Thoughts on WordPress Data Portability

Data portability within WordPress is a big deal. However, best practices regarding how to properly make data portable are hazy at best. Where should custom post types be defined? What should happen to the data when a user switches themes?

In this post I will attempt to summarize the various arguments, point out one overlooked fact, and offer a limited solution that can be implemented regardless of your particular views on data portability.

Attempted Summary: Themes vs Plugins

For the sake of simplicity, I will be discussing data portability as it applies to custom post types. It seems that the true question that everyone is trying to answer is this:

What is the most user friendly way to implement theme-related custom post types, and what should happen to the data when a user switches themes?

For example, let’s say you’re creating a portfolio theme using a custom post type to hold the portfolio items. At first glance, it appears that defining the custom post type within your theme would make the most sense, because the data is specific to your theme.

However, more and more developers are pointing out that if a user switches themes, their portfolio items will disappear, both from the front end and the back end. Obviously, this is not an ideal end-user experience, and so the suggestion is made to define the custom post type in a plugin. Now if the user switches themes, the data is visible on the back end, although it still disappears from the front end.

Is this a step in the right direction? Yes, probably. However, let’s not pretend that this is good usability. Which is more confusing, trying to figure out why your data is missing completely, or why it’s only missing on the front end? I really don’t have an answer for that. Neither of them are good options. (more…)

Sackcloth Studios Redesign

It’s been a few years since I first launched (my business site) and it was beginning to show it’s age. The newest post on the blog was over a year old and the site just needed a little love. I figured while I was at it, I might as well document the process.


Custom WordPress Theme


This theme is barely usable, but I’m tired of using someone else’s theme, so I figured I’d upload it. I built it on top of my Sanitary WordPress theme this afternoon. It really has no features at all, and I’m not super excited about it, but at least my blog doesn’t look exactly the same as 30,000 other blogs now. I’m sure it will evolve over time.

Have any comments or suggestions regarding the design? Comment below!

  • PublishedJune 19, 2009
  • Posted InGeneral

My Name is Alex Mansfield

Today is June first. No one knows I am writing this here. It will probably be a few days before anyone reads this at all. It will probably be quite a few more days before anyone cares.

I am a web designer and developer and this is my personal experiment. There are so many blogs floating around with instructions on creating a successful blog. I plan to test their theories and write about what happens. I will share the steps I’m taking, why I’m taking them, and how it turns out.

I want this to be a helpful place. Please ask questions (as soon as I create a contact form). I’d love to help you find the answer. On the other hand, if you have a successful blog of your own, I’d love to hear how you did it.

That’s all for tonight. More to come tomorrow…