[wp-hackers] distinguish plugin options?

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at newclarity.net
Fri Jan 23 18:02:55 GMT 2009

"Benedict Eastaugh" <ionfish at gmail.com> wrote:
> Of course. Thank you for the elegant apology. I'm sorry for 
> snapping at you, but your views are depressingly common on 
> this list and elsewhere: theme developers are not merely 
> worse programmers, but are actually incapable of following 
> best practices. This is not a helpful attitude, and will 
> certainly not result in a rise in the quality of the code 
> of WordPress themes.

I certainly understand your lament. 

If it helps, I'm always approach any individual designer with hopes of collaborating effectively where we both appreciate what others bring to the table.  Some times that happens but more often than I'd like though a designer gets defensive when I ask him or her to break up their design into PHP files so that it is already modular when then turn it over to me. In those cases I've simply had to take it on the chin and do lots of extra work because they simply can't be bothered to understand PHP include files. :-( 

> I assume you mean visual design. I try to keep Frank 
> Lloyd Wright's maxim in mind when considering software: 
> "Form follows function--that has been misunderstood. 
> Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual 
> union." 

Yes I did, and I have also been one to appreciate "form follows function" (especially in motorcycles, for example.)  Again, unfortunately, many of the designers I've worked with don't think that way.  For example, the concept behind the Thesis theme is great but the designer I worked with on a project who picked it for the visual design immediately hated it because it required her to do some work in PHP instead of doing everything visually. OTOH I advocated for keeping it yet she fought me on using it all the way.

> Obviously someone who knows little or no PHP will
> not be able to write a particularly complex WordPress 
> theme by themselves, and they may commit more or less 
> egregious errors in doing so. But we should steer away 
> from the assumption that these are very different 
> endeavours. We are, after all, designing interfaces for
> users. It's not so far removed from designing interfaces
> for programmers.

Agreed, significant portions are very similar endeavors. Unfortunately in my experience many people only see what primarily interests them (visual design vs. software architecture) when they implement. But then that seems to be your lament too?

> Making such a distinction also misleads in other ways. 
> Obviously themes and plugins are different in intention 
> and effect, but they also have much in common. Plugins 
> can use get_option and set_option; so can themes. Plugins 
> can call the WordPress API, and extend it with their own 
> actions and filters; so can themes. Where coding standards
> are concerned, there must be uniformity. Plugins and 
> themes, and their developers, must both be held to the 
> same standards. However, raising standards is better 
> accomplished by encouragement, documentation and
> evangelism than by insults.

Completely agreed. You obviously don't fit in the category of resistant designers and I did you and others like you a disservice by over-generalizing. Once again, sorry.

-Mike Schinkel

More information about the wp-hackers mailing list