Customizer Theme Switcher Update

The Customizer Theme Switcher feature-plugin brings theme switching into the Customizer. This project aims to clarify the relationship between themes and theme options by introducing a themes “panel” (it’s actually a custom section since it contains controls, not a multi-level hierarchy of sections and controls) to the Customizer. The themes panel slides in from the left instead of the right, implying a hierarchy of:

  1. Themes – change the entire layout of the site
  2. Theme/site options – tweak various options (default view)
  3. Panels – edit larger groups of site appearance options, such as Widgets and Menus

Essentially, the phase of the project proposed for WordPress 4.2 (and that exists in the plugin currently) brings the “THX38” theme browsing experience into the Customizer. Installed themes are browse-able directly in the Customizer controls panel, and have a details modal like the admin page. Functionally, theme-switching is accomplished by reloading the Customizer to live-preview a different theme. @westonruter is working on several related improvements that could further streamlining the experience from a technical perspective, but this feature plugin is focusing on the switching UI, with other improvements considered “nice to have”. @folletto and I have also started planning a second phase of the project for a future release that would also address installing new themes, and simplifying the distinction between installed and available themes. @designsimply is currently in the process of user-testing the plugin.

Get Involved

We’ll hold a meeting in #core-customize Slack to discuss the progress of the plugin this Tuesday, January 27, 2015 16:00 UTC, and continue at that time weekly as needed at that time. Development is happening directly in the WordPress.org plugins repo – I’ll give commit access to anyone interested in contributing code. Outstanding issues are noted below, but the plugin is generally ready for review of code, inline-docs, design, and accessibility (with each of those being theoretically good-to-go in the plugin). Note that the plugin can’t really work on mobile because the Customizer doesn’t really work on mobile, see #28784 (great 4.2 candidate if it gets a patch).

Known issues (see also a list of core merge notes in the plugin’s readme):

  • Animation closing the themes panel is broken (see commented-out CSS) (@celloexpressions)
  • Persist “return” & “url” URL parameters in the switch-themes links (@celloexpressions)
  • Don’t show the loading animation if there are unsaved changes to avoid getting stuck. Actually fixing the underlying issue requires a minor core patch. (@DrewAPicture)
  • Break out of the customize.php iframe if the Customizer was loaded with the customize-loader script (@celloexpressions)
  • PostMessage setting transport may not be working immediately after switching themes, cause unknown (@celloexpressions)

#customize, #theme-switcher, #themes, #thx38