Theme Repositories Redux

Disconnected.sf.net is now mostly operational. it even runs wordpress. w00t. now i have an official demo site. there’s no outbound traffic, so i can’t run akismet, or get the latest wordpress out of SVN, but i can get my own theme out of SVN. actually, i can get any of the themes hosted on sf.net that have code hosted (not just downloads).

This blog would have probably died out a year ago, if i hadn’t pissed shadow off during the last competition, to the point that he left the theme viewer and thomas took over. at the time, he had a far better and more automatic system for generating screenshots and displaying themes. now that tactless theme designers have caused thomas to switch to manual operation of the theme viewer, he’s more swamped than shadow was, and just as unwilling to take on assistants.

so in jumps themebot. they’re now doing what thomas can’t, providing an open and automatic theme gallery. although it’s unclear what would happen to their servers if they suddenly became ‘defaultified’ the way that the theme park was. it’s also unclear exactly who’s running the thing. although they do have a privacy policy, and a terms of use. These are good things, which automattic only seems to believe in when forced to. +1 themebot.

Actually, there’s a correction to the last paragraph. the theme park wasn’t defaultified. the ‘official’ list comes from a different repository, one that’s run by matt. i’d link you to the front page of it, except there isn’t one. dev.wp-plugins.org has wp-plugins.net, but dev.wp-themes.org has bupkis. even if you could hook that repository up with a workable front end, you’d still have to beg off SVN access to your own theme from matt, who (i’m only guessing) has even less spare time than thomas does.

All of this points to what i said originally: there can never be One True Theme Viewer. you have different theme viewers that do different things:

  1. truly open and automatic, a la deviantart. sooner or later this will be overrun by spammers, and crappy themes. it’s possible to find really good themes in these repositories, but it requires a lot of searching. or you wind up with something like dA’s windowsblinds gallery, where the ‘top themes’ haven’t moved in 2 years.
  2. genuinely open source (a la sf.net, google code). the bar of technical knowhow is too high here for most designers, so the odds of really good themes being showcased is really low.
  3. moderated, a la the community theme viewer, in both incarnations. bound to overwhelm the administrators eventually, as they gain traction.

None of them can ever make the others completely obsolete.

now, that said, sf.net can actually be a #1, since it’s relatively easy to just upload your theme and your screenshot and call it a day. it’s not that setting up a website, or SVN is hard, just that the documentation is kind of hidden. and that kind of defeats the purpose of not just hosting it yourself. other than it being free.

Advertisements