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Alex Mangini

Merging Md Into A Single Theme

Should MD be a single theme?  

8 members have voted

  1. 1. Should MD be merged into 1 theme?

    • Yes
    • No, keep MD split between the theme + plugins

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Hey guys,


I've taken some time off from MD's development + blogging to take on some client projects (using MD of course!) and have had something buzzing in my head I began pursuing on this beautiful Saturday here in New Jersey...


While I don't like to take time off of developing Marketers Delight, taking on some client work has given me a perspective of MD that I don't fully have while developing for it.


There were some frustrations I had along the way with using MD and I've certainly taken notes on what can be improved. One of the most glaring frustrations I had was in MD's setup.


As you know, MD is split into a theme, plugin, and "addon" plugins. The reasoning behind splitting MD up was to follow WordPress' coding standards by separating presentation (MD theme) and functionality (MD plugin) and create a business model of selling addons (MD Popups, Footnotes, etc.).


In theory this sounds great and there have been a *lot* of WordPress companies that found success with this model. I can see MD growing this way but as I've gotten deeper into it, I've been finding some issues with it that make me question my decision to split MD into all these pieces:

  • Each addon has a license key, meaning you need to plugin/manage a whole other license key to get updates to that specific functionality
  • When it comes to license key renewal, you'll be asked to renew each individual license key (MD theme key, MD plugin key, MD addons keys), which creates a complicated renewal process
  • Renewing/managing multiple license keys is tedious and the #1 cause of problems based on frequency of support tickets
  • It makes the MD business model as a whole complicated, with you buying MD as the base product and then buying a bunch of other products to go along with it

Of course there are benefits of the way MD is setup right now. Design and functionality are split up into the MD theme and plugins and you can pick/choose which features you want to extend into Marketers Delight. This keeps the features you won't use in MD out and let's you create a more focused, less cluttered blog.


This addon model is exciting but I had to take a step back and look at what I'm trying to accomplish with MD. My goal with MD is to create the ultimate writing platform for bloggers who want to turn their website's into a business. My secondary goal is to create a template system (framework) that makes it easy to turn MD into any kind of site you want.


Each addon I've built supports my main goal of the software and I've done my best to make sure they're developer-friendly and integrate into the MD theme. Of course none of it is perfect, but MD will always be getting better.


With all these addons serving the same goal, it seemed like splitting them into separate products just created more work on your end. Not only in managing the different products but blurring your understanding of what MD is.


I thought keeping these addons out of the core MD would keep it focused, but what I really found it is these are all features that make the promise of Marketers Delight so great. Why make them so difficult to implement? That's why I've been experimenting with what a single MD installation would look like.


Or in other words, merging all MD plugins into the MD theme.


The upsides here are pretty great:

  • All it takes to install MD is uploading the theme once and you're done
  • You only have to manage 1 license key to get updates to the ENTIRE MD suite
  • The license key upgrade process will be easier for you to understand
  • Merging makes the overall MD ecosystem leaner and can reduce a LOT of code

A lot of these upsides will save you a lot of time between different sites and make setting up your website with MD even easier.


I was talking to somebody over email about this and they made a great point:


I think combining everything to one install will make the process much better, but I think you will still have to give people the option to activate the plugins & add ons from within the MD dashboard


While they love the idea of a single install (I imagine most of you will) they made the suggestion that you may not need every feature of the present and future. And it's true, there are some sites where I don't need Page Leads, for example, and would like to disable them from the site.


In order to stay true to my original fear of bloating MD, adding an easy section for you to enable/disable features of MD will help you keep your site lean as MD gets more features you may not need.


There are other technical hurdles I'll be keeping in mind while experimenting with a unified MD, such as the classic presentation vs. functionality issue. I'll most likely have an MD functionality plugin available for those of you who ever decide to switch themes and don't want to lose the content created with MD (admittedly an overblown issue, but an issue nonetheless).


So these are some thoughts on a unified MD. I've been contemplating this in my head for a while and today I began ripping everything apart and putting it back together. If this update does come to fruition, it'll be in MD4.5 and will be a HUGE update... one I'll ensure is as easy as possible for you to move your existing site to and stay cleanly in the MD update cycle.


Post your thoughts/questions and please vote in the poll attached to this thread. In the meantime I'll continue working on the merge on my development server and can hopefully come up with a feasible solution to this undertaking.


- Alex

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Another update:


Been working on a revised and more useful MD Dashboard. I've just finished a coo widget that quickly shows your license status, expiration date, and activation count at a glance. It'll be a one-click process to renew expired keys and it will even let you know where to buy more site activations. I hope to add more useful widgets like these to the dashboard down the line.


There's a TON of stuff coming in MD4.5 including merging all addons and a single license key system. A lot of exciting stuff ahead, can't wait to share with you.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.28.32 AM.png

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