About a year ago, Carl and I were doing a training in Washington DC. When we got to teaching Drupal themes to a bunch of qualified people with HTML, CSS and some PHP knowledge, we listened to our own explanations, looked at each other, and both thought "it shouldn't have to be this complicated!" Drupal 6 theme development was different than Drupal 5, and Drupal themes in general were still a beast unlike anything else, but with a little explanation, people got it, and people learned to appreciate Drupal 6 theme development rather quickly.
So what happened in Drupal 7?
For starters, there's just a lot more stuff. Drupal 7 got a lot bigger, a lot more complex, a lot more sophisticated, but also a lot messier in the theme layer. Some of that mess is just the accumulation of everything that came before, and some of it is new stuff that we added to solve old problems. Unfortunately, the end result is still a mess. (For a detailed description of the mess, please read Jacine's blog post)
Admitting we have a problem
In Denver this year, I attended a great core conversation by JohnAlbin Wilkins and Alex Bronstein where everyone finally agreed that this problem needs to be fixed.
A new theme layer for Drupal 8
After the conversation in Denver, we scheduled a sprint to work on a new theme layer for Drupal 8. With the addition of Symfony to Drupal core, possibilities arise to build a new theme system based on Twig. Other options are also available to us, but most importantly, the system we have now needs to be gutted, cleaned up, organized, and made consistent throughout.
The theme dev's voice
It's important to us that this time, we get input and feedback from theme developers in our community. We'll be holding the sprint at the same time as the Front End United conference in Europe, and we're hoping to get some remote participation from the people with strongest opinions on the theme layer, as well as the developers who will be helping us implement our solutions.
Chapter Three to host Drupal 8 theme rebuild sprint
We are proud to open our offices to lots of great minds and willing participants to help make this happen. If you'd like to participate this weekend, join us in IRC: we'll be in the #drupal-themesprint channel from 10am - 6pm Pacific, Friday - Sunday.