I hate the Comments Template. There, I said it. It can be a confusing mess. In version 2.7, WordPress introduced a simpler way of producing Comments Templates—which was no help if you wanted to separate your comments and trackbacks or have custom comment markup. It’s still confusing.

Luckily for you, I’ve sorted it out. Confusing still, yes. But sorted out. For this tutorial on the Comments Template I’m basically going to walk you through what’s going to happen, show you some custom code snippets you’ll need to add to your functions.php, and then drop the whole thing on you. Hopefully, it’ll start to make sense. But at they very least you’ll have a wicked comments template.

Let’s take a look at a quick list of what’s going on in this Template.

  1. Prevent loading for bots and on password protected posts
  2. Check if there are comments
  3. Count the number of comments and trackbacks (or pings)
  4. If there are comments, show the comments—with navigation for paginated comments
  5. If there are trackbacks, show the trackbacks
  6. If comments are open, show the comments “respond” form

That’s a lot of stuff going on for one template. But written out like that, it’s pretty straightforward.

Custom Callbacks for Comments and Trackbacks

Now, with WordPress 2.7 came the function wp_list_comments() that conveniently spits out an ordered list of comments and trackbacks markup for your post (threaded too). Convenient if you want that. And we don’t. We want separated threaded comments and trackbacks, with our own custom markup.

To make the comments template code I’m going to give you work, you’ll need a set of custom callbacks for your list of Comments and Trackbacks. Add the following 2 functions to your theme functions.php file.

// Custom callback to list comments in the your-theme style
function custom_comments($comment, $args, $depth) {
  $GLOBALS['comment'] = $comment;
    $GLOBALS['comment_depth'] = $depth;
    <li id="comment-<?php comment_ID() ?>" <?php comment_class() ?>>
        <div class="comment-author vcard"><?php commenter_link() ?></div>
        <div class="comment-meta"><?php printf(__('Posted %1$s at %2$s <span>|</span> <a href="%3$s" title="Permalink to this comment">Permalink</a>', 'your-theme'),
                    '#comment-' . get_comment_ID() );
                    edit_comment_link(__('Edit', 'your-theme'), ' <span>|</span> <span>', '</span>'); ?></div>
  <?php if ($comment->comment_approved == '0') _e("\t\t\t\t\t<span class='unapproved'>Your comment is awaiting moderation.</span>\n", 'your-theme') ?>
          <div class="comment-content">
            <?php comment_text() ?>
        <?php // echo the comment reply link
            if($args['type'] == 'all' || get_comment_type() == 'comment') :
                comment_reply_link(array_merge($args, array(
                    'reply_text' => __('Reply','your-theme'), 
                    'login_text' => __('Log in to reply.','your-theme'),
                    'depth' => $depth,
                    'before' => '<div>', 
                    'after' => '</div>'
<?php } // end custom_comments
// Custom callback to list pings
function custom_pings($comment, $args, $depth) {
       $GLOBALS['comment'] = $comment;
            <li id="comment-<?php comment_ID() ?>" <?php comment_class() ?>>
                <div class="comment-author"><?php printf(__('By %1$s on %2$s at %3$s', 'your-theme'),
                        get_comment_time() );
                        edit_comment_link(__('Edit', 'your-theme'), ' <span>|</span> <span>', '</span>'); ?></div>
    <?php if ($comment->comment_approved == '0') _e('\t\t\t\t\t<span>Your trackback is awaiting moderation.</span>\n', 'your-theme') ?>
            <div class="comment-content">
                <?php comment_text() ?>
<?php } // end custom_pings

Those look kind of hairy don’t they? But you’re better off for it. Now you have access to the comments markup. I think the markup I’ve got in there is pretty sweet and will let you make a lot of changes with just CSS alone, but if you do want to alter the markup, well, there it is.

We’ll also need a special custom function that the custom_comments() is calling. This function will markup the gravatar we’re using so it fits into the microformat schema for hcard.

// Produces an avatar image with the hCard-compliant photo class
function commenter_link() {
    $commenter = get_comment_author_link();
    if ( ereg( '<a[^>]* class=[^>]+>', $commenter ) ) {
        $commenter = ereg_replace( '(<a[^>]* class=[\'"]?)', '\\1url ' , $commenter );
    } else {
        $commenter = ereg_replace( '(<a )/', '\\1class="url "' , $commenter );
    $avatar_email = get_comment_author_email();
    $avatar = str_replace( "class='avatar", "class='photo avatar", get_avatar( $avatar_email, 80 ) );
    echo $avatar . ' <span>' . $commenter . '</span>';
} // end commenter_link

If you want to change the default size of your gravatar just change the 80 in get_avatar( $avatar_email, 80 ) ). The 80 is the size in pixels of your gravatar.

The Comments Template

I haven’t scared you away have I? I’ll be honest, it’s not that scary. Here’s the comments template with some helpful PHP comments that should guide you along in understanding what’s happening.

<?php /* The Comments Template — with, er, comments! */ ?>            
            <div id="comments">
<?php /* Run some checks for bots and password protected posts */ ?>  
    $req = get_option('require_name_email'); // Checks if fields are required.
    if ( 'comments.php' == basename($_SERVER['SCRIPT_FILENAME']) )
        die ( 'Please do not load this page directly. Thanks!' );
    if ( ! empty($post->post_password) ) :
        if ( $_COOKIE['wp-postpass_' . COOKIEHASH] != $post->post_password ) :
                <div class="nopassword"><?php _e('This post is password protected. Enter the password to view any comments.', 'your-theme') ?></div>
            </div><!-- .comments -->

<?php /* See IF there are comments and do the comments stuff! */ ?>                       
<?php if ( have_comments() ) : ?>

<?php /* Count the number of comments and trackbacks (or pings) */
$ping_count = $comment_count = 0;
foreach ( $comments as $comment )
    get_comment_type() == "comment" ? ++$comment_count : ++$ping_count;

<?php /* IF there are comments, show the comments */ ?>
<?php if ( ! empty($comments_by_type['comment']) ) : ?>

                <div id="comments-list" class="comments">
                    <h3><?php printf($comment_count > 1 ? __('<span>%d</span> Comments', 'your-theme') : __('<span>One</span> Comment', 'your-theme'), $comment_count) ?></h3>

<?php /* If there are enough comments, build the comment navigation  */ ?>                    
<?php $total_pages = get_comment_pages_count(); if ( $total_pages > 1 ) : ?>
                    <div id="comments-nav-above" class="comments-navigation">
                                <div class="paginated-comments-links"><?php paginate_comments_links(); ?></div>
                    </div><!-- #comments-nav-above -->                  
<?php endif; ?>                   
<?php /* An ordered list of our custom comments callback, custom_comments(), in functions.php   */ ?>             
<?php wp_list_comments('type=comment&callback=custom_comments'); ?>

<?php /* If there are enough comments, build the comment navigation */ ?>
<?php $total_pages = get_comment_pages_count(); if ( $total_pages > 1 ) : ?>                   
                <div id="comments-nav-below" class="comments-navigation">
                        <div class="paginated-comments-links"><?php paginate_comments_links(); ?></div>
            </div><!-- #comments-nav-below -->
<?php endif; ?>                   
                </div><!-- #comments-list .comments -->

<?php endif; /* if ( $comment_count ) */ ?>

<?php /* If there are trackbacks(pings), show the trackbacks  */ ?>
<?php if ( ! empty($comments_by_type['pings']) ) : ?>

                <div id="trackbacks-list" class="comments">
                    <h3><?php printf($ping_count > 1 ? __('<span>%d</span> Trackbacks', 'your-theme') : __('<span>One</span> Trackback', 'your-theme'), $ping_count) ?></h3>

<?php /* An ordered list of our custom trackbacks callback, custom_pings(), in functions.php   */ ?>                  
<?php wp_list_comments('type=pings&callback=custom_pings'); ?>
                </div><!-- #trackbacks-list .comments -->           

<?php endif /* if ( $ping_count ) */ ?>
<?php endif /* if ( $comments ) */ ?>

<?php /* If comments are open, build the respond form */ ?>
<?php if ( 'open' == $post->comment_status ) : ?>
                <div id="respond">
                    <h3><?php comment_form_title( __('Post a Comment', 'your-theme'), __('Post a Reply to %s', 'your-theme') ); ?></h3>
                    <div id="cancel-comment-reply"><?php cancel_comment_reply_link() ?></div>

<?php if ( get_option('comment_registration') && !$user_ID ) : ?>
                    <p id="login-req"><?php printf(__('You must be <a href="%s" title="Log in">logged in</a> to post a comment.', 'your-theme'),
                    get_option('siteurl') . '/wp-login.php?redirect_to=' . get_permalink() ) ?></p>

<?php else : ?>
                    <div class="formcontainer">   

                        <form id="commentform" action="<?php echo get_option('siteurl'); ?>/wp-comments-post.php" method="post">

<?php if ( $user_ID ) : ?>
                            <p id="login"><?php printf(__('<span >Logged in as <a href="%1$s" title="Logged in as %2$s">%2$s</a>.</span> <span><a href="%3$s" title="Log out of this account">Log out?</a></span>', 'your-theme'),
                                get_option('siteurl') . '/wp-admin/profile.php',
                                wp_specialchars($user_identity, true),
                                wp_logout_url(get_permalink()) ) ?></p>

<?php else : ?>

                            <p id="comment-notes"><?php _e('Your email is <em>never</em> published nor shared.', 'your-theme') ?> <?php if ($req) _e('Required fields are marked <span>*</span>', 'your-theme') ?></p>

              <div id="form-section-author" class="form-section">
                                <div class="form-label"><label for="author"><?php _e('Name', 'your-theme') ?></label> <?php if ($req) _e('<span>*</span>', 'your-theme') ?></div>
                                <div class="form-input"><input id="author" name="author" type="text" value="<?php echo $comment_author ?>" size="30" maxlength="20" tabindex="3" /></div>
              </div><!-- #form-section-author .form-section -->

              <div id="form-section-email" class="form-section">
                                <div class="form-label"><label for="email"><?php _e('Email', 'your-theme') ?></label> <?php if ($req) _e('<span>*</span>', 'your-theme') ?></div>
                                <div class="form-input"><input id="email" name="email" type="text" value="<?php echo $comment_author_email ?>" size="30" maxlength="50" tabindex="4" /></div>
              </div><!-- #form-section-email .form-section -->

              <div id="form-section-url" class="form-section">
                                <div class="form-label"><label for="url"><?php _e('Website', 'your-theme') ?></label></div>
                                <div class="form-input"><input id="url" name="url" type="text" value="<?php echo $comment_author_url ?>" size="30" maxlength="50" tabindex="5" /></div>
              </div><!-- #form-section-url .form-section -->

<?php endif /* if ( $user_ID ) */ ?>

              <div id="form-section-comment" class="form-section">
                                <div class="form-label"><label for="comment"><?php _e('Comment', 'your-theme') ?></label></div>
                                <div class="form-textarea"><textarea id="comment" name="comment" cols="45" rows="8" tabindex="6"></textarea></div>
              </div><!-- #form-section-comment .form-section -->
              <div id="form-allowed-tags" class="form-section">
                  <p><span><?php _e('You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes:', 'your-theme') ?></span> <code><?php echo allowed_tags(); ?></code></p>
<?php do_action('comment_form', $post->ID); ?>
                            <div class="form-submit"><input id="submit" name="submit" type="submit" value="<?php _e('Post Comment', 'your-theme') ?>" tabindex="7" /><input type="hidden" name="comment_post_ID" value="<?php echo $id; ?>" /></div>

<?php comment_id_fields(); ?>  

<?php /* Just … end everything. We're done here. Close it up. */ ?>  

                        </form><!-- #commentform -->                                        
                    </div><!-- .formcontainer -->
<?php endif /* if ( get_option('comment_registration') && !$user_ID ) */ ?>
                </div><!-- #respond -->
<?php endif /* if ( 'open' == $post->comment_status ) */ ?>
            </div><!-- #comments -->

And that’s it. You’ve got a pretty sweet custom Comments Template to call your very own.

  1. WordPress Theme Tutorial Introduction
  2. Theme Development Tools
  3. Creating a Theme HTML Structure
  4. Template and Directory Structure
  5. The Header Template
  6. The Index Template
  7. The Single Post, Post Attachment, & 404 Templates
  8. The Comments Template
  9. The Search Template & The Page Template
  10. The Archive, Author, Category & Tags Template
  11. The Sidebar Template
  12. Reset-Rebuild Theme CSS & Define Your Layouts

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