Sage alternative for semi-newbie developer?

Hello there,

I hope it’s okay to post this question here. :slight_smile::tulip:

I’ve used the Roots starter theme for my website in the past and I’ve always loved working with it so much! I know the original Roots starter theme is no more and has since been replaced by the much fancier Sage. The problem for me is though, I’m not familiar with things like Composer, gulp, Bower, BrowserSync etc. :sweat: I tried simply uploading Sage to my WordPress install to see what happens just like I did with Roots, but it seems that’s no longer an option like it was with Roots. (I end up with no CSS or /dist/ folder)

So my question is: is there, or can anyone recommend an alternative for me that has some of the lovely things from Roots (theme wrapper, sidebar options etc.) but none of the advanced stuff for which you need command line knowledge? Or are there any plans to develop a ‘lite’ version of Sage for non advanced users like myself in the future?

Thanks in advance :grin:

Hi Sophie,

Roots and Sage keep evolving with the hopes of always bringing new technology and practices into WordPress development. There’s a learning curve with that, but the Roots team tries to make it as easy to implement with documentation (there’s talk of a video tutorial series as well).

In the meantime, you have a few options. You can go to another bare bones theme that doesn’t have the same technology requirements - think Underscores (pains me to say it). You can use older versions of Sage (back when it was Roots - also not the most pleasant); those releases are marked on github so that people are not forced to use the newest versions. Or you can consider that technologies, such as Composer, Gulp and Bower may not be as daunting as you think, and you don’t have to learn a extensive amount of information about them in order to use them. If you would like to try to use a newer version of Sage and get an overview of those tools, send me a message.

Maybe a Sage Lite is something to keep in mind for future development.


As an anecdote, I resisted learning the kinds of tools employed by Trellis/Bedrock/Sage for a long time. My process (based around Starkers) was fine and I had a day job; when was I supposed to learn all this build process stuff?

I used VVV and it worked OK.

I think it was LESS that finally made me try Sage 8 for one project. I was still using VVV and getting Node, Gulp, and Bower set up the first time was definitely a learning process, but the important thing for me was that the learning had a practical application. I was developing a client project. I always learn better when there’s a reason to learn. By the time the project was complete I was super comfortable with Sage 8 and I was sold on the prospect of using (and learning) modern web development tools and practices. I still used VVV for a few more months while I convinced my agency to adopt Digital Ocean for new projects. Since then I’m all Roots all the time.

And it doesn’t end! Now I’m learning Blade in the same there’s-a-practical-reason-to-learn-it way I learned Less and Bower when I first started.

And all of your existing WordPress knowledge applies. The template hierarchy, the loop, etc. are all still there. Even Sage 9’s Blade implementation still uses the template hierarchy. It’s all still fundamentally WordPress and that really eased my entry into the Roots family of tools.

This is just my experience, but I found the learning very rewarding and accessible. To start off all you really need to learn is a few terminal commands:

For Sage 8, npm install, bower install, and gulp And gulp watch if you want to use browsersync; in Sage 9, yarn, yarn build, and yarn start for browsersync.

Likewise for Bedrock just composer update will get you started.

For Trellis there’s a little more but it’s all super well documented.


Thanks for your replies, I really appreciate it! :slight_smile:

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I don’t want to learn anything or invest some time. My main problem is that I’m not sure my managed host even allows SSH access and I’m having a difficult time figuring out where to start. Additionally, I only redesign my website about every 2 years so I’m a bit afraid that the next time I start over, I’ll have the same problem all over again.

I did actually look into using a different starter theme, but I love and understand so many things about Sage (or actually I should say the original Roots) that it’s really a shame to give up now, which is why a ‘Sage Lite’ version that I can just edit and upload would be really valuable for me (and others, I assume).

For now, I’ll continue reading and trying to figure out where to start with Sage. I just wanted to put this out there since I can imagine there are more people just like me that are interested in Sage but a bit overwhelmed by all the new technologies.

PS A video tutorial series sounds great. Either way: thanks for all the hard work :slight_smile:

I wanted to weigh in on this earlier but didn’t get the chance…

To be honest if you have the tools you need to develop with roots/sage on your local machine you can always ftp to a server just like any other theme, it’s just a little less convenient.

That said, you can always take the Sage 8 files and remove the build processes, and still have the wrapper without any need for composer. Sage 8 still works well as a whole if Sage 9 feels like a big jump!

Good luck!

Hi Sophie, been there… Decided to give Sage a try, together with the dev tools and I’ve never regret doing so. This was my first post on Discourse, maybe you’ll find it usefull if you decide to go all in: Including additional JS files

Best regards! Bon courage :wink:

I’m not even a Dev and I made it work :smiley: