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.
If you missed it, make sure to check out State of the Word from WordCamp – Part 1.
“WordPress should be invisible” was something I loved to hear Matt Mullenweg say during his “State of the Word” address at WordCamp San Francisco. What did he mean by that? He was trying to say that WordPress should be out of the way so you can focus on your content. This means a few things. First, WordPress needs to be extremely easy to use so you don’t have to think about what you’re doing, and fast so it’s not frustrating to use. Second, WordPress needs to be powerful so that you’re never in a position where it’s keeping you from doing what you want. Lastly, in order to accomplish the first two things, WordPress needs to be flexible and have supporting tools. If you try to make it do everything, then it will end up too complex. If you make it too simple, it won’t do everything. Flexibility and plugins is the only way to have the best of both worlds.
Matt‘s “State of the Word” address has become a staple at WordCamp’s, and now I see why. There was a lot of generic background info that’s common knowledge to anyone that knows much about WordPress. Even most of the current info was common knowledge to most of the people that follow the Subversion updates and idles or participates in the WordPress-dev IRC channel. However, there were also some great nuggets of information that came through. Enough that I was a little overwhelmed as I tried to get it all into one post, so I decided to break it up into a few posts.
Matt started with a quick history of WordPress. For those that don’t know, WordPress was a fork of B2 and was later officially recognized by the B2 creator as the “official” continuation of B2. A couple of the more major milestones he mentioned include that plugins were introduced in WordPress 1.2 and themes were introduced in WordPress 1.5. He then proceeded to give some rather impressive statistics. They’ve had nearly 10 million downloads in the last twelve months, nearly twice what they had in the twelve months prior to that. They are tracking approximately 5.5 million installed (.org) blogs.