You're now ready to create a ReadMe.txt file. ReadMe files have a long history with computers, often accompanying software installation. This has carried over to the Web where anything that gets added or installed into a web service usually has a ReadMe file included. Many theme authors choose to make the ReadMe file a .rtf or .html file so that they can include formatting. You may deliver it in any format you wish. I prefer .txt files because it ensures that everyone can simply click to open the file, and the lack of formatting options ensures I keep my text as clear and concise as possible.
ReadMe files are not required for your theme to work, but if you want to have happy theme users, they're highly recommended. Your ReadMe file is generally your first defense against theme users with installation and usage questions.
These are the basics of what you should cover in your WordPress theme ReadMe file:
• Inform theme users what your theme and template files will do (what kind of site it works best with, if any plugins work with it, if it's "Widit-ized", and so on—WordPress will let you know that a theme is widget-ready once you've activated it, not before, so it's nice to let people know in advance).
• Inform theme users of any deficiencies in your theme (any plugins it does not play well with or types of content it doesn't handle well, that is; I've seen good themes that don't do well with YouTube content due to column width, among others).
• Discuss any specific modifications you've made to the theme (especially if it's a newer version of a theme you've previously released) and what files contain the modifications (it's always good to have comments in those files that explain the modification as well).
• Reiterate the basic steps for installing a WordPress theme (not everyone is keen on reading through WordPress' codex site and will know how to unzip the theme or where to upload the file). Also, mention any special requirements your theme has. For instance, if you included some custom PHP code that requires special CHMOD (a.k.a. RewriteRules) or anything like that, specifically list the steps of action a user should take to get your theme running.
• As mentioned in Chapter 4, try and test your theme across platforms and browsers and mention any rendering issues that certain browsers may have on specific platforms.
• Reiterate the copyright information that you placed into your style.css sheet and provide your contact information (web page or e-mail) so that people can reach you for support and questions.
As long as your ReadMe file includes the points just discussed, you're generally good to go! However, if you're gearing up to release themes for commercial sale, Tonya Engst's article on writing a ReadMe file is great. It's geared toward software developers, but can provide invaluable insight to your theme's ReadMe file (if the following URL is too long, you can also just go to mactech.com and use the Google search bar to search for ReadMe file):
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