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WordPress Child Themes



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  • very good slides, thanks Russell!
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  • 1. WordPress Child Theme Overview By Russell Fair for Atlanta WordPress Developers and Designers Meetup Group 7.27.2011
  • 2. Who's your (theme's) daddy?
  • 3. Child Theme Basics
    • What is a Child Theme?
    • Why use Child Themes?
    • Who should use Child Themes?
    • How do Child Themes Work?
    • How do I make a Child Theme?
  • 4. What is a Child Theme?
    • A Child Theme is a WordPress theme that relies on another theme (its parent theme) to provide some or all of the structure.
    • A child theme MUST have at least a stylesheet with an appropriate comment block (See style.css in WordPress theme Hierarchy)
    • When loading, a child theme will look to it's parent for files that it can not provide on its own
    • Circa WordPress version 2.7
  • 5. Why Use a Child Theme?
    • Using a Child Theme allow you to update the parent theme easily without over-writing your customizations.
    • If you offer themes as a service, parent themes allow you to have a streamlined, unified architecture and development process.
    • WordPress MultiSite users – using child themes to create many “similar” themes with common architecture, but some differences, and ability to share more resources.
  • 6. Who should use a Child Theme?
    • Everyone! According to WP Codex, Child theme is the recommended way to customize
    • Web design companies who maintain their themes and want to streamline processes.
    • Multi-site users/admins
    • Theme Authors who want to sell their themes in theme marketplaces
  • 7. How do Child Themes Work?
    • When WordPress is looping through the theme directory, it will try to match the request (query) with the right template file to use (e.g. page.php, single.php, archive.php, etc.)
    • If it can not find the right template file in the child theme directory, it will scan the parent theme directory for the file. Works for get_template_part!
    • Child themes are like Teenagers. If they have their own money, they will spend it; if they don't have their own money, they will get it from their parents.
  • 8.  
  • 9. How do I make a Child Theme?
    • Step 1: Create a directory in your wp-content/themes directory for your theme (sub-directories not a good idea). Don't use spaces or special symbols.
  • 10. Making a Child Theme
    • Step 2: Create a valid stylesheet with comment block.
    • Add Template: [parent-theme-directory] to the comment block to specify the parent theme.
  • 11. Optional: Add custom theme files
    • Functions.php
    • Your sidebars, header or footer
    • Other template parts such as comments or nav menus
    • Custom post type archives
    • Custom taxonomy archives
    • Page templates
    • Other WordPress theme files
  • 12. Child Theme Advanced Topics
    • Child Theme Functions
      • Pluggable Functions
      • Hooked Functions
      • Filters
    • Notes About Child Themes
    • Parent Themes (frameworks)
    • Child Theme Resources
  • 13. Child Theme Functions (pluggable)
    • There are two types of functions that your child theme can access, the first is a pluggable function.
    • Pluggable functions are not just for themes.
    • Pluggable function example from twentyeleven
    • if ( ! function_exists( 'twentyeleven_setup' ) ):
    • To override the twentyeleven setup just write your own twentyeleven_setup function in your child functions.php file.
  • 14. Child Theme Functions (hooked)
    • Non Pluggable functions should be hooked using action hooks
    • You can easily remove functions created by the parent theme, and supplement them with your child theme functions
    • remove_action( 'init', 'hybrid_register_menus' );
    • add_action( 'init', 'mychild_register_menus' );
  • 15. Parent Theme Frameworks
    • Listed on WP Codex http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Frameworks
    • Thematic Theme (free, developer friendly) http://themeshaper.com/thematic-for-wordpress/
    • Hybrid Theme (free, paid support) http://themehybrid.com/
    • Genesis Theme (premium, regular updates, developer friendly) http://www.studiopress.com/themes
    • Thesis Theme (premium, regular updates, highly customizable) http://diythemes.com/
  • 16. Notes about Child Themes
    • Child themes may not be uploaded to WordPress.com or the WordPress.org theme repository (yet, as far as I know).
    • You CAN make 2nd, and 3 rd level deep child themes (grand-child and great-grand-child) but DON'T.
    • Never, ever, ever modify the parent theme without thorough testing when one or more child themes rely on it (yes even updates).
  • 17. Child Theme Resources
    • http://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes
    • http://op111.net/53/
    • http://php.quicoto.com/wordpress-theme-hierarchy/
    • http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Development
    • http://themehybrid.com/hybrid-core
    • http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/parentchild-themes-in-wordpress-the-future-of-wordpress-themes/
    • http://wpcandy.com/uncategorized/frameworks-child-themes-filters-and-hook