Before starting, download and install the plugin WP-AppKit. You can find it on GitHub.

For this tutorial, we’ll create a very basic theme named “my-theme” based on the Twitter Bootstrap frontend framework.

You can see it in action right here at the end of this tutorial.

You can also download the theme’s sources directly here (ZIP file 115Ko) or build the theme step by step with the help of the tutorial below.

We are not going into any details of the underlying principles of WP-AppKit themes and apps in this tutorial. To know more or to dive directly into your own theme development, the WP-AppKit Theme documentation is your best bet.

Setting Up Theme Directory and Template Files

Create a new directory “my-theme” under the “wp-content/themes-wp-appkit” directory.

In this new directory (“wp-content/themes-wp-appkit/my-theme”), create the following template files (empty for now, but required):

  • my-theme/archive.html
  • my-theme/head.html
  • my-theme/layout.html
  • my-theme/menu.html
  • my-theme/single.html

Create a “js” sub-directory: “my-theme/js”, and a file named “functions.js” inside it (“my-theme/js/functions.js”). It’s also an empty file for now, but it is required too.

Finally create “css” and “fonts” sub-folders. They’re optional but we’ll use them in this tutorial.

You should now have come to this :

wp_appkit_tutorial_files_start

 

Theme’s Styles and JavaScript

Download the Twitter Bootstrap resources either by getting the last and up to date version from here, or by downloading  the ones we used when building this tutorial (Bootstrap v3.2.0, ZIP file 112Ko).

Copy Twitter Bootstrap CSS, fonts and JavaScript in your theme folder in the corresponding “my-theme/css”, “my-theme/fonts” and “my-theme/js” sub-folders.

If you downloaded Bootstrap from the Bootstrap website:  note that we don’t need all the files that the default Bootstrap download includes. Here are the only files this tutorial requires :

  • css/bootstrap.min.css
  • css/bootstrap-theme.min.css
  • fonts/glyphicons-halflings-regular.*
  • js / bootstrap.min.js

Your theme should now have the following files :

appkit_tutorial_files_bootstrap

 

To link the Bootstrap CSS files in our theme, open the “my-theme/head.html” template and insert :

While we’re in our head.html template, also add the content-type meta and a mobile oriented viewport meta, which gives us :

To plug  the Bootstrap JavaScript file to our theme, open the “functions.js” file and insert :

It may be surprising that we don’t include Javascript files in the head.html template along with CSS files, please see the JavaScript in themes section of the documentation to see why this is the right way to add JavaScript resources to WP-AppKit themes.

Theme Layout

Copy the following HTML code into the “layout.html” template file :

This HTML structure is the standard way of including a “fixed to top navbar with hamburger menu button” with Twitter Bootstrap. You’ll notice 3 WP-AppKit template tags here :

  • <%= app_title %> : displays the app title as defined in the WordPress admin.
  • <%= menu %> : automatically displays the content of the “menu.html” template (see below).
  • <%= content %> : automatically displays the current screen content, using the “archive.html” template if a post list is displayed or the “single.html” template if a post is displayed.

You can find details about this template tags in the documentation.

App Navigation Menu

The “menu.html” template is used to render the app’s navigation.  Copy the following HTML code into “menu.html” :

Here, we loop on the menu_items WP-AppKit’s object to display each menu item as a <li> list element.

The JavaScript template engine (code inside <% … %> that you see in templates) used in WP-AppKit is the underscore.js : more info about that here.

Post Lists

Post lists (posts for a WordPress category for example) are displayed using the “archive.html” template. Copy the following into your “archive.html” :

<%= list_title %> displays the current list title (name of the category for example).

We loop on the posts WP-AppKit’s object to display each post as a Bootstrap media object list item.

You can see that each post has the following properties (among others not used here): thumbnail, title, date and excerpt.

We use the TemplateTags WP-AppKit’s module to get post links and format post dates.

Post Detail

Post details are displayed using the “single.html” template. Copy the following code into your “single.html“:

The post WP-AppKit’s object has the exact same properties as in the “archive.html” template. Here we display post title, date, thumbnail (if the post has one) and content.

Ok, This Is It, Let’s See Our Theme In Action, Shall We?

You can now create an app in WordPress.

  • Go to “WP-AppKit > Applications”
  • Click “Add new”
  • Set a title (only used in WordPress admin, not in the app) : here we name it “WP AppKit Tutorial”
  • Set a platform (Android/iOS) even if it has no influence here since we won’t deploy it on a device in this tutorial
  • In the “Theme” box, set “Application Title” (“WP AppKit Tutorial” again in this example) and choose your “My theme” theme in the themes’ list :

appkit_tutorial_edit_title_theme

  • Publish your app by clicking the blue “Publish” button
  • Now, add components (ie content) to the app : in the “App Components” box, click “Add new” to set some “Posts list” components based on your WordPress categories (or any taxonomies you may have) :

appkit_tutorial_add_component

  • And finally, add those components to your app navigation by clicking “Add new component to navigation” in the “App Navigation” box :

appkit_tutorial_add_to_navigation

  • In the “App Simulation” box, click “View application in browser” :

appkit_tutorial_view_appt

Your app should launch! For a more “close to mobile reality” experience, resize your browser to a mobile size (manually or better : using your browser mobile device emulator).

 

To go further

The best way to go if you want to make your own WP-AppKit themes is to read the documentation and have a look to the Nihao default themes.

Or, you could just start to play along rewriting the templates of this tutorial with your own HTML structure and your own CSS/Javascript. To do so, you may need 2 more things :

1 – Add your own CSS stylesheet :

For example, to extend all our posts images to full width :

  • Add a “my-styles.css” file to my-theme/css, that contains :
  • Link this new CSS file to your theme : append the following to your head.html template :

 2 – Add your own javascript to the functions.js :

For example, let’s close the navigation menu when we click a link inside it, and scroll to top at each screen change :

Replace your my-theme/js/functions.js content by :

On the first line, we add the “jquery” and “core/app-theme” dependencies and say that we are going to access them through “$” and “App”.

Then, we write “normal” jquery DOM manipulation and use the AppKit “screen:showed” event to intercept app screen changes.

Wrapping Things Up

You should now understand the basic principles behind WP-AppKit Themes. To learn more, check the  javascript in AppKit themes documentation section.

To test the basic sample AppKit theme “my-theme” built in this tutorial : download it here (ZIP file 115Ko) and unzip it to your “wp-content/plugins/wp-app-kit/app/themes” directory. Have something to say about this article? Great! Comments are there for that. Please remember that comments are moderared. SPAM or off-topics comments won’t be published.

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Published by Mathieu on August 2, 2014

Freelance Senior Web Developer, WordPress since 2009, JS/Backbone since 2012, Custom Back-End devs, WebApps and Plugins for clients and the community.

18 Comments

  1. Merci Mathieu pour ce tuto très complet. Je n’ai plus d’excuse 🙂

    Reply
  2. I have downloaded the wp-appkit-master.zip from github and tried to upload as a plugin into wordpress. The operation fails as no valid plugins were found. Do you have any ideas I’m using wordpress 4.1

    Reply
    • Hi Mike, to make it work: open wp-app-kit-master.zip locally and extract the wp-app-kit folder. Zip the extracted folder. You will be able to use this new archive as a valid plugin. Please let us know if it has not worked.

      Reply
  3. Is there a way to include google maps into a page and have it displayed.

    I have tried a google maps plugin which creates a shortcode after filling in map details in form on backend and then typing that shortcode into static page also just typing in the code direct from google with my own api key. Both give me a blank page.

    I really like this plugin by the way It has great potential!!

    Reply
  4. Hi Mr. Ben,
    Awesome article and info. Please I want to know that how are we going to yse plugins into our app. Normally, we add plugin by using following command on cli which
    ” cordova plugin add <> ”
    So my question is, after doing the thing mentioned above. How are we going to use that plugin for our app.

    Reply
  5. Hi I did everything as mentioned above, When I click on view application on browser, nothing appears only blank, Please be fast.

    Reply
  6. Hello

    thanks

    I use this plugin to make mobile app.

    but after create . and then click on the preview in browser.
    display blank page and no contain the websiteposts.

    In the Android phone dosent display the theme..

    please help.

    Reply
  7. how can I add theme events <like text sizes buttons> to the original Q theme for android?

    Reply
    • Sorry but I am not sure to get the question correctly (notably the like text sizes buttons). Could you be more specific?

      Reply
      • Oh, i mean a button in the panel-header to resize the article’s text

        Reply
        • Here’s below quick steps to that:

          • Create the button in layout.html (with an id) – I recommend using an SVG icon
          • Bind events to that button in functions.js
          • Event handlers can manipulate font size of the content div
          • You can also detect the current screen to show/hide the font button (eg. show it only for single)

          If you need more, you can write to support[at]uncategorized-creations.com.

          Reply

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