Options Framework Plugin
The Options Framework Plugin makes it easy to include an options panel in any WordPress theme. It was built so developers can concentrate on making the actual theme rather than spending time creating an options panel from scratch. It’s free to use in both commercial and personal projects, just like WordPress itself.
- text input
- radio button
- upload (image uploader)
- images (use images instead of radio buttons)
- background (a set of options to define a background)
- color (a jquery color picker)
- typography (a set of options to define typography)
Options Framework Theme
The Options Framework Theme has all the code included to build a out a full featured options panel. It’s a bundled version of the Options Framework Plugin for those folks who want to build the options directly into the theme (rather than relying on a plugin).
This project was released long before the Customizer was a part of WordPress. The Customizer is now the recommended way to add theme options and you can read more about it here. If you want a helper library for the Customizer along with a few other tools for developers, try the Customizer Library.
That said, the Options Framework may still be useful for some projects, and you’re welcome to try it out.
When to Use Theme Version vs. Plugin Version
The code is 99% the same between the plugin and theme version. If you can do what you need with the plugin version, I think that’s the best route. If you find that you need to make significant modifications that aren’t possible with the plugin, go ahead and use the theme version.