Introducing Carrington Build

Over the last few years I’ve loved building a team and creating great things for our clients, but I’ve missed building products. A little more than a year ago, we started work on a system that I’ve had in the back of my mind for (quite literally) years. This work has resulted our first commercial WordPress products.

Today I am very proud to announce the first public release of: Carrington Build, an elegant page layout system for WordPress and Carrington Business, a theme that showcases Carrington Build.

Carrington Build allows you to build rich, complex page layouts without any coding or editing of page templates. Sound too good to be true? Based on the response from our clients that are using it and the top WordPress developers I’ve demo’ed to – that’s exactly what we’ve created.

Click the Build tab when creating a page and then you can add rows with different layout structures and add modules to those rows. All with the ease of drag-and-drop for editing and re-ordering. Real drag-and-drop page layouts, tightly integrated into WordPress!

We’ve set up a demo site where you can experience the way Carrington Build works on both the front-end and the back-end. The demo is reset every hour, so go nuts and experiment. Don’t worry about breaking anything.

Over the last year, our entire Crowd Favorite team has worked on Carrington Build. We’ve worked very hard to create not only a polished end result, but an elegantly architected and extensible system that we can mold as needed for real life implementations.

Carrington Build has been tested and proven in a number of projects for our clients and for our own site. During that time we have conceptualized features, implemented them, revised them and refined them. We’ve taken the original working system we used in our first implementation and improved it month by month.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is one of the biggest innovations we’ve seen for WordPress. Perhaps I’m most excited about how wide it opens the door to what developers can create; the power we can give our users.

We believe that the approach we use in creating a working, sustainable CMS implementation for our clients works well as a best practice. As you might imagine, Carrington Build fits nicely into this approach.

When we work with a client we consult with them to define requirements, then follow up with wireframes, hi-fi designs and finally implementation. Fairly typical. What isn’t as typical is the way we approach the wireframes and hi-fi designs.

We work hard to distill the design down to re-usable building blocks. Once those are determined, we create a way to implement and leverage these building blocks as an extension of the CMS – in our case, within WordPress. We create a system that is totally maintainable by our client and give them the tools to extend their site as future needs dictate (with components that work elegantly together).

Our approach: build CMS-driven sites by creating styled structure and elements that work elegantly together, then give our clients the tools to manage them. We want repeat business from our clients in the form of new feature development and implementation of new ideas, not for website content maintenance.

As you can see here, our own website utilizes a small palette of styled content islands for callouts, calls to action, sidebar elements, etc. We distilled a larger list from a series of page comps, then consolidated down to what you see here.

Crowd Favorite Content Islands

We’ve shipped Carrington Build with a collection of rich custom modules that comprise a nice set of these building blocks – with the ability to choose your desired module style treatment. You can drop in a hero area, an image, a featured post, the latest post with excerpt from a post type, category, tag or by a certain author… or a standard WordPress component like a shortcode, a widget, a sidebar or a menu.

Here is a list of the modules that Carrington Build currently ships with:

  • Callout
  • Divider
  • Gallery
  • Heading
  • Hero
  • HTML
  • Image
  • Loop
  • Notice
  • Plain Text
  • Post Callout
  • Pull Quote
  • Rich Text
  • Shortcode
  • Sidebar
  • Sub-Pages
  • Widget

Learn more about Carrington Build modules.

We created Carrington Build on top of WordPress best practices. We have implemented everything using existing WordPress tables and standard hooks. While we store the custom module data structures in custom fields, each module implements an interface that returns a textual value. We take these values and put them together so that things like built-in search and excerpts can continue to work as expected. Many folks will never care (nor should they need to) about the elegance under the hood, but it’s that extra effort that creates a long-term viable and maintainable platform.

Like the Carrington theme framework, Carrington Build is a 100% additive implementation. We augment existing WordPress functionality, we don’t replace it, subvert it or break it.

Carrington Build Developer Edition (single site) is available for purchase and download for developers who want to integrate Build to a site for a client. We are also offering a royalty edition for theme developers that want to create new or augment existing commercial themes that integrate Carrington Build. If that’s you, get in touch and we can discuss details.

Naturally, we’ve got a long list of future enhancements we are excited to add to Carrington Build in the near future, but after a year+ of development I thought people might appreciate it if we stopped long enough to put together a public release. I promise we’ll do more of this going forward. 😉

In order to showcase Carrington Build and provide an example of how to integrate it tightly into a theme, we’ve created the Carrington Business theme, which includes Carrington Build and is also available today for purchase and download.

Since the Carrington Business theme introduces new, advanced features with the addition of Carrington Build, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our customers to experiment and get comfortable with the features that are available to them. To do this, we have included a sample data file (WXR format) that can be imported and includes the data we have staged on the demo site. Simply import the sample data into a new WordPress installation and you have a populated sample site with great examples that you can edit to your heart’s content.

The Carrington Business theme has a pragmatic implementation of forward-compatible HTML5 markup that is semantic, loads quickly and is SEO and human-friendly. It also includes a child theme with an alternate color scheme to provide a roadmap for creating your own custom child themes and custom colors.

The Carrington Business theme is built on top of the Carrington theme framework for easy customization of views based on the data in your site. We’ve included a few examples of this like blog templates and the News custom post type and matching templates. There is support for menus with smart fallbacks when menus haven’t been created and miscellaneous features like a footer that supports widgets and a setting for showing a log in/log out link in the footer.

The Carrington framework makes it easy for anyone to create customized, reactive structured views in a WordPress theme. Carrington Build adds the ability to create advanced drag-and-drop page layouts for unstructured data pages.

As you can likely tell, I’m quite excited that we’ve finally gotten Carrington Build and the Carrington Business theme to market. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative ways that people use and integrate what we’ve built to create new websites and themes that allow people to use and customize WordPress on a whole new level.

This post is part of the following projects: Carrington Build, FaveBusiness. View the project timelines for more context on this post.

This post is part of the following projects: Carrington Build, FaveBusiness. View the project timelines for more context on this post.