Changing the Name and Path of the Active WordPress Theme Without Breaking Theme Settings

After changing a brand name, but little else, on a WordPress site we can end up with a WordPress theme called “oldbrand” on a site called “New Brand.” This leads to weird things like the brand’s logo being at the URL Oops. SEOs must cry a little when they see something like that. This is a situation one of my clients ended up in after a name change, but it ends now.

We can’t simply change the theme directory from themes/oldbrand to themes/newbrand and update the active theme in the Appearance section of the wp-admin because theme-related settings are tied to the theme directory in the database. This includes things like widget placement; a different theme probably has very different widget areas so widget placement should be stored per-theme. The same goes for any theme settings & customizations. To get around this we need to update the database so WordPress thinks that the new theme name is the theme name we’ve always been using.

A word of caution: back up your database before trying this. We’re going to run raw queries. If something breaks you may end up in an in-between limbo, and restoring from backup is the quickest way out.

After diving through the database of a few sites this morning these queries make it possible to rename the theme directory, and optionally rename the theme in style.css:

# Update the main theme options
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value='new-theme-directory' WHERE option_name='template';
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value='new-theme-directory' WHERE option_name='stylesheet';
UPDATE wp_options SET option_name='theme_mods_new-theme-directory' WHERE option_name='theme_mods_old-theme-directory';

# If also updating the Theme Name in the theme's style.css
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value='New Theme Name' WHERE option_name='current_theme';  

# If any posts reference assets in the theme such as images or logos.
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content=REPLACE(post_content, 'themes/old-theme-directory', 'themes/new-theme-directory' );
UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value=REPLACE(meta_value, 'themes/old-theme-directory', 'themes/new-theme-directory');

# If WordFence is used
UPDATE wp_wfConfig SET val=REPLACE(val, 'themes/old-theme-directory', 'themes/new-theme-directory');

# Delete a couple of transients that store references to the old theme directory.
DELETE FROM wp_options WHERE option_value='_site_transient_theme_roots';
DELETE FROM wp_options WHERE option_value='_site_transient_update_themes';


  • Try to run these queries at nearly the same time as the theme directory is renamed. Bonus points for making a script that does it all nearly instantly.
  • If an installation stores transients somewhere other than the DB, then clearing them in the DB won’t work, (clearing the transients may not be strictly required).
  • The sample code uses the default wp_ table prefix. When working on a site with a different prefix, use that.

Hopefully this helps someone finish their Googling session and get on with a rename!

Preview Laravel Password Reset and Verification E-mails in a Browser

I’m building something on Laravel, using the built-in Auth with 5.7’s new E-mail Verification feature. Today’s task was to tweak the design of E-mail notifications a bit, so I wanted to preview them in a browser. I thought it would be easy, but the built-in E-mails use the Notification system, bypassing Mailable objects. Some Googling didn’t help much, but combining the Notifications documentation and this forum post got let me preview the messages. Hopefully this post can help someone else preview their messages much more quickly than I did today.

The concept is similar to the “Previewing Mailables” documentation: define a route to view your preview on, and return something that will render the message. The trick is that the MailMessage objects that the Notifications’ toMail() methods return don’t have a render() method like Mailable class does, so we need to find something else. Since the built-in Auth uses Markdown mail we can use the Markdown class. A Notifiable object, (the User object for the user who will get the notification), and a Notification are also needed.

For this to work you need to have the right Notifications published to your resources/views/vendor directory. This is done with the Artisan command php artisan vendor:publish --tag=laravel-notifications.

And set up the preview routes:

Route::get('/reset-notification', function () {

    // Get a user for demo purposes
    $user = App\User::find(1);

    // Make a Reset Notification object, (subclass of `Notification`)
    $resetNotification = new \Illuminate\Auth\Notifications\ResetPassword( 'some-random-string-this-will-be-much-longer-in-real-life' );

    // get the `MailMessage` object
    $mailMessage = $resetNotification->toMail($user);

    // get the `Markdown` object
    $markdown = new Illuminate\Mail\Markdown(view(), config('mail.markdown'));

    // Render the view with data from the `MailMessage` object
    return $markdown->render('', $mailMessage->toArray());

Route::get( '/verify-notification', function () {

    // Get a user for demo purposes
    $user = App\User::find(1);

    // Make a Verify Notification object, (subclass of `Notification`)
    $verifyNotification = new Illuminate\Auth\Notifications\VerifyEmail();

    // get the `MailMessage` object
    $mailMessage = $verifyNotification->toMail($user);

    // get the `Markdown` object
    $markdown = new Illuminate\Mail\Markdown(view(), config('mail.markdown'));

    // Render the view with data from the `MailMessage` object
    return $markdown->render('', $mailMessage->toArray());

Once the Notification is published and the routes created it is possible to preview the Password Reset and E-mail Verification E-mails in the browser.

Automating the Fracturing of a Git Repository

I have a git repo that’s become a monster. It’s got at least two WordPress themes, a handful of custom WordPress plugins, some .htaccess files, an artwork directory, and more. Back in the dark times, when it was a Subversion repository this sort of made sense, in that I didn’t have to set up a new repo on the server for each component in the project. But I haven’t touched SVN in a long time, and making new repositories in Git is easy. We’re doing some major work on this client’s sites this fall, so it’s time to break up the giant repository into several smaller ones.

The monolith repository is being split into seventeen smaller components. One of these components is an “artwork” directory, the ~600MB history of which will bloat the git history of all sixteen other repositories if we don’t purge it properly. The goals of this script are:

  1. Avoid typing the same set of commands seventeen times.
  2. Keep the appropriate git history for each of the seventeen components.
  3. Purge any unrelated git history so each component only has its own history in its .git directory.

Github has a help page on splitting a subfolder into its own repository, and another on removing files from a repository’s history, (it’s meant for sensitive data, but works for all data). In theory we only really need the first link, but in testing the entire history of the monolith remained when only following the instructions in the first link, but with the purge and garbage collection commands from the second link the git history is down to an appropriate size.

The script is relatively simple, but relies a bit on directory structure. It should be in the same directory as the monolith repo, (the script doesn’t go into the monolith, it goes in the same containing folder). There are two places to change the script:

  1. Put the directories for extraction into the repos array, (starting on line 5). These paths are relative to the root of the repository.
  2. Put the path of a copy of the monolith repo for use as a source in the master variable, (line 16).

Once that’s done, running ./ should export the repositories.

Here’s the gist:

# Enter the paths in the main repo to the subdirectories you want to extract
# Separate paths with spaces or newlines
echo "Total repos to export : ${#repos[*]}"
# Put the directory of the main repo here.
for repo in "${repos[@]}"
subdir=$(basename $repo)
echo "${repo} => ${subdir}"
cp -R $master $subdir
cd $subdir
git filter-branch –prune-empty –subdirectory-filter $repo master
git for-each-ref –format='delete %(refname)' refs/original | git update-ref –stdin
git reflog expire –expire=now –all
git gc –prune=now
cd ../