I use framework parent themes (e.g. Thematic) mainly because it ensures that my custom themes inherit cutting-edge and standard compliant code.

Why I'm not yet using starter themes:

I'm reluctant to use starter themes (e.g. _s, Bones etc.) because, as I understand it, I'll need to screen for code changes with every version update and then manually apply them to my custom theme. I'd rather

My question:

Is my understanding of the process of updating starter themes correct and if so, is it not less work to simply reverse engineer a parent theme once and have automated version updates rather than repeatedly manually (and perhaps tediously) having to update my custom starter theme?

2 Answers 2


You can enable child themes for any theme:


If you want your parent theme based off another parent theme, for example you want a theme based off of Twitter bootstrap and apply any changes they make to your framework, without over-riding your changes, use revision control.


  • I didn't realize that I could effectively use a starter theme as a parent theme. Thanks for introducing me to those revision control tools. I guess one can have one's cake and eat it. Feb 7, 2013 at 13:00
  • Isn't the whole concept of a "starter theme" to avoid using a child theme? I am having the same confusion myself (starter vs child) BUT i am debating using starter by itself versus starteer with child Sep 16, 2017 at 0:56

What kind of updates are you talking about?

Your understanding is basically correct: if you make a theme from a starter theme, that theme won't be automatically updated.

But depending on what kind of updates you're talking about, your themes shouldn't need to be updated every time a new version of WordPress is released. New versions of WP don't make old themes instantly obsolete. I've been using my own fork of HTML5 Starkers for over 3 years now, and sites I wrote 3 years ago are still just fine, even in WP 3.5. I haven't had to update the theme. Someday, I'm sure, the themes will start to have some problems, but websites generally have a short shelf-life anyway, and I make sure my clients understand that even if you don't get an entirely new website every few years, most websites will need some maintenance every once in a while.

  • To answer your question, the "updates" I'm referring to are the code changes that occur when a new version of a theme is released and thereafter installed. I'm not referring to core WordPress updates. Thanks for sharing your experience with starter themes. Feb 7, 2013 at 0:51

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