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  • Lance Willett 10:38 pm on September 18, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , history, kubrick, twentytwelve   

    Why Default Themes Change Each Year 

    Since Twenty Twelve is coming very soon to the Extend directory, I wanted to share a bit of background on default themes and why they change from year to year.

    In 2005 Kubrick launched as the new default theme, then didn’t change for five years. It became a punchline for the project. With Twenty Ten a new pattern started, with every single year having a new theme, naming it by the year. Twenty ___. 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.

    In the time between Kubrick and Twenty Ten the default theme efforts didn’t work too well as there were too many conflicting things. The efforts tried to please everyone: show off everything that’s possible in core, fully educational in every aspect, super nice-looking, and try to solve all the problems a theme can solve.

    Big shoes to fill, as it turns out. Even if one theme can’t do it all, though, the default theme can still strive to be as simple as possible while still sticking to important principles. For example, default themes are coded to be fully internationalized and ready for translation. Even though this effort makes the code more complicated, it’s an important principle in an increasingly globalized world where many people don’t interact with WordPress in English.

    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.

    To get an idea of how Twenty Twelve is intended to differ from its predecessors, here’s the the core team’s post on which key features they want to see implemented: Core Team Meetup Recap: Default Theme “Twenty Twelve”. Note things like the header image off by default, promoting a static front page, and no featured image in the header. A new look by a different theme designer.

    I think a lot of people are going to really like Twenty Twelve. And Twenty Thirteen. And Fourteen. And … you get the idea.

    • Emil Uzelac 10:42 pm on September 18, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Good stuff Lance!

    • Brent Leavitt 3:55 am on September 19, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thank you for taking to time to walk though this. I appreciate the shift to promote the static page as a home page. I’ve been using WordPress as a full blown CMS for custom website builds. That’s one of the basic switches i do with every theme that I setup. Does this theme set the static page option by default?

    • Noumaan Yaqoob 9:56 am on September 19, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I loved 2011 and it is one of my most favorite WordPress themes of all time. Not just because it is visually pleasent with good typography and easy readibility, but mainly because it is so easy to customize and build child themes upon it. I believe that the default themes are the perfect way to learn WordPress theme development. Can’t wait for 2012, which I think is a bit late, its already september when it will be released?

    • Kim Parsell 10:08 am on September 19, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Really looking forward to working with Twenty Twelve. :)

    • jaredatch 8:20 pm on September 19, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Well said Lance. You guys have been doing a great job.

      • Lance Willett 10:04 pm on September 20, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Thanks Jared—it’s been amazing to see it come together, many hands — especially at WCSF hack day; I was blown away at the contributions and couldn’t keep up with them, heh.

    • kathy@lasvegasinfocenter.com 9:26 am on September 25, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Very informative, Thank you. It is difficult to find a theme that will do everything the web author envisions. But it must be even more difficult to try and accommodate everyone with a default theme.

    • Bachsau 7:01 pm on September 29, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      For non technical users, a huge problem arises when updates to one of the default themes are released (twentyten, twentyeleven, twentytwelve). People without FTP access and knowledge are stuck a with an english frontend even on localized versions of WordPress. Please include the locals in themes packages, so autoupdate of themes work correctly.

    • Freddy K. 4:27 pm on October 2, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Would like to see a working menu in IE8, it only shows a “Menu” button on top and then a list of all menu-entries of the complete menu. As my menus have about 30-40 items, this is not usable on desktop.

      • Lance Willett 9:32 pm on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        You can follow along with the theme’s development and improvements over on Trac. We’ve addressed this (and many more fixes) recently.

    • LatestBlogPostsCom 12:59 am on October 20, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hey Lance, good article on default themes. Twenty Twelve seems to have it all for the basic WordPress user, but I like learning about all the hooks and template tags to take the basics of Twenty Twelve and twist it into something totally or even slightly different, while using it as a starting point. I do that on AssortedProducts.com.

      Also, Twenty Twelve was the one entity about anything related to web design that got me into HTML 5!


    • richardpd 12:27 pm on February 23, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hi Lance
      Interesting post. It is a tall order to showcase all new WordPress features in a new theme every year. I personally though would prefer the default theme design to stay the same for a longer period e.g. 5 years and have the new code within that year on year. Kubrick was and still is a classic WordPress theme and did a great job for 5 years. 2010 was a great change of direction but to change design every year for 2011/12/13 etc is a bit too frequent for me. I think WordPress should design a classic flagship theme that can stand the test of time for a 5 year period & that can showcase the new code year on year. I think theme design is more of a personal issue in comparison to code dependent theme function and there are benefits to keeping these seperate elements. Mais, chaque un a sans gout! Tres bonne…Best wishes

  • Lance Willett 11:59 pm on August 24, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , twentytwelve   

    Hi everyone. Are you ready for a new default theme? I am. And, now it’s almost ready.

    I submitted a .9 release of Twenty Twelve today—see https://themes.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/9199. Theme Check had a few warnings, I noted the reasoning for those in the Trac ticket notes.

    If you have some time this weekend could you go through it? We’ve been cranking on it in core a ton and now it’s time for spit and polish, tightening up documentation, and making sure we covered all the bases.

    Note for themes Trac moderators: This theme should not be pushed live after it’s approved, per instructions from the core development team.

    • mercime 12:10 am on August 25, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      So we should be testing Twenty Twelve on WP 3.4.1 and/or WP 3.5 trunk?

    • Japh 2:17 am on August 25, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Brilliant, Lance! Very much looking forward to this new theme :)

    • Chantal Coolsma 7:29 am on August 27, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I love it. Already found an issue.

    • Lance Willett 2:55 pm on August 28, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Has everyone had a chance to take a look and test?

      Today we’re pushing the theme live on WordPress.com and in the announcement it’d be nice to be able to link to Extend for any self-hosted folks who want to try it out before 3.5 officially comes out.

    • Lance Willett 3:25 pm on August 28, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Update: after discussion with Nacin and Matt some more here’s the game plan for releasing to WP.org Extend, soon-ish (say 2-3 weeks).

      1. WPTRT continues to review it and test it, then an admin there approves the theme without pushing it live so it has gone through a round of theme review. Keeping it version .9 as we find bugs and fix them.
      2. Come up with a RC version, say .9.x — Lance will keep submitting to Themes Trac with new test candidates
      3. Nacin will handle letting the core contributor group know, via https://make.wordpress.org/core/ site that we’d like to do a formal launch very soon
      4. Then dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s and make sure it is ready for a final WP.org release.

      At that point we’ll submit a new ZIP with the 1.0 final and that one can be pushed live for everyone, with a possible announcement on WP.org news blog at that point (exact details TBD on how to announce).

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