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(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding

I had the chance to speak at WordCamp San Francisco this year and, this time, I tried to do something different. Instead of doing a talk with lots of code examples and howto info that could be read in a blog post I decided to put my heart on my sleeve and shoot for inspiration. Of course, I still talked about WordPress themes. No one wants to hear a rousing talk from me on how much I love cooking at home. I tried with this talk to share why I love working with WordPress themes. Because I really do. I got the impression that people liked the talk. Maybe you will too. Check out (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding on WordPress.tv. Or just watch it here on ThemeShaper!

P.S. Someone remind me the next time I speak to not wear a shirt that gets wrinkled so easily. :)

Photo adapted from a banksy shot by Thomas Hawk.

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ThemeShaper Re-Themed

It’s been a while but we finally changed the theme on ThemeShaper! No need to scroll to the footer it’s using Further designed by the illustrious Takashi Irie. We’ve made a few modifications using a simple child theme but it’s pretty close to the stock theme. For now. I’m sure there will be many tweaks over the next few weeks and months.

For the historically minded this is the first theme on ThemeShaper.com not designed or built by me — we should have done that sooner! That said, I hope to continue the tradition of unusual design choices here with more experimentation and the use of cutting-edge magazine themes like Further (check out the infinite scrolling on the home page).

Let us know what you think!

Image courtesy of DBduo Photography

Happy Anniversary, WordPress!

Everyone knows that we love WordPress Themes which means, of course, that we also love WordPress. But we don’t go around saying it everyday even though we do. With the 10th anniversary of WordPress around the corner of a team meetup in Italy the WordPress.com Theme Team had a chance to not just to say it but show it, in a way. Here we all are showing our WordPress pride in our 10th Anniversary WordPress shirts.

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Keep doing what you do WordPress and we’ll keep trying to make beautiful themes that do you justice. We’re looking forward to many more years of making it easy for anyone to publish on the web — and making it look amazing.

Five Minutes with Philip Arthur Moore

Did you know we have a Premium Theme Team at WordPress.com? They’re the folks who audit all of the premium themes available on WordPress.com — that’s not just the themes we make but also the ones made by other shops too — and make sure we have a consistently amazing experience with them. Philip Arthur Moore leads that team and there’s a great interview with him on the WordPress.com news blog.

The majority of my waking hours are spent feverishly obsessing over making premium themes a world-class experience for all WordPress users. This means a lot of different things: ensuring that customers are well-supported in our premium themes forum; auditing every single line of code in every premium theme; educating the WordPress theming community on proper approaches to WordPress theme development; and with my colleagues coming up with strong, robust guidelines for developing themes the WordPress.com way.

Philip also spends a ton of time working on _s. I love everything about this quote.

It’s hard to understand the power of _s unless you see what’s built with it. Further, Ryu, A Simpler Time, and Untitled were all created using _s, but you’d never know it without being told and that’s what makes the starter theme so powerful. To date, Underscores has around 34 total contributors and it’s always open to more. I’ll continue to work on it because it provides a solid benchmark on which to grade other themes and it also gives me a chance to interact with the theming community.

Anyway, quit reading this post and check out the interview with Philip.

Theme Standards

There was some confusion on WP Daily the other day about Obox, ThemeForest, GPL, and WordPress.com. It was disappointing to read since we’ve always been very open about our standards for WordPress theme licensing; 100% GPL for every thing, every time. It’s pretty easy to understand and it’s the only way to really have an open source theme that protects user freedoms. As I posted about recently, what’s been difficult to understand has been Envato’s license. Unfortunately, and just as disappointing, Obox has been caught up in this. Obox sells their themes on ThemeForest and have been trying to sell their themes in the only really correct way — with a GPL compatible license for everything. Since it looks like this won’t be corrected right away, as of yesterday we’ve removed Obox themes from our WordPress.com Premium Theme Marketplace.

Obox is a terrific company and I hope this is temporary. We’ve had a great relationship that should continue. That relationship — and the one we have with all of our Premium Theme partners — is a good example of our team goals. If you’ve never read our Theme Team goals I’d like to point out a couple of them.

We will teach WordPress developers to become the best theme developers in the world. If you’re a WordPress theme developer—commercial or 100% free—we want to help you be the best.

We will ensure all our improvements make it back to the open source community.

We’re very serious about these goals and very proud of how these work out with our Premium Theme partners. The reviews we’ve done of the themes in our marketplace have been referred to as “Epic” more than once and I understand that they’ve become somewhat legendary. We love hearing that. A considerable investment of time is put into every theme review and every premium theme launch on WordPress.com. Our hope is not just that our partners benefit from this investment but that the whole WordPress community benefits.

So, as I’ve said this is disappointing. One day — hopefully soon if Envato can correct their licensing problem right away — we’ll have Obox back. That won’t be just a benefit for us, Obox, or Envato. It’ll be a boon to the whole WordPress community.

Envato’s License Changes For The Worse

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about ThemeForest, Envato, WordCamps, and the GPL. I’ve been paying close attention because, you know, themes. I love them. I think they’re a huge part of the WordPress mission to democratize publishing and I think the good ones are making the world a more beautiful and better place. I also think they should be free, open source software — the whole deal, CSS, images and all — just like WordPress. Try deleting all the CSS and images from your favorite theme and from WordPress. It’ll help you understand why, while technically theme authors don’t have to let you fully own those things, they really shouldn’t be taking that freedom away from you and locking them down. This is one of the core values of WordPress and fundamental to the market in which people develop and sell themes.

Anyway, other people have made this point more eloquently than me. What I really want to talk about is a change in the Envato license that no one is really talking about. That is, the recent Marketplace License Updates and how it affects WordPress theme licensing on ThemeForest.

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