Builder 2.3.11

Builder is, to me, the unusual one of this bunch. I don’t know why. It may be the marketing that, though it is an elite framework and one of the chosen four in my book, does not really stand out in any special way. Built by the iThemes folks led by Cory Miller, it is not an Apple product! :) Builder is, similar to Headway, about allowing users to create their own layouts on the fly. It also offers the most robust number of child themes.

Price

Much like StudioPress, the iThemes model is to offer a single theme as low as $127 (significantly more than the others) but it’s all access option is far and away the most expensive at $499.95.

Grade: B

File Size

Much like Headway, yet much lighter than Headway, Builder weighs in at a hefty 1.2MB of space. I want to see this significantly reduced somehow before I can consider a higher score.

Grade: C

Database Calls

Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. Builder matches Thesis’ high water mark with a mere 10 database calls out of the box. Keep in mind that this can be increased based on selection of plugins and widgets and that this stress test assumes neither of those.

Grade: A+

Page Load

The Builder folks have done a smash up job keeping page load time low. Not as good as Thesis but not very far off either at 729ms. Get it below 500ms. :)

Grade: A-

Hooks

Builder has the second most number of hooks with an almost equal number of filters and actions. 117 total hooks with 55 filters and 62 actions.

Grade: A

Internationalization

The Builder high score, thus far, has now taken a nose dive. There is no internationalization efforts at all making this criteria an automatic failure.

Grade: F

Security

The Builder guys have kept up with the time and ensured the use of the WordPress security API in their product. This does not guarantee a secure product but it does take care of most issues. In questions of security, I recommend consulting with a professional WordPress security expert.

Grade: A

BuddyPress

No effort has been made to provide BuddyPress support and no known third party solutions exist. Builder can gain a serious advantage over competition by adding these resources.

Grade: F

SEO Support

Minimal SEO additions have been added. Not a problem to me, but could be to a lot of other bloggers. Builders focus is on, erm, building a site… not marketing it.

Grade: C

WordPress 2.9 Post Thumbnail Support

Builder does support the Post Thumbnail feature in WordPress 2.9

Grade: A+

WordPress 3.0 Navigation Support

It doesn’t. No point loss though.

Grade: F

Raw SQL

Builder does not try to use raw SQL anywhere in its code demonstrating sound development practices

Grade: A+

Summary

Builder really shines in key areas of scaleability – page load and database calls. It’s fast and zippy, no doubt. There are some major areas for improvement, but by and large, I can feel good recommending it. With a total score of 815 out of 11 criteria, it earns a 74%. On a bell curve, that’s average.

Builder can be downloaded here.

Published by Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, A Senior WordPress Developer for the NBA, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, and on his professional blog.