How do I avoid overwrites when updating?



I am slowly overcoming the barrriers to entry re moving from WordPress to Ghost. My current barrier is figuring out how to avoid overwriting theme changes I have made to my Ghost theme (a premium theme that requires me to make changes to the theme files) when the next version of the theme updates.

I’m used to child themes in WordPress so hope there is an easy way to sort in Ghost, which doesn’t avoid me needing to morph into a developer.

Can you advise?

Thanks loads.



Hi Jayke (@schnooks)

This sounds like a problem that an SCM tool like git could help you with.

You’d probably want to keep your code in a private repository which will cost you a little bit of money. I believe Atlassian BitBucket still lets you have private repos for free.

There are many options in terms of how your theme update / development workflow might look. You could have multiple repos or use multiple branches and manage changes through pull (or merge) requests between them.

The advantage you’d have is the ability to see what the update is changing, detection of conflicts between theme updates and your custom changes and history that you can undo or revert back to.

Maybe others in the community have a workflow that works well for them? Or you could share your journey to custom theme nirvana?

If you’re new to Git and version control here’s a few articles that might help you get started and maybe get you as confused as I was starting out with Git:


Hi Tim!

Thanks for the reply; I really appreciate it.

After spending three days solid looking into transitioning from WordPress to Ghost, I’m thinking that I will have to stick with WordPress, although I am still on the fence (wobbling over towards WordPress).

I have concluded that using Ghost is not suitable for anybody without some [serious] development skills. I am a designer. I of course work with code in WordPress, but basic CSS.

Not being a developer, your reply would take me a good while to decipher, so I’m drowning before I start. I don’t mean in any way to knock your response.

I appreciate that upon hearing that I am not a developer there may be some eye-rolling in the Ghost community, but Ghost lured me in with ‘Creating the future of online publishing’ and I didn’t pick up on skill level required to use Ghost.

I remember when I first joined the StudioPress forum nine years ago, I felt that the StudioPress support staff were very intolerant of me as a designer (not being a developer). This absolutely has changed over the years and now they talk ‘designer’, no doubt because the market is so vast and consists of more designers than developers, and people with neither design nor developer skills.

The Ghost community has been brilliant with me asking my questions. I am not suggesting that my experiences with the Ghost forum are similar to those I had with the StudioPress forum back in 2009, but there may be parallels in relation to the expectation of skillset of the user.

Being new to this, apologies if I am way off on any of this.

The biggest barriers for me (in case you are interested) are:

  • No easy way to avoid theme changes being overwritten upon theme updates (I played with a premium theme that came with very easy instructions how to change aspects such as footer credits, header intro text, subscribe text etc. - perfect for a designer like me)

  • No way to identify themes that are well supported, and therefore no way to feel confident in that what I am using is going to give me the futureproof theme I need to build a solid, serious blog, as a designer and not a developer. The marketplace (as @gander2112 points out: State of commercial themes) is a medley of new and old. I have had to really dig deep to find themes that provide confidence in both their ability and stability. Those that stand out are:




who are on the Marketplace.

With the Ghost Marketplace linking to Themeforest for many themes, it just isn’t confidence-inspiring. Especially when the sales (representative of popularity) are so low and the comments relating to support are old (representative of an absence of support).

A few other things have knocked my confidence in the Ghost core, such as:

  • The Subscribe function, which is in no way GDPR compliant. I would have to use MailChimp to facilitate this (which is fine).
  • No native search (I hear this is planned).
  • Instagram not included. The feedback has been that it is not included because there are so many social media platforms available and Ghost cannot facilitate them all. I don’t buy this at all on the basis that Instagram is the largest platform of them all. It’s Instagram!

I also heard that WordPress is moving to the JS Library, so Ghost may well not have the edge over speed in the future? And Gutenberg is like the Ghost editing interface.

There is also no mention of Ghost and support for Retina (for example), so in terms of image use, I have no idea about how images are presented in the context of high resolution displays. I saw one theme that mentioned Retina but that was it.

I really, really want somebody to persuade me to use Ghost for my blog but I can’t quite see it.




Wow Jayke,

Thanks for such a constructive reply. I certainly can’t respond to many of the issues you’ve highlighted (right now) maybe others are better placed to help you through some of the issues you’ve faced (I work day to day on Ghost(Pro) infrastructure and platform but try to help out where I can on the forum so aren’t fully familiar with Ghost but I am learning a little more every day).

Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with Ghost so far, we certainly don’t practice any “developer” elitism. We’re all beginners in some way.


Forget about Git if you are starting. To update my themes I use beyond compare and I could not live without it. It makes it very easy to follow change between files and folder. Doing this help you to understand how things works as well.



@schnooks I’m in a similar situation with you, but maybe with a bit more technical skills (mostly server admin side) and some html + css. I am also struggling to learn git and haven’t yet wrapped my head around it though I’ve played a bit with it and read some intro tutorials.

What I do though is save my theme modifications in a file so I can reapply them in case I need them after a theme update. However, these changes are usually minor, adding some missing social icons, inserting Disqus comments in the theme or other very small changes like this.

I would also love to be able to make these changes easier in the admin interface or maybe have the concept of child theme implemented somehow to make theme updates painless.

However, I will give BeyondCompare a try as it seems it might make my life easier a bit (thanks @pascalandy!).

So, @schnooks, if you need some convincing to migrate to Ghost CMS from a non technical and very light Ghost user (who migrated a couple of WP blogs) drop me a message.


One app that really helped me with Git is the GUI Tower v2.6.6 (their v3 is now an annual plan :-/ ).
It depends how serious you are about managing this stuff on the long run.

Have fun!


Funny enough I get more confused by the GUI apps rather than the command line :slight_smile: (tried GitHub Desktop app and Atlassian one I think).

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