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WordPress 3: Building Child Themes
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Modifying existing styles


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WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Video: Modifying existing styles

One of the first things people want to do when they activate a new WordPress theme is make changes to the look and feel of the theme to make it their own. This usually means making changes to the theme styles. Child themes were introduced to make this process non-destructive, meaning you don't have to mess with the core or parents theme styles to get what you want. That way you won't inadvertently break the parent theme and your changes won't be overwritten in the future when the parent theme updates. Let's take a look at how you go about making changes to the styles on your website using your child theme.
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  1. 6m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
    3. What you need to know before watching this course
      1m 29s
    4. Getting the right tools for theme creation
      2m 50s
  2. 17m 2s
    1. What is a WordPress child theme and when should you use it?
      2m 38s
    2. Picking a parent theme
      3m 55s
    3. Making sure you have the Twenty Twelve parent theme
      1m 50s
    4. Creating and activating a basic child theme
      4m 20s
    5. Importing parent theme styles
      4m 19s
  3. 16m 2s
    1. Using the developer tools
      3m 53s
    2. Modifying existing styles
      4m 24s
    3. Adding space between paragraphs
      4m 7s
    4. Changing font family styles
      3m 38s
  4. 31m 47s
    1. Understanding the WordPress template hierarchy
      3m 12s
    2. Modifying existing templates
      2m 33s
    3. Moving the header image
      4m 29s
    4. Adding Related Posts feature to posts
      6m 26s
    5. Creating custom page templates
      5m 43s
    6. Using conditional statements for customized effects
      5m 41s
    7. Creating custom header, footer, and sidebar templates
      3m 43s
  5. 17m 5s
    1. Understanding the different index pages and what they do
      4m 6s
    2. Adding author, date, and time information to the index loop
      7m 15s
    3. Changing the appearance of category index pages
      5m 44s
  6. 43m 5s
    1. Introducing functions.php
      3m 24s
    2. Overriding existing functions
      3m 23s
    3. Adding pagination to index pages
      5m 49s
    4. Adding to existing functions
      3m 21s
    5. Adding a new footer menu to Twenty Twelve
      6m 24s
    6. Adding a new widgetized area to pages
      4m 9s
    7. Adding static content to the sidebar
      7m 44s
    8. Replacing existing functions
      2m 36s
    9. Adding a Google font through a function
      6m 15s
  7. 10m 24s
    1. Adding new featured image sizes
      5m 41s
    2. Adding featured images to posts and pages
      4m 43s
  8. 31m 1s
    1. Adding a welcome message to the front page
      1m 22s
    2. Displaying page content in an index page
      7m 42s
    3. Hooking in a featured image
      4m 34s
    4. Making the welcome message responsive
      6m 27s
    5. Restricting content to the first page of the blog
      4m 22s
    6. Adding a jQuery function to show or hide the welcome message
      6m 34s
  9. 10m 23s
    1. Adding a custom favicon
      3m 58s
    2. Adding a custom screenshot
      2m 29s
    3. Adding footer information
      3m 56s
  10. 7m 14s
    1. What to do when a child theme crashes your website
      4m 38s
    2. Updating parent and child themes
      2m 36s

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WordPress 3: Building Child Themes
3h 11m Intermediate Jun 23, 2011 Updated Nov 27, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Create a child theme based on an existing parent theme in WordPress and change the functionality, presentation, or styling of your website. In this course, author Morten Rand-Hendriksen shows how to use the default WordPress theme, Twenty Twelve, as a basis for a new child theme and add custom menus; new headers, sidebars, and footers; and index pages with widgets and pagination to your site. The course also demonstrates how to add a responsive welcome message to your front page using PHP and jQuery, and how to edit the many templates found in a WordPress theme. Morten explains how to perform these changes using any code editor, the developer tools in the Chrome browser, and WordPress.

Topics include:
  • Picking a parent theme
  • Creating and activating a basic WordPress child theme
  • Using the developer tools
  • Changing the header image size
  • Using conditional statements for customized effects
  • Adding custom menus to the child theme and/or a template
  • Changing the default footer content
  • Adding featured images to posts
  • Changing the display of meta content (such as date, author, category, etc.)
  • Excluding categories from the front page with custom queries
  • Including functions from external files
  • Identifying and fixing common mistakes
Subjects:
Web CMS
Software:
WordPress
Author:
Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Modifying existing styles

One of the first things people want to do when they activate a new WordPress theme is make changes to the look and feel of the theme to make it their own. This usually means making changes to the theme styles. Child themes were introduced to make this process non-destructive, meaning you don't have to mess with the core or parents theme styles to get what you want. That way you won't inadvertently break the parent theme and your changes won't be overwritten in the future when the parent theme updates. Let's take a look at how you go about making changes to the styles on your website using your child theme.

If you look closely at the images in the Twenty Twelve theme, you'll notice that they have a slight drop shadow behind them and that the box that contains them has rounded corners. You see the shadow here behind this white image and if we scroll down, you see that this solid image has rounded corners. If you want to change that, you have to make changes to the style sheet and those styles are in the parent theme. So what we're going to do is to use our child theme styles to override the parent theme styles. This is because of how CSS works.

CSS or cascading style sheets work on the simple principle of a cascade. The first styles that are listed have less importance than the last ones, meaning the ones that are the furthest down in the stylesheet matter the most. In the case of a child theme, the parent theme is called first and then the child theme. So any style that's in the child theme stylesheet has more importance than the ones that are in the parent stylesheet. If I use the developer tools here I can right- click on the image, click Inspect element and here I can see the styles that affect the image. You see the first style is this image align right, but this style only affects alignments.

If I scroll down you see that the second style here, the one that affects entry content image and other images has two variables; border-radius, and box -shadow, and obviously, these are impacting the image. If I want to see if this is a style I want to change, all I have to do is turn one of those styles off, so I'll turn off box- shadow, and now you see the box-shadow disappears. That also makes it harder to see the rounded corners though, because there's a white background and this image has a white background as well, so I'll scroll down and find another image, and here you see it still has a rounded corner, and I can now change that rounded corner radius either by going in and saying, let's say 10 pixels, to get a much more rounded corner, or I can go out and knock it away altogether and get a square corner.

Now that I know that I want to change the style, the next step is a copy to style itself, or copy the whole style and then go to my stylesheet in my child theme. So I'll navigate to my child theme, and open style.css in my text editor, and here I'm simply going to paste in the original style the way it was written. So here we have the style copied straight out of the browser. You see I made a change to it, I made border radius 10 pixels, but since I want to get rid of the border radius, I am going to set it to 0 instead, and then I'm also going to change box-shadow from these values to none, just to clean up a bit of code here so it's looks nice. And now when I save the stylesheet in the child theme, I can go back to my browser, reload the page, and you see that my changes are taking effect, and now I have square corners and no drop shadow.

But this isn't style that I changed in the parent stylesheet. I changed it in the child theme stylesheet, meaning I can now go back to the child theme stylesheet and simply comment out my new style, save it, reload the page and the old styles from the parent stylesheet kick back in. So now you see the power of a child theme style sheets. Instead of having to go and muck around with the actual styles and risk breaking something, you're simply adding on new styles and seeing what they do. And this doesn't just apply to styles you want to change, you can also go into your child theme and just add new styles at will.

So if you have new content then you need to change the way that appears, you can simply add new styles here and they'll be appended to the original styles from the parent theme. That way you're building on top of the parent theme instead of building everything from scratch. By modifying or overriding styles with your child theme, you can make quick and easy changes to your theme without having to touch the theme itself, and if you don't like what you did you just go back in and take out that new style code and you are back where you started.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about WordPress 3: Building Child Themes.


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Q: The 2010 version of this course no longer covers installing BitNami. Can you provide directions?
A: Instructions on how to install WordPress using BitNami can be found at
 http://bitnami.org/stack/wordpress. Use the "Installer" option. 
It is pretty straight forward and almost impossible to mess up.

lynda.com also has a dedicated course on WAMP and MAMP (Installing Apache, MySQL, and PHP) that is relevant and you might find helpful.
Q:When looking to download PHP development tool at www.eclipse.org/pdt/, as advised by Morten, but when accessing the site via this link, the screenshot in the movie is very different from what it takes you to on the website.
A: Eclipse has a very active developer cycle and updates quite frequently. The interface changes all the time. I recommend using Notepad++ (Windows) or TextWrangler (Mac) instead. They perform the same function but are far less cumbersome to deal with.
Q: This course was updated on 11/27/2012. What changed?
A: This course was heavily revised to reflect changes to the default WordPress parent theme, Twenty Twelve, and updates to WordPress's functionality. The entire course was re-recorded to reflect changes to the interface. Then we added new movies on text styling, the Related Posts feature, and the welcome message features. There are also two brand new chapters, "Modifying and Adding Functions" and "Working with Featured Images." We recommend that members who have seen the whole course start again from the beginning to get the most benefit from this update.
 
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