Support » Everything else WordPress » Advice on direction and theme support

  • Resolved markhem


    Hi. I hope this is the appropriate place to ask for input. I couldn’t find another category that seemed to fit.

    I have been using wordpress for over a year and need some advice on where to go next. I’ve created a child of the Oxygen theme, which I’m happy with for now. My website, if you want to look, is I feel I’ve got a decent start with wordpress, but I want to go further.

    As a beginner I bounce around from tutorial to tutorial, and book to book trying to learn as much as I can. However, I’m beginning to find this frustrating because the learning is so piecemeal, plus, there seems to be very many ways of doing things in wordpress. I look at themes in the repository and find they can get pretty complicated when I go through the template files trying to figure out how they’re organized, even just to do some simple css styling. I do my explorations on a localhost, wampserver, so I’m willing to roll up my sleeves to some extent. In the past I have coded a site in html and css, but don’t know php.

    What I’m looking for is a place to call home in the wp solar system, one that will support me in learning over the long haul, and that uses wordpress best practices.

    I was toying with building my own theme, but realize I don’t actually have what it takes to become a theme developer, even with underscores 1000 hour head start. I work full time, but I have a couple hours a night that I want to put into learning how to do better SEO, Db backup, caching, Google analytics, security and all those sorts of site maintenance practices.

    I am also looking for another theme, which I am willing to be patient about. I want a theme that has a good support community behind it, so when I want to do some customizations (like add dynamic sidebar/widget areas, or move a menu, or style something) I will have someone to ask specific questions about the template modification, code issues, functions.php and those kinds of things. I want to work from a code base that isn’t complicated, and that I can begin to understand over time. If underscores were a theme, and had a community around it, that would be perfect.

    I guess my problem is, I don’t know enough code to know what I’m looking for. But, I do know that I need some sage advice from someone who’s been there. Hope you can help.

Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 32 total)
  • Moderator Jose Castaneda



    You can check it out: Twenty Fourteen

    Wow! That looks awesome. When is it being released?

    Moderator Jose Castaneda



    In December when 3.8 releases.

    Jose, am I right in thinking that if I were to pick a starting point like Twenty Twelve, or Twenty Fourteen, really start reading the code and creating a site with my own sliders and such, that I’d be able to see similar things in other kinds of themes, and therefore begin to pick up on other ways to do things? Or, is wordpress built in a way that other theme builders do radically different things that require re-learning their process, as opposed to the ‘wordpress way’?
    I know themes in the repository are all reviewed and need to meet a standard. I just want to make sure that what I choose to start with has some lateral options when I’m bit more theme savvy and want to use another theme. How far from core code do repository themes get?
    I think what I’ve been seeing is that the more complicated themes have more elaborate file structures, and even finding the appropriate css can be hard sometimes. I suppose that comes with practice.

    Moderator Jose Castaneda



    Sorry for the late reply. Yes, you are correct. One thing that you will see amongst many themes is the use of adding filters and action hooks.

    What is really nice is that WordPress has a lot of neat template tags and functions already built in to it that you are able to alter through filter hooks. A lot of the themes I’ve reviewed have that in common, mostly in part because it is a required guideline. Hooking to the appropriate function call. Like afte_setup_theme, wp_title, body_class just to name a few.

    As far as file structure I wouldn’t really say complicated. I think really depends on the theme. I’ve seen a few themes that have several files duplicated in other folder only find out that they aren’t really using them. When it comes to structuring the file think almost object oriented. Great examples are the bundled themes.

    The structure is fairly easy to grasp. In the index file the call to get the content uses the template tag: get_template_part( 'content', get_post_format() ) ;

    As you can see it will look for the corresponding file. So if the post format is an image it will look for the content-image.php file and if there isn’t one it will just look for the the content.php file. It’s just a simple way of keeping code both organized and separate. In particular CSS and JavaScript.

    Hope that helps you understand a little more. 🙂

    One of the things I liked about Ian Stewart’s Theme Shaper tutorial, an exercise in how themes are put together, was the way get_template_part works. I find this gave me new insight into file structure. I see the bundled themes are going that way. I also read an article last week by Justin Tadlock who (I think) is essentially moving in this direction, too; Theme template hooks are outdated.

    Is this where the development community is headed in general? Just curious.

    Justin Tadlock


    WordPress God

    Yes, I have been moving in the direction of using get_template_part() more than hooks over the past year. It has made DIY users’ lives much easier. get_template_part() is only one part of the equation though. Theme authors should be doing more than that.

    One of the major problems I’ve seen is that we’ve been making it too dang hard for potential theme authors to learn from our code. As themes get more complex, the code has gotten more complex, even within the default Twenty* themes.. This is a big stumbling block for anyone wanting to learn the basics of theme design. When I started learning about WP themes several years ago, this wasn’t an issue at all. The code was simple and fairly easy to pick up if you spent a little time with it.

    At the moment, I’m working on a new theme project in which I hope to merge a lot of the complexity of newer features with code that is as simple to learn from as it was when I first started. Basically, the idea is for the theme to be: 1) stupid simple for new users to use and customize, 2) a great learning tool for DIY users and potential theme authors, and 3) the most foreign language friendly theme in existence.

    Those things do not always go hand-in-hand, but I think I’m on the right track so far (about 75% finished with the theme).

    Whenever I get a little extra time, I’ll try to write a blog post or two to explain some of this in more detail.

    It’s interesting to know that there was a day when learning a WP theme was more accessible. Gives me hope that spending time with the code won’t make me more confused, but more focused.

    As I mentioned at Theme Hybrid the other day Justin, I am looking forward to the theme you’ve been sharing glimpses of over the last months. This seems to me like the model most of us need who want to graduate from Average Joe to DIY user. I especially think the learning environment you have created around your code is important. I lurk because I don’t have a handle on the basics. I read the tutorials, but its just taking me awhile.

    I don’t know that I’ll ever be a theme builder, but I still see a lot of value in being a competent DIY User. For this I, and probably others, need..

    • accessible code that serves as a concrete process for learning
    • identifiable themes that actually use that code on an everyday basis and have teaching/learning commentary built in
    • an open environment to ask questions, such as is offered here at the WP forum and at Theme Hybrid
    • maybe even some background material on how WP themes have evolved over the years, like your post that talked about theme template hooks being outdated

    This last point may be more a sign of the success of WP. So many ways to do things, which is great. But, its obviously an ever changing entity.

    I get that these things are all available in the WP community, that the codex has lots of this material, which I’ve read, that there are sub-communities all over that I can join. However, I personally have found it a little challenging to pull the pieces together. I simply haven’t been able to reach a basic starting point so I can choose my path to becoming a competent DIY user. The things Jose has told me about in this thread, and the things Justin is doing have helped me to finally get some sense of orientation.

    I’d like to see a set of materials that pull this stuff together more clearly. Maybe its out there and I just haven’t found it? The Theme Shaper tutorial that Automatic is maintaining would be a great piece. Justin’s ideas would be very helpful.

    WP is obviously brilliant, organic, and accessible in nature. Maybe its simply time for an island of simplicity. There will always be people who just get it. But, I bet what Justin is doing will pull in a lot people who are in my boat. Could the codex do this too?

    I’m sorry to be piggybacking on someone else’s thread, but can someone please tell me how to start a new topic? I can’t find the screen to do that to save my life.

    Also, is there a specific place I should go to be asking to find out about old-fashioned looking themes? I’d like to find something similar to the old Adventure Journal theme that I was using at before I switched over to Apparently Adventure Journal isn’t being supported any more, but everything I see is so modern-looking!




    Forum Moderator

    At the top of each forum is a button “Add New” – click on it – and you get to the new post form which is at the bottom of each forum – here:

    You can download and use the WP.COM version of Adventure Journal from their site here:

    See link, lower right sidebar.

    Thank you. I just found it and posted over there as well. Is it a good idea for a raw beginner to use a no-longer-supported theme?

    Are there any other non-modern-looking themes on the site that I’m just not finding?

    Also, when I click to download the Adventure Journal theme, how do I get it onto my dashboard?

    This is what I meant by raw beginner [wry g].



    Forum Moderator

    Where does it say not-supported? Did they say they are going to retire it?



    Forum Moderator

    When I went looking for it by name, it said on my dashboard that it’s no longer supported.

    I think I can follow the instructions on the link, but I’m a bit dubious about the part where I have to find where the website downloaded the file onto my machine. Will I be able to choose where it downloads to or will it hide the file in new folder I won’t know the location of?

    I’m sorry. I’m finding WordPress very overwhelming. The only reason I’m going with .org instead of keeping my old blog is that the .com blog won’t let me do some things I need to do.

Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 32 total)
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