Today I made a WordPress child theme for a client. It’s a cool way to customize an existing theme and not worry about future theme updates erasing the customizations.
As you may know, WordPress blogs and websites use themes. The theme controls the font, colors, layout and major functionality of a website. Themes can be customized by editing the files that make up that theme. If a page is really tricky I can even add a page template. I’ve used templates to get information from other databases, add special layouts for mobile devices and other things.
Reworking themes like this is fine, but what if the theme ever needs updating? Themes can be updated just like other software. Updates can include things like new features, bug fixes, and security updates. All of that is great but if a customized theme is updated then all the changes are lost. Child themes make sure that any changes to the theme stay safe.
The original theme is called the parent. The theme with all the customization (special fonts, page templates, etc.) is called the child. Child themes are set up to use all of the parent theme’s files as well as their own special files. Only the parent themes are updated so the information in the child theme stays safe.