Theme Designer Beta

Screenshot of the Theme Designer plugin

When I first launched Theme Hybrid back in 2008, the themes section on this site was built with regular ol’ WordPress pages. Times have sure changed, particularly with the addition of APIs for custom post types and taxonomies in WordPress.

These days, the themes section on this site is powered by a custom plugin that creates a “theme” post type and lots of other fancy things.

Something I’ve always wondered is why, with the 1,000s of theme authors out there, I’ve never seen a plugin for handling the management of those themes. Is everyone just rolling their own solution? Still using pages? Using a portfolio plugin?

Are 100s or 1,000s of theme authors really rolling their own solution when they could be focusing on the important stuff like building 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.

What is the Theme Designer plugin?

It’s a theme management plugin made by a theme designer for other theme designers.

Essentially, it’s a custom post type, a couple of taxonomies, some custom metadata, and a slew of useful stuff.

But, it’s really so much more than that under the hood. There’s a hook for just about everything. There’s integration with the themes API, which pulls data from that site and stores it on your site. There’s a built-in feature set for adding your own meta fields on the edit theme screen.

Everything about this plugin is built specifically for setting up your own “themes” section on your Web site.

Add-ons and integrations

I’m building this plugin to be extended by others. I’ve already got an add-on in the works for integration with Easy Digital Downloads. It’d be awesome if some folks started thinking about add-ons between this and WooCommerce (or other e-commerce plugins).

I’d love to see a ThemeForest add-on too. I’m not sure if they have an API for theme authors. If they do, check out the inc/wporg folder in the plugin to give you some ideas about how to handle integration with third-pary APIs.

Beta testing

This plugin still has a bit to go before it’s ready to be rolled out onto live sites. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done. However, I wanted to get this out there early to see if there are some missing features that need to be added.

Please note that this plugin will only work with WordPress version 4.4 (current trunk).

You can grab a copy of the plugin via its GitHub repository.

Commercial plugin

I do want to note that I plan to role this out as my first major commercial plugin. The beta version of the plugin is, of course, $free to download and use. However, the official release will have a price tag attached to it.

The plan is to roll out with supported and non-supported versions. The supported version will give you a “developer” membership at this site (current price $35/year). The non-supported version will simply be the plugin. Both versions will have $free lifetime updates.


  1. Hi Justin…perhaps I’m just over tired as it’s going on midnight for me, but in a nutshell, what exactly is this plugin created to do? You’ve got my interest, but if you could clarify more info, that would be awesome!

    1. The smallest nutshell I can say is that it allows you to create a “themes” section on your site like these:

      1. In reply to Justin Tadlock

        So, in a way, it’s like having a portfolio/showcase for your site?

      2. In reply to Andre

        Well, it’s a portfolio specifically for themes that you’re distributing.

  2. Happy to beta test it. Will do that over the weekend.
    Does it help with creating demos? E.g. for every theme I need to install a new WP instance to handle the demo data. I don’t think so that it does. It’s a complex thing to deal with. Any plans for something like that?

    1. You can enter your demo link in the “Details” meta box. Outside of that, you’d have to roll your own demos.

  3. Very excited to see this. I’m currently using EDD with two things.
    – A function to change the base slug for EDD.
    – A highly customized single template.

    This plugin will be highly useful once I start using EDD for selling plugins as well. Thanks for building this 🙂 😀

    1. I actually have a “sister” plugin like Theme Designer for plugin authors too. I figured I’d start with this release first.

      1. In reply to Justin Tadlock

        That would be awesome. That would make it much easier to not use EDD as a showcase thing, instead of a shop thing. 😀

        Thank you for all the good work.. 🙂

  4. As always, thanks for another awesome contribution to the community. I hope the premium version is a success.

    Envato/ThemeForest does have an API, and it appears to be fairly extensive. If I had a better idea how to work with APIs, I’d offer to help. But Paul Underwood has a detailed tutorial on working with it, and aladinsoft created a plugin on CodeCanyon that integrates ThemeForest data. — If either of those guys have time to contribute, that’d be a nice addition.

    1. Cool. I figured they’d have an API. It’d really be pretty easy to integrate with any API. All you’d need is a basic class and to store the data as a transient for specific items. Then, use any of Theme Designer’s hooks to plug in the data.

      I’ll see about reaching out to them.

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