Graph Paper Press Offers Customers WordPress Child Theme Generator

A child theme is defined in the WordPress codex as a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes allow you to modify, or add to the functionality of that parent theme. A child theme is the safest and easiest way to modify an existing theme, whether you want to make a few tiny changes or extensive changes. Instead of modifying the theme files directly, you can create a child theme and override within.

Child theme Generator Featured Image
photo credit: Tambako the Jaguarcc

Graph Paper Press has created a WordPress child theme generator for their customers. Unfortunately, too many people make changes to their theme without using the child theme technique. If the theme is upgraded, the changes are usually lost. Graph Paper Press has an excellent explanation on why using child themes is important.

But Jake had spent hours and hours customizing the theme he downloaded and upgrading to the latest version would wipe out all of his changes.

Jake was stuck. He could either upgrade his theme to the new version so he could take advantage of all the new features or stick with his older customized version. That’s not a place we want anyone to be in.

I’ve seen a lot of theme companies provide documentation explaining to customers how to create a child theme. Graph Paper Press on the other hand is the first company I’ve seen create a generator for their customers to use. This greatly decreases the chance a customer will create the child theme in the wrong way or place the files in the wrong location.

To use the generator, customers put the child theme name into the appropriate field and then select the parent theme. The advanced options show fields to add an author name, author URI, and a description. Once the fields have been filled, click the generate button. This produces a zip file to download.

Step One Of The Generator
Step One Of The Generator

The zip file contains a properly formatted style.css and functions.php file based on the names provided in the generator. CSS code added to the style.css file will override any styles defined within the parent theme. You can also add template files from the parent theme such as home.php and tweak them to your liking. Once you’re satisfied with the changes, upload and activate the theme in WordPress as you would with any other theme.

The Beginning Of A Trend?

Child themes are an easy way to make changes to themes without having to worry them being lost if the parent theme needs to be upgraded. They’re also a great way to organize changes made to a parent theme. This is a great move by Graph Paper Press and is something I’d like to see become standard with other commercial theme shops.

Child plugins work on the same concept but are created and implemented differently. Read our guide to learn how to create a child plugin.

Do you know of other commercial WordPress theme companies that offer their customers a child theme generator? If so, let me know about them in the comments.

11 Comments


  1. Haven’t seen this before, but I’ve definitely seen quite a few theme developers provide both the parent and a pre-made child theme in the download. While I dig generators, just because they are kinda cool, I think simply providing the child theme with the download is probably the better/easier thing to do.

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  2. I definitely prefer seeing basic child themes included though that still doesn’t seem widespread from my vantage point which is somewhat limited.

    That’s the kind of thing that’s kept WordPress from being more widely and gracefully adopted by people without web backgrounds. If I hadn’t already done some work with CSS I would have been a lot less comfortable with that whole process.

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    1. I was giving this some more thought, especially after Donna’s comment. Do you think it would be beneficial if all themes that are activated on a site were just child themes? That is, every theme designed ships with the appropriate child theme requirements and that’s what users end up activating and using, leaving the theme it’s based on in tact, with no edits.

      The problem I see with this method is confusion among customers thinking they have two themes and are unsure of which one they are using/editing.

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  3. All of the Builder themes from iThemes.com offer to generate a child theme when they are installed. The Graph Paper Press dialog looks very similar to the iThemes functionality.

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  4. I figure if somebody is going to make heavy mods they should learn how to start a child theme, but sometimes a designer just wants to tweak style.css and not be bothered with setting up functions.php, making a screenshot, etc. With churchthemes.com our approach is to include download links for dynamically generated child themes in our child theming starter guide: http://churchthemes.com/guides/developer/child-theming/

    That way they can just modify style.css and upload or do more sophisticated things (some examples included with the themes). Very handy to simply refer customers to the starter guide when they want something extra.

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  5. Hi Jeff
    I use Genesis so I’m all about child themes.
    I have been warned many times that if you edit the Genesis core files… the Genesis police will come and take you away!

    The generator looks like a fabulous idea to me.

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  6. I use Child Themify just search for child themes in the wp plugins and wallah Easy Peezy

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