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bfintal says

Hi all,

I don’t know if this has been asked before, but my searches are showing unrelated results.

I’m selling 1 theme and currently it’s in version 1.1, I plan to release another version (1.2) in a few weeks.

My concern is that some of my buyers are modifying the theme’s source files, and if they’re going to update, currently they would have to re-implement all their changes to the new files. Changes for the next version would consist of new features and bug fixes, and I know that some buyers would want to update their copies.

What’s the best way to make their update process less hassling?

Child themes are a no-go for me since I think getting everyone to implement them would complicate the installation process. Also, they would still have to compare their child theme’s files with the theme’s files for changes.

What do you guys recommend to the buyers when they want to update?

I was thinking that maybe I can create an online tool wherein buyers can upload their entire zipped theme directory, then the tool can point out the stuff they added / deleted so that it’d be easier for them to re-implement the changes. I don’t know yet, I want to hear what you guys do first. :)

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AdamGold says
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bfintal says

I think this is what you’re looking for.

http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/buyers-editing-wordpress-themes-the-right-way/39486

Thanks for the link, but I’m looking for other alternatives to child-themes.

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sevenspark Volunteer moderator says

If you implement a quality hook and filter system in your theme users will be able to customize the the theme through a child theme without overriding the template files.

Giving the user customizable areas of the theme (like a custom style sheet) helps too. Basically, if they can keep all of their changes separate from the theme, they’ll be in good shape.

Isn’t the “online tool” you are describing just a diff utility?

You could also use version control (like git) to generate a complete patch/changelog that users could implement in their customized themes.

No system is perfect for this, but I think child themes are the closest you’ll get – and the easiest for users. At the very least, they have to run a diff on fewer files, and many won’t change at all.

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bfintal says

If you implement a quality hook and filter system in your theme users will be able to customize the the theme through a child theme without overriding the template files.

Giving the user customizable areas of the theme (like a custom style sheet) helps too. Basically, if they can keep all of their changes separate from the theme, they’ll be in good shape.

Isn’t the “online tool” you are describing just a diff utility?

You could also use version control (like git) to generate a complete patch/changelog that users could implement in their customized themes.

No system is perfect for this, but I think child themes are the closest you’ll get – and the easiest for users. At the very least, they have to run a diff on fewer files, and many won’t change at all.

Yes I believe that custom css styles in the admin is a must in all themes. I have those in already.

But it’s when they edit the php scripts that’s getting buyers worried about updating (me included).

Well, since child-themes are the recommended solution, I’ll take a shot at building a better one :)

Here’s my idea:
  • (Yes you’re right) essentially it’s a diff tool, but a glorified one and one that’s geared towards buyers.
  • Basically if they upload their whole zipped theme directory, it’ll tell them everything that they changed. I think this is better instead of telling them what we edited. Most probably their changes are much more less than our new feature implementations and bug fixes.
  • Ease of use, just upload the zipped theme directory, it’ll compare it to the right set of codes of the right theme and version.
  • Easier for devs since you don’t need to release a changelog, your’re not forced to use version control if you don’t want to,
  • Easier for buyers since they don’t need to read changelogs, no added steps for theme installation with child themes, trimmed down steps for updating

Any thoughts on this?

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ParkerAndKent says

I don’t think buyers want to play with child themes, hooks and actions… that’s stuff for buyers that know very well how to code wp… and those buyers don’t mind to update their theme using a changelog or saving their changes and set them back again on the new version…

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SaurabhSharma says

A well described Update Log. Nothing else. List each file, line number and changes you made to those files. Finally, after seeing that update log, it’s up to the user to decide whether it’s feasible to replace entire theme or implement those individual changes. :)

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PressCrew says

Here’s how I do it for my customers/clients (not selling my themes on here btw)

I’ll add a pre-made Child Theme folder to my zip file, with some basic instructions about how Child Themes work. In the documentation I tell them clearly that modifying the core theme templates can lead to issues I can not give support for. The only safe way to do customizations is through a Child Theme.

For the people that only want to make style changes I’ve made a seperate section in my theme options :-)

This setup works perfectly for me and my customers. Learning Child Themes is a pretty important part of learning to modify WP (as a customer).

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bfintal says

In my opinion I think more often than not, the number of changes made by the author greatly surpasses the number of changes by the buyers.. especially if the buyer has an outdated version. It may be more of a hassle for the buyers to implement the changelog in this case, no matter how good it is written.

I’m going to make a prototype of an update helper tool. Here’s the idea:

The tool helps buyers determine the all changes they’ve made with their version of the theme in order for them to easily re-implement them after updating to a higher version.

Here’s the process the buyers will perform when updating their WP theme:

  1. Zip their theme folder (the one they did edits on)
  2. Upload that zip file to the helper tool (the tool would then show them what new files they added/removed and what pieces of code they added/removed from the whole theme)
  3. Copy all the files they added, Re-implement the changes they made as outlined by the helper tool.

Please share your ideas on the pros and cons of this, and whether or not you as a buyer would see this as a helpful tool, and if you as an author see this as a good tool to give your buyers. Or if it’s even necessary at all.

Pros: no need for changelogs, no need for child-themes, no need for buyers to document their edits

Cons: an added step of zipping & uploading their theme directory to the helper tool.

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