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Theme Lab Will Live On

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It’s been a long time since I last updated Theme Lab – over five months, so where do I start? First of all, yes, I am still alive. I apologize for just disappearing without a trace like that. That was unacceptable, although I’m not using this post to shower you with excuses. Let’s just say that I had some more important offline endeavors that needed to be focused on for a while.

Second of all, I’d like to thank those of you who stuck around. Strangely, my subscriber numbers steadily increased, eventually breaking the 1k barrier, after I stopped posting. Anyway…

The first part of this post will be a roundup of sorts. I’ll be reviewing some of the recent happenings in the WordPress and theming community while I was gone. The second part will discuss my future plans for this site.

What I Missed

A lot happened in the past five or so months, so I’ll be breaking this down into a few categories so it’s easier to digest.

WordPress Releases – The next release after 2.6.3 was a 2.6.5 version. So what happened to 2.6.4? Apparently WordPress never released a version 2.6.4 to avoid confusion with a “fake” WordPress making the rounds.

On December 11, 2008, the long-awaited WordPress 2.7 was released. Just a couple months later, the first maintenance release, 2.7.1, was released to fix a few bugs. As always, you can pick up the latest version of WordPress from the download page.

Theme Releases – The release of WordPress 2.7 was accompanied by a flurry of awesome theme releases and updates. Obviously I can’t cover all of those, so I’ll just mention a few of the more notable ones.

One of my favorite themes, Thematic, recently updated to version 0.9. It’s sporting a brand new, more minimalistic look with a bunch of new features, such as drop-down menus. There have been a bunch of new Thematic child themes released recently as well, one of my favorites being A Simple Love by Hafiz of WPLover.

WooThemes, mostly known for their high-quality “premium” WordPress themes, have also released some very nice free ones in the recent months. Irresistible is an absolutely amazing theme. It’s great for a personal website, and comes with 9 different color schemes to choose from. This one reminds me of the Agregado theme I reviewed a while back.

WordPress Plugins – The plugin releases over the past few months have been, in my opinion, pretty ordinary. One not-so-ordinary plugin, however, really caught my eye. It’s called Template Tag Shortcodes by Justin Tadlock. Basically, this lets you use template tags in a “shortcode” form in your posts and pages. I’d imagine it would come in handy for a number of things you wouldn’t normally be able to do.

WordPress Community – The WordPress Community seems to be as strong as ever. While I was gone, two brand new (unofficial) WordPress community forums have been launched. The first, WP Forums, was announced by my good friend Kyle Eslick last November 2008. Might I add, wpforums.com is probably the single best domain name one could possibly use to launch an unofficial forum for WordPress. The second can be found over at WordPress Tavern, created by WordPress community rockstar – Jeff Chandler. WP Tavern also seems to be the new home for the WordPress weekly podcast. My username will be “Leland” over at those two sites if you want to look me up.

In official WordPress community news, the WordPress team have released WordPress.tv, your visual resource for all things WordPress. At the moment it seems to have a ton of how-to video tutorials for both WordPress.com blogs and self-hosted WP blogs. There is also a lot of WordCamp footage as well, in case you’re interested in watching the various interviews, presentations, and other WordCamp-related stuff.

Future Plans for Theme Lab

So what should you expect from Theme Lab in the future? You can expect more themes, more tutorials, more reviews, more videos, and more tips.

Theme Updates – The main problem with having released so many themes up until now, almost 100, is it makes it tough to do major updates. Even though all the themes should still work with WordPress 2.7, as of now, they don’t have features such as threaded commenting. I’ll be updating the themes to work with 2.7 one at a time, prioritizing the most popular themes first. If anyone knows of any links to good tutorials on updating themes for 2.7, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Future Themes – As of right now, the plan is to have all future themes compatible with WordPress 2.7+ only. That means, no backwards compatibility to previous versions. There will be a mix of “unique” themes, as well as ported themes from various free templates from across the web. Here are a few I have my eye on:

If anyone has any suggestions for template ports, I’d be happy to hear them. Also if you have designs of your own you’d like me to possibly port, I’d consider that as well.

Conclusion

Again, I’m sorry for vanishing into thin air like that. If I missed any super-important WordPress-related news that wasn’t covered above, I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me know in the comments. Now, please excuse me while a moderate about 800 comments.

  • http://wphacks.com Kyle Eslick

    Leland!

    I’ve stayed faithful to your feed all this time and want to be the first to welcome you back. :)

    Hope everything is good now in your offline life!

  • Leland

    Thanks a lot Kyle, means a lot. And good luck with WP Forums! :)

  • http://themeshaper.com/ Ian Stewart

    Welcome back!

  • Leland

    Thanks Ian! Really liking the new design of ThemeShaper, by the way.

  • http://www.wptavern.com Jeffro

    Hey, this is the beauty of pingbacks and RSS. When you come back, we’ll know about it :) so with that, welcome back and look forward to having you around at the tavern.

  • http://www.wptoy.com Stefan Vervoort

    I have been a subscriber for some time now and I was wondering why you haven’t been posting for that long! Good to have to you back around :)

  • http://wpmututorials.com Andrea_R

    I *did* notice you were absent and even came to visit the blog. :)

    That begin said, in terms of design, this Textpattern template caught my eye and a quick look didn’t turn up a WP version.

    http://www.textplates.com/browser/24/

  • Leland

    @Jeffro: Yep, gotta love it. And yeah, just signed up at WP Tavern. I’ll have a look around later.

    @Stefan: Thanks!

    @Andrea: Wow, great template! Do you have any idea who designed it? I’m assuming since it’s GPL’d, it would be okay to port to WordPress.

  • http://www.diletante.net Calítoe.:.

    Funny, I checked a few hours ago “just in case” and the “just in case” happened only two hours afterwards. I’m happy to see you back. I didn’t comment that often before, but I was a frequent visitor and it made me sad that you disappeared. I hope everything is going well in your offline life now or, at least, that it’s not too painful. Thanks for this post!

  • http://www.catgossip.com Vladimir

    Waves paw. Glad to see you’re back.

  • http://themelib.com ThemeLib.com

    Glad to see your post again :)

  • http://wordpressmodder.org Adam W. Warner

    Oh Leland, I was wondering what happened to you just a week ago after communicating with a contact you put me in touch with many moons ago…glad to have you back, truly:)

    I’d like to add, with some degree of self promotion, that you should definitely be aware of another of Justin Tadlock’s most recent plugin releases, the Query Posts Widget Plugin. It is truly amazing and with the correct usage.

    Welcome back my friend!

  • http://imanto.com Anto

    Wow its Leland!

    Welcome back man. To be honest, i actually thought u where dead.

  • http://www.wpzoom.com Pavel Ciorici

    Welcome back Leland!! We all missed you :)

  • http://www.elegantthemes.com Nick

    Glad to hear you’re still around and that themelab will live on!

  • Leland

    @Calitoe: Glad you stuck around!

    @Vladimir: Lol..thank you!

    @ThemeLib.com: Appreciate it…and good luck with your website. :)

    @Adam: I actually just heard of that plugin and will be sure to check it out more thoroughly very soon. Thanks for stopping by!

    @Anto: Lol, fortunately I’m still okay. :)

    @Pavel: Thank you very much. LOVE the new WPZOOM design, by the way. :D

    @Nick: Thanks! Good to see you’re keeping a steady flow of new quality themes for Elegant Themes.

  • cuteegirlee

    I still reckon Leland’s dead and that this a new guy who stole his passwords before he dumped the body!

    • http://themelib.com ThemeLib.com

      LOL Who knows? ;)

  • cuteegirlee

    That would be great if you could theme underwater by Demusdesigns!

    and these…
    http://www.opendesigns.org/preview/?template=892
    http://www.opendesigns.org/preview/?template=449
    http://www.opendesigns.org/preview/?template=1090

    And I’d REALLY like this one themed… goes well with not being a boring blog template ;)
    http://www.oswd.org/design/preview/id/3685

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  • http://www.jobalternative.net Fabien

    Welcome and reborn! This could have been on April Fool’s Day!

  • Leland

    @cutetegirlee: Interesting theory…can’t say that it’s true, however. ;)

    @Fabien: Yeah, I made sure to avoid posting this on April 1st, just so there wouldn’t be any doubt that I am in fact “back.”

    Thanks for stopping by. :D

  • http://twincircuits.com Ben

    Woo, you’re alive! :D

  • Leland

    @cuteegirlee: Just caught your comment with the links to free templates. I think it was blocked by Akismet because you posted more than three links.

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. They all look very nice. :D

    @Ben: Indeed I am…thanks for stopping by!

    • cuteegirlee

      There’s some great new plugins too that have been released that have made my wordpress life a lot easier… Get The Image from Justin Tadlock is one, I got him to customise it for me and he released it GPL too. I’ve since made another mod for it so that the images can link to the actual image and not just the post.

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  • http://www.wplancer.com Banago

    Welcome Back Leland!

  • Leland

    @Banago: Thanks!

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