The Life Of A Side Project

Side projects are an essential part of learning and developing skills in the technology industry. They give you a playground to experiment and build a product while learning on the fly and building your repertoire of skills. Sometimes, these projects end up being used by others. The unfortunate thing is, most side project are eventually abandoned. Like a textbook from a completed class, it sits out and collects dust, quickly losing interest once it has been completed.

Decode has changed a lot over the years. Initially a fork of Melville, I later rebuilt it on top of Underscores. It began as a personal blog theme with the title, description, and social links hardcoded in. Then, someone asked if they could use it. I told them it was possible and then got to work on making it truly customizable.

Decode is my most successful side project. It incorporates the best of the WordPress development skills I have learned over the years by being simple while providing for the needs of most users. I am still proud of the codebase which I’ve managed to keep slim and modern. However, I was never able to provide the level of support users needed. Early on, before Decode hit the height of its popularity, I was able to respond to each email and support forum inquiry. As Decode grew, and was featured on the WordPress Theme Directory several times, I couldn’t keep up with all the support inquires. Additionally, I consider Decode to be feature complete. The only remaining work it requires is occasional updates and a load of support requests.

Much to my surprise, Macho Themes, a new theme development company, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in selling Decode. Initially, I was strongly against the idea. Decode represents a large time investment for me. However, I’m only one user of Decode. Decode has more than 10,000 active installs and each of those users would benefit from a support staff and a more active development pace.

So as a result, I have decided to sell Decode to Macho Themes. They will be taking over the project as well as an unreleased plugin I had completed for the theme. I will continue to maintain the Ghost version of Decode since Macho Themes is currently primarily focused on building WordPress themes and plugins. Decode will remain free (available from the Theme Directory) and open source.

And so completes the lifecycle of this side project. Working on Decode has been thoroughly enjoyable and I’m looking forward to seeing where Macho Themes takes the project.

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