Another Little Project: Arras Theme

One of my clients uses the Arras theme for WordPress. They’ve been using it for years. Since 2009 or so.

Last January, when WordPress updated to version 3.8 the “slideshow” section of the homepage stopped working. I patched it up. I mentioned to my client that they might want to consider getting updated theme files.

It’s a “premium theme,” meaning it’s not among the thousands of free WordPress themes in the WordPress repository. They’re usually something you pay a software company for, and the people you buy it from maintain the code. That’s (at least partly) what you’re paying for.

Nothing came of it.

Then, last week the client wanted another update. I noticed that yet again the theme had broken. Images weren’t loading correctly. The problem had spread from the slideshow section into other sections.

The problem had developed between mid-April and the first of May. That narrowed it down to the further update of WordPress to version 3.9. Again, I notified my client.

“We don’t have new theme files,” they said.

“That’s strange,” I thought. “What kind of premium theme doesn’t provide updates when things break?”

I googled it. As it turns out, the developers had discontinued the whole caboodle. “It’s been a good run,” their website said.

Their website says you can leave messages on a Google Group and hope somebody might respond. They also said that anyone inclined to do so was welcome to take it from here.

I did a little more digging. For at least the last few years, development had been led by a teenager in Singapore. Not that there’s anything wrong with either teenagers or Singapore. Apparently he’d gotten too busy with other things.

Sucker for lost causes that I am, I started an attempt at redeveloping the theme.

I copied the file repository on Github. I posted a notice at the Google Group. After looking at the code, I rolled the project back to the latest reasonably stable version I could find and did an initial re-release on Saturday.

The theme hasn’t been updated in a couple years. It has bugs. I fixed one of the most obvious ones today. It was a little bug. While fixing it, I found a structural problem with the code. I expect that the deeper I dig the more I’ll find.

One thing leads to another. Now it’s my little weekend coding project.

Because I suppose I needed something else to do.