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Drupal 8 Themes for Beginners

Back in January this year, we talked about Drupal 8 themes. At that time, there were 86 themes for Drupal 8 on Drupal.org.

9 months later? There are only 133 themes for Drupal 8.

In the whole of 2016, we've added only 47 themes for Drupal 8.

In fact, the problem is worse than that. New themes are hardly getting published at all.

Understanding the problem

Click this link and you'll see a list of new Drupal 8 themes published.

In September, eight themes were published. The breakdown was two themes for the aGov distribution, four base themes, and one administration theme.

In August, two themes were published. That's not a typo ... two themes in a whole month.

Looking at the August themes, one was a base theme and the other was "Drupal 8 Custom Theme". This second theme is ready for beginners, but it was published on August 4th. That's not a typo either. Right now, we've now gone eight weeks without a single site-builder friendly theme published to Drupal.org.


What about themes published before August 4th? We have to go back to July 11 to find a new theme. That's nearly a whole month with zero new Drupal 8 themes.

So, not only have less than 50 themes been added to Drupal.org this year, but the pace is actually slowing:

  • Around 80 themes were available when Drupal 8 launched.
  • 36 themes were added in the first half of 2016.
  • Only about a dozen themes have been added in the second half of 2016.

Why are we facing this problem?

I wish I knew. In contrast to the problem with themes, new modules are added to Drupal.org daily.

It's possible to guess at some reasons why themes are not being published:

  • The Drupal community is standardizing on a small set of base themes (Bootstrap, Zen, Foundation)
  • Designers are taking a while to get used to the new Drupal 8 theme layer.
  • This was just a summer slowdown. As people get back to work in September, more themes are being published again.
  • The theme review process is brutal. It's taken us over 3 months to get one theme close to approval, but the process is incredibly slow and opaque. Drupal.org's theme review is one of the most frustrating and broken processes I've seen in 14+ years of open source work.
  • The lack of any commercial theme designers focused on Drupal 8.

I don't know if these explanations are valid, but I'm sure that the lack of themes is a hinderance to the success of Drupal 8.

Over to you ...

What are your thoughts on the state of Drupal 8 themes?

Are there ways we can encourage Drupal designers to publish on Drupal.org?


Update 1: A couple of Drupal community members have helped continue this discussion: Malcom Young and Benjamin Melancon.

Update 2: I underestimated the scale of the problem. Not a single theme has completed the approval process in 2016. Zero. That's absolutely astonishing. Every new theme in 2016 has come from a long-term contributor who can skip the approval process. There were no new contributors in 2016. The most recent approvals are from December 2015:

About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.