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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes
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Starting with a blank theme template


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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes

with Chris Coyier

Video: Starting with a blank theme template

We're ready to start digging into really building our theme. My favorite way to do that is to start with a blank theme. So again we're looking at the 2010 theme that came with WordPress. It's a nice-looking theme, but we've already created our Photoshop file. We've created our CSS and HTML template. We know what our site is going to look like and it's not like this. So we're going to actually remove this theme entirely and replace it with a blank theme. Blank themes are great, because it's not going to be us wrestling against this existing theme.
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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

Starting with a blank theme template

We're ready to start digging into really building our theme. My favorite way to do that is to start with a blank theme. So again we're looking at the 2010 theme that came with WordPress. It's a nice-looking theme, but we've already created our Photoshop file. We've created our CSS and HTML template. We know what our site is going to look like and it's not like this. So we're going to actually remove this theme entirely and replace it with a blank theme. Blank themes are great, because it's not going to be us wrestling against this existing theme.

It's going to be starting with absolute and complete scratch and you'll see what I mean in a minute. If you don't have access to the exercise files, I've included the blank theme as the free exercise file that you can download from the course page. So this is the WordPress theme. Now how do you install a WordPress theme? Where do WordPress themes go? Well, these are the files in the Applications folder in the MAMP folder in the htdocs folder. Remember that's where we installed WordPress. That's where all the files that power WordPress are. I'm going to drag this htdocs folder into our sidebar over here so we can have easy access to it moving forward.

There is a folder in here called wp- content and within that there's a plug-ins folder, a themes folder, an upgrade folder. Within that themes folder, our folders for each of the themes that are installed and ready to go, ready to be switched between in the WordPress lane. There's only one folder in there. That's the twentyten theme. So, from our WordPress site we're going to go to the Dashboard by going to wp-admin and click on the Appearance button over here and that'll show us that current theme that's activated on this site.

Notice there's only one in here and that's exactly what we're seeing here. There's only one theme available. Well, here's our BLANK_Theme. I'm going to hold the Option key and drag it over to the themes folder. That's going to copy it over there. Now there're two themes available in our themes folder and if we reload the page over here in our admin area, it's going to now show us that the currently active theme is still 2010, but there's an additional theme available and it's here. It's not the active theme, but there are some options. We can activate it, preview it, and delete it.

Let me click Preview, so you can see what that looks like. It basically opens what our site would look like in an iframe style popup. So, hopefully you weren't freaking like, whoa, what's that? That looks broken. It looks weird. It looks completely unstyled, but that's what a blank theme is. It's not broken that's what we're looking for. We're looking to start from absolute scratch with this theme rather than fight against the existing theme. So from here we're able to activate it, and that's fine. It's just this preview is nice if you're working on a live site. You can see what a new theme looks like and even click it out and interact with it without activating it.

So you don't have to worry about people seeing that where you're really just playing around. So of I Command+Click the title of our site here, we can open up the front of our site in a new tab, and that's what our site is looking like. Completely blank, it's a great starting point for our theme. A quick little thing that I want to touch on is if we click to open all the theme files, so here's all the files that are this theme, there's one file in here. It's actually required file in all themes. It's the style.css file.

I'm going to click-and-drag it onto TextMate and open it up in the text editor we've been working with. Notice, there's a bunch of comments at the top of this CSS file. This is where we can brand our theme and say that this is the Widget Corp Theme and it's a theme for widgetcorp and we can give it a description and the author and say what version it is and stuff like that and hit Save. It doesn't really show up anywhere except for here in the Appearance area of WordPress. So if I reload then, it'll say this is really now the Widget Corp theme, number 1, version 1, by me, and with the description that we gave it and all that.

Notice there's also a thumbnail for it that says BLANK THEME. That's just what, this screenshot.png. I can double-click to open to open it. It'll open and preview and it's just this graphic that shows kind of an example. So if we open the twentyten, it also has that file, but it's exactly what you're seeing down here. It's just a preview of what your theme looks like. So if you wanted to change it, put some widgets in here, make it real obvious that this is the Widget Corp Theme. That's how you would do that. Starting fresh is a great way to start with a new theme, especially like us since we already have that HTML and CSS going, to not have to fight against an existing theme.

So now we have a great foundation for digging in with some real code.

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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