What is underscores (_s)
Underscores or _s is a barebones smart WordPress framework for developers to get started on theme development. It comes with all the templates needed for a solid WordPress theme with some added extras for functionality, the code is pretty light weight especially the CSS which has some sound resets from which to build your own CSS on top of. It’s also possible to customise your own theme setup up using the Advanced Options on the _s website. The best thing of all is that it’s endorsed by Automattic who are the organisation behind all things WordPress amongst other things and the “purveyors of fine blogging services since 2005” or as I like to call it an awesome “publishing platform”.
Who are they
The _s team are made up of the most influential contributors to the WordPress core, Automatic employees, theme wranglers, Plugin Developers, WordCamp speakers and generally smart coders! Some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, hearing, sitting with and chatted to either during a WordPress Contributors day or via various social networks. These are pretty special people in my opinion if they haven’t built something for WordPress they’ve added something to WordPress and when you consider the millions of people using what they’ve created on daily basis that’s makes them pretty special to me.
Why I use _s as my WordPress foundation
I use this framework quite simply because it has effectively been built by the developers on the inside, if any framework is going to be built to codex standards it is going to be _s. Not only is the code lightweight, it also comes with some smart programatic ways of using loops and brings template parts together that help the developer learn how a theme could be created. What I also love about _s is the fact that you can start your own theme with your own functions naming convention from the start so, for client work I can start a theme based on me as the author mixed up with the clients name. Giving all my functions a unique foundation from which to start has the added benefit of reducing any conflicts with any commonly named functions that might occur during a build from scratch or when adding some useful plugins, for instance: ersq1_clientname_setup() is likely to be so unique it’s a no brainer!
There are many WordPress frameworks out there that it can be difficult to decide which one to choose, some are great some are not so great and with the added fact that some have been single handedly developed it’s difficult to say what the shelf life of that framework could be if whoever developed it became too busy to maintain it. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying they shouldn’t be considered as solid WordPress frameworks, it’s just that for me knowing something has been developed by core contributors and backed by the people behind WordPress itself gives me great confidence when creating and developing my own custom WordPress themes.