look like
- and last but not least show you insights into how the theme’s code looks in practice.
Let’s get started!
The main paradigm when building with Flynt is breaking down your site into smaller parts – the “components”. So if you’re looking at your site try to identify the components that make it up – for example here on the Flynt website:
- The Logo
- The main Navigation
- and a content section containing an Image besides a text
Treating all these elements as their own little things breaks down your code for logic, styling and interactivity into small packages that can be quickly understood and reused – on one site or also easily copied to the next site you’re building.
Flynt is a starter theme, and a theme for developers – what does that mean? It’s a starting point for a practical best-practices theme setup and tooling to make your life easier.
Opposite to some well known end-user themes like Divi or Avada or Enfold that focus on letting you to build your site without coding it doesn’t provide a ton of ready-to-use elements but instead only a good basic set of components that you may fully customise, remove if you don’t need them, and for sure add new one’s yourself. So the idea is to ship something tailored to your needs instead of unused bloat.
And one of the best things? It doesn’t invent a lot of new things but rather combines some very well known, widely used developer tools for WordPress in a hassle-free way.
So, the main ingredients of Flynt are:
- Advanced Custom Fields
- Timber & Twig
- Web Components
- …and a bunch of great tooling that makes your life as a developer happy because it just works and works and works 😅
And by the way: Flynt was built by Bleech, an agency from Berlin, Germany that needed an efficient solution to create great WordPress websites and shared it with the world. Thanks a thousand times guys!
Admin / Content editing experience
Let’s quickly look into WP Admin in order to then better understand how the concept of components works.
When I am editing a page with Flynt you’ll see that the native WordPress editor / Gutenberg is removed and replaced by a component based editor. This editor is actually nothing else but ACF’s Flexible Content Field. It allows me to quickly add new components, move their order with drag & drop and of course – editing the content of my pages and posts. As you can see the actual fields and interface that is displayed for each component has been custom tailored for what it needs and nothing more.
This is a big plus of the concept in my experience with content editors: the interface may not be too fancy, but it can quickly be understood and used by clients without a steep learning curve.
Overview of the theme & components
Now enough of the theoretical talk: let’s dive into code.
I’ve opened up the Flynt theme directory in my VS Code. You’ll find the familiar WordPress theme core ingredients: we have index.php, page.php, style.css – I assume you’ve already met them elsewhere. Let’s not yet get into much more detail about the theme in general, but focus on one interesting directory: “Components”.
When developing your site, you’ll probably be spending most of the time working on components. So let’s now see how these are built. Let’s look at the Image Slider Component, that we’ve just used, as an example.
It shows the core files that a component can have:
functions.phpfile that contains the definition of the ACF fields that are shown in the admin area. It’s also the place where you can fetch and modify your data before it gets passed on to the next step:
index.twig– you are going to write the HTML that is later rendered when your component is shown to the visitor of your site. It’s written in HTML, flavoured with the Twig templating language which makes juggling with data quite easy.
- Further we have a
_style.scssfile – This is where all the CSS styling of this individual component is defined. It’s written in Sass, which is just CSS with a few additional tricks like nesting to make it’s development more joyful. It will later be compiled into standard CSS.
So let’s again go through these files and see what they contain in more detail:
functions.php: this file first defines a custom PHP Namespace for each component, in order to prevent conflicts with equally named functions. Next to it we see the
getACFLayout()function where all of our data fields are defined that will show up on the content editor’s screen. Let’s quickly open up WP-admin side by side and have a look at a few fields:
- Title (wysiwyg)
- …and more
These definitions are standard ACF field definitions as they can also be created through ACF’s WP-Admin page. Thankfully we don’t have to remember all of these by heart but can use Flynt’s VS Code Snippets Plugin to insert example definitions.
- Let’s go into the next file
index.twig. In here we prepare our HTML. All of our data fields that are defined in functions.php getACFLayout() function are automatically available here. Remember how we defined the “images” field that holds our slider images? We’ll that’s what is accessed here on line 11. We’re using the “loop” function of Twig to loop over all the images in that field. Technically the images field returns an array, so we’re looping over all array items. We then output an image tag for each of our images. Further below we’re adding some next & previous buttons to control our slider.
is="flynt-slider-images"attribute. This is used inside
script.jsto define a standard web component. What that means is that we have now created a new and reusable block on our website. Once that component is loaded on a page the
- So far so good: we’ve added some fields to add data, output that data to HTML with a little help of Twig and then turned that into a neat image slider. Now let’s make it pretty ✨ When we look at the
_style.scssfile we see that the CSS-selector is targeting the same ‘is=”flynt-slider-images”‘ element. All of our styling is then typically written inside it, which means it’s scoped by that component and will not accidentally style any other parts of your site. Since we’re writing all custom code this also generally means that you can write really low-specificity CSS which makes your life – again – less painful and a lot more joyful.
That’s about it for a basic component. There can also be components that are only used in your layout, not in WP admin such as your Navigation or Footer. And of course there’s lot a other things to be said and seen, but I’ll finish here for the moment.
If this has made you curious, then let me share three helpful links for finding out more about Flynt:
- the Flynt website has some good introductions about it’s core concepts and setup, you should definitely read these to get started easier.
- The Flynt Github repo Readme also explains some ideas more practically and of course let’s you download the theme ;-)
- If you’re stuck with a problem or have some ideas then please share them in Flynt’s discussion board on Github.
Please let me know in the comments if you found this video interesting or helpful. And oh: hit the Thumbs Up button if you liked it 🙌🏻