It’s been over a year since the last update here on One Designs and many of you have been asking questions and voicing concerns wether the existing themes were still being maintained and wether there were any future plans for this website. The time has finally come to shed some light on what’s been going on here at One Designs and what to expect in the near future.
Despite the radio silence, a lot has been going on behind the curtain. The primary reason for lack of updates on existing themes was a requirement introduced last year by the WordPress Theme Review Team, the people behind reviewing the themes accepted in the official WordPress Theme Directory, that all themes implement options using the theme customizer. This happened shortly after our flagship theme, Enlightenment, based on the new framework of the same name, had been accepted into the directory. Since our long-term plans are to port all existing themes to the framework and the current version is using the Settings API, porting the settings pages to the customizer must happen before any other themes are ported the framework.
What’s been going on during the past year
Porting the settings pages to the customizer started in the summer of last year and at first things were going smoothly as proven by the release of Grace Under Pressure, a theme we released together with our friends from Stylish Themes that showed some limited options like colors and typography in the customizer. More advanced settings like the page builder, template editor and unlimited sidebars have proven to be more challenging, especially because we wanted a smooth user experience with live previews as intended by the developers behind the customizer and not just move some form controls from one place to another.
Announcing Enlightenment Framework v2.0
As the project grew in size considerably and development took much longer than anticipated, the best course of action was to introduce a new major iteration of Enlightenment Framework that would take care of all the new guideline requirements, fix existing issues and incompatibilities and offer a migration possibility with older versions. Presently, the framework is close to an alpha release and while we don’t have a screenshots or demo version to display, we do have a list of features to be expected and a rough deadline set for April 2017.
New Features to expect
This version will port all theme options to the theme customizer, improve the user experience of the page builder, introduce new features and add support for popular third-party plugins like WooCommerce, BuddyPress, bbPress and The Events Calendar.
Differences with version 1.x
The biggest caveat is that the new version will break backwards compatibility with older versions. This is necessary to keep the code clean and up to date. There will be a migration tutorial and hopefully also a migration tool available by the time the final version will be released.
How to Contribute
Once the code is ready for its first alpha stage it will be published on GitHub so you can test it and get an idea how it will behave. Unlike previous development releases that happened mostly behind closed doors we plan for this one to have multiple public alpha and beta releases and allow for user feedback and contribution before the final version is ready.
Sign up to our development newsletter at the end of the article to receive an email when the first public alpha of the framework is released.
You can read more about the differences with version 1.x, a list of new features and supported plugins at the development blog announcement.
The current State and Future of existing Themes
Existing themes are in urgent need for on update, however their development needs to be delayed until the next version of Enlightenment Framework is released to avoid users building on outdated technology. Once the framework is ready some themes will be updated while others will be discontinued as follows:
Enlightenment will be updated to the next version of the Framework
Since Enlightenment is our flagship theme, keeping it feature-rich and up to date is of upmost importance. The theme will showcase all new features of Enlightenment Framework 2.0 and support for WooCommerce, BuddyPress, bbPress and The Events Calendar. Importing demo content and saving the theme’s options to a backup file will also be possible along with a migration tool for upgrading from version 1.x.
Pinboard, Esplanade and Minimatica will be ported to Enlightenment Framework
Porting our existing themes to Enlightenment Framework has been planned for a long time. Pinboard, Esplanade and Minimatica will follow this course once the new version of the framework is released. This means backwards compatibility with older versions will be broken and the code will be different to a degree that a simple migration will likely not be possible. This is not set in stone though and hopefully a solution will present itself.
Existing users of these themes are suggested to closely follow development of the framework. Plans for updating the themes will be published on the development blog once their development starts. New users are encouraged to either wait for the new versions to be released or look for other solutions at the moment. We have set up a newsletter for this purpose, more about that towards the end of the article.
Grace Under Pressure will be transferred to Stylish Themes
We have developed this theme together and ended our business relationship shortly after this theme was released. We had no control over this theme’s development ever since. As a consequence we agreed that transferring full responsibility of this theme to them is the best course of action.
Espressionista, Color Shading and Cover WP will be completely discontinued
The first two have proven to be unpopular with users, have an outdated design and outdated code. Cover WP has already been partially discontinued back in 2011 with plans to release only security patches. This never happened because no security vulnerabilities were ever reported most probably because nobody is using it anymore. The best course of action in this case is to discontinue these themes.
Prioritizing Documentation and Support
One of our themes’ most criticized aspect was the lack of complete documentation and consistent support. Documentation was scattered through blog posts and support was available when someone had the time to chip in to the support forums and answer requests. This is in desperate need for change in the near future.
Documentation will be moved to a centralized location with a structure that will allow for better understanding of its contents. Most articles will need to be updated or rewritten. Themes with incomplete or missing documentation will be properly documented.
Writing documentation is a tedious and time consuming task, especially if it’s meant to be useful and solve real problems, not just cover the basics. For this reason, updating of the documentation section will happen gradually over time.
Support needs to shift to a customer-oriented model. Up until now the idea behind the support forums has been that users should be able to help each other when nobody else was available to answer their questions. This obviously hasn’t happened and resulted in a long list of unanswered requests.
The first step will be to hire a dedicated support team that should take care of daily user requests. There’s still the matter of securing funds to afford this service which means we will need to shift our revenue model somehow. Wether requests will continue to be handled through the support forums or be replaced with a ticketing system remains to be seen.
Staying up to date with future Announcements
We have set up a development newsletter where we will announce updates to the framework and themes’ development, like alpha and beta releases and changes to the timeline and planned features. You can subscribe to the newsletter below. We will not promote any content through this newsletter and you won’t receive updates to new content on our website, just updates to our development projects’ status.
Enter your email address to subscribe to our Development Newsletter and we will keep you updated with the status of our theme updates.