I’ve started working on a redesign of this site (spoiler alert: it’ll be responsive! Eventually.), and one thing that’s kind of dogged theme developers (I think) is what to do about plugins that are pretty much required in order to make your theme go.
To this point, it hasn’t been an issue for me. Pretty much every theme I’ve developed has been unique for a particular client, and I have as yet attempt to release a theme to the WordPress theme repository. Ergo, if I required a plugin for the project, I installed it. Boom, done. However, in creating a theme for the general masses, I could totally see me needing to include something like a plugin that lets you add classes to widgets and that sort of thing.
So the question becomes, how best to go about this? I see three possible solutions: