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Japh Envato team says

Originally posted on Envato Notes by Japheth Thomson

One of the best features of WordPress is the way it lets users check for, download, and install updates for plugins and themes from within the WordPress admin interface. Last year you may recall Jason announced the WordPress Theme Only Attachment and after more work we’re ready to roll out a way for authors to implement automatic updates for their themes in a standard way.

We now have a plugin for WordPress that will show you when a theme you’ve purchased from ThemeForest has an update available. You can then choose to automatically download and install the update. Even better than that though, the plugin will show you all the WordPress themes you’ve purchased on ThemeForest, and allow you to install them too!

We also have a PHP library for authors to include in their WordPress themes that will provide an easy way to implement this functionality within the themes themselves.

The plugin can be found here and the PHP library here.

Before a ThemeForest theme is able to be installed or updated through this plugin or PHP library, we need a little something from our authors. In addition to the main ZIP file that an author provides, we need them to also provide another ZIP file containing only the WordPress theme, which the plugin will then use. As Jason mentioned in the forum post authors need to also be sure that the comment header inside the style.css file provides the exact details about the theme. This must include the ‘Theme Name’, ‘Author’, and ‘Version’. Of course, the ‘Theme Name’ and ‘Author’ should remain the same for each updated upload of a theme, and the ‘Version’ must be incremented on each updated upload to ThemeForest.

Until now, including this file has been optional for authors (though roughly 25% of themes already have it!). To ensure automatic updates work consistently across all WordPress themes we’re now making this a mandatory inclusion. Authors, starting from Wednesday 4th April, please ensure you update your WordPress themes on ThemeForest and upload a WordPress Theme ZIP file for each of your themes.

This plugin and PHP library are a work in progress, so we’re hoping you’ll jump in with both feet, and if there are any teething problems bare with us as we fix them up. We have more features in the pipeline too, so keep in mind that we’ll be releasing incremental updates to them.

We really hope using this plugin/PHP library makes everyone’s life a lot easier. If you have feedback on this, please let us know in the comments below, or leave a post on the forum thread linked above.

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LucidStudios says

It’s nice to see that Envato is providing tools to authors to make theme development easier and quicker but these tools/plugins need constant updates in order to work with latest versions of WordPress so sometimes author get into a locked down position which is not good. For example OptionTree hasn’t been upgraded to work with WordPress 3.3.1 and if you see the “Compatibility” section for OptionTree plugin then 50% of the people are having trouble installing it with WordPress 3.3.1.

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duotive says

What happens if we want to test it out on a theme that has not been added to themeforest yet? We want to be sure that it will work with a new framework.

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cosmincotor says

Do we need to write the version number in a certain way ? (1.0 or 1.0.0 …)

Because I usually add the date after it and it looks like this: 1.0.0.xxxxxx

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wpbakery says

It’s great to see this plugin finally coming to life!

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EugeneO says

I’m not sure how authors will be able to test this with their items. Would it be possible to work with the authors own items when they use their own API key? At least this way we can add and test it out with items we already have for sale on the marketplace.

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kimonothemes says

Nice work! What if the user made some custom change on his theme… Will this plugin overwrite its change? Is there a child theme compatibility with it?

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PaulWinslow says

Awesome news :) This’ll be very handy, indeed.

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Japh Envato team says

It’s nice to see that Envato is providing tools to authors to make theme development easier and quicker but these tools/plugins need constant updates in order to work with latest versions of WordPress so sometimes author get into a locked down position which is not good. For example OptionTree hasn’t been upgraded to work with WordPress 3.3.1 and if you see the “Compatibility” section for OptionTree plugin then 50% of the people are having trouble installing it with WordPress 3.3.1.

Thank you! Glad you mentioned OptionTree too, we’re certainly well aware of the need to continued updates on OptionTree and the Envato WordPress Toolkit. You’ll be seeing more from us on this in the future :)


What happens if we want to test it out on a theme that has not been added to themeforest yet? We want to be sure that it will work with a new framework.

Good point! For the moment, the best solution for existing themes is to manually decrement the version number to see updates happen. For new themes, we’ll look into this and get back to you shortly.


Do we need to write the version number in a certain way ? (1.0 or 1.0.0 …) Because I usually add the date after it and it looks like this: 1.0.0.xxxxxx

Essentially you’ll need to comply with the PHP -standardized version number strings. You can get more info on those under version_compare() in the PHP manual


Nice work! What if the user made some custom change on his theme… Will this plugin overwrite its change? Is there a child theme compatibility with it?

Thank you! And yes, theme updates overwrite changes, just as theme updates from the WordPress.org theme directory do. If you implement the library into your theme, you may like to include a warning to that effect.

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iamthwee says

+1 for option tree updates.

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