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1.2 What’s in the _s Box

When you start looking at the _s theme, well before you start tackling any code, it’s likely the very first questions you’ll have are: “What is this theme, what does it do, and what will it take to make a completed theme with it?” In this lesson you’ll discover what’s included in _s out of the box, and what aspects of the theme creation process you’ll need to handle when you work with it.

1.2 What’s in the _s Box

Hey, I'm Kince Bracey, welcome to WordPress in creation with Underscores. When your first arrive at the Underscores website, having heard lot's of good things about it all over the internet, it's likely you're gonna have a few basic questions. You're probably gonna be thinking, okay, so what is this thing, and what's involved with taking this theme and turning it into an end product WordPress theme? And why should I use this over any of the other available options that are out there? So we're gonna start by answering these questions. We're gonna take a look at what's included in Underscores out of the box. Underscores is a starter thing so this is a bit different to other ways of building word press themes where you might have a library of code that you drop into your own project or where you have a parent theme that you extend by making a child theme. So what a starter theme is designed for is to give you, literally a head start. So you're given what's essentially the basis of your theme. It's already sort of half built. So you go into this half built theme and you add all the things that you need to turn it into whatever your vision is for your theme. You just grab yourself a copy and you build your design and customizations right into it. One of the biggest strengths of Underscores is that it's made by Automatic. And Automatic are of course the people who create WordPress itself. And this means that there are a lot of little things that are involved in properly supporting WordPress that are already covered in this theme. There are all sorts of little bits and pieces that you might not even realize should be included in a WordPress theme, that are already there and you don't even have to think about them. So being able to draw on that quite considerable knowledge base, right from the word go, is really one of the major features of this theme. When it comes down to the actual theme creation process, to me the best thing about underscores is that it pretty much gives you the option to just add style. So you can really just write some CSS to give your overall theme the look and the feel that you want it to have. And that's it, you're good to go. All the essentials for a fully functional theme are already written. They're already coded up and they're already in place in the existing theme template files. So you really don't have to touch PHP, if you don't want to, as long as you're happy with the way that the content is presented by default. And if you do want to work with the PHP and customize the template files because there's so much that's all ready done it keeps that customization down to a minimum. So there's a lot less coding to do than if you were going to produce a theme from scratch. The next major strength of Underscores is that it provides a library of SCSS files. And these files handle some of the essential functional CSS. And what I mean by functional CSS is it makes sure that things like WordPress galleries, captions, image alignment, smileys, menus, forms, buttons, and so on, all have a basic level of layout control applied to them. So there's lots of little finicky things that you won't have to deal with. You can concentrate on the CSS that creates the style of your theme. So what this all adds up to is that to create an Underscores theme, all you really need is to be comfortable with CSS and ideally to have a foundational understanding of how SCSS works. And then with a little bit of PHP editing, and you don't need to be a PHP gun to do this. You can also add some customizations to give your theme some cool, extra features. When you first install the Underscores theme with some test content this is what you get. So as you can see, there's no visual styling in place but that's to make sure that there's nothing in the way of you adding all your own visual styling. And then purely by adding CSS via SCSS, you can turn that blank slate into something like this. What you're looking at here is the exact same theme that you just saw, the only difference is it's had visual styling CSS put into place. There's not a single line of PHP that has been touched to turn the default Underscores theme into this result. But then just with a few small customizations to PHP, you can take another step with your theme and turn it into this. In this second version, we've created some custom widget locations that social icons and a slider can be placed into. We've added a touch friendly nav menu. We've built in support for featured images and posts and excerpts and we've made some little tweaks that allow us to style the continue reading button in the way you can see on the screen here. You don't need to have any huge amount of PHP experience to make these customizations. They're all relatively small tweaks that I'll step you through no matter whether or not you've worked much with PHP before. So now you've seen what Underscores has inside the box, and you've seen what you'll be able to create with it by the end of this course. In the next lesson, we're gonna get you all set up for Underscores theme development. You're gonna learn how to easily install WordPress so it will run a development site for you offline on your own computer. You're gonna learn how to get that site's settings just right for development and how to populate it with content that you can both design around and use to test your theme as you go along. I'll see you in the next lesson.

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