Canvas Skins / Child Themes
Woothemes has alienated many customers using industry-specific themes that are "no longer popular".
I recommend that you first create a new Canvas "skin" that is similar to the old theme before sunsetting the old theme. This way your customers at least have a option vs. you just shutting down support for a theme.
Magnus suggested on the blog that Woo were considering making Canvas child themes
"We’ve toyed with the idea of making child themes for Canvas with different designs."
I for one spend most my days making Canvas child themes and love this idea!
I guess you might argue this was similar to the StudioPress/Genesis approach.
Create a few (or many) color, typography and basic images set so that canvas fans can use the theme without using too much time trying to make it look good. You have great designers by the way.
There are generally two issues with Canvas child themes which have prevented us from going down this route:
1. We’ll need to use a child theme, which means that you can’t use your own child theme, which will make it hard to update the child theme if you make modifications to it.
2. By applying custom styling in a child theme, we’d need to add functionality and styling beyond what is offered through the existing options panel, rendering many of the options inactive, since we need to override the existing options. This has the negative effect of disabling crucial parts of Canvas functionality.
We are obviously looking at ways around these issues, and we have some ideas which need to be processed properly.
Julian Kingman commented
You could even make a marketplace. That could be really big.
AdminMagnus (Co-Founder, WooThemes) commented
@Austin: Thanks for your suggestion. I'd suggest post a new idea for the WC product layout option, so other users can vote for it.
austin terrill commented
Canvas is the bomb, the only thing you are missing is a section of the WOO / canvas admin panel theme that has a configurable single product page for WOO commerce. Such as the option to have a 2 column or 3 column layout for a single product. Perhaps the option to locate the variations in a different location like a draggable widget ... I could go on
I love Canvas. What's the problem?
Why not just open-source the old theme, or offer it out to trusted WooThemes partners to support?
It might not make sense commercially for Woo, but that doesn't mean there's not enough interest/demand to make it worthwhile keeping it going.
Why won't you use Canvas at the first place? I looks Canvas as a great framework and like Thesis and Genesis, it comes with very plain design.
"Lets say we release a new child theme for Canvas with a different design than Canvas. If a customer who isn't knowledgeable on customizing template files buys this child theme, and discovers that the Canvas parent options for changing layout/styling/typography suddenly doesn't work anymore, they will think it is a bug."
That should be a problem. The child theme will control the styling and layout of the theme. Nothing more. Even better, add filter for the developers to remove any functions from Canvas if the developer choose not to support any feature from Canvas (Genesis did very good at this). I'm all for the decisions, not options philosophy
AdminMagnus (Co-Founder, WooThemes) commented
@marcus: Let me try to explain a bit more:
Lets say we release a new child theme for Canvas with a different design than Canvas. If a customer who isn't knowledgeable on customizing template files buys this child theme, and discovers that the Canvas parent options for changing layout/styling/typography suddenly doesn't work anymore, they will think it is a bug.
The conflict lies in the Custom CSS options that are output in the HEAD section of Canvas, which are output AFTER the style.css of the child theme. If the user activates the child theme, they might overwrite some of the styling from the child theme, causing it to look different or even break the layout. So we'd need to disable the styling options output in the HEAD.
The alternative would be to add the child theme styling into a new file (like custom.css) and output it AFTER the Custom CSS in the HEAD section, but that would mean that the options panel styling would not work, because the child theme is overwriting it.
This was the reason why we removed the "Alternative Stylesheets" from earlier version of Canvas, as the CSS from these alt. styles overruled the outputted CSS from the options panel, meaning you couldn't change certain options.
Brett Blevins commented
I have yet to build a site where the existing options panel of any theme from any vendor gives me all the control I need. So I always add CSS (and occasionally PHP) mods in the child theme. Since there's no such thing as a "grandchild" theme with WordPress, you just make your backups and have your way with any child theme. We had to do that in a big way with the discontinued "Bookclub" child of Listings, which is still in use on a live site.
In addition, anyone who thinks they can just blindly update their parent theme and everything will work perfecly in the child is smoking some serious stuff. Canvas updates break my child themes in almost every version! I'm not complaining at all, but when the parent functionality changes so much, this just can't be helped, and I'm always happy to see the new functionality (though not as happy with all the bugs and breakage). This situation makes having development clones of the live sites a necessity, though, which means I can update away and laugh at the breakage, knowing that my live site is safe.
Marcus Tibesar commented
"We’ll need to use a child theme, which means that you can’t use your own child theme, which will make it hard to update the child theme if you make modifications to it."
This is not a show-stopper. Backups should always be completed before applying new updates.
"By applying custom styling in a child theme, we’d need to add functionality and styling beyond what is offered through the existing options panel, rendering many of the options inactive, since we need to override the existing options. This has the negative effect of disabling crucial parts of Canvas functionality."
Don't understand the concern here. The changes we now have in our child theme's css and functions.php files override the plain-jane-Canvas theme anyways...
I really like this idea!
Joe Jenkins commented
I've always thought that it would be good to have Canvas themes. There are many tutorials and code snippets for canvas around the web, and this would be a great opportunity.
I'd second the Scrollider as Canvas child theme. I love Scrollider, but I can't (easily) tweak it like I can Canvas. Well, you can't (easily) tweak anything as easily as Canvas.
Oops, this idea is already collecting votes: <a href="http://ideas.woothemes.com/forums/72423-general-ideas-/suggestions/3352706-before-sunsetting-a-theme-create-a-canvas-skin">sunsetting</a>.
I think all WOO Themes should actually be child themes of Canvas.
Brett Blevins commented
That's a really great idea! That "skin" would technically be a Canvas child theme. I'm thinking about doing this myself because one of those industry-specific themes was cancelled. I always make child themes, anyway.
I like this idea too. I'd give my left nut for the blog of scrollider in Canvas. I find Canvas' blog kinda stale. :(