Theme anatomy

This is a typical Wordless theme directory structure:

├── assets/
│   ├── fonts/
│   ├── images/
│   ├── javascripts/
│   └── stylesheets/
├── config/
│   ├── initializers/
│   └── locales/
├── theme/
│   ├── assets/
│   ├── helpers/
│   └── views/
├── tmp/
├── Procfile
├── index.php
├── package.json
├── screenshot.png
├── style.css
└── yarn.lock

Now let’s see in detail what is the purpose of all those directories.


The index.php serves as a router to all the theme views.


if (is_front_page()) {
} else if (is_post_type_archive("portfolio_work")) {
} else if (is_post_type("portfolio_work")) {

As you can see, you first determine the type of the page using WordPress conditional tags, and then delegate the rendering to an individual view.

See also

render_view() helper documentation

See also

Using Page Template Wordpress’ feature inside Wordless



The main helper function used to render a view is - fantasy name - render_view(). Here is its signature:

    * Renders a view. Views are rendered based on the routing.
    *   They will show a template and a yielded content based
    *   on the page requested by the user.
    * @param  string $name   Filename with path relative to theme/views
    * @param  string $layout The template to use to render the view
    * @param  array  $locals An associative array. Keys will be variable
    *                        names and values will be variable values inside
    *                        the view
    function render_view($name, $layout = 'default', $locals = array())     {
      /* [...] */

Thanks to this helper, Wordless will always intercept PUG files and automatically translate them to HTML.


Extension for $name can always be omitted.

See also

PHUG section @ Code compilation

Inside the theme/views folder you can scaffold as you wish, but you’ll have to always pass the relative path


The $locals array will be auto-extract()-ed inside the required view, so you can do

render_view('folder1/folder2/myview', 'default', array('title' => 'My title'))

and inside theme/views/folder1/folder2/myview.pug

h1= $title


render_partial() is almost the same as its sister render_view(), but it does not accept a layout as argument. Here is its signature:

* Renders a partial: those views followed by an underscore
*   by convention. Partials are inside theme/views.
* @param  string $name   The partial filenames (those starting
*                        with an underscore by convention)
* @param  array  $locals An associative array. Keys will be variables'
*                        names and values will be variable values inside
*                        the partial
function render_partial($name, $locals = array()) {
    $parts = preg_split("/\//", $name);
    if (!preg_match("/^_/", $parts[sizeof($parts)-1])) {
        $parts[sizeof($parts)-1] = "_" . $parts[sizeof($parts)-1];
    render_template(implode($parts, "/"), $locals);

Partial templates – usually just called “partials” – are another device for breaking the rendering process into more manageable chunks.


Partials files are named with a leading underscore to distinguish them from regular views, even though they are referred to without the underscore.


theme/views/layouts directory

When Wordless renders a view, it does so by combining the view within a layout.

E.g. calling


will be the same as calling

render_view('folder1/folder2/myview', 'default', array())

so that the default.html.phug layout will be rendered. Within the layout, you have access to the wl_yield() helper, which will combine the required view inside the layout when it is called:

doctype html
  head= render_partial("layouts/head")
    .page-wrapper render_partial("layouts/header") wl_yield() render_partial("layouts/footer")
    - wp_footer()


For content that is shared among all pages in your application that use the same layout, you can use partials directly inside layouts.


theme/views/**/*.pug or theme/views/**/*.php

This is the directory where you’ll find yourself coding most of the time. Here you can create a view for each main page of your theme, using Pug syntax or plain HTML.

Feel free to create subdirectories to group together the files. Here’s what could be an example for the typical WordPress loop in an archive page:

// theme/views/posts/archive.html.pug
h2 Blog archive
  while have_posts()
    - the_post() render_partial("posts/single")
// theme/views/posts/_single.html.pug
h3!= link_to(get_the_title(), get_permalink())
.content= get_the_filtered_content()

Wordless uses Pug.php - formerly called Jade.php - for your Pug views, a great PHP port of the PugJS templating language. In this little snippet, please note the following:

  • The view is delegating some rendering work to a partial called _single.html.pug
  • There’s no layout here, just content: the layout of the page is stored in a secondary file, placed in the theme/views/layouts directory, as mentioned in the paragraph above
  • We are already using two of the 40+ Wordless helper functions, link_to() and get_the_filtered_content(), to DRY up this view
  • Because the link_to helper will return html code, we used unescaped buffered code to print PUG’s function: !=. Otherwise we’d have obtained escaped html tags.

It looks awesome, right?


theme/helpers/*.php files

Helpers are basically small functions that can be called in your views to help keep your code stay DRY. Create as many helper files and functions as you want and put them in this directory: they will all be required within your views, together with the default Wordless helpers. These are just a small subset of all the 40+ tested and documented helpers Wordless gives you for free:

  • lorem() - A “lorem ipsum” text and HTML generator
  • pluralize() - Attempts to pluralize words
  • truncate()- Truncates a given text after a given length
  • new_post_type() and new_taxonomy() - Help you create custom posts and taxonomy
  • distance_of_time_in_words() - Reports the approximate distance in time between two dates

Our favourite convention for writing custom helpers is to write almost 1 file per function and naming both the same way. It will be easier to find with `cmd+p 😉


config/initializers/*.php files

Remember the freaky functions.php file, the one where you would drop every bit of code external to the theme views (custom post types, taxonomies, wordpress filters, hooks, you name it?) That was just terrible, right? Well, forget it.

Wordless lets you split your code into many modular initializer files, each one with a specific target:

├──── backend.php
├──── custom_post_types.php
├──── default_hooks.php
├──── hooks.php
├──── login_template.php
├──── menus.php
├──── shortcodes.php
├──── thumbnail_sizes.php
  • backend: remove backend components such as widgets, update messages, etc
  • custom_post_types: well… if you need to manage taxonomies, this is the place to be
  • default_hooks: these are used by wordless’s default behaviours; tweak them only if you know what are you doing
  • hooks: this is intended to be your custom hooks collector
  • menus: register new WP nav_menus from here
  • shortcodes: as it says
  • thumbnail_sizes: if you need custom thumbnail sizes

These are just some file name examples: you can organize them the way you prefer. Each file in this directory will be automatically required by Wordless.

Locale files

config/locales directory

Just drop all of your theme’s locale files in this directory. Wordless will take care of calling load_theme_textdomain() for you.


Due to the WordPress localization framework, you need to append our "wl" domain when using internationalization. For example, calling __("News") without specifying the domain will not work.

You’ll have to add the domain “wl” to make it work: __("News", "wl")


The Fast Way

  • jQuery is included by default for you (not aliased to $ though)
  • write your Sass in theme/assets/stylesheets/screen.sass
  • write your Coffeescript in theme/assets/javascripts/

and all will automagically work! :)

I need to really understand

Wordless has 2 different places where you want to put your assets (javascript, css, images):

  • Place all your custom, project related assets into theme/assets/*
  • Since you are backed by Webpack, you can use NPM (node_modules) to import new dependencies following a completely standard approach

Custom assets

They must be placed inside theme/assets/javascript/ and theme/assets/stylesheets/ and theme/assets/images/.

They will be compiled and resulting compilation files will be moved in the assets/assetType folder.

Compilation, naming and other logic is fully handled by webpack.

Images will be optimized by ImageminPlugin. The default setup already translates url s inside css/sass files in order to point to images in the right folder via resolve-url-loader.

Take a look to the default screen.sass and to see usage examples.

See also

Code compilation


You can use node modules just as any SO answer teaches you :)

Add any vendor library through YARN with

yarn add slick-carousel

Then in your CoffeeScritp/Javascript you can do


and go on as usual.