Tag Archives: child themes

Jan 2012 Meetup Slides: Themes for Developers

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.

Anca Mosoiu of Tech Liminal gave us an overview of how WordPress themes work, including the wp_posts table, the template hierarchy, the functions.php file, and the principles of creating a child theme. It was a lot to squeeze into 90 minutes, so you’ll want to go over the slides here.

[slideshare id=11091992&doc=wordpressthemebasics-120116171416-phpapp01]

May 2011 Meetup Notes

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.

Here are a few of the things we discussed in the Q&A at the May 15th East Bay WordPress Meetup.

Backup Plugins

Bob H (who would like to start a North Bay/Marin WordPress Meetup—contact him through our Meetup.com site) asked about backup plugins. My favorite is BackupBuddy by PluginBuddy (the iThemes people).

It’s dead easy to use, it backs up EVERYTHING, and it includes painless restoration and even migration to a different host, which is great for developers. It is a commercial plugin, which means you have to pay for it: $45 for 2 sites, $75 for 10 sites, $150 for a developer’s license (unlimited sites). And no, that’s not an affiliate link up there. (Because I’m an idiot, obviously.)

A free plugin that tries to do the same things, and manages most of them, is BackWPUp. It backs up both files and  databases, on a schedule, to destinations like Amazon S3 and Dropbox.

BackWPup options

BackWPup destinations

BackWPUp list of backups

Publishing WordPress to the Root Directory

Judy Baker installed WordPress in its own directory for a client and wants to publish it to the root directory, to replace the old HTML site. In order to do this, you need to move the index.php (from the main WordPress directory) and the .htaccess file into the root directory and make some small adjustments. For directions on how to do this, see Giving WordPress Its Own Directory and Moving WordPress in the WordPress Codex. Note that if you are running Multi-site, you must install WordPress in the root directory.

Builder, Headway, and Child Themes

Bob also asked about the iThemes Builder theme.

No one at the meetup had actually used it—if you have, leave a comment. Builder is a tool designed to allow non-coders to create their own themes by dragging and dropping different elements. There are a number of pre-designed child themes available, or you can create your own. For those who may be wondering, as Bob did: no, you can’t buy a child theme on its own. A child theme only works if the parent theme is installed.

Another system similar to Builder is Headway.

These tools can be great for those who don’t know HTML and CSS. But they do have limitations. You can’t import existing themes or Photoshop designs into them, for instance. And unless you DO have designer/developer skills, sites built with them have a tendency to look alike because of the limited number of elements included for mixing and matching. It would probably be good to have a meetup specifically centered around WYSIWYG theme building tools. We had someone volunteer to demonstrate Headway a while ago.

Someone asks about Woo Canvas framework, which lets you customize your site design, though not with quite the same drag-and-drop interface as Builder or Headway. Some of us aren’t that fond of the way Woo insists on proprietary ways of doing things that run counter to the way WordPress naturally does them, but no one had direct experience of Canvas either  negative or positive. (One of my own concerns about themes like this is—do you want your clients to be able to mess with it after you build it?)

How to customize the Canvas theme – Part 1 from WooThemes on Vimeo.

Anca points out that there is actually a WordPress theme called Wu Wei, after the Taoist term meaning “acting without acting.” Which is not precisely the Woo Way.

Displaying Posts from One Blog on Another

Shari has two WordPress site, one with pages (converted from HTML site) and a blog. She wants posts from a certain category on the blog to show up on the other site.

You can do this with RSS. First, find the category feed, which usually looks something like “<domain name>/<category slug>/feed”. Stephanie Leary has a terrific list of the hidden feeds of WordPress on her SillyBean.net blog, if you’re not sure where to find the exact feed you need.

There are plugins to help with this, for instance SourcedFrom (install on the site you want to import to) and EmbedRSS.

Update: the SourcedFrom.com site appears to have gone offline.

embed-rss screenshot 1
Screenshot of EmbedRSS

How Do I Get Archive Pages to Show Full Posts?

Well, you could edit your functions.php file or your template files, but since you’re now using Twenty Ten, an easier option is to install Weaver and adjust the settings there. Weaver started out as a child theme of Twenty Ten and evolved into a a stand-alone theme. You can modify it with several existing skins or keep it looking just like Twenty Ten, but with lots more theme options. I built the Instill Leadership site with 2010 Weaver.

Weaver Options
(There are more options where those came from.)

Menus in Multi-site

Michael Enslow asks whether  you can share the menu from the main site in a Multi-site installation to the subdomain sites?

Right now, no, though you can export and import menus (along with the rest of your content using the regular exporter, or as a custom content type).


Eric Reynolds says global menus are in the works for a future version of WordPress, but I don’t see it in the Version 3.2 feature list.

Facebook Integration

Last month, Pieter Hartsook had an issue with two Facebook plugins on the Being Elmo website. Facebook Grabber and Embed Facebook were both using the same variable name, which caused a conflict. (Note to plugin developers: please use unique prefixes on your variable names.) Anca renamed the variables and the plugins worked. Here they are in use:

Facebook Grabber » Being Elmo
Facebook Grabber: Wall Posts from the Being Elmo Fan Page.
Embed Facebook on Being Elmo
Embed Facebook photo album


We did a meetup on gallery and slideshow plugins in 2009, and it’s probably time to do one again. Anca has also suggested that we do a plugin on integrating WordPress with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

Embedding Video

At some point Judy asked about embedding YouTube videos. This is easier than many people know, thanks to the oEmbed function introduced in WordPress 2.9. All you need to do is paste the link to the YouTube, Vimeo, etc video on its own line in the HTML editor (sometimes the visual editor will wrap it in link tags, which you don’t want) and WordPress will automatically embed the player, sized to fit your content window. We talked about this at the January 2010 Meetup and you can read all about it in the WordPress Codex.

Now, if only embedding audio were that easy! You can use the Audio Link Player plugin to convert all links to MP3 files into players. Note that you will be nagged mercilessly for a donation if you do.

That’s all until next month!

April 2010 Meetup Notes: WordPress Q & A

Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.

Anet wants to carpool from the North Bay to WordCamp on May 1st. If you’re planning to drive down from that area, contact her at anetdunne [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sepehr wants to work on Hybrid theme framework – Linda Shum has experience with this and offers to talk to him after the meetup.

Darren asks about child themes. There’s a nice updated article in the Codex (http://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes), but basically a child theme is a way to customize a theme without changing the original theme files, so when the theme is updated, you don’t lose your customizations. Lori’s presentation shows us a child theme of twentyten, the new default theme for WordPress 3.0.

Linda wants to know about using jQuery in WordPress; she’s had some trouble with it. Anca does too—Bill has a link from Digging into WordPress: http://digwp.com/2009/06/including-jquery-in-wordpress-the-right-way/, and adds that you should read the comments.

We talk a bit about security and about hosting, which are related topics right now because of the so-called Pharma Hack that’s going around. Sallie has a collection of bookmarks on WordPress security at http://delicious.com/authorizer/wordpress+security. Regarding this particular hack, you should check your file permissions. There’s a plugin to help you do this called ServerBuddy by PluginBuddy.com (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/serverbuddy-by-pluginbuddy/). It will check your file and folder permissions and will also (as a bonus) tell you whether the fabulous BackupBuddy plugin will run on your site. (You have to pay for that one, but if you’re a developer who has to migrate sites a lot, you’ll find it’s worth it.)

Speaking of hosts, good choices for WordPress hosting are Bluehost, HostGator, and Liquid Web. (Anca and Lori are both Liquid Web resellers.) There’s also a new service called Page.ly that will handle your backups and updates in addition to hosting your WP site, for $14.99/month.

We will hold a future meetup on the topic of security, and if we don’t find an expert to speak on the subject, Anca and Sallie (the backup expert) and Lou Anne will do it together. Meanwhile, if you want to know more about backup plugins for WordPress, see http://www.fileslinger.com/tags/wordpress/).

Sepehr asks about plugins for making your archives more interesting. Sallie suggests the Snazzy Archives plugin, which puts all of your archives on one page.


Darren asks about improvements to the Custom Fields interface; Trish says she knows of a good plugin, Custom Field Template.

The winner of this month’s book drawing (for Sams Teach Yourself WordPress in 10 Minutes) was Valerie Fahs-Thatcher. We’ll be keeping an eye out for your Amazon review, Valerie, and I hope the book is helpful.


Anca’s WordPress class at TechLiminal starts Monday, April 19th. If you want to learn more about WordPress, sign up at http://techliminal.com/learn-2-wordpress/.

The WordPress Bay Area Foothills (that’s the South Bay) Meetup, run by Lou Anne McKeefery and Ann Zerega, meets this Wednesday evening at the Milpitas Library. The speaker is Alex King from the WP Help Center. RSVP at http://www.meetup.com/Wordpress-Bay-Area-CA-Foothills/. (This month you can attend by telephone.)

The Bay Area (meaning San Francisco) WordPress Meetup, in a fit of bad planning, also scheduled its meeting for Wednesday, April 21. They’re talking about “totally awesome plugins and themes.” You can RSVP at http://www.meetup.com/wordpress-sf/.