Theme Lifecycle Planning

We noticed that some themes were recently archived on Github, and we were wondering if you could give some insight on how we should be planning for legacy themes that are used in our catalog but are no longer actively maintained. Is there a versioning semantic that will indicate when breaking changes are introduced? Additionally, do you have any lifecycle expectations for current themes? Thanks!

Hi @alexdryden which themes are you using there?

We have two books that are using Fitzgerald

Hi @alexdryden we did a poor job of communicating with open source users about the Fitzgerald deprecation. Typically we try to announce on the forum any planned deprecations well in advance (see Planned Deprecation Notice: Pressbooks LTI Provider Plugin for an example). In this case, we retired and removed several old themes when we migrated the old multisite to Nearly all of them were private themes, but Fitzgerald was public. Sorry about that.

Basically, Fitzgerald will continue to work as it does now for the forseeable future, but we’re not going to be maintaining or cutting future releases for it. If you want to take over maintenance for it, you’re more than welcome to fork it, but we’re considering it archived on our side.

With our releases, we try to use semantic versioning principles: (Ned and Dac did a nice job of laying out our aspirations a few years ago in this thread: About the name of the versions - #12 by ned – I think we’re still broadly committed to them).

We don’t have any current plans to retire any of the remaining public themes, but will try to do better job of communicating will our user community before making changes in the future!

Thanks @SteelWagstaff ! That tells me what I need to know. It looks like deactivating the theme won’t remove it from the books that are currently using it, but will remove it from the list of options available to new authors, which is the exact behavior I was hoping for, so we should be good to go.

I suspect that we will probably opt to move those books to a different theme rather than maintain the fork, but I’ll update my answer here if decide to update it.

No problem @alexdryden yeah I could have specified more about that. If you network deactivate a theme, it will remove it from the list of choices for books on your network, but won’t affect any books that have already applied it as the active theme. When we decommission themes on our hosted instances that’s what we do first (several months before deprecating/retiring the theme). We also try to contact book authors and let them know they’re using a theme that we’ve retired and give them the option to change themes, noting that if the theme breaks or stops working as expected in the future, for whatever reason, it won’t receive fixes. Sometimes people don’t care and stay on the theme for years, but most of the time that sounds scary enough they change. In very rare cases, we’ve told them that they have until DATE to change themes, at which point it will be changed to McLuhan from the deprecated theme. Hope that helps for whatever you decide to do.

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