WordPress Theme Detector An In-Depth Interview With The Site Creator
As ever I tend to try and find things of interest for WPin readers, this week I have mostly been playing with WordPress Theme Detector, a new free tool for detecting what WordPress themes & WordPress plugins are being utilized by WordPress powered websites. Keen to find out more about it I approached the site creator Luis Alejandre to find out more. Read the overview and interview below.
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Q. Why set up WordPress Theme Detector?
Well, I think most of us have every once in a while wondered which WordPress theme was being used by a site that we liked, haven´t we? Of course, you can always view the source code and follow from there, but have a free online tool to automatically do it for you instead made a lot of sense to me for the following reasons:
Some people just don´t know how to view and investigate the source code.
Even users who are more familiar with this simple technique can have a hard time trying to find the theme for some particular sites.
Take for example a site powered by the Headway framework: there is no way you´ll get to the theme details immediately from the source code, without having to use some little tricks.
Some skilled people claim that it is faster to view the source code and click on the appropriate link to get to the stylesheet for the active theme than to open and load an online tool.
That could be true for some very straightforward cases, but not for many of them where you have to figure out different ways of reaching the theme information, guess where it could be found and then try what you guessed.
Even if it takes a few seconds to open our tool, write or paste the URL or domain of the site to be checked and let our WordPress theme detector do its job, it will still be easier and faster than a manual investigation.
If you decide to do it manually and the theme you´re looking for happens to be a child theme, then you have to search again for the parent theme details, while our tool will do all that automatically.
From the very beginning, I thought that it was a must that our tool was able to find and show the parent theme information. No other tool was able to do so and, as I explain in one of my posts, it is very important for whoever is interested in finding the theme used on a site.
Q. What went into the creation of WordPress Theme Detector?
“I look at WP Theme Detector as a kind of living thing.”
The heavy lifting in our site is carried out by PHP scripts, so there is where a lot of coding hours went. The hardest part of the work was to implement scripts for the various different situations one might find when trying to reach the theme details.
Most of the WordPress sites out there have a standard configuration where a few lines of code would be enough to get the theme information, but I wanted our tool to perform in the less usual situations where that simple code would not work.
So finally our largest PHP script came up with more than 1500 lines, and there are several other files with a few hundred lines that are also necessary to do the job. But when I said finally I´m not implying that the detection code is finished yet. Actually, I look at it as a kind of living thing, because my intention is to continuously improve it.
We´re encouraging our users to help us improve our site in general and our detection tool in particular, and I really hope that we´ll get enough feedback from them in this direction.
We´ve also spent lots of hours testing the detection code and trying to find difficult sites and our way around the challenges they pose. But we can´t be everywhere, and everything is much easier with the help of others, therefore I´m really looking forward to our user’s feedback.
So please if you try our site and something doesn’t happen as expected, don´t just feel disappointed. Let us know about it and we´ll try to solve the problem, even if it was found only when trying to get the theme details of a site with a very rare configuration that doesn´t mean much in statistical terms.
And to finish my answer to your question, I´d like to add that since our site would be about WordPress, of course, I also felt from the beginning that it would be a real sin if it wasn’t going to be powered by WordPress!
“We´re encouraging our users to help us improve our site in general and our detection tool in particular.”
Q. What other features do you plan on adding to WordPress Theme Detector?
“It´s funny that you ask me this question at this particular moment.”
It´s funny that you ask me this question at this particular moment, because the very same day you told me about this interview a couple of days ago, I found that the author of another similar tool had just copied us and included the parent theme detection feature, presenting the results in the same fashion as our site, screenshots included. Not only that, he also added plugin detection.
That was something we were already working on, so I had to go in a hurry and include that feature to our site as well. Now, I didn´t plan to do it that way since I feel that interest in WordPress themes and in plugins should not be mixed together like that.
Some people might be very interested in finding out which theme is used on a site while at the same time not be caring at all about the plugins, and vice-versa.
Also, even if we´re talking of just seconds, the whole thing will take longer for everybody to get the final results of the query together, whether the user was just looking for the theme, for plugins or for both.
So we had to go and add the plugin detection feature to our theme detector. Even if I didn´t feel too comfortable with this way of doing it, we don´t want anybody to think that we are not able or not willing to provide that information.
The plugin detection results are now shown on our site below the theme details table (or the parent theme table where applicable):
What we did here to direct the user to the detailed plugin information is that, instead of a link for a simple Google search, we are including a button that will take you directly to the plugin page in the WordPress repository.
For a small percentage of plugins this won´t work though, so we also offer the search link as a secondary means to get the plugin details for those less usual cases.
Anyway, my feelings about this “competition” I mentioned is that it translates into good news for the WordPress community, as we all try to improve our services one step ahead, which will finally be for the benefit of our users.
As for other new features to be added to our site you can understand that, because of what I just said above, I should be very cautious. But you can expect enough interesting features to be worth a visit from time to time.
What I can tell you right now is that I already have a full list of new ideas and semi-developed stuff that came to my mind while I was engaged in the development of the initial version as possible improvements and new features and that we´re working on some of them right now.
So I have a lot of exciting work waiting for me. What? Do you want more hints? Ok, Ben, I´ll tell you something else: I´ve already registered some other domains because this is not the only WordPress online tool that I planned to launch.
After the “post-launching hangover”, and once our traffic needs less “nursing”, I´d like also to spend some time focusing a little bit in the blog part of our site, as well as in our dedicated pages about different theme providers.
Finally, I´ve considered some other things related to the design, appearance and user experience, and hired an artist to assist me in this matters. We came to an idea that may be interesting enough, but I won´t be sure whether it will be implemented until I see the preliminary drafts for it.
On the other hand, from the quality point of view, I´m quite happy with the results because I´m getting very positive and encouraging feedback from people that already tried our tool.
“I´ve already registered some other domains because this is not the only WordPress online tool that I planned to launch.”
Q. When did you first get into WordPress Theme Detector?
I had the idea and the decision to get into it many months ago, but it wasn´t until early last summer that I had the time to start this project. And then it took me almost four months to have it ready to be released.
Q. What are your favorite plugins for WordPress?
I love the relief feeling that I get every time I use BackupBuddy to back up a site. I´m also very satisfied lately with Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin. Although I had been using All In One SEO Pack quite a lot and I was quite happy with it, I recently tried the plugin by Yoast and have never looked back.
I´m not too driven by fancy plugins, and personally, I think that the number of plugins should always be kept to a minimum, so I think that we should use just the ones we really need for each site.
The kind of plugins that I usually like the most are those very simple plugins that nevertheless are based on a very simple but excellent idea. Fortunately, there are lots of these, like Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin and many others.
In the case of sites developed for clients, I always like to use some admin minimizing plugin because that leaves an uncluttered back-end for them and also makes it less probable they screw something up by mistake. I´m using Adminimize for that, but I’m also trying some others.
Q. Do you have a favorite WordPress theme provider?
That´s a good question, although one very difficult to answer. The theme market is continually surprising me, there are some real geniuses out there.
You know we chose Elegant Themes for the theme of this website. I wanted something very simple, and their Basic theme seemed appropriate to it. But Elegant Themes makes also other themes that are great and, indeed, elegant. So I tend to look at their theme catalog first whenever I start a new development.
I also use the Headway framework to develop some client sites. Their drag and drop visual editor is very easy to use, once you get over the initial overwhelming perception caused by its cockpit-control-looking dashboard.
But I´m just answering your question from my short experience and, like I said, there are many great themes out there, as well as great theme providers.
Q. Do you plan to offer a plugin for others to offer a similar service?
Actually, I never considered anything like that before. But now that you mentioned it, I guess I should give it a thought.
Q. How long have you been using WordPress?
As I say in the “about” page at WPThemeDetector.com, I´m quite new to WordPress. It wasn´t until about a year and a half ago that I began using it. But I can tell you that I immediately fell in love with WordPress, and every single day since then I have the feeling that I made the right choice!
Luis Alejandre – Creator of WordPress Theme Detector
Luis Alejandre has always been passionate about technology. A Spanish Telecommunications Engineer, he has worked in fields as varied as aerospace, laser, business innovation and acoustics, and has lately been undertaking some new internet business. Luis didn´t discover the power of WordPress until not too long ago, but then he felt fascinated by it from the very first moment. He is currently involved in several WordPress related projects.
My Thoughts On WordPress Theme Detector
Firstly I would like to personally thank Luis, for taking the time to go as in-depth as he has, it’s a real eye opener when someone bears all about their new creation and for that, I cannot thank Luis enough for being so candid.
There are pros and cons to a service like this, the pros are finding out what other themes & plugins are being used by sites that you like and would like to use yourself. Another plus point is for plugin and WordPress theme developers who sell WordPress themes & plugins to check suspicious sites who they think are using warez versions of themes or indeed plugins.
The downside is privacy, some site owners may well take exception to their works being sniffed at by WordPress Theme Detector for the theme they are using and the plugins they have installed, not everyone wants this information shared.