[theme-reviewers] Parent / Child Theme Issues

Bruce Wampler brucewampler at gmail.com
Wed Jul 7 17:22:39 UTC 2010

  There are indeed a bunch of issues with child themes.

I like Chip Bennet's suggestion of limiting approved child themes to
specific "recent" or "approved" parents.

Of course, since all themes approved here must be GPL, any parent
must remain available to meet the license. Given that, the best solution
for child themes may remain the one I used for 2010 Weaver - include
the source for the parent with the child theme. Given the rules followed
when running a child theme, it is very easy to "simulate" this simply by
renaming the parent's functions.php and style.css, then include them
explicitly from the child's equivalents, and then keeping or replacing
other parent files as needed. There are some issues with the translation
directory that might complicate this (can there be two translation
directories - parent theme + child theme - in the same theme directory?).

This approach also solves the version compatibility issue - if there is
a new parent, is the child still compatible with it? This is a real issue.
Right before the final WP 3 release, there was a change to Twenty Ten
that broke my child, so it is likely to happen with other new releases.

But maybe a two tier approach: real child themes for Twenty Ten, etc.,
and pseudo-child themes that include the parent for recently approved
parent themes.

And of course, there is still the feature check - is it possible to check
for Gravatar support (for example) in the parent, and then assume
the child thus has it, too?

Given my experience with 2010 Weaver, I think using the pseudo-child
theme approach might avoid the most long term issues. It really isn't
that much extra effort for the theme author. Creating some official
guidelines on the policy, the reasons behind it, and guidelines for
creating the pseudo-child would help clarify for all.

Bruce Wampler, Ph.D.

Software developer
Creator of first spelling checker for a PC
Creator of Grammatik(tm), first true grammar checker
e-mail: bw at brucewampler.com
blog: brucewampler.wordpress.com

More information about the theme-reviewers mailing list