The Customizer Theme Switcher feature plugin was approved for merge today during the regularly scheduled WordPress core development meeting. Lead developers and contributors in attendance agreed that there are no major blocking issues.
The Customizer Theme Switcher in WordPress 4.2 will make it possible for users to browse through themes that have already been installed and activate a new one on the frontend via the customizer. The idea is to unify the UI designated for customizing a site to create a more consistent experience for users on the frontend. In the future, the theme installation process will also be added to the customizer.
Many users initially had concerns about adding this feature to the narrow customizer UI. “I would like to see a full-screen iteration so it doesn’t feel like I am looking through a port hole,” Andrew Nacin said during the development meeting. His comment echoes the concerns of others who have doubts about browsing themes through the small customizer window.
In response to WP Tavern commenters who oppose the new feature, project leader Nick Halsey encouraged users to examine how the customizer will force developers to simplify their UIs:
I’ll also point out for everyone that while the Customizer controls window is fairly small, this is a balance with providing a reasonably sized preview of the front-end, and the narrow controls UI window is mobile-first out-of-the-box. Being forced to work with less real estate in the customizer controls forces developers to simplify their UIs and make things easier to use. If you’re shoving hundreds of options into the Customizer, you’re creating something that’s just as bad of an experience to use as if you’d done that in a custom admin screen.
In response to those concerned about the next step of adding the theme installation process to the customizer, Halsey assured users that they are planning on making the customizer controls area almost full-width. This will ensure a more pleasant experience while selecting a theme from a large collection. The theme switcher feature added to WordPress 4.2 will happen in the more narrow customizer pane, since it is most often limited to a small collection of already installed themes.
The Press This Revamp project is also currently under consideration for merge into WordPress 4.2 and contributors will be testing it over the next week. The merge window runs through next Wednesday, followed by two weeks of iteration before the first beta is expected.