Developing Child Themes For Woo Canvas for WordPress

Posted on Mon, April 20, 2015 in Web Development, by Alum

When developing in  WordPress there are many different ways to accomplish the functionality and design that you are looking for. With the ability of having many ways to accomplish the goal there also comes many unreliable ways that just may not be able to stand the test of time. By this, I mean, they may not have the ability to be upgraded or allow other plugins as well as the core of WordPress to not be able to be updated. Updates most often are looked at as unnecessary code changes, however, this is not always the case. Often, updates are not always cosmetic changes to a feature but a change in the codes functionality in order to increase or correct security issues.

Enter Woo

With there being many WordPress solutions the key is to finding a  solid solution that is durable, can be upgraded, is scalable, and don’t forget stylishWooThemes has come up with WooCanvas that provides durability, expandability, and can be styled any way you want. In order to take full advantage of Canvas as a developer you can create a "child theme"for you or your clients WordPress website. The Woo Canvas system supports Woo Commerce to maximize all the e-commerce features that WooCommerce has to offer.

Using the Woo Canvas base and creating a child theme allows the core WordPress framework to be updated without having to worry about it overwriting any code changes. Woo Commerce and any plugins used also have the advantage of being able to be updated without the concern of overwriting and knocking out any code that is currently in place. Not only does Woo Canvas protect the code, but it also protects the framework and base design so that it is fully responsive and customizable on almost every level. What cannot be done out of the box can done in the child theme code.

The base concept for using a Woo Canvas theme is to have the Woo Canvas Theme in the themes folder of your WordPress project and then create a new folder in the themes folder that will contain the "child theme."The child theme runs off of a base theme inheriting all that themes styling abilities and functionality and then extending off those. Thus, creating a stand-alone instance of custom styling, templates and functions. Having the integrity of the code remain intact and protected is the biggest advantage to using Woo Canvas for your WordPress project.

Structure

Now that we know why we should be using Woo Canvas, lets go over the Woo Canvas structure in more detail. As mentioned earlier, when using Woo Canvas, the product being developed will be a "child theme."To initially declare and be able to call a child theme via the WordPress theme selection, we need to create a new folder to hold our child theme. Start by creating a style.css file in the root of the new child theme folder. The style.css file will contain the code snippet below, which declares the theme, the theme dependency (the parent to the child theme), and where to find the additional styling for the custom child theme.

/*
Theme Name: Child Theme Name Here
Theme URI: Theme URL Here
Version: 1.0.0
Template: canvas
Description: CHILD THEME DESCRIPTION HERE
Author: YOURNAME HERE
Tags: THEME, TAGS, CUSTOM, HERE
Copyright: (c) 2015 YOURNAMEHERE.
License: GNU General Public License v2.0
License URI: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/Fgpl-2.0.html
*/
@import url("../canvas/style.css");

The code snippet above can be left alone or you can do an import call to your child theme’s css just below the import of the parent canvas theme css. Another way of including the child theme’s css can be to call it through a function through the functions.php file.

Again, the main focus of using a child theme is to house and contain all the themes templates, styling and non-plugin functionality within the child theme folder in the themes folder.

Within the child themes folder the main files you will initially want to focus on is your child themes CSS style sheet, functions.php and your page templates (e.g. template-homepage.php). You can also put into your child theme folder any of the parent theme’s (and WordPress’) regular template files such as 404.php, header.php, footer.php, etc. After creating a copy of the original template file into the child theme folder you can then modify the files to your desire and when the website renders as long as you have your child theme activated those template files will over right any standard or parent theme versions of those files, thus protecting the original WordPress and Canvas theme structure and code base.

There is extreme power and the strong promotion of consistency by using and developing a Canvas child theme. An extremely powerful file of the child theme will be the functions.php file within the child theme folder. As mentioned above, you can write functions in that file that can use the native WordPress style sheet import call, however, this is just the beginning of the what can be done in the functions.php file. The functions.php file can also be used to set the default styling options of the child theme. It does this by declaring the values in the child functions.php file that will then set the default styling options that are in the parent template. You can re-write and modify current functions in place, as well as, create your own custom functions.

Within this functions.php file you can also import additional Google fonts to be selected from the drop down menus. However, Woo Commerce makes a plugin that can easily do this for you without having to import each individual additional font via the functions.php file.

The Child Template

Now that we have discussed the styling and the functionality calls via the functions.php file we can move towards the templates we are going to be creating for the child theme. To declare a new template, select from the page type drop down in the WordPress Pages by simply creating a file in the child theme’s root folder that starts with "template-" (e.g. template-homepage.php). This will create or override the current WordPress template and will use the code that you have in your template file in the child themes root folder.

Woo Canvas comes with a set of standard templates out of the box for magazine, portfolio, sitemap, timeline, widgets, archives, contact, homepage, and image gallery. These in-place templates can easily be copied to the child theme folder and customized from there.

In order to let WordPress initialize the template and make it available, you will need to include a variation of the code snippet below at the top of your child theme template.

/**
* Template Name: Business
*
* The business page template displays your posts with a "business"-style
* content slider at the top.
*
* @package WooFramework
* @subpackage Template
*/

As a quick recap, we have covered child theme styling, functions and templates. Another important component to developing a child theme is the out-of-the-box plugins that Woo Canvas comes with. The best practice in usage of the included plugins is to use the functionality that plugin provides out-of-the-box and then create your own styling within the CSS of the child theme. In some cases, you may need to add your custom styling under a class you can add through the WordPress admin panel when setting up the plugin or make the styling of the plugin be dependent on the template file chosen. This preserves the integrity of the plugin and enables the plugin to be updated in the future without destroying any changes and no disruption in plugin functionality.

The powerful plugins that are included out-of-the-box with Woo Child Canvas are:

  • WooCommerce
  • Woo-Projects
  • Woo-Team
  • Woo-Features
  • Woo-Testimonials
  • Woo-Archives

Above are the most commonly used Woo Canvas Plugins that all offer their own powerful functionality for your Child Theme project. In addition to the above listed, Woo has many other free and paid plugins to accomplish your desired goal. A few of the powerful additional plugins available are:

  • Woo-Dojo - Free
  • Woo-Slider – Paid
  • Woo-Sensei - Paid
  • Woo-Sidebars – Free
  • Woo-Abandoned Card – Free and Paid
  • Woo-Colors – Free
  • Woo-Icons – Free
  • Woo-Follow-up-emails – Free and Paid
  • Woo-Bookings – Free
  • Woo-PayPal – Free and Paid

Through the use of plugins, the ability to create protected custom styling, ability to create custom functionality, ability to build custom templates all while maintaining 100% WordPress, 100% WooCommerce, and 100% WooCanvas code integrity is reason enough to start using the Woo Canvas Child Theme system. The trend in WordPress has been to modify the code to be desired, changing the integrity of the code, and in many cases not allowing further upgrades as it will destroy the custom code in place. This is not the case with Woo Canvas child themes, they are made to be solid with WordPress in mind.

In Conclusion

Above I have outlined all the tools and initial path to getting started on creating your child theme but there is a few small little touches that should not be forgotten when finishing up your theme. You can include a screenshot.png in the root folder of your child theme to give your theme the thumbnail you see when you activate your theme via the WordPress admin panel. Lastly, do not forget your favicon.ico! Drop your favicon file into the root folder of your child theme and it will now render.

As you can see the main focus of a child theme is the contain the custom theme functions, templates, styling, and assets in a single central location that is protected from the WordPress code, as well as, protecting the WordPress code.

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