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mikemcalister says

@Brandon, it definitely should be part of the codex, but even if/when it does get added, that doesn’t ensure people are going to adhere to it. There are plenty of rules that are in place now that aren’t upheld by authors. But I agree it would be a good start.

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SyamilMJ says

I wish it’s that simple. Take a look at what shortcodes ultimate plugin spews in the admin

As much as I’d love the idea of having the users contacting the plugin author when something like that happens, as the person who recommended the plugin in the first place, I will be inevitably held responsible for it – and they will blame me. And I will have to dive into the plugin and find out what’s wrong with it, contact the author so he can fix it and yada yada

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greenshady says

Just to clarify, the Theme Review page on the Codex does have a guideline referring to this discussion exactly. It’s pretty high up on the list of guidelines.

Presentation Vs. Functionality: Since the purpose of Themes is to define the presentation of user content, Themes must not be used to define the generation of user content, or to define Theme-independent site options or functionality.

As a guideline, that’s a great catchall rule and it allows the team some flexibility when new things come up. But, it’s not very specific about what those things are.

What I’d like to see on the Codex is an independent page that goes into greater detail about what this actually means.

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MDNW says

As a guideline, that’s a great catchall rule and it allows the team some flexibility when new things come up. But, it’s not very specific about what those things are. What I’d like to see on the Codex is an independent page that goes into greater detail about what this actually means.

Thanks J! I totally agree – I saw that before my last couple comments and I felt like it could be explained in more specific terms… that statement technically covers everything discussed here, but its vague enough that, on a page full of dev text, people gloss over it as lawyer speak. A few for-instances would help give that line-item some teeth IMO … ie:

”... This includes placing shortcodes or custom post types inside themes. To be crystal clear: Content generation tools like these should be placed in plugins instead. See this page for more information on what goes in a theme and what goes in a plugin. [Link]”

Then have that link direct to a page that really digs into this discussion (not just the rules, but the philosophy behind separating the two and why it’s fundamental to the entire platform’s health).

In any event, I’m stoked that everyone towards the end of this thread is in agreement that this needs to be enforced in a wider capacity. As Mike said, this is simple stuff once it’s explained that “just because you can do something in a theme doesn’t mean that you should.

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inspector_fegter says

I’ve read through every posting on this thread and it strikes me that the spirit in which WordPress was created is all but extinguished on a lot of TF authors. It doesn’t behoove us to open the GPL > commerce discussion here after riding the repeatedly buried and exhumed dead horse of functionality placement in themes or plugins. However, I do see a connection here with the GPL and some TF authors.

On this thread there are several stalwart advocates for isolationism within their own micro theme ecosystem. Keeping everything proprietary and giving users a take-it-or-leave-it presentation seems to be security for them. The heavens forbid that an abstracted plugin might be forked and decrease revenues. The masses shutter at the very thought that a user would ever ever ever desire to install, let alone activate another theme. If we think our products are irreplaceable, we fool ourselves.

My manifesto is: build it right and they will come. When someone is passionate about building great things, their finger prints are all over their products. A fork rarely translates the author’s original passion and intent for the product. If someone forks your work, there’s a profoundly great chance they won’t make it better than you can make it because they don’t ‘own’ it and probably won’t support it. If a TF author keeps building great USABLE products that scale well for future growth, USERS will come and come back and won’t mind rewarding with revenues.

Instead of discounting the value of a user and their sanity simply to embolden a stance on securing revenues, build loyalty with freedom of choice. At the end of the day, users do have a choice. If a product restricts them and creates nightmarish migration scenarios, an author shouldn’t expect a repeat customer.

One thing I’ve learned about the WordPress community (users and developers alike) is that we rally around great products and promote them whether commercial or not. We don’t take kindly to someone forking code for the explicit purpose of financial gain without setting a new course for the codebase.

WordPress is not an off-the-shelf product, it’s a community. Instead of building cinderblock walls around your micro theme ecosystem, start engaging the macro community by using accepted best practices. Give the user not only what they want, but what they NEED and it might even increase revenues. Users need scalability and consistency across the board of WP products.

That’s my two cents.

—-Burying the horse again now—-

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pixelentity says

Our intention is not having buyers to sign a life contract with us when selling them our theme and we’re defo not against a clear separation of functions/presentation in plugins/themes.

What we think it will never work here is each author shipping his own custom plugins to handle shortcodes and cpts, meaning plugin from author A not being compatible with ones from author B because of different names/parameters and so on. How the hell this is supposed to make buyers life simple is beyond me.

Now this thread kinda evolved since the original opener posted his question and the above situation is very different from all (or most) authors using the same plugins. Which do not exists yet or, at the very least, there’s not a general agreement between authors on which ones should be used.

I can see this happening on TF only if Envato release such plugins on wp.org itself, providing support and keeping them updated with authors being able to give feedback on bugs and request missing features.

Then a “Compatible with Envato $coolname” option would be added to item page, allowing users to filter the set and only show compatible themes. When buyers know they can switch between any of them with minimal (if any) pain, they will most likely pick one of those instead of a “franken-theme” and you’d slowly create a trend.

More and more authors will join the club, not because a rule forces them to but only because not doing it may cost them sales.

BF

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Japh Staff says

What a great thread! Thanks so much to the OP for starting it off, to Justin for getting involved, and to Brandon for bringing it to my attention.

This is the sort of thing we’ve been trying to encourage through Wptuts+. We have articles encouraging people to utilise the WP.org theme review process, a screencast on using the TGM Plugin Activation class, and a recent article from Pippin on filters and actions in your code.

I also recently wrote a blog post titled ‘Problems with themes on ThemeForest, are problems with themes’ in response to a tweet from Carl about some of this stuff.

When you look at it, these issues are general WordPress community issues. Some of them may stem from things that happen here at ThemeForest. Given the size of this marketplace, and the number of people who encounter the problems outside ThemeForest, the issue needs to anexe both.

So I’ve emailed the theme reviewer mailing list about getting some of these sorts of things added to the Theme-Check plugin where appropriate. I mean, if it shouldn’t be happening here, it shouldn’t be happening. Then ThemeForest authors can use Theme-Check and get clear messages on what they should / shouldn’t be doing. Also, our review team use Theme-Check, so a consistent test is being applied.

Documentation in the Codex is great, but utilising tools like Theme-Check is good too, because as the plugin is updated, authors are automatically conforming to any new guidelines.

I’m excited about this discussion, and I want us to keep the momentum up and get some resolution. I’ve been having meetings this week, and more next week, to discuss these issues here at Envato too and what can be done.

Also, I wanted to note that I will most likely be attending the WordPress Community Summit this year, and will definitely be raising these sorts of issues for general discussion!

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rvision_ says

Interesting thread.

The status, as it is now is a result of what Brandon named “Nuclear arms race” – each new theme must have zillion shortcodes/options/etc. to compete in the marketplace. This will stay like this as long unless reviewers promise that lack of shortcodes won’t influence the theme price.

I agree that shortcodes should be bundled/used with content, not presentation. But there are some cases where this is simply not possible: for example, column shortcodes. Theme A uses 12 columns grid, theme B uses 16 columns grid. Make shortcodes work in both? I don’t think so.

Can’t believe nobody mentioned so called layout builders? These lock-down content to the theme even more, but I can hardly see any buyers complaining about this. In fact, some themes with this feature are top-sellers.


Documentation in the Codex is great, but utilising tools like Theme-Check is good too, because as the plugin is updated, authors are automatically conforming to any new guidelines.

Theme-Check plugin is a joke.

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Japh Staff says


Documentation in the Codex is great, but utilising tools like Theme-Check is good too, because as the plugin is updated, authors are automatically conforming to any new guidelines.
Theme-Check plugin is a joke.

Would you be able to explain why you think Theme-Check is a joke? Comments like that without qualification don’t add much to the discussion. We need to know the problem before we can find the solution.

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rvision_ says



Documentation in the Codex is great, but utilising tools like Theme-Check is good too, because as the plugin is updated, authors are automatically conforming to any new guidelines.
Theme-Check plugin is a joke.
Would you be able to explain why you think Theme-Check is a joke? Comments like that without qualification don’t add much to the discussion. We need to know the problem before we can find the solution.

You can’t rely on a simple regex text search to unveil the intentions of the theme code, can’t you? Thing is – code is much more complex than this. Therefore, this plugin can be considered as a joke, or a dumb tool.

http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/timthumb-script-and-theme-check-plugin/48408?page=1#447753 http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/code-quality-on-themeforest-items/67178?page=7#594200 http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/cant-find-thumbsdb/73196?page=1#635811 http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/theme-check-infos-errors/67715?page=1#596061
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