While monitoring twitter today, I noticed a few prolific theme designers agree with a point that Chris Pearson made today.
Now that I’ve built the platform, I see why Thesis can do plugins’ jobs more efficiently than the plugins themselves. There’s no comparison. – pearsonified
I think I understand the reasoning behind the statement. Instead of using a plugin that may have more functionality than is needed, ONLY the functionality that is needed can be built into the theme making more efficient use. However, I’ve always been a fan of the idea that themes should be about good design alongside flexibility while leaving anything that can be handled by a plugin, to a plugin. Sure, a theme that provides all sorts of plugin functionality built-in provides a ton of convenience, but the distinct difference between a plugin and a theme is that when the theme disappears, the plugin and it’s options are still there. The same can not be said for a theme. What’s the difference between putting a wall around me, and building in a bunch of functionality that is typically left to plugins? I don’t see much of a difference. If the theme is built in a way that semi-locks in the user, that theme is doing it wrong. But, I’m not the one with a theme business so perhaps I’m wrong.
At the end of the day, the user has to decide on whether they want convenience, or flexibility.
If it can be a plugin, it should be. That way it can be removed simply and easily.