The Yearly Default Themes

The Yearly Default Themes

Have you checked out the new default theme yet? You know, the one known as Twenty Twelve, that promotes using a static front page and isn’t at all like Twenty Eleven? I have, and I won’t be using it, but you might. One thing I will do however, is dive into its code and see what sort of solutions the theme developers have come up with, what stayed from Twenty Eleven, and what I think is worth adopting. As a developer, default themes are important, and the team that keeps them up to date should get some lovin’ from you, you, you, and of course, you too.

Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven weren’t so bad. In fact, I have used the latter for private sites, and for quickly settings things up. I never end up using it in the long run, but then again I work with these things so that’s probably the explanation for that. I found that Twenty Ten was a nice step from the old Kubrick theme, while still sticking to its basics really. It is a blog theme, and it makes sense to make the first new default theme, the first of many yearly themes, a traditional blog theme. Twenty Eleven merely built upon that, with some additional options, but not braking any molds.

Twenty Twelve isn’t your typical blog theme. Static front pages and all that, yadayadayada. I predict few of us will use it, but that’s OK, it serves as an inspiration, a guiding light if you will, when it comes to how WordPress themes should be constructed. Don’t mix that up with how they should look or function though, that’s a completely different story.

Lance Willett had this to say recently, regarding yearly default themes:

The default theme should show off the latest and greatest features, be flexible enough to gracefully support child themes and encourage customization, work well for a blog or a website, and sport a design that is aesthetically pleasing and a bit different from the last design. Under the hood it should represent the best in coding practices and technical excellence. That said, the default theme isn’t trying to be an end-all-be-all theme. It won’t please everyone.

I added the bold part. I think he should have, because this one truly won’t please everyone. Then again, the folks that reads the Make theme blog probably understands this, they’r not like the rest of the rabble after all. (Hint: They are mad…)

Mr. Willett also had this to say about the benefit of yearly default themes:

This gives the theme an expiration date and it doesn’t have the pressure to be the end-all theme for the ages, because it’ll be replaced in the next year rather than in five years.

I think that’s a weird thing to say. If you want to, you could read that as “Twenty Eleven will now be discontinued since you’ll get Twenty Twelve”.

That’s not the case. Both Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are alive and well, updated in late June. They will continue to be updated, even if someone will have to fork them to make it so.

Now to be fair, I’m sure Lance Willett means to say that it is just the status of Default Theme that has an expiration date. I don’t mean to be nitpicking or anything here (for once), but I do think it is important to point out, because of this:

Releasing a new default theme on a yearly basis gives us one helluva theme directory in the long run.

How about that?

Now, if you think Twenty Twelve (not yet available in the theme directory, but on WordPress.com) stinks, that Twenty Eleven is a imbalanced cretin, and that Twenty Ten feels old and poorly designed, then don’t worry! Kubrick’s still available, albeit not exactly maintained. This is the route all default themes will go in the end, but not until users stop using them.

Natural selection, WordPress theme style!

This Week’s Piece of WordPress Advice
Theme developers who aren’t using the Theme Check plugin are really making things hard for themselves. They are most likely doing a ton of things wrong, out of habit or just plain ol’ lack of knowledge too. Make everything easier, better, sexier – use the Theme Check plugin when developing WordPress themes!