[wp-hackers] Looking for guidance on building on top of another theme

Mike Walsh mpwalsh8 at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 22:49:13 UTC 2012

This may be a bit of a stretch for wp-hackers but I can't think of (or
find) a more relevant place to pose this question.

About 3-4 years ago I built a couple themes based on Sandbox.  Instead of
depending on Sandbox as a parent theme, I included Sandbox into my theme
development area using an SVN external reference.  This worked well, my
theme was stand-alone and I didn't have to answer any questions about why
it wouldn't work because the parent theme wasn't present.  The theme itself
included most of the Sanbox files (in fact all but 2 or 3) by "including"
them.  Essentially I created a new file (e.g. author.php) which referenced
the original corresponding Sandbox file (e.g. my author.php did little more
than contain the statement "require('sandbox/author.php');).  Some of the
files (e.g. functions.php and header.php) added more code and functionality
and represent the bulk of my theme's functionality which sits on top of

Fast forward a few years and things have changed.  I really want to develop
a new theme but in the interest of time, I need to update the current one
to be compatible with WordPress 3.3 and PHP 5.3.  I've incorporated all of
the changes (how options are stored, updated jQuery, Nav Menus, etc.) and
everything seems to be working pretty well.

However, the move to PHP 5.3 has exposed some issues in the original
Sandbox code that PHP now complains about.  These are all fairly easy to
fix but I am not sure how best to fix them.  I don't know enough about
Subversion to know  if there is a way to keep my reference to Sandbox using
the SVN external reference while still allowing me to "locally" update 1-2
files and then SVN export the result so everything works correctly.

What I am doing is similar but not the same as the Vendor Branch concept
covered in the Subversion book.

Any suggestions or pointers to articles would greatly be appreciated.

Mike Walsh - mpwalsh8 at gmail.com

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