An interesting topic emerged among suggestions in the ez.no forum, regarding themes for eZ Publish. I thought it was an interesting theme, so here's the link: http://ez.no/developer/forum/suggestions/provide_new_themes
And here's what I think:
I have to agree that easier theme management and exchange would help to widespread eZ Publish. Personalization seems like the big thing right now and even if it's not about that, ability to implement selected themes easily might be one of the key factors when deciding on a particular CMS.
However, we need to realize what theme engines we're talking about when trying to incorporate that idea into eZ Publish. Most themes that I know of are prepared for systems that have a very isolated and precise functionality due to the kind of system they are (CMS blogs, forums, shops, web galleries, CRMs, or CMSs with preexisting module sets, etc..), and whose content model, internal structure etc. do not change.
Meanwhile, with eZ Publish we have a content engine that makes it possible to handle most of the above functionalities and nearly everything can be customized. With the system we don't have preset roles for a forum, for a blog etc - we have to arrange that ourselves, minding all the implementation details. There's entire list of other dimensions that have to be taken under consideration (sections, access rules, caching, custom overrides, class modifications, structure...). Many of those things are handled or reach to the presentation layer (*.tpl), many of them in a customized way, again.
If some of the themes available for those other, isolated systems, have to be versioned along with the core (for example: theme for version 2.0, theme for version 2.1, etc..), how do we want to handle the change with eZ Publish and its complexity? Would that be possible without limiting of what's one of eZ's key features - extensibility? Wouldn't that concrete the development of the core in some ways?
If I look at ezwebin, I see an intelligent GUI, not a skin. This interface is crucial for developers to ease the learning curve and also pick up some good practices, but with around 40 eZ Publish implementations, we haven't yet had a customer who would fit into ezwebin precisely (or sometimes - at all).
Much as I appreciate the marketing goals, I don't think they are that important for this level of CMS (and ezwebin versions do just fine for that matter), and nowhere near as important as the core of the system. And there's only so much time eZ people have. I believe we're all much better off getting solutions such as eZ toolbar or eZ Flow (or bug-free stability and security) rather than color variations of backgrounds...
To be continued... here: