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I have some questions about WordPress and child themes.

From what I understand using a child theme is important if I don't want to loose anything when updating the theme. I am a beginner at WordPress and so far I have been customizing my site using PageBuilder, the onboard customize option on the admin panel and putting in a few lines of CSS in the "additional CSS" option.

All of this have been done on the main theme (just playing around trying to learn) and now I want to start using a child theme to work on.

The questions are as follows:

I don't understand if I can design my child theme the exact way I did with the parent theme through the admin interface or if I have to code everything separately through text editors (on my computer and then upload theese through for example an FTP).

Can I still use PageBuilder and all of theese extra CSS lines I previously had?

Will changes I make to the child theme through the admin panel add code automatically to my child theme, or will most of the changes still be made on the parent theme?

I've read around a bit and I just can't figure these things out. It feels like if you are using a parent theme, you can edit everything through the admin panel and so forth, but when you use a child theme you have to code it on your computer and then upload it all..

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hopefully I'm understanding correctly, if not, please explain.

Usually, with a child theme, it's inheriting the functionality of the parent theme, so that means you should be able to use the parent theme's page builder.

I would copy the extra lines of css you added into an external file for safekeeping, as, with some themes, they will sometimes be lost when you change to a child theme.

The child theme would just be used to code additional styles or change page styles without touching the actual code files in the parent theme.

If you're only going to use the admin interface, and not code anything, you probably don't need a child theme.

If you want to change the layout via changing the html/php/js involved in the templates, then you'll want to add a child theme, copy the files you want to change into the child theme and edit them there, then the system will pull from them there.

Make a little more sense?

  • It makes more sense, absolutely. I think i got it all wrong from the beginning. If i understand this correct (like i commented below) i only need a child theme if i want to manually change for example the css in a larger scale, and doing this through the template files? I have removed the title of pages through (display: none) in the additional css on the onsite customization. Will this still be there if i update due to not being written in the files, for example? – HerrLiljekvist Oct 3 '18 at 13:03
  • Correct, either changing the CSS or the actual structure of specific templates. – CoffeeAtMidnight Oct 3 '18 at 14:39
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you use child themes when you plan to customize the FILES for a theme. if you do not use child themes your changes might be overriden when updating the theme.

the "additional css" option doesnt change files. this code is stored inside the database.

so, if you plan on changing theme file content, use child theme if you want to be able to update. if not, it doesnt matter

  • Hmm, i see. So only the css i add through the files, not for example the admin panel will disappear if i update the theme without using a child theme? – HerrLiljekvist Oct 3 '18 at 13:00
  • yes exactly thats how it works – Ruden Ruven Oct 3 '18 at 14:46
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From what I understand using a child theme is important if I don't want to loose anything when updating the theme. I am a beginner at WordPress and so far I have been customizing my site using PageBuilder, the onboard customize option on the admin panel and putting in a few lines of CSS in the "additional CSS" option.

None of these changes will be affected by a theme update. The reason changes to themes will be lost when the theme is updated is because when a theme is updated all the files in the theme folder are deleted and replaced with new versions. So if you have modified any of these theme files then those changes will be lost because the file has been replaced.

The types of changes you're referring to are using settings provided by the theme and saved in the database, so they will not be affected if the theme files are replaced.

The theme being a parent theme is not actually relevant here. That's a common misconception. What is relevant is whether or not the theme can be updated, because it's the update process that breaks things. If you download a 3rd-party child theme and modify its files, those changes will also be lost if the theme updated, regardless of whether or not it's a child theme.

It's actually the act of create a brand new theme (child or not) that means your changes can't be lost to an update. This is because no one else will release an update to your theme. Being a child theme just means that you get this benefit while getting to keep all the styles and functionality of another theme.

I don't understand if I can design my child theme the exact way I did with the parent theme through the admin interface or if I have to code everything separately through text editors (on my computer and then upload theese through for example an FTP).

Can I still use PageBuilder and all of theese extra CSS lines I previously had?

It ultimately depends on how the original parent theme was built, but usually a child theme will work exactly the same as the original, so you'll still be able to use the page builder.

Lines of CSS saved to Additional CSS are saved per-theme, so when you switch to the child theme you'll need to copy and paste any CSS from the Additional CSS section.

Will changes I make to the child theme through the admin panel add code automatically to my child theme, or will most of the changes still be made on the parent theme?

When you activate the child theme you should be able to make the same types of changes that you made to the parent theme, but when you switch themes the settings will reset and you'll probably need to make them again for the child theme.

I say "probably" because it's theoretically possible that the original theme saves these settings in a way that they won't reset. The specifics depend on the theme, and is something you should ask its author about.

I've read around a bit and I just can't figure these things out. It feels like if you are using a parent theme, you can edit everything through the admin panel and so forth, but when you use a child theme you have to code it on your computer and then upload it all..

Whether a theme is edited in an admin panel or by code has nothing to do with whether or not the theme is a parent or child. The point of a child theme is that if you want to make code changes to the theme, you should do it through a child theme.

Making code changes to a theme that isn't yours isn't safe, because updates can erase the changes, so you should use either a child theme or create a new theme from scratch.

Based on everything you've said though, you do not need a child theme. The types of changes you are making are safe from updates.

  • I see! I think im really starting to get a grip on what a child theme is and what its all about. I thought that all changes that were made in one way or another was going to get erased if the theme was updated. Therefore i thought i needed a child theme to preserve all the changes and the "re-design". Altough i realize that something like that would make it pretty useless to use themes and updating them, so its pretty logical that only changes in the files gets erased due to the files actually being "replaced or renewed" in an update. – HerrLiljekvist Oct 3 '18 at 13:11
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Child theme is a WordPress theme that inherits its functionality from another WordPress theme, the parent theme. Child themes are often used when you want to customize or tweak an existing WordPress theme without losing the ability to upgrade that theme.

Any confusion u please tell.

  • This i understand, but if i create one, can i customize it just like one can do with the parent theme? When its discribed on the internet they show that they edit the stylesheet and function, but all other files are in the parent folder. So when customizing, am i customizing the parent theme or the child theme? Its just so confusing.. – HerrLiljekvist Oct 3 '18 at 12:10
  • No you do everything all kind of changes for all files. but you must follow the word press guidelines codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Development – Prem Gupta Oct 3 '18 at 12:14

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