Mythic WordPress Starter Theme, and Thinking About All Developers

Mythic is a new starter theme by Justin Tadlock (with help from his friends/ collaborators). The project is designed to introduce a fully modern theme development process.

It follows best practices for coding, and makes use of things like npm (or yarn), webpack, composer, and all sorts of other plugins that improve the code and make things ‘easier’. However this relies on the fact that you know how to use these things.

Building for the internet is getting increasingly complex, but (I imagine) a lot of WordPress theme designers don’t know this stuff.

This might be a bit unfair but I imagine many WordPress theme developers were designers first; and they got into theme development because it was relatively easy. The PHP needed was quite simple and the Codex explained everything. As long as you knew HTML and CSS you were set.

At least that’s how I got into it.

Of course I’ve been using WordPress for more than 10 years now, and I’ve learnt a lot in that time. I also like to step outside the WordPress bubble, so I have experience of build tools and package managers and the things required to at least pretend I know what I’m talking about when I’m in modern web development circles.


At WordCamp London this year Zac Gordon did a presentation about developing with javascript for Gutenberg and one of the things he said stood out to me. He mentioned that WordPress developers are 10 years behind when it comes to javascript (I don’t remember the exact quote, hopefully this is close enough).

At first I was a bit offended, but having now used ES6 I’ve seen the power available to us if we take the time to learn more about these more advanced (or modern?) topics & techniques.

So perhaps us designers/ theme developers should spend a bit of time learning the newer technologies so that we don’t get left too far behind?

My point with all this is that whilst Mythic is a fantastically engineered project it’s just going to be too hard to get into for many designers. It works in such a different way to what designers are used to with WordPress that it’s like learning a whole new system.

My process when I find new starter themes is generally to dig through them and take out new things to learn and apply to my own starter theme. And I plan to do exactly that with this theme since it looks like there’s a lot for me to learn from it. Hopefully there will be for others too, and hopefully more designers can level up their technical skills.

Since writing this post in the MasterWP newsletter I have had a Twitter conversation with Justin Tadlock and Sami Keijonen where they assure me documentation is coming that will explain how to use the theme for people who just want to use CSS and a bit of HTML.

Was it good/ useful/ a load of old rubbish? Let me know on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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