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The other day, I switched from 2010 default them to Semiologic, then back. When back to the 2010, all my appearance/widgets had gone back to the default.

Does this often happen? What is the best practice? Should I always do a database backup before trying new themes, then restore if I don't like it? Or is there something simple I might have missed?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Storing widgets is complex topic. Basically it is such a multi-level-array-mess on the inside that very few people try to make sense of it (and even fewer succeed). :)

As far as I understand it myself while we can manipulate cute sidebar names on the surface, deep inside it is getting deconstructed to numerical IDs. So when you switch between themes amount and order of available IDs shift and widgets go haywire.

In theory any widget that can't find its designated place is supposed to land in "Inactive Widgets" area. In practice - who knows. I experienced widgets disappearing, appearing, duplicating and whatever.

So if you have any kind of complex widget setup I highly recommend not to experiment with themes on it. I have stockpiled idea to do reliable widget import/export, but it will take me plenty more time to gather enough courage to touch that. Did I say it is a mess inside? :)

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Well, I have my website more or less working, but I don't want to be stuck with the 2010 theme forever. I want to branch out and try some others at some point. I focus on content first, then the theme and GUI stuff second, which to me seems more logical. But if the sidebars are totally dependent on the theme, then I guess the theme has to come before all non-post non-blog content, correct? –  NealWalters Feb 14 '11 at 21:21
    
@NealWalters: Are your widgets part of your content? I have done like you and switched sometimes to see what it looks like. But even with no widgets active, WordPress does work fine and your content is still there. So it's just a matter of moving the widgets back into place. For me they have usually ended up in Inactive Widgets, so I can just pull them back in where they belong. I find it a bit annoying, but if you really have so many and so complex widgets that this is a huge issue, maybe rethink something? –  Svish Feb 15 '11 at 10:49
    
@Svish - well, if I spend time creating text or menus on the right side of my blog, I consider that a type of content. The posts and pages of course were not effected by change of theme. But if I lose 30 minutes and all my links, I consider that a loss of content. –  NealWalters Feb 15 '11 at 17:30
    
@NealWalters what links and how are you presenting in widgets? Just markup in text widget? Consider using custom menus or Links. –  Rarst Feb 15 '11 at 18:57
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