As with all industries, WordPress theming has it’s fair share of trends, flowing in and out of popularity as the WordPress product and community evolve. Through these trends, needs for supplementary resources evolve, where users aim to enhance trends via additional products or services. A trend that has been growing in popularity in recent years is that of “Theme Frameworks” or “Advanced Parent Themes”. These themes, while bundling in large amounts of valuable code, can become confusing to modify and upgrade for the end user. This, following the flow of trends, grew the awareness and need for the use of child themes.
Child theming has been around in WordPress for a considerable amount of time, allowing users to create a smaller theme that piggybacks off of a larger theme, with it’s own CSS and customised PHP functions. A perfect fit with “Advanced Parent Themes”, yes? So why are some users apprehensive about it? Fear of the unknown.
To many WordPress users, child theming is an “advanced concept”, which is standing in the way of setting up their website and getting them blogging. It doesn’t have to be that way. In addition to this, once a child theme has been created (essentially a folder with two virtually empty files in it), what has the user actually achieved? They’ve added no custom CSS and no custom PHP functionality. The child theme now either looks empty or looks like the parent theme (if the parent theme’s stylesheet was imported, which is another step).
With this in mind, I sat down the other night and sought to make this process easier for users. Easier to not only get their child theme created, but also to get some base code into the files to assist the user in customising their child theme. Within a few hours, I’d created a tool that, with a few clicks, could create a child theme with some basic starter functions (provided by the parent theme) to get the user started with customising their child theme.
At WooThemes, we like to observe and give back to the WordPress community (see Appearance -> Menus in your WordPress Dashboard). With the rise in “Theme Frameworks” and “Advanced Parent Themes”, we feel that this tool could benefit the community at large. Therefore, with the addition of one or two small text fields to any WordPress theme, it would be able to setup starter code within child themes created of it.
Here’s a screencast of this functionality (which is very much a work in progress):
So, what child themes have you created today?