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OK so everyone must ask how to see the php source code sometime and I asked it to myself too.

and yes I know it that the php is processed by the server before outputting it to web page, so with that in mind, is there any way I can actually see what the php code looks like when a page is requested and before it goes into my own web server and is processed?

I've got access to my server and the config etc so I can't see why this wouldn't be possible, but I wouldn't know how?

  • thank you for your post, this is more of a question for the hosting support service of your host to answer. – David Lee Feb 23 '17 at 18:39
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Yep, of course that's possible. There are several ways of viewing the php source code of your theme, of your plugins and of WordPress itself.

I assume that you are interested in the php code of your theme - that's mostly what's generating the public facing HTML that gets served to the site visitor's browser.

The tricky part is to know which file is actually producing a given page. For this, WordPress theme developers like to refer to a graph the visualizes the Template Hierarchy, such as this one:

WordPress template hierarchy

This picture shows the processing logic of a WordPress theme, and helps you understand what file to look after. For instance, if you are looking at a Page content type (not the same as a Post), it is most likely produced by the page.php file included in your active theme.

Once you know that, there are several ways to view the code:

  • Inside your site dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Editor. Here you can view the different files of your theme. Be aware that editing them here is quite risky, as every change will impact the site.
  • By connecting to your server over the file transmission protocol of your choice (FTP, SFTP, SSH...), you can navigate to the WordPress files and view their content. The theme files are located in wp-content/themes/name-of-your-theme/.
  • If you know your theme's name, you can simply download a copy from the wordpress.org Theme Directory, and explore them at will using a code editor - probably a good and safe way to learn.

Finally, an important concept to understand is that your actual content isn't stored in the php files - it's saved to the database. That explains how a single template, such as page.php, can display dozens or hundreds of different pages.

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  • Hi Manu, that's interesting - I understand the concept of one php and the content being drawn from a database. But what I want to see is when a particular page is requested, what does the code look like after the file has been loaded, and the data drawn from database is filled in to all the relevant locations in the file, and before it's actually processed by the server and output into a standard html file? For instance, on the posts page, instead of viewing the code for the loop, how could I view the file when the actual requested post information drawn into it? – 5Diraptor Feb 24 '17 at 6:50
  • I'm not sure I really understand what you are looking for... and what problem you are looking to solve. Possibly tools such as wordpress.org/plugins/debug-bar or wordpress.org/plugins/query-monitor can help you understand the details of the queries. Also, this may help understand the loading sequence: gist.github.com/johnbillion/4fa3c4228a8bb53cc71d – Manu Mar 5 '17 at 17:09

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