Is there a starter for building block themes? – WP Tavern

I have read a few articles from “Ask the Bartender” and enjoy it very much! Thank you. I have a question now. 🙂

I want to refine my WordPress theme development process, which is:

  1. To create a unique and creative design with Adobe XD or Figma.
  2. To convert it to static HTML using VS Code with Bootstrap.
  3. In WordPress, create custom post types with PODS.
  4. To convert static HTML to WP templates with Timber.

In my experience, this process is the best for me, but I want to integrate my themes better with WP-Blocks.

So my question is: is there a starter theme ready to use with blocks as the main theme and later extend it with a child theme with my custom theme?


This question depends on one of two things: Do you want to create classic themes with block support or full block themes? How you approach projects in the future will depend on the answer to this question. It was not clear which direction you prefer in your question, so I will address both.

It also looks like you are more interested in the children’s theme. For clarity, I consider “starter” themes as a starting point for creating stand-alone or custom parent themes. I’m guessing you want something more akin to a blank canvas parent theme that doesn’t have a default style set.

As far as your tools go, I have almost no experience with any of them. I guess you can maintain a similar process by sticking to classic themes with block support. However, with block themes, you’ll probably want to switch to visual design in the next site editor and exporting templates. It would cut down on a lot of the steps you usually take.

Classic with block support

I tend to tout the WordPress theme with blocks, but let’s face it. Most theme authors won’t take this step forward when WordPress 5.9 launches. And, there is no reason for everyone to dive head first into something that isn’t 100% up to what you can build by going the traditional route. So, classic themes are the safest bet for a while.

Starter themes or frames are a dime a dozen in the world of classic themes. My advice is to keep using what works best for you. Adding block support is mostly a matter of styling tweaks and maybe a theme.json to file.

If you want to make your integration with blocks easier, start learning the overall style and parameter system (that is, theme.json). It works with any type of theme, so you don’t need to go completely blocking if you’re not ready. It also allows you to continue using the configuration you are used to with an additional file. It’s also been part of WordPress since 5.8, so you can use it now without relying on the Gutenberg plugin or waiting for the launch of 5.9.

GoDaddy’s Go theme.

If you really need a starting point or parent theme in the Classic + Blocks space, I recommend Go by GoDaddy. The block-first project receives routine updates, supports CoBlocks and WooCommerce, and has a large enough user base to maintain the ecosystem around it.

Building block themes

If you want to move forward and put yourself in a solid position for the future of WordPress, the block theme is the way to go. Sooner or later, almost every theme writer will have to rely on it. In this context, it also makes it easy to answer your question. And, I have two options for you.

The go-to choice for many theme authors is to learn and build from the latest default WordPress theme. In this case, it is Vingt Vingt-Deux. It was supposed to be ready on December 8, with WordPress 5.9. However, the official release date is now January 25, 2022.

Twenty Twenty-Two homepage on the left with a large intro section and the latest posts grid below.  On the right is a category archive with staggered grid positions.
Twenty twenty-two screenshots.

Although it hasn’t officially launched yet, this is a solid place to start if you want to release a child theme in the next couple of months in addition to the last one by default.

The goal is for Twenty Twenty-Two to come with alternate color palettes and fonts. However, this feature is not yet ready. In the meantime, these custom designs are available as kids themes that you can DIY with. They’re just as good a starting point as any.

However, you might be looking for something a little more mature – as mature as anything can be for something that hasn’t officially launched yet. Automattic’s Blockbase parent theme is the easy choice.

Custom dark version (child theme) of the Blockbase parent theme.
Custom Blockbase child theme.

Blockbase has a low-profile design that makes it easy to overwrite through child themes. It was literally built for this purpose. The Automattic theme team rolled out the Videomaker child theme yesterday. That’s six in total, which are available through the company’s profile. Not only is this a good starting point, but there are plenty of examples to learn from.

Plus, you don’t have to get your hands dirty with code if you don’t want to. By installing and activating the accompanying Create Blockbase Theme plugin, you can create child themes directly from the site editor and export them.

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