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The Difference Between Themes, Skins and Templates in Thesis 2

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In this session we discuss the difference between themes, skins and templates in Thesis 2 and how each of these work within WordPress and Thesis. We talk about how they are related in terms of display and style. We discuss how WordPress  operates and how it doesn’t have any inherent ability to display content so we need to install a theme to provide templates and styles. Thesis gets in between the templates and WordPress and gives the opportunity to create different templates and styles called skins.

Video Transcript

Member:  Yeah, I’m just trying to get my mind around… not that I’ve… because I’ve only ever used Thesis as a theme but it’s a bit more than a theme. And so to kind of understand where skins fit in with… so skins are different Thesis theme in a kind of…

Rick:  Yes, a skin is to Thesis what themes are to WordPress.

Member:  Right. Got it.

Rick:  And…

Member:  So it styles… it sort of sets some standards. Otherwise, it’ll just be a blank canvass.

Rick:  Right. And that’s the way WordPress is too. WordPress doesn’t have any inherent ability to display. If you have no themes at all in WordPress then you can see nothing because WordPress can’t display stuff without a theme. And when you install a theme, that theme provides you with a set of templates and styles to display the content. Well, what Thesis does is Thesis gets in between the templates and WordPress and gives you the opportunity while using the same theme to create different templates and different styles. And Thesis calls those skins.

Member:  Oh okay so then what’s… because I was thinking that you… a template is a little bit like… a sort of how a page is set out in a way and it could be global for the whole of your website. And in Thesis… have individual…

Rick:  Well, in Thesis it’s not… it’s almost never global, really. WordPress doesn’t work properly if you have a global template because WordPress wants to display a home page or a blog post page in one way and a regular page in another. And if there’s only one template, WordPress kind of chokes. WordPress wants to see at least 2 templates and by on large, WordPress has this very complicated system of allowing theme creators to create hundreds of potential templates based on the way WordPress looks for templates. And…

Member:  Okay and a template… just so I’m clear about what a template is.

Rick:  A template is what you described it as. It’s a structure and a set of placeholders for displaying the content.

Member:  Right, got it. Yeah.

Rick:  So the thing is that most people have never really had to interact with templates before because they didn’t have any control over them. They had no access to them. The only way you would ever access a template in the past was if you were actually writing code yourself. And so the thing for new folks that they find complicated is now they actually have access to templates.

Member:  Right. So it’s true this whole process that Thesis has, the kind of going the back door there and you can style the template and…

Rick:  Yeah right. So… I’m going to… I discovered in teaching the beginners session here earlier this week that there’s a lot of confusion around the whole template question. So I’m going to do a seminar specifically about templates so that everybody kind of gets their head around what templates are. But so… there’ll be more information…

Member:  But the thing about a template is… I mean, I have a skin across my whole website or can I have a different skin for each template, for each page?

Rick:  Well, you could have a different template for each page, yes. And you would do that by creating custom templates. That is possible. It’s not likely to be useful. You don’t actually need to do that but it is possible.

Member:  Right. So if I want… you know, if I’ve got a home page and I want that to be 3 columns. And then I’ve got another page that I want to be one column with different widgets on it and so on, is…

Rick:  That’s two different templates.

Member:  That’s two different templates, right. And then if I wanted to use that template A somewhere else and I just… say I pull up that template A and then I could put different things, does it then only display those widgets in template A? So if I wanted to a have a different… so a different content inside the widget, would I need to create another template C then to do that?

Rick:  Well, you could create another template C but what I would do instead is use a plugin like Display Widgets that allows you to choose which pages widgets are displayed on.

Member:  Right.

Rick:  So let’s just use your example. You’ve got some pages that use two sidebars and two pages that use a single sidebar. And on your apples page that uses a single sidebar, you want a whole bunch of widgets about apples. But on your oranges page that displays a single sidebar, you only want to see the widgets about oranges. I wouldn’t change the template. I would be using the same template and I would just use the plugin, Display Widgets, to choose apple widgets for apple page and orange widgets for orange page. That’s how I would do it.

Member:  Okay and so the plugin again is called…

Rick:  It’s called Display Widgets.

Member:  Display Widgets, okay.

Rick:  And there are several videos on my site on how to use it.

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