Envato announces new theme check guidelines for ThemeForest

themeforestJaph Thomson has made a huge announcement on the Envato Notes blog. Starting in a few weeks, Envato will be enforcing a new theme check process for all WordPress themes to ensure high quality code and WordPress best practices are being followed by authors.

This is an enormous undertaking, and there has already been an absolute ton of discussion around the details of the decision on the blog post's corresponding forum thread. Many users have good questions, some are confused, and some are angry. I have to say, I'm really impressed Envato is going through with this decision, as it's no doubt going to be very difficult to adjust the mindset of almost every author on ThemeForest.

I recommend checking out all of the new WordPress theme requirements, but I'll list a few:

  • The theme must pass the WordPress theme check plugin's scripted analysis
  • Core hooks for wp_head(), wp_footer(), body_class(), etc must be included
  • Proper support for WordPress post thumbnails and comments must be included
  • Authors must properly enqueue scripts and styles, and are not allowed to override the default version of jQuery
  • Modification of the wpautop and wptexturize filters is not allowed
  • The template hierarchy and template naming conventions must be considered
  • Functionality should largely be left to plugins, and can be included via the TGM Plugin Activation class
  • Shortcodes should be much more limited (he gives better detail in the post)
  • Themes should pass WordPress theme unit tests (good example content for that here)
  • PHP, JS, and CSS should be warning / notice / error free, and largely validate
  • Inputs and outputs should be properly sanitized and validated
  • And more

This is going to have a tremendous positive impact on the quality of the code in WordPress themes at ThemeForest. The original plan for enforcing the requirements was to do so within 3 weeks, but they've since updated that to 8 weeks based on response. I understand the delay. There are practices in many WordPress themes that will require major adjustments, and there will need to be a great deal of education for the authors. I'd bet someone will come up with creative solutions to offer the “solutions” they've been offering in the theme in a different and better way.

Most of all, this is a positive move for the buyer's of themes, website owners and other members of the WordPress ecosystem such as plugin authors. Congratulations to Envato, Japh, and everyone else involved.