I sent a message to the WordPress.org Theme Reviewers mailing list today regarding the current requirement a theme “must” include (amongst other items) the functionailty of add_custom_image_header; and, as a member of the WordPress Theme Reveiwers Team I am sharing what I wrote (verbatim):

I would like to submit back for discussion to the mailing-list/Theme Reviewers the “must” requirement of including ‘add_custom_header’ support to themes.

The function itself is great and relatively easy to implement but I see it as focused for use with single banner style image header areas, such as Twenty-Ten and similarly designed themes. This then presents an issue for themes that do follow this particular design concept/layout especially themes that do not have header images per the author’s choice; or, a more difficult to address issue of themes with multiple images in the header … again a theme author’s choice.

Dictating the use of ‘add_custom_header’ as a _must_ item in theme development will start pushing themes to more of a cookie-cutter look and feel, not to mention the potential for authors to simply lift the code, for example, from Twenty-Ten and drop it into their own theme to meet the must need of the requirement. This leads right into originality issues with themes as well … another topic for another thread.

As examples, I will use my own themes (currently in the repository) simply due to my familiarity with them.

1) Desk Mess Mirrored: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/desk-mess-mirrored/
– three (3) header images; of which each image I have seen modified individually, or with one other … or in rare cases all three.

2) Shades: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/shades/
– no header image; although ‘add_custom_header’ should be relatively easy and straight forward to implement I envisioned this theme to start with no header; and, to allow end-users to modify the header area as they saw fit.

3) Ground Floor: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ground-floor/
– no distinct header image; this theme has a dynamically expanding header area to allow for very long titles, taglines, horizontal top menus etc. Implementing ‘add_custom_header’ would for all intent and purpose break the theme’s look and feel.

4) NoNa: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/nona/
– a distinct header image that is integral to the theme layout itself. To implement ‘add_custom_header’ for this theme is possible but would require a certain level of skill with a graphic program to create additional headers. Otherwise it is essentially being dictated the theme itself may be required to be re-written and the graphics re-made to meet the requirement of adding this function.

In my opinion, themes similar to 2) and 3) above would be detrimentally affected by the “must” use criteria placed on ‘add_custom_header’. Themes that follow similarly to 4) above may have limited usability added by the addition of the function.

Quite honestly I would like to be able to add the function of custom headers to Desk Mess Mirrored, but as I wrote at the beginning of this message the ‘add_custom_header’ function does not appear to directly handle multiple header images displayed on the same page at the same time; and, from what I am able to see in the supporting core code it would require a great deal of custom code to add that functionality to the theme, or similar themes, in question.

I strongly believe the function has a great deal of use and potential, but I do not believe it _must_ be included for a theme to be accepted into the repository. Perhaps suggested, recommended, or simply optional would be a better requirement benchmark.

I may have refered to the function incorrectly but my points and ideas are still the same. Feel free to add your thoughts and opinions … here or on the WP Theme Reviewers mailing-list.