As a huge proponent of the GPL, this is exciting. However, as Joost pointed out in On the GPL, Themes, Plugins & Free, there’s some disappointment as well. The exciting part is that a question that’s long been asked has been answered by a “pro” (albeit a biased “pro”), and the answer is just what many of us wanted to see. Now we can get some people to focus on commercially supported GPL themes rather than just themes with more restrictive licenses. They have even added a Commercially Supported GPL Themes page to wordpress.org! That’s awesome, and a great followup to Matt’s “State of the Word” talk at WordCamp San Francisco.
So what’s the problem? Well, Matt has said that the plugin developers have been the rock stars in the WordPress community, and it’s time for the theme designers to shine. I have no problem with the theme designers getting to shine, but as a plugin developer I wonder “Where is the Commercially Supported GPL Plugins page? I love to give to the community with GPL WordPress plugins, and will continue to do so, but I’ll also be offering premium support for many of these in the future. I’d like to see the same treatment for theme designers and plugin developers.
Having said all that, I’m really glad to see the GPL themes page and I think it’s a good step in the right direction.
There’s a quick and relatively simple way to increase the performance of your WordPress theme while reducing overall server load. The problem is that most themes are written to be as portable as possible. This comes in handy because you can just drop in a theme and it works with no editing at all. Unfortunately, it means that a lot of information that never changes is queried from the database anyway. If you want to speed your theme up, you can customize it to your site and reduce database queries. All in about 5 minutes.