TUTS+ tutorial totally confusing, no support


I was interested in learning how to create my own theme using underscores. So I purchased a tutorial based on the two “free” short “presentation” videos that teacher offers.

Immediately after starting the course, the teacher veers into the wilderness and instructs us to create a local WP install using Bitnami, which doesn’t recognize my WordPress.com account for using Jetpack, etc. At some point I’m like, what the heck, this has nothing to do with underscores?? And there is not even an acknowledgement that some people might encounter such a problem, and what to do in that case…

And there is NO “comment” section, the teacher cannot be reached anywhere, so I sent a bottle in the ocean of “support.” But I’m wondering if anyone else encountered this? I lost half a day Googling, searching and waiting around for a reply. NOT too impressed so far. I liked her flow, but this is to tally unnecessary - you should be able to work online if you choose, no?

I don’t mean to be a whiner, I’m new to tuts+, but it’s really been disappointing. I bought a course to learn new skills, and end up feeling worse about my inability to learn than learned anything else…

If anyone has a tip, please let me know, or a work-around, etc.


While waiting for support are you able to skip the Bitnami part and just set it up your own way and continue the tute?

Yes, good idea indeed… I’ll see how far I get without Jetpack. :slightly_smiling:

Well, it gets worse: now she introduces Prepros, which once installed should received the theme folder created on Underscores. But Prepros expects your files to be inside Bitnami, soooo… it’s all contingent to working:

  • offline
  • using Bitnami
  • using Prepros

And there is no alternative suggested for working online. This is information that should have been given clearly beforehand, as these are totally new to me. I’ll have to take a few steps back and see if I can figure something out.

Hi @styzer. I’m just looping in @kezzbracey who might be able to offer some advice directly! Thanks.

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Thank you David! I find myself too deep into the rabbit hole, maybe I totally misunderstood the pre-requisites for the course. It’s nightime here and I have to log off for now, but will follow this tomorrow.

Cheers! and Hi Kezz if I don’t see you before then…

Hi @styzer,

Thanks for taking the Underscores course! Hopefully I can help clarify why it takes you along the path it does.

When you create custom themes with Underscores, (or most any other method), you do need to work offline in order for the process to be practical, for a few reasons:

  • You’ll need to make lots of edits to files in a good code editor like Sublime Text and as such you need those files to be offline.
  • If you were using an online WP installation you’d have to re-upload your theme files every time you made a change which would be painful and very slow.
  • On top of the above, Underscores uses the Sass / SCSS preprocessing language instead of CSS. This means you need to edit .scss files and compile them into CSS, which we do with Prepros in the course. This extra step before you could manually upload your theme files would make attempting to do your development online even more painful.

Basically making changes to themes online is only suitable if:

  • You are making small code edits, not significant changes
  • You are using some type of WYSIWYG theme creation system

Please note I did actually mention you’d be setting up an offline WordPress development site towards the end of the second free video.

You definitely do want to be working offline. Re. Bitnami, you can use another offline installation method if you prefer but in my experience the others are more complex. You can also use another method of compiling SCSS instead of Prepros if you prefer, but with this also in my experience other options are more complex.

Re. Jetpack, I didn’t have to do this at the time of recording so I assume something must have changed, but it looks like you can enable development / offline mode by following the instructions here: https://jetpack.me/support/development-mode/

Re. what the prerequisites are, as I described in the second free video you should be comfortable with CSS (i.e. experienced rather than being a beginner) and ideally have a foundation in SCSS. If you’re at that level you should be good to go.

If you feel you’re not at that level, please do let us know and I’m sure we can find another way to help you out.



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Thank you Kezz,

The last site I made for a client: http://www.vi-control.net

So I’m quite comfortable with CSS, and using WP with Genesis most of the time now, after pulling my hair with so many WP themes that just were bloated and dispersed, and that messed up my clients sites upon upgrades.

However I’m not extremely technical when it comes to first figuring out new software, and so it seems I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. From where I stand, that was more than 3 new softwares to grasp, plus with it being a seemingly new approach to coding (first time I hear of Sass), and that I never work offline as I developed a very adequate workflow via FTP.

I think it could be helpful for those coming after me to read about Bitnami, Prepros, Sass, so they not only hear you say “offline” but get an idea what will be used for it in your specific approach.

Don’t get me wrong, I love your flow, your voice is very easy on the ears and I wish I could have made sense of it all.

Why did I seek a tutorial on underscores? I was looking at a WP theme I liked very much (few flaws, imho), checking the stylesheet I saw the name ‘underscores.’ I was curious, and after watching their itro video, I was hoping I could also build a few themes the way I needed them to be. However, there is a huge gap from where I am and where you guys stand, and I just don’t have the mental energy to spend on trying to figure out what for me is a big deal.

Again, thank you for replying, and can something be done to credit this to another tutorial I may want in the future?



Hi Andre,

Good work on your site!

Thanks for your compliments, I’m sorry to hear you don’t feel the course is a fit for you right now.

About other courses, it’s not my place to let you know on that. Hopefully @davidappleyard can get back to you in that regard.

Have a great day!

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Thanks you for the encouraging words, and I’m sure David will contact me in due time.

All the best!


HI Kezz, I’m also having problems with this due to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a comment sections, troubleshooting advice or support links included. I’ve got all the way to 3.1 - Organising your customisations, but although my prepros is telling me it’s compiling properly, the style tweaks aren’t showing in my browser. I can’t find any support here or elsewhere online to troubleshoot this problem so I’m completely stuck. Having no experience of prepros before I’m not sure which settings I should be checking or what to check in the files to find out where the error is occurring. Can you help? Thanks.

Hi there,

Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve tested so far to isolate the issue?

As I said, I’m new to prepros so I don’t even know where to start at troubleshooting the problem. All I know is that I followed your steps but the styling isn’t showing up in the browser - even though prepros is telling me that it has compiled the file. Can you give me some steps to follow to troubleshoot? Thanks.

The first thing I’d suggest is opening up one of your source files, making a change then opening your compiled file and comparing them to see if you can spot your changes.

CTRL + F for a string of code you know you’ve entered in your source would be a good way to do this.

Thank you. So it looks like the styles I’m changing in the scss files are not being compiled into style.css. I guess this is what I expected as the styles were not showing in the browser - the difficulty now if finding out why. Do you have any advice on what I should be looking at next? One thing I did notice while setting ip Prepros is that the interface / settings are very different to the ones in your tutorial. Does this new version of Prepros require a different setup?

Prepros are pretty good with delivering regular updates so it does change often.

I’d suggest next checking the output path your compiled css file is going to in order to see if it’s going to the right place, i.e. overwriting the theme stylesheet each time.

I’m really sorry but could you give me some more info on how I do this? Your videos are great and really clear which has made it easy for me to learn as I go along so far, but I’m not 100% sure what I’m doing now! It would be helpful to know not just what to troubleshoot, but how. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me!

You’re welcome. :slight_smile:

You should be able to click the source file in Prepros then look at “OUTPUT PATH” on the right.

If your interface is different to mine (perhaps it might vary on different operating systems) then there should be something comparable.

Ah thank you! That was the problem, the output path hadn’t been changed - i think this is because I was getting confused with the changed layout of prepros when this step came around. Sorry totally my fault - but thank you for helping me figure it out :smile:

Top marks @kezzbracey :trophy:

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