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MDNW says

I also want to say one more thing just to give this some inside context (although in full disclosure, I’m NOT staff at WPtuts any more since having a baby 11 months ago and I have no intention of returning to the post as Japh is killing it over there). To be clear, I’m not speaking in any official capacity here.

I mentioned this to some of the marketplace and Envato admins a couple months ago and they take this issue VERY seriously. The review process here still has a ways to go and the entire community could really do with a better policy regarding shortcodes/CPT’s. That said, I guarantee you this was the wild west 12 months ago and the review team has upped their game significantly in the last year. Great themes get rejected every day for not adhering to WordPress official rules. Each and every one of the review team takes standards seriously. What the entire market need is more rules, documentation, and official standards from WP core that they can get behind and use as leverage to form even better regulations for theme approval.

This reminds me a lot of labor laws in the early 1900’s. Business boomed as a result of some pretty horrible practices and open interpretations of what’s allowed and what’s not… but at some point you’ve gotta throw some reigns on an industry and establish hard rules if you want to see the abuses stop and for everyone to start working on a level playing field.

Everything Justin is saying is 100% correct… but it’s not a WordPress RULE as I understand it. (please correct me if I’m wrong. i want to be wrong on this one) It’s a grey area that no one has really put their foot down on. That’s the problem. I can’t underline this enough. Last I heard, Envato is taking this issue seriously and the review team is actively looking for ways to improve and establish better practices. What they lack is hard rules to follow on this stuff. All we’ve got now is blog posts and twitter discussions of people complaining about the fact that lots of themes follow poor practices with regard to the community as a whole.

If there was a page somewhere on the codex that stated clearly what belongs in a theme and what belongs in a plugin, that would do wonders for establishing a universal set of theme rules across the entire marketplace, not just here at ThemeForest. This needs to become official WP development policy instead of lingering in the grey area of the dev community’s “best practices” like it is now. A lot of us have been griping about this for months/years. Maybe it’s time to add a new bullet to http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Review

At the very least there needs to be some sort of discussion of this on the codex to make new themers aware that this is a serious consideration when developing a theme… because you guys are right about another thing: Lots of theme authors here don’t even realize this is a problem. (and how would they if it’s not a rule that anyone has told them about?)

I even brought up the notion of a “WP Gold Certified” badge for themes that choose to uphold the highest of “best practices”. This is an option that should be taken seriously even if we aren’t going to outlaw franken-themes that follow less-than-pristine practices. To their credit, some of these franken-themes do some awesome stuff… and if buyers want them, more power to them? idk

Thoughts? Can we make this a thing and close down the complaints once and for all?

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griffinjt says

I created TGM Plugin Activation (tgmpluginactivation.com) around a year ago to fix this issue. I even gave a talk about it back in February at WordCamp Atlanta.

You’ve got no good excuse NOT to be putting CPTs, taxonomies, shortcodes and the like in a plugin. :-)

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greenshady says

@epicenter

I’m a member of the WordPress.org theme review team. We’ll be more than happy to discuss this on the mailing list and update the theme review guidelines to address specifics if need be.

I would love to see the community get behind a free portfolio/gallery cpt plugin. This seems to be the most common content that would need moved from theme to theme.

As I mentioned to Steven earlier, I’ve got some ideas about this type of thing. A standard portfolio plugin is at the top of my ideas list too. Maybe I can get my blog post up in the next week or so about it. But, if you want to start up a new thread here in the forums and nail down some ideas about how portofolios should be handled, I’ll be more than happy to help out with it.

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arconix says

As I mentioned to Steven earlier, I’ve got some ideas about this type of thing. A standard portfolio plugin is at the top of my ideas list too. Maybe I can get my blog post up in the next week or so about it. But, if you want to start up a new thread here in the forums and nail down some ideas about how portofolios should be handled, I’ll be more than happy to help out with it.

I’ll gladly contribute my portfolio plugin as a jumping off point—http://arcnx.co/ap

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MDNW says

@greenshady – I honestly think that’d be a huge move for you guys. I’ve been waiting for this metaphorical pot to boil over and I think we’re at that stage right now. The WP Theme Review team is who should be establishing these standards. As much as I want to complain about the issue myself, without some actual documented best-practices, it’s awfully hard to point the finger at anyone making themes that people will eagerly purchase. It’s like scolding a child for taking a candy without telling them that it’s off limits. When you consider that candy can often generate 5, 6, even 7 figures in income and there are no repercussions for coloring outside the lines, it’s almost insane for them to not take advantage. The buyers in any market will reward “pushing the envelope” with sales… without a set of guidelines, it’s impossible to know when the envelope has been pushed too far.

As a side note – I really get sad when I hear about TF being a bit of a laughing stock to the hardened dev community (because I’ve been a part of this community here for years and I know the ups and downs of the neighborhood). While we can definitely do our part to collectively improve our own work, some of the blame here actually falls back to the lack of concrete documentation on best practices for theme authors to follow. The condescending tone that some devs take when addressing newer or less versed theme authors always makes me cringe on this particular subject because it’s like falling into a trap that no one warned them about (even though I’ve done my fair share of finger wagging and twisting theme code outside of the marked path over the years). In any event, you’ve been really helpful in bringing this topic up. I hope it sparks some change.

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mikemcalister says

It perplexes me how much resistance there is in this thread about using best practices. It’s such a simple concept.

Here you have Justin Tadlock, Carl Hancock and Pippin Williamson, all of which are very successful and respected members of the WordPress community, giving free advice on how to make your themes, plugins and businesses better, yet authors are arguing with them as if they have the superior insight.

Let’s be clear, it is a MIRACLE that most of the theme “developers” here on ThemeForest do as well as they do. It’s not because they are gifted designers, thoughtful developers, or seasoned businessmen that their themes do as well as they do. Granted there are some, but it’s no secret that the majority of themes fill the bottom-of-the-barrel niche, and they do it very well. Naturally, these authors are going to get defensive when their practices are (rightfully) criticized. Unfortunately, for every one of these authors who is willing to sell subpar code, there is an unsuspecting buyer willing to snatch it up. And so the vicious cycle begins.

Rule #1, leave your user’s content alone. Shortcodes, custom post types, and anything that interferes with a WordPress user taking their content with them when they switch themes (which they always do) belongs in a plugin. It’s that simple. It doesn’t have to be noted in a codex page to become part of your workflow. It’s common sense and more importantly it’s your responsibility to uphold the standards that the WordPress community puts in place, not just the standards you get away with here on ThemeForest. It’s better for the community, it’s better for your customers and it’s better for business.

Mike

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mordauk says

Rule #1, leave your user’s content alone. Shortcodes, custom post types, and anything that interferes with a WordPress user taking their content with them when they switch themes (which they always do) belongs in a plugin. It’s that simple. It doesn’t have to be noted in a codex page to become part of your workflow. It’s common sense and more importantly it’s your responsibility to uphold the standards that the WordPress community puts in place, not just the standards you get away with here on ThemeForest. It’s better for the community, it’s better for your customers and it’s better for business.

Very well said.

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MDNW says

Well said Mike – the only real issue that I have is that I still think that the rule needs to be written down somewhere other than a forum or blog post if we expect people to follow it. At the very least, it’d give us somewhere to point to and say, “Hey look, it’s written right there. Follow it. Stop screwing your users over.”

It doesn’t have to be noted in a codex page to become part of your workflow.

Sure, but is there a reason not to note it on the Theme Review page? This seems like a pretty relevant note if this is such a big issue (and it is in my opinion). We have lots of idiot-proof notes in the codex, this wouldn’t be breaking precedent or anything to have WP take an official stance on this one to help guide the community in the right direction.

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SyamilMJ says

Soon we’re going to see a trend where theme authors release their own set of plugins to support their cpts and shortcodes. And users will be forced to carry this plugins over when they switch themes, which is in no way better than hardcoding it into their own themes.

The only way how this “best practice” can be made as a rule without introducing the users and authors into the world of endless cycle of confusion is for WordPress to release an official plugin, or hardcoding it into the core.

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MDNW says

I created TGM Plugin Activation (tgmpluginactivation.com) around a year ago to fix this issue. I even gave a talk about it back in February at WordCamp Atlanta. You’ve got no good excuse NOT to be putting CPTs, taxonomies, shortcodes and the like in a plugin. :-)

Bump for justice. I love the TGM Plugin Activation. I’ve been using it since you launched it and it really does help to solve the issue of plugin vs. theme functionality in my opinion. The plugins are included with the theme without having to hunt them down and users can keep using them long after the theme has been switched. After a year and lord-knows how many theme installs, I’ve yet to have a single customer complain about using this approach.

The model for premium themes should be (in my humble opinion):

“Core Theme + Pre-Packaged Plugins for Non-WP-Core Functionality”

not

-“Core Theme with Extra Functionality Baked In (that goes away when users change themes)”-

Themes should work simply and gracefully without any of the plugins, which means less confused users at the initial install phase (have you installed a theme that has EVERYTHING turned on at the start…it’s overwhelming, and you often don’t need every extra feature). Then the users themselves get to pick which extra plugins they want to use from your pre-packaged list to extend their site’s functionality. No extra uploads. Just check some boxes, hit activate, and they are good to go. Crazy idea, right?

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