I know that child themes and frameworks are all the rage. Especially since the release of TwentyTen. It’s hard to find even one negative post about child themes on the web. I do understand that there are advantages to working with child themes, and they are very tempting. But. Not tempting enough. I purchased the Genesis framework from StudioPress a while ago but when it came to adding simple functionality, I felt like I had to go through a whole maze of hooks and filters. And that’s just for Genesis! What if I decide to switch to Thesis, Headway, or one of the other frameworks. And as for TwentyTen, what if I want to change around the whole layout? Is it still worth it to use a child theme? I can see the benefit of using child themes or frameworks for minor style and color changes. Am I still saving time? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of child themes or frameworks as I see them.

Advantages (let’s start with the good news)

  • Stays up to date to get new WordPress functionality. You just have to make sure it doesn’t break any of the functionality you have in place.
  • Options Panels. Maybe (notice how this also appears in the disadvantages) Options Panels are great for people who don’t want to get their hands messy with code.
  • Saves time on development. Maybe. Depends what you’re trying to do, but if you end up creating tons of custom files for your child theme, or spend time trying to learn all the ins and outs of the framework, or have to fix things that broke with the new version of WordPress, the time saved could come to a big zero.

Not very convincing advantages, are they?


  • Learning Curve / Development time. How do I add another widget or a query_post()? Good luck trying to figure out whether it’s in the child theme or the parent theme. Learning a new child/parent theme or framework can be a total time suck. Have I mentioned that already?
  • Lots of unnecessary stuff and options panel. I miss the days when a theme was just a theme. It helped you out with the styling but left you in control of functionality. Can we go back to basic?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out how to remove all the features that the client didn’t order. Sigh.

What do you think?

Am I alone in these feelings? What have your experiences been with child themes and frameworks? What was the good and bad? Which ones have you worked with? Maybe you’ll convince me to give it another try.