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I have read that it is always desirable to create a "child theme" so that any changes I make don't get washed away if the main theme is updated.

However, one of Jetpack's features is a CSS editor that lets me override the theme's default style.css. Therefore the original style.css is never edited.

Does that provide enough protection against the updating problem so that creating a child theme is no longer necessary?

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Depends on what changes you're making. If you want to make functions etc, then no.

For the most part, I find it works great for when I want to tweak a child theme of a framework.

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Does that provide enough protection against the updating problem

Yes, as the CSS is being handled by a plugin, updating the theme will not override this settings.

so that creating a child theme is no longer necessary?

Modifying the CSS is not the only reason why a Child Theme is necessary. Although a properly formatted style.css is the only thing you need to create a Child Theme, there are many other possible modifications:

  • functions.php

    Unlike style.css, the functions.php of a child theme does not override its counterpart from the parent. Instead, it is loaded in addition to the parent’s functions.php. (Specifically, it is loaded right before the parent’s file.)

  • template files

    Templates in a child theme behave just like style.css, in that they override their namesakes from the parent. A child theme can override any parental template by simply using a file with the same name. (NOTE. index.php can be overriden only in WordPress 3.0 and newer.)

  • Internationalization.

    Child themes, much like other extensions, may be prepared to be translated into other languages by using gettext functions.

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