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Finding, Uploading, and Preparing to Edit a WordPress Theme November 9, 2006

Posted by LearningNerd in Personal.

Update: More on WordPress, see the WordPress Category on the new site LearningNerd.com.

First, I read the Using Themes page on the WordPress Codex, which explains everything — too much, in fact! I got caught up in reading random pages and got a headache. After a short nap and some dinner, I browsed through the free themes listed on Theme Viewer.

I wanted a simple theme to start with for my home page, so I downloaded RoundFlow 1.0. I then unzipped it and uploaded it to my wp-content/themes directory with my new FTP program FileZilla. Then two clicks in my admin page and the new theme was up and running!

Well, I opened up the theme editor from my WordPress admin page, glanced over the scary template code, and then noticed that it said I couldn’t edit it! I wracked my brain for a few minutes, and then it hit me: I remembered something about an .htaccess file from the WordPress Quickstart Screencast Tutorial. For some reason, that was the only installation guide that mentioned it.

I watched part of it again and followed the instructions exactly, uploading a blank text file named “htaccess” and then renaming it to “.htaccess” in my FTP program. Then I also followed the instructions for editing the file properties of some of the WordPress files and folders. Sure enough, it worked! Now I can edit my themes from within my WordPress admin page!

Then I remembered another important detail: according to the second page of Get Your Feet Wet with WordPress, it’s a good idea to make an extra copy of the theme you’re going to edit, just in case you mess it up (and I’m sure I will). To do that, you need to choose a different name for the extra copy’s folder in the wp-content/themes directory and you need to change the info in the style.css file, which lists the name and author of the theme.

OK, so I made my copy, added the word “edit” here and there, uploaded it to wp-content/themes via FTP, made all the template files writable (as explained in the screencast), and it worked!

Important Update: After a little more reading, I discovered this page on WordPress Permissions that says you should never set permissions to more than 644 for files and 755 for directories. The WordPress Quickstart Screencast Tutorial sets the permissions to 666 and 777, which isn’t advisable. If you really want to be able to edit your themes from your admin page or use the built-in backup plugin, just remember not to leave your permissions set to 666 and 777.

Next, editing the template code. Uh oh. Well, I’ll leave that for tomorrow!


1. Dana - November 10, 2006

Once you get comfortable with CSS, you can use the Sandbox theme and have pretty much complete control over your styles in a variety of layouts (1-, 2-, and 3-column).


Lorelle on WordPress has made a CSS file that lists all the tags that makes it easy to control all the different aspects of the style for the theme.

2. LearningNerd - November 10, 2006

That looks nothing short of awesome! Thanks!

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