From time to time, you may find yourself in a position where you need to edit a themes js file, but you have no FTP details or access to the cpanel/file manager – or perhaps your simply want to make some tweaks to a plugin and feel like living dangerously (you shouldn’t really develop directly on a live site of course), this post is going to provide some useful tips and plugins when things have to get dirty!

Editing JS Files (and other files WP doesn’t allow access to)

Although WordPress does offer a very basic code editor (Appearance > Editor in your dashboard), not only is it very limited in that is is simply a code editor such as your PCs notepad but you will find a good number of files such as JS and CSS files simply cannot be accessed for editing, this is where WPIDE comes in.

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WPIDE provides a much more comprehensive code editor, which offers syntax highlighting, tabbed editing and code linting (so your less likely to break the whole site with a hasty edit) which in itself is a great improvement over the default WP editor, but the real bonus here is the tree navigation allows access to all WP files!

Accessing/Editing folders/file structures

Like above, sometimes you need to remove disable a plugin or theme but you dont have all the access details to do so via FTP (a common example is where a plugin fails to fully install, leaving you with no way to remove/activate the plugin) – thankfully there is a wonderful, little-known plugin which will give you all you need get things done.

wp-FileManager is a simple plugin which, once setup, will allow you to merrily edit, rename or remove folders as you wish regardless of where they reside on your server – a real life saver for sure!

Cloning a theme

Its always a good idea to have a backup, especially if your really living life on the edge and editing a parent theme directly! Creating a backup without FTPs is usually not possible, however a vintage plugin from wordpress.org comes to the rescue again – Theme File Duplicator

The plugin basically clones a theme (or child theme for that matter) so you can play with the code, safe in the knowledge you can always roll back should things go less smoothly that you expect.

Creating a child theme

Using a child is by far the best practice when customization any WordPress theme, allowing you to make whatever changes you need, whilst leaving the parent theme in tact – however if you have been tasked with creating a child theme but done have FTP details to work with, your usually stuck. This is where the Child Theme Creator shines. It can setup a ready to use child theme with a single click and is an essential tool in any WP dev’s arsenal.

Do you have any tools or tricks you would like to share? Then we would love to hear from you! Just give us a shout via the comments area below.