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Resurrected Themes – Bringing Old WordPress Themes Back to Life

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There have been a lot of great WordPress themes released over the years. Not all themes are actively maintained and supported by their developers, and while they might have been very popular back in the day, that doesn’t stop them from slipping into obscurity.

These themes slowly become forgotten about, an afterthought, so what do you do to remedy that? It’s simple, bring them back to life, and here’s how I’m doing that:

  • First, find some outdated (but previously popular) themes. I chose an old (GPL) theme from WPDesigner.
  • Choose a popular, up-to-date theme framework. Preferably completely free and open source. I thought Thematic fit the bill nicely.
  • Convert the outdated theme as a child theme of the previously chosen framework.

What Others Think

Remkus de Vries, who is who I originally got this idea from, said the following:

I think it’s great to revive some of those older themes who have not seen any updates since WordPress 2.7 or who are just completely abandoned. A big miss for me personally are threaded comments and a good semantic markup, but there are a lot more features I can think of that should be added to those updates. The best way to do that is to convert those older themes into Thematic child themes. They would get the best of everything from a code perspective. Also, the community would have a great opportunity to get their hands on a lot more examples on how to develop a child theme.

The first themes in need of a quickening that spring to mind are Small Potato’s. Such a shame…

He continued to say:

Maybe this will finally be a prelude to admitting child themes to the repo.

Ian Stewart, creator of the previously mentioned Thematic theme, had this to say:

Wow, Leland. I think this sound like an awesome boon to not just the community of people using Thematic but to fans of Small Potato’s best WPDesigner themes. What a great idea. I hope too that this project will help more people learn how to get a jump start on WordPress theme development with child themes.

Update: Tung Do (aka Small Potato) formerly of WPDesigner said this below in the comments:

I’m +1 for theme resurrection. Plugins get abandoned and re-supported all the times. It’s about time someone does it for themes.

What I’ve Done So Far

You can check out my port of WPDesigner’s Braintied WordPress theme to Thematic with this demo link.

braintied

If you compare it to the original demo, you probably won’t notice much of a difference at first glance. As a Thematic child theme, however, there are significant markup changes. There are also threaded comments available in the updated child theme.

Expect this child theme to be released very soon, for free. And maybe a theme dissection post, like the Astatic tutorial, soon to follow.

Update: The Braintied child theme has been released.

Conclusion

The themes which I plan on porting to Thematic are explicitly GPL compatible. I feel that it would be best if the themes I port are licensed under the GPL to avoid any potential licensing issues upon re-release.

This is kind of a two-for-one deal. Not only will the WordPress community benefit from outdated themes being brought back to life as child themes of Thematic, but developers can also learn more about them with additional examples and tutorials on making child themes.

I’d really love to hear your thoughts about this in the comments.

About

Leland Fiegel was the original founder of ThemeLab. He is a web developer who loves WordPress and blogging.