On March 19, I completely transformed the site. This was the official date of the TH6 (ThemeHybrid.com 6.0) launch. Generally, when I redesign the site, I have a big announcement post to go along with it. Unfortunately, it’s taken me a bit over a month to finish this post. The biggest reason for this is because on March 20, I announced the Exhale theme beta, which is a big part of this relaunch.
Allow me to apologize to everyone who’s been waiting for answers on what the next chapter holds for Theme Hybrid. I also want to thank those of you who have been patient with me in our email exchanges.
TH6 wasn’t just a redesign of this site. Everything is changing. But, before I “officially” made any decisions, I wanted to get the feel of things and hear what users are saying.
I also ask you be patient with me as I update things around here. I’m relaunching a site with over a decade of content. It’s going to take a bit of time and iteration to get everything in order.
I’ve mentioned it on several occasions that I’ve spread myself too thin over the last few years. At this point, I have 60+ plugin and theme-related projects that I maintain as a single developer, some more so than others.
Frankly, that’s far too much. And, it shows in my work.
It’s hard to build truly great products when you can never focus on any given thing at a time. Therefore, I’m shifting my focus to two primary user-facing products and some dev projects that help make them possible.
Exhale is my flagship theme going forward. It will get routine updates and focus on staying in line with new WordPress features as they happen. The focus with this theme is to provide users the tools to build out their Web sites however they want them using the new block editor.
I will also be heavily invested in creating child theme (skins) for Exhale in the coming months. Some older theme designs may be adopted as new child themes for Exhale.
What about older themes?
All of my older themes have reached EOL (End of Life) in terms of feature updates. I will absolutely provide any security fixes if the need arises. I will also provide technical support for the foreseeable future.
If you’re running a theme like Stargazer or one of several others, you can continue using it. I will continue providing support. But, I have no plans to update them with things like the block editor styles found in Exhale.
Any new themes on the horizon?
Mostly, the focus this year is going to be on child themes for Exhale. I believe this is a special project that deserves my full attention. I’m excited about seeing it used on many thousands of sites in the coming months.
After that? I do have one idea that I’d love to make happen at some point. But, I don’t think it’s a good time to dive into it until after Phase 2 of the WordPress Gutenberg project has settled. Then, I can get a much clearer picture of the theme development landscape.
The Members plugin will be my flagship plugin project along with any add-on plugins available for it. This is one of my favorite plugins to work on, and I’m already working toward a big version 3.0 release for it this year.
What about other plugins?
Some plugins I will likely be maintaining are:
- Breadcrumb Trail
- Clean My Archives
- Custom Content Portfolio (maybe, depending on feedback)
- Get the Image
- Plugin Developer (dev plugin)
- Theme Designer (dev plugin)
- Widgets Reloaded (depends on the direction Gutenberg)
Outside of those and Members add-ons, I’m hoping I find a good home for many of them.
If you’ve already contacted me about taking over a plugin, I still have your contact info. I’ll try to get in touch as soon as I can. Anyone else is free to contact me about picking up any of the others. See all plugins →
I’m opening up both of these projects to be completely community-oriented now. Mythic will no longer be sold commercially (though donations are welcome). While I’ll still provide paid support here, these projects will mostly live on GitHub for anyone to contribute to (code, wiki articles, etc.).
Both HC and Mythic are the foundational elements behind the Exhale theme, so they’re not splitting my focus. It’s a symbiotic relationship. New ideas can move both up and downstream for the benefit of all.
Hybrid Core packages
One thing of note is that Hybrid Core is moving in the direction of multiple, smaller packages. This allows theme authors to pull in just the bits of code they need.
With any luck, by 2020, Hybrid Core will just be a small core repository with many packages available for the entire WordPress community.
Going forward, I will continue with both the Standard and Premium tiers for joining the club. However, I will be lowering the price for just the Standard tier, which only provides support for my free products.
A big reason for this is that my focus is shifting toward commercial product sales over support membership sales. The Premium tier already has far more sales simply because it provides access to all commercial products and is a better price option.
At the same time, I want to keep the Standard (support-only) tier at a reasonable enough price for people who just have a few support questions for my free plugins/themes out there.
In short, this is mostly staying the same, but the Standard price will be lowered in the near future.
Looking toward the future
All of this was a decision I made in the fall of last year. While the changes were not “official,” I was moving forward as if they were. It was a huge burden lifted from my shoulders.
This was the freest I’ve felt in years because I felt like I could focus on work that was truly making me happy.
In some ways, it’s always scary to make these huge business changes. I know there are always going to be some people who will resist such changes for various reasons. But, I feel like this is the best path forward for me both professionally and personally.
I don’t talk about mental health much (and we should absolutely do this more in the developer community), but there’ve been times in the last few years where I felt completely overwhelmed. Perhaps bordering on depression. It wasn’t until I made the decision to do something radically different that I began to wake up in the mornings and feel excited about the work I was doing.
A big part of that was getting back to my roots and focusing on a project that I loved like the original Hybrid theme that I built when first launching Theme Hybrid.
I’ve joked around that the OJT (Original Justin Tadlock) was back. While I’m not the same person I was in 2008 when I began this venture and will never be again, I’m now glad to have some of that fire again. That passion that a young kid had when just starting out. It’s something that I’d lost along the way and had to find again.
I hope you all continue down this new journey with me.