WordPress theme development and the white screen of death

June 2, 2010

I’m currently working on a new site for a client who requires a CMS. After a fair amount of research and based on my own experiences they decided that WordPress fitted the bill. So I needed to develop a bespoke theme for them.

Now I’ve messed around with tweaking wordpress themes before and it is pretty intuative. Unfortunately last night the whole thing came crashing down and I had to battle with the (apparently infamous) ‘white screen of death’ – which usually seems to be caused by a php bug. These bugs can be as simple and innocuous as an additional line break in your code (WordPress doesn’t like space it would seem). I’ve not yet tracked down the source of my ‘white screen’ issues (EDIT – I have since found the source of my bugs, it was caused by such an innocuous thing i still can’t quite get my head around it! basically i needed to remove and all space between each function in my functions.php file – i.e. so there was no space between each closing ?> tag and the following opening <?php for the next function. it’s ridiculous that such a small thing brought everything crashing down, but there you have it…) but if you’re suffering from something similar then there are numerous lists that should help troubleshoot the problem. Here are just a few that I’ve found helpful:

http://wordpress.org/support/topic/405711

http://wordpress.org/support/topic/363816

http://www.amandavandervort.com/blog/2009/12/how-i-solved-my-wordpress-white-screen-of-death/

I’d also add that if you’re considering WordPress theme development then it’s a good idea to have a good read of the documentation first (there are lots of dependancies that it’s useful to be aware of so the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down) http://codex.wordpress.org/

And there are also a number of very good tutorials around WordPress theme development. Again, here are a few I’ve found helpful:

http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/02/19/so-you-want-to-create-wordpress-themes-huh/

http://themeshaper.com/wordpress-themes-templates-tutorial/

http://jonathanwold.com/tutorials/wordpress_theme/

http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Development

http://codex.wordpress.org/Blog_Design_and_Layout

http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/web-roundups/top-50-wordpress-tutorials/

http://net.tutsplus.com/site-builds/how-to-create-a-wordpress-theme-from-scratch/

Hope that helps!

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5 Responses to “WordPress theme development and the white screen of death”

  1. Thanks for sharing the links! It’s hard to find good tutorials.

  2. glad you found them useful

  3. […] more here: WordPress theme development and the white screen of death « A … No Comment Ping […]

  4. Great article! Thanks for sharing..

  5. Wow, it is an amazing post, thankx alot for sharing this information with us…

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