You will see the term child theme used a lot when talking about installing and using new themes in WordPress. But as it isn’t an essential part of working with WordPress you may have chosen to ignore it and not actually got your head around it.
In very simple terms a child theme is initially a copy of the actual theme you choose to use.
So why have 2 instillations of the same theme?
When you install a clean new theme onto WordPress it is as the designer made it, with no changes by you. If you intend on changing things within the theme with the editor function (that is the changing the style sheet and code bit) to make it work as you want it then you need a child theme.
If you have the original theme, sitting happily in its folder and you are adding or deleting bits of code to maybe make you header in the middle, or to lose a gap in your footer, or change the font. The designer releases an update and as a good WordPress user you trot along and hit update theme. This is reinstall your theme with the new bits from the designer, but it will also wipe out all the changes you have made.
So how do I do a child theme?
The easiest way to do this is BEFORE you start changing your new shiny theme and when setting up a new WordPress install (but don’t panic if this point was years ago) it is the same process
BEFORE YOU START CHANGING AND COPYING FILES MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A COMPLETE SITE BACKUP
You will need to have access to your FTP details and client (Filezilla, Core FTP etc)
In your webspace via your FTP find your
Within the theme folder make a new directory and call it yourthemenamechild
In your FTP client go into your backed up webspace folder on your computer and find your theme folder for your current theme.
Copy the entire contents of that folder into your new yourthemenamechild folder on your webspace via your FTP client.
When you go into your WordPress dashboard and go to Themes you will see there are 2 copies of your theme with the same name. So now we need to go and change the name of the new child theme to make it clear.
In the yourthemenamechild folder in your webspace (via FTP client again) open up Style.css (depending on what FTP client you use you can edit it there)
At the top of the document you will see the following
Theme Name:Your current theme name
Description:blah blah blah
Change the name on the first line to Your current theme name CHILD
Save the change and overwrite old file
When you go back to your WordPress dashboard and themes you will now see the name change. If you activate the child theme you will see no difference on your site as it at the moment is exactly the same.
If an update for your theme is released you can do it safety as it will only update the actual theme and not the child one and you can then test the actual theme (with changes) to see if any changes you’ve made to the theme will be disrupted.
[box] This article was written by Jo from Geekfairy[/box]