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Can someone explain the difference between Parent themes, child themes and extended "family"?

I'm following the course on how to build a Worpdress Theme and I'm halfway through.

At the same time I'm reading about Parent themes, child themes and frameworks and I don't understand the difference or what we should use when building sites new sites.

What special skills do you need to develop under a framework?

I will appreciate if someone explain or point me to an article that explains this.

I read a bit on Wordpress codex but it was difficult to grasp.

Thank you!

3 Answers

Zac Gordon
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

Parent theme - Any theme you want to work with

Child theme - Starts as an empty theme with only a style.css file with a special CSS comment saying what theme you want to create a child theme for [that's the parent theme]. A theme developer only adds the files they want to override (i.e. new header.php, new functions.php).

Family themes - Haven't heard that term before :p but I'm guessing it's referring to a group of child themes that all work with the same parent theme.

And yes, you almost always want to use a child theme to customize a theme you're working with (unless you created that theme from scratch).

Hope that helps!

I can help a bit.

For my site I created a child theme from my parent. As I understand it is a "best of practice" If you are going to heavily modify a theme by adding tweaks, changing code etc you only want to change your child theme. If you change your parent theme and then a new improved version comes with different code all your changes to that code will be lost. Basically the new code form the updated version will overwrite your old code and you will lose everything. Make a child and do all changes in the child folder, then when the parent folder is updated your changes on the child will overwrite the new version and preserve all your tweaks. There another option and that is never ever ever upgrade your files and you will be safe.

Does this make sense?


Thank you! This is helpful...

How about a framework?Would it be a good thing to use if you're new to theme development?

I was looking at http://themehybrid.com/ and something called Genesis...