Responsive WordPress Applying a Child Theme and Updating an Old Theme

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Responsive WordPress Applying a Child Theme and Updating an Old Theme

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Responsive WordPress Applying a Child Theme and Updating an Old Theme:


Are you new to the Responsive Theme from ThemeID and CyberChimps? Have you already edited or modified your Responsive Parent Theme files without creating a child theme? In this post, I’ll share with you how I updated my already modified Responsive Theme.

When I first got into WordPress, I like many of you was drawn to the Responsive Theme. At the time it was version 1.8.7. I had never heard of child themes before I started editing and modifying the site and theme. By the time I did hear about child themes and understood what their purpose was, it was very late in the game for my site. I made all kinds of modifications to the CSS and home page files including the widgets and there were two updates available for the theme by the time I woke up.

With the nature of my site and venture, my issue began as ignorance and quickly moved to time as the factor for fixing this issue. I wasn’t sure if I had to start over and do all of that work again or if there was a way to transition into the child theme smoothly somehow. For whatever reason I never got the child theme indoctrination every new user should get. So I started changing things and customizing my site as needed based on research and samples on the web.

I came from a static, HTML WYSIWYG environment so I was already familiar with web design but WordPress, with its dynamic capabilities is quite different. More and more the time that was supposed to be dedicated towards updating my own site, was instead going towards helping people with Responsive WordPress and solving problems. The thought of updating and creating a child theme was always on my mind and I was intimidated by the potential for mishap and losing all of my work.

How long will this take I asked myself over and over. My time is spent creating video tutorials and written learning materials for WP and providing Virtual IT for Responsive WordPress beginners. My site can’t be down even one day and if I mess up, I’m screwed I thought to myself. With version now available for the Responsive Theme (vs my old 1.8.7 version) it was imperative that I do something quick. The older a theme is the more vulnerable it is to hackers. Not updating to the latest version puts you at risks so I decided to jump in head first and tackle this neglected chore.

Now I’d like to share what I did and how it turned out.

First I used my local installation of WordPress and the Responsive Theme to compare versions and files. This was very useful to determine what files have been added or changed in the latest version compared to the older version. I found that 7 files were added and one file was changed in the Responsive Theme as follows:

Changed Files:

  • home.php

Added Files:

  • post-meta.php
  • post-meta-page.php
  • post-data.php
  • loop-no-posts.php
  • loop-nav.php
  • loop-header.php
  • front-page.php

Two files directly impacted my situation, the home.php and the new front-page.php files. The previous version used the “home.php” file to handle the main and featured content on the home page. In the new version, the “front-page.php” file now handles the featured content on the home page. The new home.php file tells the page what classes and hooks to load but doesn’t contain the actual featured and main content, CTA Button, Colophon for the footers Copyright and Powered By information anymore as did the old version.

Once I finished identifying the files that would affect my site, I then created a child theme based on my old modified Responsive Parent theme(v1.8.7). I included copies of all of the PHP files I changed and modified in my child theme directory. Next I tested my child theme to make sure it worked and of course, it did 🙂 To be safe, I backed up my entire site before going to the next step.

I then changed the name of the old home.php file to the new name and syntax, front-page.php. I double checked everything and activated the Parent Responsive Theme (1.8.7), then selected the long overdue update. Once the update was complete and I re-assigned my custom menus, I checked my site for issues with the update. As expected, my customizations were gone but everything else looked fine.

Now it was time to apply the child theme to the new version To my surprise (not really) it worked like a charm. All modifications were there although I had to reassign some widgets and content for my sidebars. Now everything is back to the way I had it and my Responsive Theme is updated to the latest version. Now I can follow the best practice of using a child theme and updating the parent theme as needed without worry.

So in summary, the files to be concerned with are the home.php file, the front-page.php file as well as making a copy of the new home.php file for your child theme if you need it. I placed copies of both home and front-page.php in my child theme directory for future edit. That’s it, creating a child theme and then updating your old, old version of your theme can be done without a disaster unfolding. Care must be taken to examine what files you are dealing with respectively and making a backup is important.

The bottom line, if you are late in creating a child theme or you are working on an older theme version and are reluctant to update for fear of loosing all of your work, try this method. With patience and planning, you can get through it without a glitch.

I will be creating a basic video tutorial overview of the process soon so stay tuned.

Allan Whitney


About Author

Allan Whitney

California based Media Professional with over 15 years experience. Static and Dynamic Web Designer, WordPress installations and design, WordPress Theme Modifications, Plugin installation and configuration, Still and Motion Graphics Designer, SWF Designer, Video Camera Operator and Photographer. Current contribution: Reducing the digital divide by educating a Global web community on the most powerful and versatile CMS in the World, WordPress! Providing free learning materials and video instruction to an international web audience eager to learn.

January 2018
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