Justin Tadlock Is Seeking Beta Testers for His First Major Commercial Plugin

Justin Tadlock, founder of Theme Hybrid, is looking for beta testers for a new plugin aimed at theme developers. The plugin is called Theme Designer and allows authors to manage themes in the WordPress backend. It also displays them on the frontend similar to WordPress.com and WordPress.org’s theme pages.

Tadlock has moved beyond using WordPress pages to display and manage themes, “I’m not sure what everyone else is doing, but I’ve been building and tweaking a custom solution for a number of years. I’ve just never packaged it up and made it useful for others,” he said.

Manage Themes in the WordPress Backend
Manage Themes in the WordPress Backend

Under the hood, it uses a custom post type, taxonomies, custom metadata, and a number of hooks. Theme Designer can pull data from the WordPress.org theme directory API and store it on your site. There’s also a built-in feature set for adding custom meta fields to the edit theme screen.

In addition to managing themes, Tadlock plans to create add-ons and integrate Theme Designer with other plugins. He’s already created an add-on for Easy Digital Downloads and it’s possible he’ll create one for WooCommerce.

Tadlock’s First Commercial Plugin

During the beta testing period, Theme Designer will be free of charge. When the beta is complete, Tadlock will charge for access making it his first major commercial plugin. Theme Designer will come in two flavors, a supported and non-supported version.

The supported version gives customers a developer level membership to Theme Hybrid which is currently $35 a year. The non-supported version contains the plugin only. Both versions will have free lifetime updates.

To participate in the beta testing process, grab the free plugin from GitHub. Pull requests and reporting issues are welcomed. It’s important to note that Theme Designer is only compatible with WordPress 4.4 and is a work in progress so it should not be used on a live site.

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16 Comments


  1. Thanks for covering this, Jeff.

    My hope is that this will be useful for single theme designers all the way up to big theme shops. It could even be used to run the themes section on a site like ThemeForest or WordPress.org, given the right hooks or other features needed specifically for those sites.

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    1. Thanks for explaining the purpose of the plugin, I was already wondering why on earth anybody would have a gazillion of themes installed, didn’t think of theme designers / theme shops ;)

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  2. I just read your follow up comment on your site Justin. I might be interested as my theme demo site doesn’t really have a “home” page setup to showcase my theme demos (free themes that are on .org and premium ones on my site). I’m assuming this is just one of many uses for it? I can’t use it on my main site because I use Joomla, but my demo site setup (which is setup as a WordPress Network) is. Which brings me to a quick question if your plugin can be setup on a network?

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  3. Awesome idea and I’ll be sure to give it a spin.. Justin could you tell a bit more about the EDD integration you have planned?

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    1. Really, it’s more or less a bridge between the two. You’ll be able to enter a download ID to associate it with a theme. Then, there’ll be a function for grabbing that ID. There’ll probably be a few wrapper functions for outputting the purchase link and so on.

      I can’t think of a whole lot else that’d be needed.

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  4. Looking forward to trying it out, just downloaded.
    Time to launch a theme on wordpress.org :)

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  5. An option to import with “one click” wptest.io or WooCommerce demo data would be very handy.

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    1. Can you describe how that could be useful for this plugin? This is not a demo plugin. It’s a theme library manager.

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      1. Often when I browse new themes to install on a particular project I always use wptest.io data (and WooC if needed) to check if theme got what I want.
        Then I fiddle around with customizer, I add new content with custom post types if theme has them. And If it is a theme that features page builder or some other type of layout management functionality I add a couple of templates and see what options and capabilities it has.

        After that Reset and import of wptest content demo again. Deleting all posts and pages that I’ve created would be tedious task.

        I know it is not a workflow that most of the people use but in my opinion theme library manager would be used especially by people that fiddle around with quite a lot of different themes. And fast import of demo data would be very handy, not as a core functionality but as a add-on.

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      2. I think you may be misunderstanding what the plugin is for. This is a plugin for theme authors to distribute themes from their site. The simplest description would be a “portfolio plugin for theme authors”.

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  6. Is there any use-case for theme creators who don’t have to manage/display a library like Themeforest and the like?

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    1. It’s primarily made for small theme shops/designers and such. However, it can scale up to handle a library like what ThemeForest has.

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