WordPress: From Kubrick to Twenty Ten

Kubrick, the default theme for WordPress since 2005, got many Web and open-source enthusiasts through some pretty tough times.

Developers have modified it, bloggers have learned HTML and CSS on it, and designers have made it their go-to template for designing blogs of all sizes for clients.

But let’s face it: five years on the Web is like a hundred years anywhere else, and Kubrick, even according to its creators, is due for an update.

Enter “Twenty Ten” the new default theme for WordPress 3.0, which is scheduled for an imminent release. Not only does it address general changes in Web standards and style guides, it takes into account the clamoring of designers who love WordPress but have had a hard time applying new principles to an older theme.

It’s got meatier CSS, more functionality, increased abstraction and a few other deviations from Kubrick that every theme developer should know about.

These changes should ensure that designers who are already WordPress fans will embrace it, and its flexibility increases the likelihood that WordPress itself will continue its march across the CMS arena.


A Quick Look

  • Kubrick: 26 files and 1 folder (87.4 KB)
  • Twenty Ten: 42 files and 3 folders (547 KB)

As you can see, Twenty Ten is a heavier theme than Kubrick. Much of the extra weight comes from a different (and markedly improved) way of abstracting the functions and page types that designers once had to change by hacking them or rewriting the code.


Charting the Changes

editor-style.css (new)
One basic yet exciting change is the above style sheet, which gives designers a way to define the styles of the WYSIWYG editor in the WordPress admin. By matching the styles of your templates and blog in this file, the WYSIWYG editor offers a truer representation of what gets published.

style.css (new)
Another surprising statistic, like the difference in the sizes of files and folders, is the increase in lines of CSS. They have almost doubled: from 719 lines to 1343. What’s all that extra code doing there? Well, the additions include a “Print Media” section that defines styles for website visitors who want to read posts while on the go; a mobile Safari section to accommodate iPhone and iPad users; and a section dedicated to custom navigation styling (a new feature in WordPress 3.0). The code is well organized, but you’ll still have to do a typical search for all instances of, say, a hover or accent color.

Another great new function in WordPress 3.0 is the ability to make author-specific templates. This paves the way for files like author-john.php and author-bob.php, so that everyone who publishes on a blog can have their own visual style.

category.php, tag.php
The archive.php file has lost the functions if (is_category()) and if (is_tag()) in exchange for the added flexibility of abstracting these templates to separate files. This makes customizing easier than ever, especially with the increased functionality of taxonomies.

If you look in Twenty Ten’s index.php file, you’ll notice something is missing: no loop! That’s because many frequently used loops have been relocated to the loop.php file so that they can be called from multiple files without having to copy and paste code. This also reduces the weight of some new pages, such as category.php and tag.php. But be warned: if you’re looking to create a custom loop for, say, index.php, don’t mess with loop.php. Create a new file called loop-index.php, and put your custom loop in there. That’s what the get_template_part( 'loop', 'index' ) is for; it lets you make these changes non-destructively.

Have you ever wanted to leave the sidebar off of just one page? Twenty Ten’s admin option has you covered and it’s got a convenient template to boot!

A recent trend among Web design gurus is to create an expanded footer area with information that is more useful and compelling than the usual contact info and copyright. The sidebar-footer.php file accommodates an expanded footer by allowing you to style sections in such a way that widgets can be injected in the footer area.

This template file replaces the image.php file and does a much better job of accommodating all of the different types of files we’re now used to publishing in WordPress.

The changes above may look minor to the untrained eye, but they’re a reason to rejoice if you’ve ever created or modified a WordPress theme or been frustrated by its lack of control or extensibility.

By scrapping Kubrick and listening to the concerns of developers, WordPress has managed to incorporate in Twenty Ten the changes needed to bring the now-flourishing CMS into the new decade.

We’re pretty excited, as are most designers and developers who love WordPress, to see 3.0 up and running, and a major reason for that excitement is the flexibility and personalization offered by Twenty Ten.

Written exclusively for Webdesigner Depot by Blue Derkin, a project a social media lead for webhosting company InMotion Hosting. He also blogs at Web Hosting Help Guy.

What do you think of the upcoming changes in WordPress? What features are you looking forward to the most?

  • http://www.ate5.com Jordan Walker

    Thanks for this write up, it is very detailed and is right on. I am currently using this theme for my idea site.

  • http://www.houseofcat.net Cat Johnson

    As ever, WordPress is on the rise, doing all of us enthusiasts proud. They are changing (and driving) the way that internet communication runs.


  • http://www.yousephtanha.com/blog Youseph

    This was a great post! I have been playing with the RC1 for a bit now. I can’t wait for this thing to get officially released.

  • Dillon Es

    I am way to stoked on this.

    I am kinda sad because I have some recent starter files that I finally polished up.

    Oh well time to make new ones!

  • http://www.austinknight.net Austin Knight

    I like the new default, I just wish WordPress 3 would move out of Beta already!

  • http://k-win.fr kevin

    Wow those new features look ppretty interesting. Am for sure gonna dive more into them as wp 3.0 shows up, especially about this loop.php. Good article!

  • http://www.onyxsolution.com OnYx

    WordPress is by far my favorite backend tool, its getting better and better every single time.

  • http://showcasewp.com/ Showcase WP

    Nice post, thank you. I love WP, and I’m really happy with what I read and saw about the new WP 3.0; and yes, 5 years with the same theme was too much, so welcome to Twenty Ten!

  • http://www.himachalsoft.com Himachalsoft

    “The ability to make author-specific templates.”, I was really looking for this functionality.

  • http://hypertransitory.com John G

    I just got into WordPress recently, so it’s kind of tough for me to consider jumping into 3.0 when I’m still learning all the ins and outs of the current version.

    However, I can’t deny that this is an exciting time for WordPress and I definitely feel it. I think I’m going to dive in head-first and just go for it. Thanks for the write-up.

  • http://www.behance.net/leventegaal Levi

    Really nice article, again!!! Thank you Guys there!!!!
    Keep doin’ this kind of excellent job!!



  • Henri Jeret

    I just made a really big custom theme for my website :D Now I have to make some huge changes…

  • Helen

    Any info about when WP 3 will be released? I a holding 3 projects off waiting for the day, don´t want to re-do too much!

  • http://www.chillybin.com.sg Shaan Nicol

    I love wordpress, and so do all my clients, but I have to say that i’ve not used Kubrick in quite some time, probably since 2006 or so. Interesting to see the new developments in Twenty Ten.


  • http://www.psyched.be/wordpress Darkened Soul

    We will see what this baby can offer in the future, bring it on!!!

  • Kevin Quillen

    “They are changing (and driving) the way that internet communication runs.”

    Please explain how. Drupal and other CMSes have been doing this since 2005.

  • http://vizin.info vizinec

    Finally the new default theme will be released. I can not say anything bad about “Kubrick” but “Twenty Ten” looks so flexible and interesting. I am sure that everybody will be satisfied.

  • http://www.merchantguru.com Joe Fletcher

    Great summary! Another key feature is the ability to change the header image through the admin. This is great for non-technical users, but theme designers can also work off that functionality to add more flexibility into their designs for their clients.

    • http://studio.jon-garza.com jon

      Designers must use it, custom background too. I think is a great feature to offer our clients. One thing is flexibility and another is lack of functionality.

      I can’t wait to see the awesome themes only for WP3.

  • http://www.brianbatesd.com Brian Bates

    Wow, just had a chance to install and play around with RC3. I was shocked at how easy it was to customize and set up a site…the footer and custom menu functions are amazing…and the default template…HUGE improvement.

  • http://desaindigital.com jeprie

    I’ve been waiting for wp 3.0. I hope it will be released soon.

  • http://www.cmstheme.net CMS Themes

    WordPress has come a long way to this point. I’m looking forward to WordPress 3.0 stable release.

  • http://www.strafecreative.co.uk Web Design Nottingham

    This is great, I cant wait for the WP 3.0, the new added features and flexibility makes it a god send to web designers and developers aswell as making it is easier for clients. Good in-depth write up!

  • http://www.web-lovers.de Rolf

    I love WordPress 3.0 but not the new Theme, sure its easy to handle, but it looks horrible to me.

  • http://blogorama.eisbrecher.net Rudi Lehnert

    I just created 64 nice headers for the Twenty Ten Theme:


    You can download them for free. Enjoy it!

  • http://studio.jon-garza.com jon

    Im using kubrick as framework since WP 1.5 (almost 5 years ago) I guess is time to change to twenty ten, looks great for CMS based sites.

  • http://penupdesigns.com Brad

    can anyone recommend or post a tutorial on using/modifying 2010 to create themes? I know CSS/HTML/PHP very well, i use them daily in web dev work. I’m just getting into wordpress and have read a few tutorials for version 2.9….so far i’m totally confused on how this thing works.


  • http://www.forkliftforklift.com forklift

    Kubrick is the best classic wp theme, I love it. but “Twenty Ten” look like flexible widgets to move or edit.

  • http://geektual.com TekxY

    Nice post, Twenty Ten is a very clean theme, I just made myself a traslation to spanish, the traditional way, for every1 having trouble with he internationalization way. I’ll leave you the link in case some of your readers may benefit from using it.