As a Thesis developer, I would be remiss if I didn’t address the recent Mulleweg vs. Pearson brou-ha-ha surrounding WordPress and Thesis.
For those of you who missed all the fun, you can hear the interview that started it all here.
Thesis is sold as a premium theme. WordPress is free and runs on the GPL license. That essentially means that it is free to use, modify, and distribute at will. The GPL is explained more in depth here.
After that interview was published, a catfight ensued on Twitter. The haters on both sides showed their true colors, tweeting and re-tweeting the nastiness, mostly in the direction of Chris. Matt even went so far as to offer to buy premium themes for people to get them to move away from Thesis. Things got completely out of hand – it was a feeding frenzy of negativity.
I won’t argue that Chris came across as a bit pompous in the interview and could have chosen his words more carefully, but to his credit he later acknowledged that it wasn’t his best interview, and that he was upset and let his emotion get in the way. Chris is passionate about his work, and it’s certainly not fun to be criticized in that fashion on the internet. He was defending his work and his reputation. Can’t blame the guy for getting defensive.
So back to the issue at hand – the short version: Thesis wasn’t GPL, Chris didn’t want to go GPL, and Matt obviously wanted him to. Lawsuits were mentioned. Members of the WordPress community wanted a compromise, but it didn’t look promising. This was just going to get ugly unless one of these guys backed down.
Then lo and behold, Chris announced a few days later that Thesis had gone to a split-license, and now abides by the terms set forth by WordPress. A split license allows some of the code to be GPL, but some of the code is still protected.
I think the Thesis community in general has to be happy that this debacle is over. I can’t say I wasn’t a little worried when I thought of the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of users that would be affected, and developers like myself would have had some tough choices to make. If Thesis had no longer been available, businesses built strictly around the framework would crumble. Hundreds of thousands of sites would have to be rebuilt. It would not have been pretty.
So I’m happy to be able to continue to use Thesis for all my personal sites and my clients’ sites. I believe in the platform, and I stand behind it.
Got something to add? Let’s discuss in the comments.