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imikedesigns says

This may have been a topic here before, but I can’t seem to find any “solution” posts. What measures are theme authors taking to ensure all is not lost when the user changes themes a year down the road? Is including a plugin to handle shortcodes and custom post types a bad idea? To me, that seems to be the only way these functions will remain useful.

Or, are authors viewing things as a “by changing themes, they have made a decision to drop those functions” kinda thing? It would be great to not set a user up for a huge headache down the road.

I apologize if this topic has been beaten to death already. Thanks for your input.

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greenshady says

Any theme author who is adding these things to their themes is flat out doing it wrong. They belong in a plugin. You can package that plugin with the theme or release it separately, such as on WordPress.org.

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UXbarn says

Any theme author who is adding these things to their themes is flat out doing it wrong. They belong in a plugin. You can package that plugin with the theme or release it separately, such as on WordPress.org.

Just curious that doing this would let every author to release their own plugins which do the same task of generating shortcodes?

Or do you mean using the third-party plugin in this case?

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greenshady says

It would depend on the actual case. Nothing specific was asked.

In general, I’d argue for getting behind and supporting specific plugins. The two major reasons for this are standardization and portability. Some examples: WooCommerce, bbPress, BuddyPress, etc. If the wheel’s already been invented, use it.

I’ll be more than happy to build or contribute to some open-source plugins to handle various use cases in this area if a plugin doesn’t already exist.

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imikedesigns says

Any theme author who is adding these things to their themes is flat out doing it wrong. They belong in a plugin. You can package that plugin with the theme or release it separately, such as on WordPress.org.
Is it bad practice to package a plugin with a theme? I mean, do reviewers care about this problem and see it as a good thing or will they see it as a negative that the user has to install a plugin? Also, if an author is packaging shortcodes and custom post types, all JS and CSS would also need to be included with the plugin right? It seems like this could get a lot deeper than just shortcodes and CPTs.

Are any authors packaging shortcodes and CPTs in plugins now?

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imikedesigns says

I like the idea of an open-source plugin to handle various cases. It seems like the ethical thing to do, rather than leave users stranded.

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greenshady says
Is it bad practice to package a plugin with a theme?

TF seems to have a lot more “noob” WP users, so it might not be a bad idea to package it with (definitely not in) the theme. In general, I’d say to just write a note in the documentation to install the plugin if the user wants the functionality.

Keep in mind that a theme should never rely on that plugin functionality either. The theme should stand on its own, whether the plugin is installed or not.

I mean, do reviewers care about this problem and see it as a good thing or will they see it as a negative that the user has to install a plugin?

No idea. But, if I were a reviewer, I’d reject any theme immediately that registered a CPT or a shortcode for use in post content.

Also, if an author is packaging shortcodes and custom post types, all JS and CSS would also need to be included with the plugin right?

It would depend on the specific scenario. A good rule of thumb: Plugins add functionality and themes present content. Keep that in mind and you should be okay.

It seems like this could get a lot deeper than just shortcodes and CPTs.

Yes, there’s a lot more than just shortcodes and CPTs. These are just the obvious examples. There are some things that are even pretty borderline theme/plugin, but these two are clearly plugin territory.

Are any authors packaging shortcodes and CPTs in plugins now?

I have one of the oldest and longest-running WordPress theme/plugin clubs still around. If I need to add something like a shortcode or CPT , it goes into a plugin. Not once in several years have I had a user who couldn’t figure it out.

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imikedesigns says

Thanks. This thread clears it up for me.

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digitalimpact says

Sad part is that so many authors included them in the theme, that buyers here are actually expecting the theme shortcodes and CPTs to work as soon as the theme is installed. “It works in the demo, why the hell is my site broken when I install your theme?!” doesn’t look too good for sales… so authors keep including them.

This leads to people reading documentation less and less and will now be a pain in neck for any ‘good guy Greg’ out there that wants to do it right, as greenshady mentioned above. (read: “support nightmare and many low ratings due to wrong first impression”)

All I can say is that I lost hours of development while creating a child theme for a customer, simply because the previous theme used was heavily relying on shortcodes (which were obviously not present in the new theme)...

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imikedesigns says

All I can say is that I lost hours of development while creating a child theme for a customer, simply because the previous theme used was heavily relying on shortcodes (which were obviously not present in the new theme)...

I’ve been there, which is exactly why I was concerned about this for my own themes. Maybe an admin notice stating that the plugin must be activated for added features, as well as a reference to the documentation page would reduce some of the support issues/ratings issues.

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