Thesis’s Next Opportunity: Un-WordPress Itself

A long running controversy in the WordPress community was resolved this week when the popular, commercial theme Thesis was re-licensed making it compatible with WordPress’s own GPL license. This re-licensing confirms WordPress themes and plugins must be released under the GPL. This is great news for the WordPress community for it reinforces the type of culture and ecosystem around the WordPress codebase it’s maintainers intended.

From my perspective, Thesis had 2 resolutions available – adopting the GPL was the quickest way to resolve the issue, and I suspect the impact on commercial side won’t be as significant as feared. Unfortunately, this decision means Thesis will always be just a WordPress theme.

The second resolution, available to all WordPress developers, is to divest themselves of all WordPress code. Every line, every call, every function – remove it form the Thesis code base. Then hire a team of PHP developers unfamiliar with the WordPress codebase to custom develop the application from the ground up – interacting with pre-existing WordPress database structure.

A complete clean-room developed, drop-in replacement for WordPress.

Licensed and distributed however the project sponsor wants.

This solves a number of increasingly irritating technical issues I have with WordPress;

  • WordPress is increasingly an attack target resolved with seemingly endless codebase updates,
  • the WordPress admin UI continually less about writing,
  • the WordPress theme templating structure encourages redundant code.
  • Most importantly – the self-hosted, reliable, usable, website engine space needs some innovation.

This approach confirms Thesis is, much more than a WordPress theme (one of the controversial points), but a mature, stand-alone WordPress replacement [1].

This approach is far more interesting to me and I think has the opportunity to foster greater energy, excitement, and innovation in a very stagnant feeling space.

P.S. I say all this someone who; has written a bunch of code to interact with WordPress, currently maintains a number of WordPress blogs, continually recommends WordPress the starting point for all publishing-heavy web projects.


“Because my relationship with WordPress has been souring for longer than the recent problems, I’ve been working on a replacement for WordPress…” – J Wynia

1. Yes, this was the idea behind my PressOnRails project – an effort to use Ruby on Rail to interact with a pre-existing WordPress database.