Barebones theme for Wordpress 3.x, with nifty functions and theme files that don't get in your way.
PHP JavaScript Ruby
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.

Whiteboard for Wordpress

Whiteboard is "another naked, barebone, Wordpress theme", but still not quite. It serves as the starting point for every Wordpress project I start working on, and includes an extensive library of nifty Wordpress helper functions.

I encourage you to poke around in the files and remove stuff you don't need.


URL constants:

  • WB_THEME_DIR. The absolute URL to the theme directory. Could for example be:<your-theme>/. This constant is preferrable over calling the bloginfo("stylesheet_directory") all the time.
  • WB_JS_DIR. The absolute URL to the Javascript directory. Defaults to JB_THEME_DIR . static/js/.
  • WB_IMG_DIR. The absolute URL to the images directory. Defaults to JB_THEME_DIR . static/images/.
  • WB_CSS_DIR. The absolute URL to the stylesheet directory. Defaults to JB_THEME_DIR . static/css/.

Some more configurable constants you should have a look at:

  • GOOGLE_ANALYTICS_ID. Your Google Analytics id. Fill it in and uncomment the add_action(..) row just below to add Analytics to the footer.
  • EXCERPT_LENGTH. The global length in characters of post excerpts. Defaults to 40 characters.
  • USE_ROOT_RELATIVE_LINKS. Set to false if you don't want to use relative permalink ("/some/page/" instead of "").
  • USE_JQUERY. Set to false to deactivate registration of the jQuery library in the theme.


Helper functions. Included in library/ Put all your custom theme functions in here in order to keep things tidy.

Some handy, time-saving functions:

link_to($page, [$echo = true])

Link to a Wordpress page by providing the slug name (Note: a pretty permalink structure must have been setup).

// In template:
<a href="<?php link_to("about");?>">About me</a>

// Produces:
<a href="">About me</a>

build_link($text, $page)

Builds a complete <a> element with text and href attribute.

// In template:
<?php build_link("About me", "about");

// Produces:
<a href="">About me</a>

After some use, it's incredibly nice to having to write HTML links all the time. You're also able to use IDs instead of page slugs, if you would want that (Ex: link_to(2)).

img_src($filename, [$echo = true])

Remember how tedious it is to link to static images in some directory in your theme? Writing bloginfo and all that? Fear not, these image helpers will help you.

// In template:
<img src="<?php img_src("duck.png");?>" alt="Duck" />

// Produces:
<img src="<your-theme>/static/images/duck.png" alt="Duck" />

The path varies, of course. The path constant to the images directory is set at the top of functions.php.

img($filename, [$alt = ""])

Builds the <img> element with just the filename and an optional alt attribute.

// In template:
<?php img("duck.png");?>

// Produces:
<img src="<your-theme>/static/images/duck.png" alt="" />


Used within a loop. Returns true if the current page has child pages.

// In template:
    // Do stuff


Used withing a loop. Returns true if the current page is a child page.

// In template:
    // Do stuff


Returns true if there's need to show a page navigation ("< Previous page, Next page >"). Hence there's no annoying navigation links if there are only a couple of posts listed. You set the post limit from wp-admin.

// In template:
    // Show some sort of navigation.


"Slugifies" a text string, i.e. the function replaces spaces for hyphens, and non-ASCII characters for their equivalents, and makes it all lowercase.

// In template:
$text = "This is a text string"
$slug = slugify($text);

// $slug => 'this-is-a-text-string'.


The theme's HTML is valid HTML5, complete with ARIA roles for accessibility. The theme's HTML structure (for a regular page, for example) is as follows:

|__ header[role="banner"]
    |__ hgroup
        |__ h1 "Site title"
        |__ h2 "Subtitle/Description"
    |__ nav[role="navigation"]

|__ section[role="main"]
        |__ h1 "Page title"

|__ footer[role="contentinfo"]

Not too hard to grasp. These selectors are invaluable to have when targeting elements from the CSS as well (instead of having IDs and class attributes set). As you see, it's in section[role="main"] the main content goes (duh). I also advise you to use the body element as the main container for the site, and use the html element for background image/color.


There's no crazy use of Javascript built in – that's up to you to write – but some Javascript files are included. In the style/js directory you'll find:

  • whiteboard.js. The main script file. Automatically loaded. Put your custom code and setup functions here.
  • html5.js. Self-hosted HTML5 Shim for IE 8 and below. Automatically included in the <head>. Rather than using Google's I prefer using a local copy. Why? Imagine if Google Code would go down – every IE user with or below 8.0 would see a broken site.

I've tossed a few handy libraries along with Whiteboard (lives in the static/js/library directory):

  • jquery.min.js. Local copy of jQuery.
  • jquery.hashgrid.js. Superb grid tool. Sets up a customizable (through CSS) grid overlay which can be shown with the 'G' key. More info on
  • jquery.retina.js. If you're targeting the iPhone 4, this handy script will replace all regular images on your site with (by you created) high-res images named after Apple's "@2x" convention.
  • jquery.smoothscroll.js. Smoothscroll on anchor links. Automatically loaded.
  • modernizr-1.7.min.js. See Detects HTML5, CSS3 and other modern browser features.

For more JS polyfills, please see

Global theme path variable

A thing I've used recently is the global Javascript variable THEME_DIR. In the footer, this variable is set to the path to the Wordpress theme directory, so you're able to reach theme files from within Javascript files, for example when writing Ajax functions which are talking to a PHP script in your theme:

// In whiteboard.js:
$.get(THEME_DIR + "server-script.php", {name: "John"}, function(data){
    // Do stuff with data

    // Very handy when inserting external images as well:
    $(this).after("<img src='"+ THEME_DIR +"static/images/loader.gif' />");

This means you don't have to hard code the theme directory into the Javascript code (which is very, very bad when you want to migrate or deploy your site). The THEME_DIR Javascript variable is the same as the JB_THEME_DIR PHP constant.


Whiteboard is a Wordpress theme template only – there's no boilerplate CSS included. For that I recommend you to have a look at my Sass framework. However, in the style/css directory, there are styles for the visual editor in wp-admin, styles for the login screen, and several patch files for IE.

Other features


Instead of writing the same template code over and over again, you should use partials. There's one partial included in Whiteboard – post.php – which is the main post template. It's included with the get_template_part("partials/_post") construct. I advise you to use partials (put them in the partials directory) whenever you find yourself writing the same code twice or more.

Body classes

Whiteboard's functions file automatically adds browser names to the theme's body class. This means you're able to target specific browsers in your CSS and Javascripts. Ex. if a user running Firefox visits the site, the body class looks like <body class="firefox">. Also supports the iPhone body class.

Real shortlinks

Whiteboard uses real shortlinks when using the Wordpress template tag the_shortlink(), i.e. it outputs the raw URL rather than a pre-built link element.

Custom backend styles

Automatically adds references to editor-style.css, where CSS styles for the visual editor in wp-admin goes, as well as login.css which lets you style the login screen (wp-login.php).

General security tips

Place Wordpress in its own directory.

Don't keep Wordpress directly in the web root. The web root is usually public_html or some other name if you're using a subdomain. It's a security concern – any naughty individual could guess your whole Wordpress installation structure with ease (which isn't optimal). Personally, I find it cluttering with all Wordpress core files in my web root as well.

The solution is to put the whole Wordpress core in a separate directory (core, for instance) and put an index.php in the web root which "starts up" Wordpress:

    -- core/
        -- wp-admin/
        -- wp-content/
        -- etc, etc.

In index.php it should say:

 * Front to the WordPress application. This file doesn't do anything, but loads
 * wp-blog-header.php which does and tells WordPress to load the theme.
 * @package WordPress

 * Tells WordPress to load the WordPress theme and output it.
 * @var bool
define('WP_USE_THEMES', true);

/** Loads the WordPress Environment and Template */

Change core in the require('./wordpress/wp-blog-header.php'); line to the name of the sub-directory you keep Wordpress in. More info may be found in the Wordpress Codex page about this topic.

Protecting wp-config.php

wp-config.php is an important file, since it contains sensitive stuff about the database, and more. To prevent anyone to view the contents of wp-config, put this in your .htaccess file:

<files wp-config.php>
    order allow,deny
    deny from all

Double-check the path to your installation's wp-config.php. More info at I've included a .htaccess file in this theme with the code above.