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WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

Understanding the different index pages and what they do


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WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Video: Understanding the different index pages and what they do

One of the key components of any WordPress site is the index pages. Simply put, an index page shows a list of posts from the site depending on what you're asking for. The most well-known of the index pages is the blog page, which displays all the posts of the site in reverse chorological order. Other index pages include category index and archive indexes. The index pages in a WordPress theme or child theme live in a hierarchy and kick in at different times. Understanding which index page template handles and displays what content will help you customize the look and feel of your site and also avoid a lot of frustration when things don't display the way you intended.
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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

Understanding the different index pages and what they do

One of the key components of any WordPress site is the index pages. Simply put, an index page shows a list of posts from the site depending on what you're asking for. The most well-known of the index pages is the blog page, which displays all the posts of the site in reverse chorological order. Other index pages include category index and archive indexes. The index pages in a WordPress theme or child theme live in a hierarchy and kick in at different times. Understanding which index page template handles and displays what content will help you customize the look and feel of your site and also avoid a lot of frustration when things don't display the way you intended.

If you look at this graphic of the WordPress template hierarchy, you can see how the different index pages kick in and when they kick in. What happens when you display any page in WordPress is the database and the browser cooperate to figure out what template to use. For example, if we're looking at a category page, this is what would happen. WordPress would say, "What kind of page is it?" It's an archive page and it's a category archive. "All right, do we have a file named category- and then the slug for this category, or the name for the category? If not, do we have a template called category- and then the number ID for that template? If not, do we have a file called category.php?" Chances are you do, and in that case we're going to use that category.php template.

The same goes for custom taxonomies, tags, author archives, date archives, and general archives. Looking at the 2012 folder, you'll see we have most of these different index page templates already in existence. We have the archive template; we have the author index template, the category index template. And if we scroll down, you'll see we have the regular index template. We also have a tag index template and even a search index template. All of these templates kick in when those specific types of content are asked for.

So let's take a look at how they work exactly. If you look at the index.php template, you see that off the very top, you have a commented-out section that explains what this template does, and it even has a link right to that graphic of the template hierarchy in WordPress. If you look at the body, you'll see exactly what happens when you use an index template. WordPress says, while you have posts, show each of the posts using the following template content. This means it's looking for a file called content- and then the name of the post format.

In older themes you won't see this get_template_part call; instead, you'll see the actual code to display all the contents for each post. But more recent themes use this function because it becomes easier to manage. So what happens here is, for each post we're actually calling this file called content and then we're displaying the content from that file. We need to look at content.php as well. You can see here, inside 2012, that we have a file called content.php and then we also have content files for each of the main post formats, aside, image, link, and so on.

We even have one for page. If we look at content, you'll see that all that happens here inside the loop is we display the content for each post. We get the post thumbnail, we get the title, we get the comments link, and we get either an excerpt or the contents, depending on what type of archive this is. So as you can see, just like with the page templates, the index page templates work in collaboration with the content templates to display all the content.

Understanding how the index pages work will help you come up with, and implement, new and exciting ways to display content. More importantly though, it'll help you troubleshoot potential problems when something doesn't display the way you intended, because now that you know how the template structure works, you can track down the correct template and make changes to that template when things aren't displaying correctly.

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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