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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes
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Introducing template file structure


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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes

with Chris Coyier

Video: Introducing template file structure

We have installed and activated the blank theme for WordPress. So that's what we are looking at here is the blank theme activated on our WordPress site. But we didn't take too close of a look at what makes a WordPress theme tick. I didn't show you all the files in that WordPress theme folder. So I wanted to take the opportunity here to give you guys the grand tour of a WordPress theme. What all those files in a WordPress theme folder do. So I am in the htdocs folder. This is our root where WordPress install in the wp-content folder, in the themes folder, and there is our WidgetCorpTheme-1, which is the blank theme that we installed.
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  1. 6m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 19s
    2. Using the exercise files
      5m 25s
  2. 40m 42s
    1. Reviewing the client spec and deciding on WordPress
      6m 50s
    2. Reviewing assets and resources and creating a mood board
      8m 41s
    3. Building a home page mockup
      11m 26s
    4. Finishing the home page
      12m 27s
    5. Planning the rest of the site
      1m 18s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Starting with a base project
      3m 6s
    2. Writing HTML code for the home page
      12m 7s
    3. Starting the CSS: Creating the header and basic style structure
      11m 28s
    4. Styling the Navigation panel
      10m 59s
    5. Styling the sidebar
      7m 55s
    6. Styling the home page, pt. 1
      8m 20s
    7. Styling the home page, pt. 2
      8m 17s
    8. Finishing the CSS
      3m 14s
    9. Moving on: One page is enough
      2m 43s
  4. 1h 56m
    1. Setting up WordPress and MAMP on a Mac
      6m 7s
    2. Setting up WordPress and WAMP on a Windows computer
      5m 38s
    3. Modifying important settings
      6m 26s
    4. Starting with a blank theme template
      4m 35s
    5. Introducing template file structure
      4m 55s
    6. Breaking up the HTML
      9m 53s
    7. Building the sidebar
      3m 54s
    8. Building the navigation
      7m 20s
    9. Showing one recent post
      4m 1s
    10. Fetching external content
      8m 23s
    11. Creating a custom home page
      3m 30s
    12. Introducing custom fields
      5m 23s
    13. Creating custom product pages
      9m 52s
    14. Creating custom category pages
      15m 39s
    15. Creating the blog home page
      5m 39s
    16. Creating a single blog entry page
      4m 15s
    17. Implementing comments
      5m 57s
    18. Finishing the home page
      4m 45s
  5. 34m 17s
    1. Will this work with WordPress?
      3m 10s
    2. Using JavaScript in themes the right way
      8m 35s
    3. Implementing something fun with JavaScript
      7m 53s
    4. Introducing plug-ins
      6m 31s
    5. Setting up security
      8m 8s
  6. 2m 7s
    1. Goodbye
      2m 7s

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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes
4h 28m Intermediate Nov 03, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes, author Chris Coyier shows how to build a custom WordPress theme from scratch and satisfy common client requests. The course covers steps necessary to build a theme using a complete workflow with Photoshop, HTML, CSS, and WordPress 3.0. Also included are tutorials on enhancing a WordPress site with JavaScript, using plugins, and ensuring site security. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Building a design in Photoshop
  • Converting Photoshop design to HTML and CSS
  • Setting up MAMP on Mac and WAMP on Windows
  • Moving HTML and CSS into a WordPress theme
  • Building navigation
  • Using custom fields
  • Creating a commenting system
  • Using JavaScript and plugins
Subjects:
Developer Web CMS
Software:
WordPress
Author:
Chris Coyier

Introducing template file structure

We have installed and activated the blank theme for WordPress. So that's what we are looking at here is the blank theme activated on our WordPress site. But we didn't take too close of a look at what makes a WordPress theme tick. I didn't show you all the files in that WordPress theme folder. So I wanted to take the opportunity here to give you guys the grand tour of a WordPress theme. What all those files in a WordPress theme folder do. So I am in the htdocs folder. This is our root where WordPress install in the wp-content folder, in the themes folder, and there is our WidgetCorpTheme-1, which is the blank theme that we installed.

I am going to drag that folder onto the TextMate icon in our dock, and this is all the files of a WordPress theme. You can see in our project sidebar in TextMate all the files that make up a WordPress theme. The first one we will open up is index.php. It's the one we would probably gravitate towards on any site really. The file that powers the root of any directory is the index.php file, and indeed this file that we are looking at in Safari, the root of our website, is powered by the index.php file right now.

So what's in this file? It starts with this command. This little PHP function, get_header, and it ends with a couple of PHP functions, get_sidebar, get_footer. What do these things do? Really, really simple. WordPress works in this modular kind of way. Get_header means go get the file header.php and put that code that you find there right here. So header.php file. What's in that? Well, it's the top of the page. It's the DOCTYPE. It's the head section. It's inside the head section where the title of our page is generated.

It has the opening body tag, and it has some kind of opening tags here. So all this code that's in header.php gets just plunked in right here where this get_header is. Then it moves on to this code. Then it says get_sidebar. That's going to go get sidebar.php and put all this code where that function is in the index.php file right here. Now get_footer, I bet you can guess it. It's going to go get the footer.php, all the code that it finds in the footer.php file, and put it there.

So there is some content, a special function here, a little comment reminder for us to not forget analytics as we move to launch our site and then the closing body and closing HTML tags. So that code gets plunked right down into our index.php file right here. So it's that modular concept that WordPress is working with here. Let's say I click on to this Hello world post. It changes links. Now we are looking at just this one blog post and it has this comment out here and it has the text box here where I could leave my own comment on that post.

Now is index.php powering this as well? No, it's not. It's using single. What single.php means is single blog post. So you can see it's very similar looking to index.php. It has this get_header, get_sidebar, get_footer, but it's a little bit different. For instance, it has this PHP function here, comments_template. So that's one of the big differences. You can see that it's outputted this comment and this form for me to leave a new comment. That all comes from this, and can you guess? This is a module as well.

It's says go get the comments. php file and put that right here. So here is the file that has all the code that gets dropped in right there. So there is a few other files in our theme. Think of the 404 page. Now if you were to go to a URL that didn't exist on this site, I will just type a bunch of gobbledygook up here and hit Return, it's going to say Error 404, Page Not Found. That comes from this 404.php file. It uses these modular chunks, but then just has its own special content.

It doesn't need to say much more than this. So this is your opportunity to customize and create a 404 page for your site. There is the archive.php file. This is in-charge of displaying something if we wanted to look at just a month on our site. So just in August. Here is the archive for August. The archive.php file will be in-charge of displaying that site. Comments, we already looked at. The footer. These are just little modular chunks. WordPress themes work in this modular kind of way.

You don't have to repeat yourself in all of these different files. You can just call the modules as you need them. That's kind of the idea. Now I don't want you to think that this is your whole tour of the whole WordPress site. We are going to be looking at each one of these files in more detail as we move forward and as we actually build and flesh out this theme.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes.


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Q: What prerequisite skill do I need to be successful in this course?
A: This course is set at the intermediate/advanced level. You’ll do best if you have a good knowledge of Photoshop, plus a good grasp of PHPHTML, and CSS.

Q: The index.php file that the author is working with in Chapter 3 doesn't match mine after the "Building a sidebar" movie. It appears to change between the "Building a sidebar" and "Building the navigation" movies. What code am I missing?
A: The author makes some changes off screen between several movies in this title, simply because there is so much material to cover. These changes are provided in the exercise files.

However, if you are following along without the exercise files, you catch up to him by adding the following code to your index.php file, directly after the <?php get_header(); ?> line:

<div id="main-content">

Near the end of the file, just before  <?php get_sidebar(); ?>, add a closing div tag, </div>, to complete the div wrapper.

The resulting code will look like so. You may also copy and paste this into a new file and save it as index.php.

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id='main-content'>

    <?php if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

        <div <?php post_class() ?> id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>">

            <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>

            <?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/inc/meta.php' ); ?>

            <div class="entry">
                <?php the_content(); ?>
            </div>

            <div class="postmetadata">
                <?php the_tags('Tags: ', ', ', '<br />'); ?>
                Posted in <?php the_category(', ') ?> |
                <?php comments_popup_link('No Comments »', '1 Comment »', '% Comments »'); ?>
            </div>

        </div>

    <?php endwhile; ?>

    <?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/inc/nav.php' ); ?>

    <?php else : ?>

        <h2>Not Found</h2>

    <?php endif; ?>
   
</div>

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

Q: How do I load my custom theme once I have finished?
A: Copy the Custom theme folder to your new WordPress installation and put it in wp-content > themes. Then you can activate the new theme and work with it from there.
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