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Child Themes for Everyone

Posted by Edward Caissie on July 23, 2009 in WordPress |

Some of you may have noticed that although I have the Desk Mess Mirrored theme active here it does not quite look like a standard installation, such as the missing “Hide Me” page, and the much longer credit line at the bottom of the page, of course you should be viewing the page under the default “Custom” theme. If you have noticed some of these differences from the core Desk Mess Mirrored theme then what you are witnessing is a child theme.

There is a great post at op111.net explaining How to make a child theme for WordPress and rather than re-invent the wheel I would suggest a quick click and bookmark the article for later reading; or, go read it now … I’ll wait … still waiting …

… OK, now that you have a basic understanding of creating child themes (and bookmarked the post for later reference) lets move on here.

The “Custom” child theme of Desk Mess Mirrored implements the multiple contributor functionality of the theme; and, allows me to add more personal modifications that are site specific. Now, I always suggest to anyone that will read (or listen) they create a child theme to make modifications to the core theme files.  This is not just for the themes that I am creating but for any theme. The process is virtually identical no matter the base theme you start with.

For example, the Custom theme has a copy of the author.php and comments.php file so that I could implement the multiple contributor code without having to re-edit the files every time I update the theme.  I use the same Desk Mess Mirrored theme that everyone can easily download at WordPress.org, of course the required style.css is also part of the child theme.

You can see more theme parent and child examples here with the Shades (parent) theme, and the child themes: Shades of Turq! and Shades of Darkness.

Why am I telling all about this?  Simple, really, I will be including with all themes at least one child theme to work with the parent.  Some may be simple CSS only child themes, others may be more involved with different headers; or, a different background; or, whatever comes to mind.

So, with that in mind, the Desk Mess Mirrored theme will include the Multi child theme with its next release that includes the enabled multiple contributor functionality, and as suggested by a kind lady who bought me a coffee or two … an rss link in the coffee cup of the header image. The next release of Shades will include the Shades of Darkness child theme.

The child themes will be found as a folder within the main theme folder, and will simply require being moved into the “../wp-content/themes/” folder at the same level as the parent theme.

Here are some images to help describe the process. The first image shows the child theme folder as it will be found inside the parent theme’s folder.  Child theme folder names will begin with the parent themes folder name to better identify them.

The next image shows the child theme folder once it has been moved to the same level as the parent theme.  Once outside the parent theme folder and on the same “level” as the parent theme the child theme will appear on the Themes page under Appearance in the Dashboard.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

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