On July 18, Joseph Scott announced that after what seemed like, well, what seemed like a very long time, an official WordPress themes directory had returned. And you know what? It turned out to be awesome (and if you read below, it should get awesome-er). But I still had some questions and a few details that I wanted clarification on. I bet you did too. With that in mind, here’s Matt Mullenweg and Joseph Scott on what’s happening at the WordPress themes directory.
ThemeShaper: The new WordPress themes directory is great but—and I think I speak for almost every WordPress user here—what took so long? Was it taking “great lengths to make this as painless as possible for theme authors”? Or was it something else?
Matt: Basically the system for interacting with Subversion invisibly via ZIP files took a bit longer than we thought. There is still a lot more to do to make it a fantastic experience for both theme authors and WP users, but for launch we just wanted to get in the most essential features.
ThemeShaper: What does the WordPress Themes Directory bring to the community that Theme Clubs and individual developers aren’t bringing right now? And flipping it around, what is the directory bringing to those same Theme Clubs and individual developers?
Matt: Theme authors and all the different theme sites were all doing interesting things and great jobs on their own, but if you think from the point of view of a WordPress user there were a couple of big problems:
Themes were scattered across the web, searching for them was frustrating, it was easy to miss good ones, and each site had its own UI for downloading and testing.
Many of the theme directories seemed more interested in promoting paid themes they got affiliate revenue from than highlighting the amazing free GPL themes out there.
There were some fake theme directories set up that were distributing malware, if you installed one of their themes (often copies of legit themes) it would hack your blog.
Themes were of varying quality, and it was difficult to tell which themes supported which WordPress features.
The WordPress theme directory addresses all of these, and as a bonus allows us to do a theme update mechanism like we have for plugins and give theme authors a canonical place to track their distribution.
Since there have been over 150,000 downloads in less than a month it seems to be working.