I read about 2 methods for initializing WordPress function outside of WordPress files so We can use these functions on any page or website outside the WordPress blog.

Which one of these 2 methods is the correct one? What are the use cases for each method if both are correct? What is the deference between using one method or the other?

Method 1:

    define('WP_USE_THEMES', false);

Method 2:

    define('WP_USE_THEMES', false);
  • Which WP functions are you trying to use "outside of WP" and why? Either of these methods will still load the WP environment (albeit without theme support), so you're still invoking functions inside of WP.
    – EAMann
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 21:41
  • I am trying to understand the difference between the 2 methods. What I will do is integrate the wordpress theme with my support script. so will need the header, footer and the loop from wordpress plus some support for widgets and other plugins
    – alhoseany
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:33
  • I really doubt this is the way you want to do things ... there are better solutions than trying to bootstrap WordPress itself.
    – EAMann
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:57
  • I am wide open for suggestions, I am looking for the best way to do things? what is the best way to integrate wordpress theme with outside web application?
    – alhoseany
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 10:29
  • Method 2 worked for me while developing a plugin. Thank You. Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 19:57

7 Answers 7


There's little difference between the files. When you view a WordPress page, the first file called is index.php. And it is, essentially, your "Method 1:"

define('WP_USE_THEMES', true);

/** Loads the WordPress Environment and Template */
require ('./wp-blog-header.php');

The blog header file (that queues up the rest of WordPress) loads wp-load.php directly and fires up WordPress itself. Here's most of wp-blog-header.php:

if ( !isset($wp_did_header) ) {

    $wp_did_header = true;

    require_once( dirname(__FILE__) . '/wp-load.php' );


    require_once( ABSPATH . WPINC . '/template-loader.php' );


So the difference between your two methods is ... what's loaded.

Method 1 is exactly what WordPress does to load itself (with the exception of turning themes off). So if you need all of WordPress and want to fire all of the default hooks/actions, go with that route.

Method 2 is just a further step down the line. It loads all of WordPress, but doesn't call wp() or invoke the template loader (used by themes). Method 2 will be a little lighter-weight, but should give you the same functionality.

  • 4
    Is there a diagram or something that maps all these files out? I saw one long ago but I can't find it.
    – ninja08
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 16:53

Method 2 from your question:

define( 'WP_USE_THEMES', false ); // Don't load theme support functionality
require( './wp-load.php' );

wp-load.php is the access to all functions of WordPress, that's all. The first line tells WordPress to load not the Theme files; maybe the files are necessary for your requirements, then remove the line.

  • 1
    what does that first line even means ?
    – Sagive
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:35
  • 8
    The first line tells WordPress not to load all of its theme support functionality. Basically, load fewer files.
    – EAMann
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:52
  • Is the first line needed only for the first method?
    – mcont
    Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 13:46

Sometimes loading the functions.php of the theme can cause you some trouble. It was breaking the html of my other page. So that's what I did and solved my problem:

define('STYLESHEETPATH', '');
define('TEMPLATEPATH', '');

wp-blog-header.php will attached a header status, it will return a http status code of 404

wp-load.php will not

Useful to note when using ajax as it checks the http status code


You don't have to call the entire theme to use functions, just use the location for wp-load.php in wordpress directory.

require($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/wordpress/wp-load.php');



We can use xDebug php extension to analyze an script.

just enable ;xdebug.profiler_enable = 1 in your php.ini file by removing ; from first of line and after this restart apache server and run your wordpress site ...now a file created in tmp directory of your xampp server ..open this file with WincachGrind application.

now you can see a map of your script

WincacheGrind Simple Wordpress Analyze

  • You should have added this in the comment below ninja08. this is now an incorrect answer.
    – alhoseany
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 7:26
  • 2
    @alhoseany yes..i now it... but i dont have enough reputation...and then i decide to do this.
    – Mostafa
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 18:48

In my case the './' didn't work, but this works perfectly:


(You will have to jump back as many folders as necessary depending on where's your executable folder)

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