To make theming more logical and extensible for CMS users, the following changes should be made to the template hierarchy:
a blog.php template should be introduced as the default page template for the blog archive (whether on the front-page or on a dedicated page). After blog.php the template hierarchy would proceed as expected to front-page.php and home.php
If a custom page template is selected by a user, it should override all other templates, including blog.php, front-page.php and home.php. As the hierarchy is currently, you cannot offer homepage page templates in a child theme, if the parent theme includes a front-page.php. This removes choice from the user for no apparent reason.
TENTATIVE: Custom Permalink routing and embedding non-wordpress PHP functionality could be vastly simplified by offering a new file header comment that defines templates that should run at specific custom paths.
No, it shouldn’t. The home.php template already does this. And index.php is used if home.php doesn’t exist.
I agree with this. My solution, however, is to get rid of front-page.php because the theme shouldn’t decide what is shown on the front page. There are already options for that, that the theme is “supposed” to follow but doesn’t have to. And the child theme can’t override.
I’ve seen so many themes with front-page.php files that ignore the content of the static Page chosen as the home page, just so they can put a big image or three boxes or a countdown or team lists or all these crazy things that belong in a plugin. If the user really wants that stuff, put it in the static Page and choose that template. At least when you switch themes, your home page will still have the content you stored in the Page.
I don’t like this because that is not a theme’s job. The theme should cover all the queries that core handles. If it’s non-wordpress PHP then how would core even be invoked to load the template?
If it’s external, integration should be with a plugin, not a theme.
It would be a breaking change to remove front-page.php, but I think it’s a good thing to do. If at the same time you rename home.php to blog.php, I could live with that.