Introducing Ex Astris: A Free WordPress Child Theme For Stargazer

Last December, Jeff Chandler and I updated WP Tavern with a new design based on Theme Hybrid’s Stargazer theme. Stargazer takes a new approach to parent/child themes in that it houses the majority of both the design and functionality within the parent theme. The challenge is to make design changes in the child theme, without breaking the purpose of the parent theme.

During the process of learning more about Stargazer, I created a child theme, which has now been approved for the WordPress Themes Directory. Ex Astris was designed with bloggers in mind, since blogging is what made me fall in love with WordPress in the first place.

ex-astris

You can customize the theme with your own header and background, if desired, but the example shown here does not utilize a custom header. The theme supports all of the site layouts found in the Stargazer parent theme and can also render them on a per-post basis:

  • 1 Column Wide
  • 1 Column Narrow
  • 2 Columns: Content / Sidebar
  • 2 Columns: Sidebar / Content

Ex Astris is packaged with editor styles to help match the visual editor’s preview to the fonts and styles used within the theme. It supports all post formats and is translation-ready. By nature of being a child theme, it automatically includes all the features found in the Stargazer parent theme, ie. sticky posts, breadcrumbs, threaded comments, etc.

Check out a live demo of Ex Astris to see it in action.

Originally, the theme was called Intrepid, but when I submitted it to WordPress.org, I found that there was already a theme with that name. Sidenote: Always check themes.svn.wordpress.org before selecting a theme name if you intend to submit to the directory. Given that the directory now contains 2,366 themes, a name with two words in it is less likely to be taken.

This was my first time going through the WordPress Theme Review process and I found that it’s actually fairly quick and easy for child themes. I’ve learned quite a bit along the way, thanks to the Theme Review Team and Justin Tadlock, all of whom are passionate about helping developers create themes that adhere to WordPress best practices.

Download Ex Astris from WordPress.org and feel free to drop me a note on github if you find any bugs.

35 Comments


  1. I’m happy to see that you found the process not to be painful, as perhaps expected.

    Congratulations on your new Theme listing!

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    1. Chip – Thanks for all you do! I was definitely nervous but working with your team to edit my theme to meet all the standards was a great learning process. :)

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      1. hei sara , how to change the round photo in the main page ?

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  2. Beware: making themes might be addicting :)

    Anyway, seems to be an awesome blog-centric child-theme.

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  3. Very nice. Stargazer is a theme that made in into my ultra-selective “Hall of Fame” WP theme folder. Justin did a great job. You may have just fallen down a very deep rabbit-hole, however.

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    1. I think so – or else they wouldn’t have approved it. It’s a free theme – not commercial at all. Attribution is in the readme.txt.

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  4. This is taken from the theme review guidelines:

    “Themes are required to be 100% GPL-licensed, or use a GPL-compatible license. This includes all PHP, HTML, CSS, images, fonts, icons, and everything else. *All* of the theme must be GPL-Compatible.”

    I don’t see how an image released under an Attribution-NonCommercial license is GPL-Compatible.

    If the image (or any other resource/part of the theme) was GPL compatible, people would have the freedom to include it in both commercial and non-commercial works.

    They don’t have that freedom due to the images NonCommercial license.

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      1. Try 500px.com/search and toggle the criteria for the proper CC license, they have beautiful images available there as well. Great theme, btw! : ) -Ray

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      2. Update – sent them a new version with cc0 licensed background image. It’s already updated on github.

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  5. Love it. Stargazer is my favourite theme from ThemeHybrid.

    So, Sarah, a question for you: What was your biggest challenge in building the child theme? :)

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    1. The biggest challenge was preparing the theme for public distribution – selecting images with the right license, creation language file, etc. That stuff takes more time than I realized ;)

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  6. Originally, the theme was called Intrepid, but when I submitted it to WordPress.org, I found that there was already a theme with that name.

    Note that if the theme has never been listed in our directory, I’m happy to free up names for cases that make sense. In this case, I recommended the name change instead because a quick Google search found two other different themes also named “Intrepid” elsewhere.

    Always best to pick a name that is reasonably unique to the space you’re working in. Otherwise you risk confusion and such.

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    1. It’s a little amazing, though, the folks who get snagged on the name-selection issue.

      Mozilla and their Firesomething. The database that owned the name had been an honest dues-paying project in the upper-ranks since … I’m gonna guess, before Moz was a twinkle in Netscape’s eye.

      And Samba. It’s Carnival … and no, I’m not looking for no Microsoft product.

      Ask, eg, Matt Mullenweg about the inspired creation of the Samba musical motif, and the strength with which it has guided Brazilian & Latin American identity & culture … for wut, a century?

      Geez, MS … Bill did show you how to create a proper, unique name, after all.

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  7. Congrats on your theme Sarah – easy nav, photo at the top and the ability to add an awesome background image.

    Good looking theme.

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  8. I’m very glad to see Sarah Gooding promoting the Child Theme mechanism, here on WPTavern. Theming with Child-versions is powerful, yet accessible to folks who cannot yet create a theme, ab initio.

    Sarah’s style sheet is a perhaps unusual example of a “proper” Child-css, by including only those style elements that depart from the Parent, while everything else inherits. It’s relatively short, compact and approachable. (Other Child-css are tweaked copy & paste.)

    Lastly, there is no small number of themes in the repository which ‘credit’ others as being the ‘inspiration’, or ‘based on’, when more forthrightly they are Child-examples … and might have just said so. Acknowledging & publicizing that Child-themes are valid members of the WordPress repository is a valuable service.

    Ex Astris is at home in the blog-verse, and the imagery has me checking the backpacking kit. :)

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  9. How do you edit the person photo at the top of the page? The header image doesnt do it.

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  10. How can I add a navigation menu along the top like the one shown in the picture of the theme, above? I’ve installed the theme but can’t figure out how to do this.

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  11. Thanks! Wasn’t a problem with the theme after all. I just haven’t blogged in a while and still have a lot to learn about the newer versions of WP ;-).

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  12. Hi Sara, I love this theme, and though I keep checking out other options, I keep coming back to this one. The one thing I’m interested in moding, though, is the site title. Are you considering updating to allow the site title to be up next to (to the left of) the primary navigation menu? If not, any suggestions on how I could make this work? I’m not too fresh with PHP but I’m interested in learning… at some point.

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    1. Interested in learning is all it takes :) I suggest you open up the header file of the Stargazer parent theme and check out how it’s done in there.

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  13. Hey Sarah!

    I am having a headache trying to get the image to display. I’ve got a gravatar account, I created a new admin with the same email address, I’ve read through your comments here, and still no luck. Is there a workaround? Or do I just have to wait for everything to update? I’m sure you don’t want to run tech support for your theme (which is lovely, by the way), but I’m not sure what else to do. :)

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    1. Posting in the theme’s support forum is probably the best option. Best thing to do is change the original admin’s email address rather than create a new user.

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  14. Hello- I love this theme so far. Can you please tell me what variables to change in the editor to make each post on the front page a little bit longer? I feel like there could be 2 or 3 more lines before you click to read it on its own page. I hope I made sense. Thank you!!! Thank you for this theme as well.

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  15. Sarah, thank you very much for this. This is great. I only have one problem. I can’t see the submenus on my iPad. Do you know how to fix that?

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