The true value of a WordPress theme: Hermes Themes and a $200 price tag

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dumitru-brinzan-photo

Photo courtesy of Dumitru BrinzanDumitru Brinzan, founder of Hermes Themes, rowing during a vacation in Romania.

$35, $75, $40, and $200. One of these doesn’t sound like the others.

Dumitru Brinzan, who has a long history in WordPress themes at WPZOOM, has started a new theme project called Hermes Themes. The shop offers strictly hotel themes, in contrast to WPZOOM’s more varied selection.

Interestingly, Brinzan is pricing his hotel themes at $200, well above the average cost of themes at the moment. It’s a bold decision, and not one that you see many theme shops making at the moment. I sat down with him to talk a bit about what motivated him to start Hermes Themes, and in particular to price his themes that high.

The pricing is very deliberate on Brinzan’s part. “To be honest, I thought about pricing for a very long time,” he told WPCandy. “I considered making it cheaper, or even more expensive.” His decision to sell themes for $200 wasn’t a simple one, and took his entire history selling WordPress themes into account.

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jQuery and WordPress: “A shift from PHP land to Javascript land”

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jQuery desktop photograph

WordPress is one of — arguably the – most popular content management systems in the world built on PHP. Many of the platform’s major features and enhancements since 2004 have been entirely written in PHP. Project lead Andrew Nacin, however, says that in the future much  more will be built in JavaScript.

“I think [WordPress 3.5] actually signifies a shift from PHP land to JavaScript land for pretty much everything we’re going to do in the future,” Nacin told WPCandy. “That’s been happening for a few releases now, if you look at most of the major features over the last three or four releases.” WordPress 3.5 brought the re-imagined media uploader, really taking the basic drag and drop uploading of version 3.3 to a new level. WordPress 3.4 introduced the theme customizer which allows users to make changes to any compatible WordPress theme in real-time.

“[These features] all very much JavaScript heavy because they have to be,” Nacin said.

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BuddyPress 1.7: Theme independence, BP_User_Query, and what else to expect

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BuddyPress and WordPress buttons

Word of what to expect from BuddyPress 1.7 has been trickling in, and while it’s not quite here yet there’s a lot to get excited about. Brand new users should pay attention, but longtime users may be the most excited by what’s on the way.

At last month’s WordPress NYC Meetup the lead developer of the BuddyPress project, Boone Gorges, led the group in a presentation showing off what can be expected in the next major version of the popular social plugin. Let’s take a look.

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Edit Flow 0.8 scope begins coming together

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Edit Flow website

Development has begun on the next version of Edit Flow, the editorial management plugin and big inspiration for one of the major advances coming to WordPress 3.6. The plugin, whose lead developer is Automattic’s Daniel Bachhuber, is lauded by many (including myself) as one of the best ways to organize an editorial team with WordPress.

Among the planned additions to next version, Edit Flow 0.8, are quick post creation, iCal support for the calendar, and dashboard widget for editorial comments. That on its own would make for a killer update, but those are just a few of what’s planned.

Bachhuber says the 0.8 release coincide with WordPress 3.6, which wouldn’t hurt because Edit Flow will likely be linked up by anyone writing about the new WordPress release. So if you’re a user of the plugin keep an eye out around April 22. And if you’re a heavy user, or a developer, run over to the Edit Flow Development blog and see about contributing to its development.

A question for the comments: is it accurate to see Edit Flow in a similar light as the BuddyPress and bbPress projects? At least in the sense of usefulness and depth of a project built on top of WordPress I’d say it’s comparable — certainly not as a blessed sister project to WordPress in quite the same way. What do you think?

Sergey Biryukov receives commit access for the 3.6 cycle

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sergey-wordpress-profileWordPress Lead Developer Andrew Nacin announced today that Sergey Biryukov will enjoy guest commit access to WordPress for the 3.6 cycle. He will act as the resident bug gardner, Nacin said, and will be working to clear old and new tickets and fixing bugs.

You’ll recognize Biryukov if you spend time lurking around in Trac, or of course if you’ve used any one of his twenty five plugins.

Nacin had great things to say in the announcement:

Sergey’s Trac activity can best be described as omnipresent. He has had many hundreds of contributions, large and small, accepted to WordPress core. His contributions are always thoroughly researched, with links to related tickets and changesets often going back to a previous decade.

Congrats to Sergey for the recognition, and here’s to a great 3.6 cycle! If you’re planning on contributing to 3.6 in some way, speak up in the comments below.

Jake Caputo prohibited from speaking at WordCamps, sparks guideline discussions

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jake-caputo-blackballed

Jake Caputo is the developer behind DesignCrumbs, and you might also remember him from a ThemeThrift feature we posted last year. Caputo makes and sells WordPress themes, and does so via the ThemeForest marketplace. Last week he received notice that he was no longer allowed to speak or to volunteer at WordCamps.

Caputo wrote up a post in response to the news, which as of this writing has drawn in over 120 comments — including thoughts from a number of smart, experience developers and Matt Mullenweg himself.

The bit of the guidelines that Caputo ended up butted heads with is on the “Representing WordPress” page and reads:

If distributing WordPress-derivative works (themes, plugins, WP distros), any person or business should give their users the same freedoms that WordPress itself provides. Note: this is one step above simple compliance, which requires PHP code to be GPL/compatible but allows proprietary licenses for JavaScript, CSS, and images. 100% GPL or compatible is required for promotion at WordCamps when WordPress-derivative works are involved, the same guidelines we follow on WordPress.org.

Sellers on ThemeForest are not allowed to list their themes as 100% GPL, and Caputo said the Foundation told him that even if he found a way to do so, any participation at all on that network prohibits him from WordCamp speaking and volunteering.

Note that this is not about license compliance in a legal sense. Envato would argue that their stance is entirely legal, and the WordPress Foundation seems to agree. It’s not as simple as legal compliance — it’s about a special rule set for WordCamp speakers and volunteers by the WordPress Foundation.

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WordSesh aims to bring 24 hours of live streamed WordPress presentations

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WordSesh 2013

Scott Basgaard and Brad Williams are currently planning and brainstorming ideas for a brand new online event this year called WordSesh. WordSesh 2013 is set to take place every hour of the day on April 13th this year.

According to their website, the plan is to run one session every hour for 24 hours. The sessions aren’t locked down yet, but few events are more than three months out. They’re planning to use a combination of Google Hangout and YouTube.

Watch the WordSesh Twitter feed for more information about their event as it unfolds. Anyone interested in speaking during the event should read out to them via mail at wordsesh.org.

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Jennifer M. Dodd joins the bbPress commit team

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Photo credit: Jennifer Dodd

Photo credit: Jennifer Dodd

Jennifer M. Dodd joined the bbPress core commit team this week after contributing to the project since the plugin version of bbPress was introduced. bbPress lead John James Jacoby said, “Her ability to iterate and improve on core patches, her outstanding communication skills, and her knowledge of the codebase, make her a great addition to the bbPress team.”

Dodd blogs about WordPress at UncommonContent.com, and you can find a list of her (WordPress/bbPress/BuddyPress) plugins there too.

In the blog post announcing Dodd’s commit team status Jacoby said her first tasks for bbPress 2.3 will be focused on full forum searching. Her first commit after the announcement can be seen here.

Side note: has it really been more than a year since bbPress 2.0 became final? Holy. Wow.

Where WordPress download numbers really come from

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Photo credit: Ryan Imel

Photo credit: Ryan Imel

I fancy talking about WordPress download numbers. I do it a lot. But why not, right? With a growing user base and more and more people using WordPress every release, it’s fun to see those numbers go up.

But nearly every time I bring up download counts someone asks about what exactly is counted. Does it count dashboard upgrades? How about Fantastico or cPanel upgrades? I didn’t know, so I reached out to the WordPress.org folks to find out more.

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Open source meets business: PressWork closes its doors

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PressWorks farewell screenshot

Photo credit: Ryan Imel

Last summer Brendan Sera-Shriar and Chris Bavota launched PressWork, a drag and drop theme framework. They announced the framework at WordCamp Montreal, saying they created it for themselves as much as WordPress beginners and developers. Sixteen months later, and despite helping “tens of thousands” of users to build their sites with PressWork, Bavota and Sera-Shriar have bid PressWork farewell and closed its doors.

“It was really a scaling issue,” Sera-Shriar told WPCandy. “Basic startup problems 101. We needed staff and time and had no budget.”

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