Hey WordPress Team: How About Theme Options, Officially Supported?

Having worked on a WordPress theme called Fauna for a while now, I’ve learned that theme options can be quite helpful.

In a nutshell; if you have installed WordPress, you can download a WordPress Theme, unpack it and with a single click, activate it. This will change the look and feel of your website. Additionally, themes can have theme options, meaning if the theme comes with a header image, chances are you can easily switch that header image out on the theme options page.

Fauna does that, with the help of a so-called Themetoolkit. The themetoolkit is a 3rd party collection of functions that makes adding an options page rather easy. Very little PHP knowledge is required, and the results are pretty good. Even so, in adding this feature to Fauna, I’ve had to deal with both security issues, compatability issues and plugin conflicts.

Now why isn’t there a 1st party “theme toolkit”? Like the extensive WordPress plugin APIs, why isn’t there a similar complement to theme options pages? If a 3rd party can make theme options easy, surely the fine WordPress team can make theme options easier and more secure!

There are a number of benefits to this. First and foremost, if a security issue or a conflict is discovered, the issue can be fixed in the next WordPress release and automatically all themes using the theme options APIs would benefit from the fix. Secondly, it is in the interest of the WordPress team (especially in this WordPress.com era) to have happy theme authors working on great designs that are easy to port to WPMU. Moving the heavy code-load away from theme authors not only encourages good designs, but gives the WordPress team an extra measure of control over potential security risks.

It is the logical evolution of WordPress themes. Everybody wins.

2006

In a few hours I will be leaving for Malaysia, specifically Singapore and Tioman island, to spend the holidays there. I feel privileged to be able to end my year like this, and I dare say I think it’ll be good for me.

Quickly, before the year ends, here’s a madly short look back at the past year.

2005

  • Worked on “Shuttle
  • Khaled‘s brain-child Shuttle is a new backend for WordPress. It’s been a very interesting project, because it’s been molded by a number of highly clever people. The end result is much better than the current WordPress backend, and part of Shuttle will be included in WordPress 2.0 once that’s launched sometime soon.

  • Got Fauna out the door
  • My open-source theme for WordPress, “Fauna“, had been on the shelf for quite a while. It’s nice to have it out of the door.

  • New installments

2005 was a good year for my monthly installments. Possibly the best year yet. I’m proud to have made such installments as Arboretum, Stagecraft, Surr?alisme Recut, and Undergrowth.

2006

  • Noscope redesign
  • I have early sketches done, and plenty of reasons for this. Noscope will see a redesign sometime in 2006. The focus will be to simplify things, remove text, increase transparency of content, and highlight sub-sections.

  • Relaxation & health
  • I plan to focus on getting and staying as healthy as possible, next year. What this entails, I have yet to plan.

  • Fauna final
  • A number of bugs have surfaced for Fauna, and I plan to fix these quickly and be done with it.

  • More installments

My installments are the best things I’ve done with my website, and they keep getting more interesting, challenging and surprisingly, fun to make. The no-demands-to-myself feel of them and the randomness with which they are devised every month have kept making me proud. So I see no reason to stop.

Have a happy holiday and a great new year.