Is it impossible to use Roots with a cloud hosted cpanel type website?

Hello all!

My apologies for the n00b question. I’ve spent the afternoon getting excited about the flexibility of Roots and reading through the documentation. I felt pretty good about understanding everything and being ready to go, but I ran into a big snag when I clicked through to the Grunt installation site. It appears that since Grunt runs on Node.js, and Node.js is server-side Javascript, and the site I want to design with Roots is hosted in the cloud by a cheapish host using cPanel, it may be impossible for me to use Roots. Is this correct?

In other words, reading through the instructions for Grunt, and then for Node.js, it seems that Node.js is not something you can install through cpanel for your site–everything is referring to Mac and Windows and looks like I’m expected to login to the server directly from my computer with more flexibility than cPanel provides.

If this is true, can anyone recommend a starter theme like this that I CAN run for a cloud hosted WP site that uses cPanel? I would love to be able to design a clean, responsive site using HTML5 without reinventing the wheel and I love the basic look of Roots.


Grunt should only be used for the development process, which ideally would happen locally. That means that you would install Node.js and Grunt locally, and run it to do all of the LESS to CSS processing, concatenating, minifying, etc. Then when you are finished developing the site, THEN you push it up to wherever you are hosting the site.

After that, Roots theme should be compatible with basically any host that can host Wordpress effectively. Only host I’ve ran into issues with is Godaddy, after a week or two their server just starts to ignore the Roots redirects and breaks the site. I’ve needed to turn off the Roots redirects both times I’ve had a client host with Godaddy.

I see–so in order to do everything locally (unfortunately all my Wordpress theme customizing experience has been through the browser), I would essentially need to (1) download software that allows me to view the site as-is in the local directory, (2) download the current Wordpress install from the hosted server to my local machine, including the databases, (3) install everything (node, Grunt, roots) locally, (4) customize the site by logging into the Wordpress admin panel locally using the software I’ve found in (1), and (5) upload the whole shebang back onto the server. Does that sound about right? And if so, any recommended software for doing this locally?

I greatly appreciate the advice!

Ah, I see. Well, the thing about the Roots theme is that it is a base theme, with basically no styling other than Bootstrap, so the idea is that you will do a sufficient amount of work to get it looking like your own theme. But it’s definitely not like one you would purchase or get from the WP repository that already has a lot of the styling finished.

You do have the right idea of how to do it. You would need to get a local server running on your computer, either by using something like Vagrant to set up a Virtual machine, or else use MAMP for Mac, WAMP, for Windows, to set up a local server for you.

Then yes, you install Wordpress into a folder that your local web server can see, then you can get the database and files from the server and set that up locally.

You would need to install Grunt and Node.js locally, but I wouldn’t suggest setting up all of the PHP and LESS/CSS and JS files via the browser. You would want to get a text editor or IDE, even something free like Notepad++ would be better than the browser if you are working locally. A lot of us really like Sublime Text 2, but it’s not free.

Good luck! There are a lot of tutorials and walkthroughs online if you have any questions, or you can ask here.

Awesome, I’ll look into MAMP and go from there. Though this may not be what I use, sadly, for my current project due to time constraints, I do feel like I’m ready for a next step in Wordpress development. I usually pick a full theme and then do a ton of customization on it by updating the CSS and PHP files in Textwrangler on my machine and then just FTPing them one by one to the site, but obviously that isn’t the best method if you don’t want to interrupt user experience. I’d love to be able to actually see my changes before I make them live, and I also feel like Roots has a lot less, well, crap to delete and work around than a lot of the full themes I’ve tried to heavily change just to get to what I’m picturing.

Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate your help with this!