How Thesis Version Numbers Work (and What They Mean for You)

by Chris Pearson · 40 comments

Software version numbers are kind of confusing, aren’t they?

Chrome, for example, has crazy version numbers, such as 31.0.1650.63, that mean little or nothing to anyone except its developers.

WordPress version numbers like 3.8 and 3.8.1 carry a more obvious meaning, but they still require some explanation.

Thesis version numbers are similar to WordPress ones, and today, we’ll see precisely how they work and what they mean. This quick overview will provide you with insights you can use to proceed with confidence whenever we push a Thesis update.

Major Version Number

In a Thesis version like 2.1.6 (current at the time of writing), 2 is the major version number.

The major version number signifies game-changing, earth-shattering differences in the underlying platform. For example, Thesis 1 and Thesis 2 are, quite literally, 100% different. This affects your usage—building your site with the new version is an entirely different experience from the older version.

Minor Version Number

Most of the significant Thesis updates are of the minor version variety. Continuing with our example of version 2.1.6, 1 is the minor version number.

Compared to the 2.0 product line, Thesis 2.1 contains important functionality, improved interfaces, enhanced compatibility, and refinements that make it a more useful tool for building high performance websites.

Whenever we issue a minor version release, you can expect it to include new functionality and other improvements that will make your life easier. From our perspective, these are the “fun” updates that people tend to appreciate the most.

Revision Number

Revision updates are an annoying but necessary part of software development, especially on a platform like WordPress, where compatibility is an ongoing concern.

To illustrate, Thesis 2.1.6—where 6 is the revision number—indicates that this is the 6th revision of the 2.1 release.

We only issue revisions to address functionality issues, fix bugs, or ensure compatibility.

For example, we recently released versions 2.1.5 and 2.1.6 in response to WordPress’ 3.8 release, which contained a bug that appeared on category archive pages (and especially when pretty permalinks are enabled).

In both of these versions, we added compatibility code that worked around the problem introduced by WordPress 3.8.

(The problem reared its head in a couple of unexpected places, so that’s why we had a 2.1.6 in addition to a 2.1.5.)

The basic functionality of all the 2.1.x versions is the same, but each revision speaks to improvements and fixes we’ve made over time to ensure your Thesis experience is always a great one.

So, should I update my site?

Yes! If you’re already running Thesis 2, then you should absolutely be running the latest and greatest version you can get your hands on.

It’s always a good idea to run the latest revision you can, as that ensures maximum security and compatibility for your site.

However, if you’re still running a Thesis 1 site, there’s no immediate need to update to the Thesis 2 product line. In this case, I recommend waiting to update until you are ready for a new design; at that point, you’ll be in a perfect position to take advantage of the benefits and improvements Thesis 2 offers.

Finally, if you’ve got any other questions about Thesis or version numbers, I’ll be happy to take them in the comments.

And if you’ve built something awesome with Thesis recently, I want to see it! Leave me a link to your best work in the comments, and I’ll show you off on social media.

About the Author: Chris Pearson, Thesis creator and DIYthemes founder, is obsessed with optimizing the web and making sure every last detail receives the attention it requires. Follow DIYthemes on Twitter for the latest tips and info on building effective websites.

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Chuck Burns

I have updated Thesis religiously with each update since 2008 when I first started using Thesis. That came to a halt with Thesis 2. I tried to update with 2 and then again with 2.1.6. I’m now back using 1.85 and have no desire to go through that upgrade process again

John Henwoth

Hi Chris.
before I built the web-page I had not done anything like this before. so thesis 1.8 certainly made thinks easy with the aid of the forum.

Keep up the good work. I will change it to thesis 2 but it involves a lot of work

Thanks John

Tom Watson

Hey Chris!

I can’t say I created anything all that awesome, but I do know that Thesis was a true godsend to me. I can’t thank you enough for putting something so powerful in the hands of the average user! THANKS AGAIN!


Chuck, moving from Thesis 1.8.5 to v.2 is not an “update”, it is an entirely new piece of software, requiring a whole rethink and rebuild of the site, though of course all the data from the pages and posts is preserved.

It took me a few months to really wrap my head around v.2, partly because it was not fully functional until 2.1. But now that I am using it, I would never go back. Once you get the hang of the completely new approach to site design, you will see that you have much more control over the site, and layout options are endless.

I’d suggest that before you convert an existing site, you install a completely fresh 2.1.6 test site to play with and check out these training videos to get you comfortable with the new concepts.


Thank you. I’m a visual learner and was hoping to find videos, as I’m still learning the ropes of v.2

Jennifer Fivelsdal

Thanks for the video. I want to do the upgrade but is nervous about doing so.

Srinu Ipathy

you are absolutely right sir. It’s always better to use the latest version to get the most benefits. I always love to see the new updates. Good explanation about numbers.

Lisa Schmidt

Hi Chuck! I love Thesis. I built my own site last summer with the previous version, and have been very excited with 2.1. There are almost too many choices for me – and sometimes I spend way too much time in the weeds. Is that normal 🙂 ? I love the way that Thesis made me think about web design, and what I’m capable of. Comes in handy whenever I meet someone who wants to charge me $10,000 to design my website, which happens at least twice a week!
Thank you!


As an average end user who just wanted to run a personal blog on a reliable, good quality platform and, in trying to achieve this, invested precious time (and money too) configuring Thesis 1.8 to my needs, I find disappointing and frustrating to have done this in vain. Upgradeing to Version 2.x would mean losing all my configurations and require a whole new learning curve, on which I would never invest, as I may well be wasting my time again. I’ve learned my lesson with regard to Thesis.

Chris Pearson

Alex, this is purely a matter of perspective.

Your efforts on Thesis 1.8 were not in vain—if your site works well on that version, there is absolutely no reason to switch to Thesis 2 (unless you just want to).

Furthermore, everything you’ve learned with 1.8 is still in play with version 2; the big difference is that with Thesis 2, you won’t have to add custom code nearly as often (if at all).

I’d encourage you to keep an open mind about this and to try Thesis 2 when you’re ready for a new design. In fact, if you have specific questions, I’d also like to invite you to contact our customer support.

We’re sure Thesis 2 is a great step for everyone, and we’re here to help you navigate that landscape.

Gowtham V

Hai Alex ,
Upgrading form thesis 1.x to thesis 2 is very easy and it can be done in a few days of time. I love working on thesis 2 very much and i can help you with the upgrade for free on the weekends 🙂


Thank both of you, Chris Pearson and Gowtham V, for your kind and warm replies. My feelings for Thesis date from the launch of Version 2. At that time of transition, I had the impression, from the blog posts and comments, that I’d be led into a hermetic, impossible-to-decrypt “upgrade” which could only be managed by a select group of insiders (or IT professionals, as a commenter below refers), to whom I would have to pay for every twitter button, email form, google search box etc. that I would wish to implement in the form of a “box-so-and-so”, or a “site-tool-so-and-so”, each sold separately. Perhaps I, and others to whom I spoke at the time, misunderstood. Given your enthusiasm, and that of other commenters (hopefully not biased), I will give version 2 a try.


I think the big “a ha” moment for me wit Thesis v.2 was understanding that the functionality I’d loved with Thesis hooks was now found in Thesis boxes. Once I got that, it started to fall into place.

One hiccup I keep having with v.2 is finding good customization content via Google. Most of the great user documentation out there is for Thesis v.1, and so not often relevant.


Hi Chris

Thanks for the explanation, so far I have built 3 sites using Thesis and all of them rock!!! I really enjoy working on Thesis 2.0, you can see two of the sites here and here.

Kevin Reynolds

Thesis 2.x makes my site possible. Thanks.

Chris Peterson

I have to agree with Chris. It is a matter of perspective. I’m a new user to Thesis overall, (using 2.1.6) so it has taken a bit for it to click with me. BUT, I have to tell you, once you get it, not only is it easy to make adjustments to the site, it’s easy to make custom adjustments to the individual pages on the site. The skin editor box concept is really cool. I finally see what all the rave is about! But hey! What else would you expect from an Austin homeh? Keep up the good work!

David Stehle

Quick question…

Why isn’t there a Changelog from Thesis 1.x to 2.x available on

I notice a lot of users ask “what’s changed” when new updates become available. So it would be helpful to keep a public record of bug fixes, new features, etc that users could refer to.

Chris Pearson

Good question, David. As I mentioned in the article, Thesis 1 and 2 are 100% different, so a changelog for that would assume biblical proportions 😀

Typically, whenever we push an update, we also publish some notes on the new version. For example, here are the notes on Thesis 2.1 and then the subsequent notes on the 2.1.1 update.


Dear Chris

We share the same experience with some of the earlier commenters on being at Thesis 1.8 and then struggling with Thesis 2, and then coming back to Thesis 1.8.

Sorry for the immaturish comment, but since we are not IT professionals, we found it very difficult to work on Thesis 2. Please tell me, if we are stuck at 1.8 and you are going on with Thesis 2, 3, 4, dont you think we will lose the competitive edge in terms of SEO etc.?

Is there any way that Thesis 2 and later versions be made as user friendly as non_It people can also use it? Or is it meant only if you separately invest in a programmer to do the IT work for you….

Chris Pearson

Abhinav, I think you probably just need some training on Thesis 2, and that’s 100% on us. To date, we’ve done a poor job of explaining the new system to people who have limited experience building websites, and that’s an area where we intend to improve this year.

You made an interesting statement: “…since we are not IT professionals, we found it very difficult to work on Thesis 2.”

The funny thing here is that Thesis 2 was built precisely for non-professionals, as it enables anyone to modify templates and styles without the need for an external file editor, knowledge of the WordPress file system, or PHP.

This is not true of any other WordPress theme—not even Thesis 1.8.

So, in my view, Thesis 2 is easier for people like you than Thesis 1.8 could ever be. That means it’s on me to show you this is true and to teach you to use the new platform.

One of my main goals with Thesis 2 was to create an environment where you wouldn’t need to “separately invest in a programmer to do the IT work for you,” so it’s definitely disheartening to read a statement like this.

I encourage and invite you to contact our Customer Support, and let us help you through whatever roadblocks you have with Thesis 2. I am confident that, given the right instruction, you will see the incredible value and power of Thesis 2.


I was like most people in these comment sections. Thinking Thesis 2.0 is a bad move since it made it impossible to upgrade to. But once I decided to try and upgrade my website to 2.0, I was able to do it with a bit of effort. It took a few days for me to learn the ropes of 2.0, but it was well worth it. Now I can do pretty much everything with Thesis 2 that I was able to do with Thesis 1.8.

And the best part about Thesis 2 is that you get a mobile responsive site, which is kind of important these days (and the reason why I decided to upgrade).


Is there somewhere on this site that mentions whether the current version is compatible with the latest Wordpress release, or is there somewhere that lists all the changes that have been made in the latest Thesis 2.x.x release?

Chris Pearson

Neil, WordPress compatibility is assumed because that’s the cornerstone of this business. If Thesis doesn’t work with WordPress, then it doesn’t work at all, and that’s just not acceptable 😀

Typically, we do not publish an official changelog for Revision updates, but we always publish detailed information about Major and Minor version updates.

Now that we’re settled into the Thesis 2 product line and have a better support system in place, we’ll probably start publishing a running changelog in the User’s Guide for interested users.


Thanks for the reply, Chris – I appreciate it.

Gowtham V

Hai chris!

Thanks for the explanation on the version numbers. I am using Thesis 2 for all my blogs, my main site is here and i recommend it to all my clients blogs as well.

I have customized and moved many blogs from thesis 1.x to the thesis latest version and have worked on many thesis 2 skins as well. From my time spent on thesis, its the best framework i have ever worked with.

And BTW thesis 2 is more awesome than previous thesis 1.x and easier to use and develop sites. Thanks for developing such an awesome framework 🙂
ThesisStore is under development. Planning to release new skins and boxes on that site soon 🙂

Thanks, Gowtham V


Thanks Chris – a useful post to confirm my assumptions re: version numbers.

…and Thesis v2 continues to amaze me with its potential – I’m scratching off bit by bit, day by day with the upcoming skin I’m building and the possibilities just keep on getting better!

Here are a couple examples of recent projects:

These were built so much quicker and easier using v2 than opposed to v1.8 – yes, there was a learning curve in the beginning but nothing huge and once you’re there – you’ll never go back! 😀


I’m not a web designer.. But I am quite happy with the blog I designed using Thesis 2. 🙂

Career Vendor

Version number tells about development state for a software/theme. I personally prefer to give version number only up to two levels. Thanks for clarifying Thesis development modes.


Hi Chris

I really love developing in Thesis!!! IT ROCKS

Just finished my site which is based on the Promo skin using Thesis 2.1.6

I have added some css 😉 and custom templates to create the look i needed

I build it as a directory listing to enable businesses to promote their products/services with a great deal.

It is fully responsive and looks great on every device and browser

Just wanted to share the result and show it off 🙂



Thanks for spreading the word. A lot of people are afraid of upgrading as some developers hardcode and tell the website owners that they will lose any styles if they update the wordpress or theme. I believe that is a very dangerous practice and should be stopped.


I’m not a web designer, but I am quite happy with the blog I designed using Thesis.


A real steep learning curve from Thesis 1.8 but if you persevere, Thesis 2.1 is the ultimate customizable theme. It continues to blow my mind everyday with its flexibility, which makes all other themes look positively muscle-bound in comparison! Chris Pearson continues to deliver amazingly on his original promise to his buyers: that of putting in their hands the best, the most customizable theme on this planet!

Alison @ Deuce Cities Henhouse

Hey Chris,
First of all, can I start by saying that I love Thesis 2 and the DIY themes support team, you guys are the greatest!

I know this thread is semi-old but with the new wordpress release 3.9 – I thought I’d go ahead and ask.

This may be a dumb question, but I get the impression that dumb questions are welcome here 😉 I am running Thesis 2 and am a little gun shy when it comes to updating. I just hate it when I break my site, and I have no idea how to fix it, even though this doesn’t happen often, I am always terrified of updates.

What do you recommend the process of updating to be? Make a database backup, export content, disable plugins – then update? I’d love to hear what you recommend.

Thanks again for making an awesome theme, I love Thesis 2!

Chris Pearson

Hi Alison, if you’re talking about Thesis updates, then you should always run revision updates (such as 2.1.8) without any hesitation whatsoever.

If you’re talking about WordPress updates potentially “breaking” anything in Thesis, here’s how we deal with that:

Before WordPress officially releases a new version, we test it with the current version of Thesis. In some cases, we issue Thesis updates in response to WordPress updates.

In the case of WordPress 3.9, we did not have to issue an update to maintain full compatibility. (The current version of Thesis—2.1.8—works perfectly with WordPress 3.9.)

Finally, WordPress rarely makes monumental changes that affect Thesis in a binary manner. In other words, WP updates do not create a situation where Thesis either works or doesn’t work. Typically, if there is ever a compatibility issue on an update, it affects something small, such as meta data (like custom title tags) for category and tag pages.

The bottom line is that your design “stuff”—templates and CSS, namely—will never be affected by WordPress updates, so there’s really nothing to fear here.

In addition, before upgrading, I recommend using the Thesis Skin Data Manager to backup your design. To do this, visit the Skin Editor, and then look for the Manager tab at the top of the page. Once you’re in the Manager, you can create a new backup, restore an old backup, or even export your design (or even just a part of your design) for import into another site.

If you haven’t used the Skin Data Manager yet, you’re going to love it!

Kim Northrop


More stupid question time. I can’t tell from this blog post or the comments if 1.8.5 is compatible with wordpress 3.9. Is it? Thanks! Kim


I’m probably missing something obvious here, but… how do I tell what version of Thesis I have installed on my site? I know it’s 2.x, but not sure if it’s 2.16 or 2.18, etc. I assumed I’d see this if I clicked on the Thesis section in my WP admin, but alas, that’s not to be :\

Chris Pearson

Adam, you can view your current version in the Thesis Admin. Look for the More menu on the right (where your System Status is located), and when you hover to reveal the menu, the bottom item will display your version number.


There’s another simple way to get your theme version. Just go to the installed theme panel and click on the screenshot of any theme. It will show you a popup window with all the theme details in it on the right section.

I hope it works,


Ah, of course, I discover where it’s shown 42 seconds after I submitted my previous comment here (under the “more” dropdown on the right). D’oh :p

Chris Pearson

Heh, I should have noticed this before penning my comment above 😀