Support » Themes and Templates » What constitutes a theme?

  • I am sure I may rile a few feathers here, but after seeing many new themes, and there are some very good ones, here is my critique.

    Kubrick is the default theme in WP. I do not personally feel that one can just change the header image and claim a new theme. I have seen this time and time again. Now I am not pointing fingers, but let us not change a single background color and claim a new theme. Personally I think this is demeaning to the original theme creator as well as all the individuals who take the time to creativly come up with a new theme. This is not a matter of taste as to whether or not I like a particular theme but rather the ammount of work that goes into one.

    Hope nobody takes this the wrong way.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
  • Technically, if people are copying and pasting files into a new theme directory, it’s a new theme regardless of the content. Artistically, of course, the boundaries are a lot harder to define.

    I like the terminology Khaled uses for Manji; layouts based on his code but using different images and/or CSS styles are ‘flavours’ of the base theme, rather than themes in their own right. Making a ‘flavour’ of an existing theme doesn’t mean your design is any less worthy, usable or attractive — not everyone needs or wants to reinvent the wheel, and using a tried-and-tested base to build on is an excellent idea — but let’s face it, it’s significantly less time-consuming than coding one from scratch. Trust me, I’ve tried both methods.

    I agree with your post but feel that if people are going to just change the flavour, to me IMHO does not constitute a new theme. I could easily upload 1000 different images for a header but this does not make 1000 themes, it is still just one theme with different headers. Rome was not built in a day nor should it have been. I guess I woould just like to see more.

    Moderator Ryan Boren


    WordPress Dev

    Providing simple changes to Kubrick and packaging them as a theme services the market of users who don’t want mess with CSS or images in order to get “Red Kubrick” or what-have-you. Originality is not a requirement. This is about off-the-shelf convenience.

    What Dawg is referring to is not the technical definition of a theme. In WP, a theme is simply the packaging of templates with metadata in the style.css file.

    However, many people will be less hesitant to call a “Kubrick package” with red instead of blue a theme in spirit, even if it is classed as one in practice.

    I agree with the terminology of flavours/themes espoused above. It’s not something that I would get riled about personally but there is a tangible difference between the two.

    Moderator Ryan Boren


    WordPress Dev

    A user downloading a theme doesn’t care about the spirit or ancestry of that theme anymore than I care about the spirit or ancestry of my blue car versus the red one of the same model.

    So, for intance, my site is the Mallow theme, modified heavliy with Gespaa theme elements, as well as many code parts from Kubrick.

    Does this mean I have “developed” a new theme, or just changed some stuff on an existing theme, which has many parts of others inside it?

    Moderator Ryan Boren


    WordPress Dev

    It doesn’t matter.

    Just as a matter of interest Ryan – where did you get that blue car anyway 😛

    And more to the point – will it work on my 1.2 fuel 🙂

    Which brings us to another issue. What happens if an author wants to demonstrate the versatility of his theme by entering it in a number of styles ?

    What if someone makes a fork of WP, with the only differences being that the font-sizes of the admin pages are 2pts smaller. Now all they change all logos and references so that it is called MiniPress.

    Would you class this as a flavour of WP or a new distribution?

    If the theme is changed sufficiently so that it is unrecognisable in shape or form, then it’ll be a hard taskmaster that would begrudge you calling it a theme.

    It’s all words anyways and probably not important to anyone but the pedantics:-)

    So, dawg, I take it you don’t think Sato Blue is a theme? Though I do agree that it shouldn’t be a theme in that I didn’t make it from scratch and it is VERY clear where it originally came from, but it does serve the purpose of a theme, and that is to make the blog look different and to stand out from other blogs.

    I do think, however, that there are enough differences from the original theme to warrent this being called a new theme, per se.

    Another question: Does my Slate theme warrent being called a theme? It is a heavy modification of WordPress Classic, and it shows in the basic layout.

    Well you have a very nice header in the first but is a flavour IMHO of Kubrick.

    The second theme is a decent variant from the classic so I would call that a theme. I was not personnally calling anyone out.

    I guess from a quick glace the first is an obvious kubrick while the second does show a lot of changes to the classic. So yes to the second as a legit theme but no to the first as all I see is a background color change and a header the rest remains the same. Nice header though.

    So far I have not yet once, or rarely seen, an author speak up and say “that’s not YOUR theme all you did is was modify….blah”. It’s a very satisifying feeling to call a theme your own and I don’t see any reason to villify or pick on those that simply change the header and call it their theme – why can’t they? Suppose they keep the original credits, is it no longer their theme? If Kubrick is intact, for example, and the only thing that has changed is the header – it’s a modified kubrik theme. Technically speaking, it is not the the same theme as it no longer has the blue banner.

    It’s a very interesting question to ask, but in my example I felt it important to credit the authors from whom I may have been inspired or used their works as a base template. What would be the definition of a style? Changing colours makes it a different style? Well..yes I think it does as it’s a modified version of it’s original form.

    The question then is, how much is it modified – even if it’s 0.5% as someone rather rudely explained to another user, it’s 0.5% originality from that user and thus the user is welcome to credit themselves for doing that 0.5% as long as the original author is credited for the actual original. Isn’t the link back and credit as important as the semantics of what is a unique theme and what isn’t?

    If I modified all the iamge sin kubrick to blue – would it wrong of me to call it “Sea Blue Theme” by Jinsan, based on Kubrick by Michael”? I don’t think it would be. My only request would be that modified themes clearly identify the authors of the original content on their page – I say this because a credit in the CSS is not going to be seen by anyone else, and so for me, personally, it’simportant those that deserve credit are given credit publicly.

    I think a lot of the confusion might have been mitigated had the WP authors/developers chosen to use “template” instead of “theme”. The word template in many minds is a synonym for “layout” – or how a page goes together; the word theme especially lately is taken to mean a set of page elements which are stylistically coherent – in other words, an artistic design in most cases.

    I like Jinsan’s points above. Sensible.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
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