Beginner starting roots, please help

I’m a novice web/Wordpress developer that would like to get accustomed to using big-boy toys, which is how I’ve wounded up here. I’ve been searching Google and these forums for a few hours and am having a difficult time seeing how all this works together. If somebody can answer a few questions and possibly expand upon them a bit (for others to see as well), it would be greatly appreciated. Once I understand some of the bigger picture stuff, I should hopefully be able to piece everything else together myself.

I’m working on Windows(8.1), planning on using WAMP for development, and Namecheap hosting for testing if this matters for any of the questions or to provide addition pointers.

  1. Can Sage be used on it’s own to make a custom template without Bedrock or Trellis? Would I go about developing with it as I would with any other traditional Wordpress theme?

  2. My understanding is that Bedrock is essentially better Wordpress filesystem based on the little description given on it’s page. (Other sites refer to Bedrock as a stack, while other refer to is as a framework) How is this used? Do I steup Bedrock to replace a standard WP install or am I still installing WP and updating it with Bedrock?

  3. Is Trellis needed to work with either of the previous? If I did want to add Trellis into the mix, what does this workflow look like? How is Sage, Bedrock, Trellis all tied together?

Once I get up and running and complete my first project, I am planning on throwing together a getting started ‘tutorial’ on this forum for beginners like me to reference, so don’t be afraid of going off topic on any of this stuff.

Thanks to all that take the time and patience to answer!

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Here are some quick answers. I’d be glad to try to add to any of this or clarify anything.

Yep, Sage can be used without Bedrock or Trellis.

For the most part, but it’s a little different than traditional Wordpress themes. It requires running a few installation commands when you first set it up using Bower, NPM, and Gulp. Some stuff like the theme wrapper are different too, but the standard Wordpress template hierarchy is still there. It’s also meant to be used as a starter theme without the parent/child theme setup you see with some Wordpress themes.

Yeah, Wordpress with a better structure is a good way of thinking of it. The other big thing with Bedrock is its use of Composer for dependency management. Wordpress and your plugins are added in as dependencies.

Trellis is your development environment (think of it as your WAMP replacement, it uses Vagrant), handling things like the database and deployment. Bedrock handles Wordpress and dependencies. Sage is your Wordpress theme. You might want to check out Digital Ocean for hosting when you start using Trellis.


Generally, if you’re just getting into this stuff, I’m not sure Roots is a great place to start. It assumes a certain level of knowledge on the part of the developer/user.

I think you might get a lot out of listening to the Changelog interview with Ben and Scott (roots core team). They go into the relationships between the different Roots products and which problems each aims to solve. If learning is your main goal, there’s no reason not to use the full Roots suite (can I call it a suite? =) but you should know going in that if any particular part of it isn’t solving a problem for you, you might be creating more work for yourself.

That is to say, most of the roots products come with some amount of overhead (generally in setup and perhaps in learning). For lots of developers, that overhead gets made up fairly quickly with time/hairline savings down the line or by fixing an existing problem that’s costing them more time/hair.


Thank you both for your replies. Based on what you have told me and additional resources I have read, it seems wise to spend a little more time developing my skills with something a little more straight forward like Underscore before jumping into something with a little steeper of a learning curve such as Roots. However, I admire the work that is being put into this project and the advancements being made…I’ll be back!

Hi all,

@Hanz I’d like to contribute to this discussion.
English is not my native language but I’ll do my best to make myself clear :wink:
I am a graphic designer / photographer and I haven’t got much experience in web development. I do know HTML, CSS and some basic JavaScript and I have created some (15 to 20) small business websites based on Wordpress and Bootstrap. I’ve been using Roots theme for a few years now (before it was called Sage) without any PHP knowledge and/or theme development skills.

The questions you are asking are the same questions I had in the beginning and honestly; (Sorry @ben - who already tried to convert me to Trellis :smiley: ) I am still not using Trellis and using MAMP instead. Yes it’s perfectly possible to get started with Sage using MAMP or WAMP and learn about the other tools later on…

A few years ago I decided to give Roots a try because I was looking for a starter theme that included Bootstrap and I have to admit; the learning curve was quite steep! I never used the command line for Web Development projects, I never heard of build tools like Grunt / Gulp before and there were days I was questioning myself why I would make it so hard for myself while I could just download and modify an existing Wordpress theme or opt for something easier.

The message I would like to pass is the following: If you are eager to learn, and you are someone that doesn’t bother reading documentation, diving into Roots Discourse and Wordpress Codex for answers, I would encourage you to give Sage a try because it’s really really worth it! Not only you will be in full control of your own website (instead of reaching out to Premium theme support because you cant find out what that specific function does…), you will write code that is better, cleaner (DRY), you will start from an excellent base, (Make sure to learn about the Sage theme Wrapper first), you will also be learning some great Web development tools that will make your life easier in the long run. We are in a business that is constantly changing and always evolving; I just feel the need to keep myself up to date in order to keep on delivering quality work for my customers and for myself, even though I only have to create a few websites per year…

Roots / Sage triggered my to learn more about Wordpress theme development and web development in general and I have never regretted taking steps in the ‘unknown’. Roots has all the resourses available if you are willing to learn and invest in knowledge --> (Discourse, Screencasts, Podcasts, Books,… ) The community is extremely active and helpful! You won’t get answers to “Wordpress for beginners” questions but if it comes to Sage itself… I am surprised of the level of commitment and help I get every single time I post a question in these forums…

I would hereby like to thank the Roots team and all the contributors for the tremendous effort you guys are doing day in and day out! A HUGE THANK YOU!