[wp-hackers] [GSoC 2009 Proposal] Real time interactive theme editor interface

Gary Cao garyc40 at garyc40.com
Mon Mar 30 08:42:59 GMT 2009

Dear respected WP hackers,

The deadline for GSoC application is coming soon, and I'm still crafting my
proposal. Below is a few simple notes of my proposal. I would like to have
your comments, suggestions and encouragement if you really like my idea.
Please don't hesitate to ask me for more details, or challenge my points or
point me to technical resources that can help me make this real! I do think
the title needs to be changed though (I'm not an English native speaker, so
please bear with my writing and grammar).

Thank you all in advance.


Project Proposal rough draft:

Title: End user centered theme development framework

Purpose (in a sentence): To provide a unified theme framework, which allows
dynamic modification of the template based on user input from an easy to
understand GUI.

Current problem: How many times have you ever used the Appearance -> Editor
inside Wordpress Admin Panel? I guess only a handful out of thousands of WP
users end up using the built-in interface for theme modification. Most of
them resort to doing the dirty work themselves (fire up a PHP editor, dig
through thousands of lines of code, save the file and re-upload to the
server), a few of them would eventually outsource the task to someone else.

I know most of you guys are hackers, and editing a theme using a PHP editor
is a breeze to you. But most people who use WP are novice users (thanks to
the fact that WP is so user-friendly, and its support community is awesome).
Compared to other GUI awesomeness of Wordpress, the built-in theme editor
definitely falls short. So this explains the "end user centered" part of
this project title.


I would like to propose two steps to address this problem:
- Creating a theme framework that provides a GUI for end user to
interactively modify the site's appearance, at the same time providing the
developers with an API that can enable their themes to adapt to various
scenarios of users' needs.
- Pray that one day WP would eventually embrace this to its core.

I'm in the process of drafting the GSoC Application. The deadline is coming
soon, and I'm trying to put together the comps for the interface. As a
result, please forgive me for temporarily using Squarespace's demo video to
illustrate the idea of this proposal. I'm in no way associated with
Squarespace (other than the fact that I just registered to receive a
two-week trial, so that I can gather more materials for my proposal). I
swear I love WP with all my heart! I do, that's why I'm writing this

Please take a look at the video below to get an idea of what I'm about to




- Interactive ajax user-interface
  + Real-time preview
  + Color picker
- CSS templates
  + CSS variable parsing
  + Caching for performance
- Widgets Regions
  + Create an abstraction layer and interface for defining regions as well
as adding and positioning widgets within defined regions
  + Drag and drop
  + Widgets that can be used on multiple pages
  + Customization of widgets' output
- Export and Import
  + Enable the user to export or import customizations

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