Open Hook: Dominate Your Thesis Theme

by Martin Malden

My friend Bob Hartman pointed me in the direction of the Open Hook plugin for Thesis yesterday – and what a discovery it was.  For me, that is – Bob already knew about it.  🙂

I’ve written elsewhere about the Thesis theme and mentioned that, in order to maximize its powerful capabilities, one of the things you needed to get to grips with was ‘hooks’

Thats just become a whole lot easier.  

The Thesis Openhook plugin is written by Rick Beckman who is one of the Thesis developers and a mainstay of the Thesis support forums. So he’s plenty qualified to write excellent Thesis plugins.

Here, then, is my experience with Thesis Openhook:

Before we start, let me mention that I’d already done quite a few customizations of Thesis, using both the custom CSS file and hooks in the custom functions file.

So my first concern was whether activating this plugin would disturb anything that I’d already done.

The answer to that is no. Nothing was disturbed.  Everything continued working normally.

Activating Thesis Openhook places an extra link in your Appearance menu, above Thesis Options and Thesis Design Options.

Clicking it takes you to a screen that displays the contents of your custom.css file and lists each of the Hooks that are available in Thesis.

For those who don’t yet use Thesis, hooks are the mechanisms by which you can move elements around on your layout.

So if, for example, you want to move the Menu bar from above the Header to below it, you simply un-hook it from above and re-hook it below.

There’s a long list of hooks in Thesis focused on every element of your display – e.g. header area, content area, sidebar areas, multi media box area, content div areas and so on.

Manipulating these hooks allows you to completely re-design your layout.

But one of the draw backs with hooks was that you needed to get to grips with the logic behind them and then manually type in the commands for manipulating them.

That could take a while – especially for people who, like me, are not technical wizzos.

Thesis Openhook has taken care of all that.

Now, each Thesis hook is listed, and against each is an open text box into which you can type HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP.

No need to worry about the logic of hooks – just type your code.

Under each hook is a ‘Little Ass Save Button’.  You need to save each hook that you update, as you update it. If you’re editing multiple hooks don’t leave it till the end to save them – the Little Ass Save Button will only save your last one.

Also attached to each hook is a check box for executing PHP – if that’s what you want done.

There’s an explanation against each hook box and many include additional guidelines and check boxes for functions such as adding or removing hooks.

So hooks are now a piece of cake.

Thesis OpenHook also displays your custom.css file, enabling you to do your CSS customizations through this screen instead of in a separate text editor.

That was no big deal to me as I do most of my custom.css editing through my hosting provider’s File Manager interface.  This allows me to update the file in one tab and refresh the view on a separate tab so I can immediately see the results.

But for some it may prove to be more convenient.

So, what’s my overall view of Thesis Openhook?

This is a plugin that greatly empowers less technical Thesis users and unlocks another huge chunk of Thesis’ powerful capabilities for them.

And, if you offer WordPress blog installation services, this will hugely speed up the time it takes to customize the layout to your clients’ satisfaction.

You can find Thesis OpenHook here.

And if you’re interested in using Thesis there’s more information here.

Update – 12 August, 2010

I wrote a short tutorial on Thesis-OpenHook describing what it is, what it does and how to use it. You can find it here.

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