Why creating a child theme might be a bad idea

Over the last few months, we have been refreshing a bunch of themes, the latest one being Radcliffe 2. A couple of weeks ago I was tasked to refresh an old photo blog theme on mine: Cubic.

Cubic – Blog page

I built this theme as a child theme from Boardwalk as I wanted them to share a similar design and patterns.

Having said that, there is one major difference: the layout of the blog page.

Boardwalk – Blog page

To achieve the blog page in Cubic, I had to overwrite a good amount of PHP functions, Javascript, and CSS. For the refreshed theme, I had no clear idea where to start. I started by duplicating Boardwalk, updated the code, and then tried to merge the functionalities of Cubic to it. I wasted a lot of time in the process and the code (mostly CSS) was messy.

In the end, I decided to start from scratch with a fresh download of Underscores and only copied what I would actually reuse.

Photo Blog (WIP) – Blog page

What I learnt from this experience is that if your child theme is going to profoundly overwrite its parent, fork it. This will allow your theme to be more future-proof.

By Thomas