How do you update a site's theme files which has a child theme active? And can you do it entirely from the front end?

  • Do you mean update the child theme? Or the parent theme? If you update the parent theme, it won't touch the child theme's files, but it could introduce incompatibilities that the child theme would need to account for. And no, ordinarily you can't update any theme from the frontend - needs to be done via wp-admin – Tim Malone May 29 '16 at 8:03
  • Thank you Tim. Honestly I am new to wordpress so your assisstance will be highly appreciated. I want to update the parent theme but keep all the customisations in the child theme intact. I have the updated theme files in a zip folder and admin rights to the website. I however do not know how to proceed. Also how do I avoid the incompatibilities you mentioned.?Could you give me some guidance please? – Douglas Kingori May 29 '16 at 10:56

For themes installed from official repository WordPress will have much of the process automated, offering update and handling the process.

For third party themes it's a manual process (unless they implement similar update functionality themselves).

You can upload a theme archive via Appearance > Themes > Add new > Upload theme in WordPress admin. If I remember right it won't allow you to replace existing theme though, you might need to delete it first (make sure you have a backup!). This also might reset your active theme if site is accessed during the process.

The more reliable and less disruptive way would be through filesystem, if you have access to upload and manipulate files:

  1. Upload new theme to a themes folder (comonly wp-content/themes) like theme-name-new (for example).
  2. Rename existing theme to theme-name-old.
  3. Immediately rename theme-name-new to theme-name.

Child theme is contained in separate folder, it shouldn't be affected by parent theme update in principle. However it might require being brought up to date with changes in parent theme.

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