New Developer’s License and Personal License Explained

by Chris Pearson · 56 comments

Curious about the Thesis Theme license structure? You’re not alone, as I’ve been asked about the license more frequently than anything else since I opened up shop. Now that I’ve had this gig for a while, I understand a little more about what’s going on, and I’ve finally implemented a solid, two-tiered license structure that will suit everyone’s needs.

Check out the new Thesis license structure!

About the Author: Chris Pearson, Thesis creator and DIYthemes founder, is obsessed with optimizing the web and making sure every last detail receives the attention it requires. You should follow him on Twitter here.

If you enjoyed this article, enter your email below to get free updates!


Leonard Klaatu

Chris, I have a personal non-profit project that I’m thinking could make good use of this theme, with some modifications. Got any suggestions on some WordPress code freaks who would be good for such a project?

J.D. Roth

I paid $164 for the Developers Version of Thesis. I like the look. I think it would be great for my site (Get Rich Slowly). I’ve installed it in my sandbox area, but have just spent a frustrating hour having nothing work right.

First of all, all sizing is specified in ems. Maybe I should learn ems, but I know pixels. I suspect most Wordpress users know pixels and not ems. I went back to check the Thesis site to see if there’s any indication that layout isn’t in pixels; I couldn’t find any. If I’d known it was in ems, I wouldn’t have spent $164.

Because I have nearly 2000 posts containing images up to 500px in width, I need a 500px main text area. The current main text area is 480px (or whatever that is in ems). There’s another thread about resizing columns in which the advice is “don’t — it’s complicated”. That’s frustrating, too. I need to be able to modify the layout. Can somebody tell me how to get a 500px main column width?

I made some changes to the config file, but nothing seems to have happened. I made some changes to the custom.css file, but nothing seems to have happened. (Though this may be because the config.php file didn’t load.) I’m sure the changes didn’t happen because if they had, the blog background would be green and the text would be red. (I had similar frustrations with the whole custom.css thing on another theme before. I like the idea, but I can’t make it work. I’m not stupid, but I must be doing something wrong.)

Basically, these three things have me very frustrated right now. I’ve bought themes before that I haven’t used, but it’s always been because I changed my mind regarding the look I was after. This is the first time that I feel like I wouldn’t have purchased the theme if I’d known the frustrations ahead. And I’m just getting started? Are there more roadblocks to be found?

In short: HELP!

Chris Pearson

J.D. — I’ve got you covered via email. Check it out, and let me know how things are working out for ya!


I have a question regarding licensing and the phrase “the buyer may not re-sell the theme or any modification thereof”. Just so that we’re 100% clear, does that mean that the license is not transferable?

For example, if someone purchased Thesis and later decided not to use it, could the license (and future support, etc.) be transferred to another user or not?

I just want to make sure I understand this point. It could be considered slightly differently than “re-selling” where someone would be selling copies, etc.

Chris Pearson

Paul — Pardon my horribly ambiguous phrasing. Of course, licenses are transferable; I just want to ensure that no one attempts to sell the theme (or a mod) as a product.

Robert Simplicio

Chris, I too love the theme, as you can see I’ve actually used it for what the developer’s license was developed for, before there was one (I believe your original license allowed for multiple sites). I am going to purchase the add-on to upgrade to developer, because that’s The Right Thing To Do, but I’m curious, is there any case where you’d allow removal of the link in the footer? I’m all about attribution, but there may be instances where this is more appropriate in a colophon or similar instrument, or where my professional development of sites for hire (e.g. a law firm I am working with right now) may not be too keen on having a link to DIY Themes in the footer of every page. Also, considering some of your posts regarding PageRank / relevance leakage, and how concious of these issues you are, I’d like to hear your opinion on this matter, and if you’d be open to an even more flexible license that would allow modification or removal of the footer text and link.

On a side note, I really hope that this new launch (DIY Themes) has been all you’ve dreamed of and more. You may want to write something up that talks about how this launch has enabled you more freedom or something, or allowed you to develop your business, as I’m also a small business owner and really enjoy buying from other small or one-person business and knowing how my support helps out their overall business.

Chris Pearson

Robert — I’m going to offer a “license removal” package for a small fee. Unfortunately, the attribution link is one of the most effective marketing weapons I have at my disposal, so if I am going to allow that link to be removed, I have to do what I can to offset that loss.

I agree that it is not always appropriate to have a link like that in the footer, and I’m working on nailing down a pricing structure that is not only fair to users, but also sensible for the future of DIYthemes as well.

Finally, the launch of this site has been the most invigorating thing I’ve ever done on the Web. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner, but then again, I’ve learned things through the first few months of this year that are now allowing me to take this further than I ever thought possible.

Fostering a community of intelligent, goal-oriented, and dedicated individuals is something that provides value far beyond dollars and cents, and frankly, I can’t imagine my life without it at this point. To be sure, the continued support of users like you makes it all worthwhile.

Matt Larson

Chris – theme looks great. Probably will get a single license to test it out. Only thing holding us back from a developer’s license would be that attribution link. Most of our b2b clients get sketchy about attribution – guess they want people to think they do everything in-house. Saw someone already posted but wanted to chime in that it would be good to have that option available.

Chris Pearson

Matt — Now that I’m almost done with my move across the country, I’ll be rolling out the new “attribution removal” option soon. You’ll be able to remove it for one site or for as many sites as you like depending on the package that you purchase.

Chris Pearson

And here’s that attribution removal option I was talking about.


Chris, could you please provide us with information on how to use an image/logo for the header, and let us know what the maximum size is that can be used for it?

Peter Jennings

Chris, there will be three of us using the developer’s license (from the same company). Am I correct to assume that we’ll receive one login which we could all share? Are there any restrictions as to how the developer’s license works?

Chris Pearson

Peter — If the sites you use Thesis on are restricted to ones that your company specifically owns and runs, then you’re operating within the terms of the Thesis developer’s option. Your company (the owner of the developer’s option) receives one universal login for Thesis.


Chris, I’m unclear with how Thesis uses ems, pixels, 960 grid and a few more layout issues. I was told that Thesis uses the 960 grid. Is this true? If so, I couldn’t figure out what size grid you are using. I want to be able to line up all my elements with existing elements, so it would be good to know if there are some layout rules. Is it important make my page a certain width? I tried making my page 1000 pixels wide, and lots of things got messed up.
As far as ems and pixels, how do my elements sized with ems interact with my elements sized with pixels? If I have a graphic sized in pixels, but the page width is in ems, will I have potential problems?
How can I find out what the width of the container, content_box and content are? This doesn’t show up in Firebug. It would be helpful if all of this layout stuff was explained somewhere for people who want to design custom layouts. Maybe it is, but I haven’t been able to find it.


Hi Chris,

I m having this doubt for long time and no where seen this explanation.

What happens, when a folk buys single site license thesis theme and implement that in different sites?

Also, is it allowable that one can use the single licence theme in multiple sub-domains?

please explain.

Thanks for your time.


What happens, when a folk buys single site license thesis theme and implement that in different sites?

Also, is it allowable that one can use the single licence theme in multiple sub-domains?

In a nutshell: Yes … WordPress themes are GPL including premium themes such as ‘Thesis’:


Hi Chris.

I have seen your excellent theme. My question is if I buy developer license, can I develop in your theme, and sell the design to a customer? I want to be sure before I buy, and be clear about this