Last week, I was fortunate to have the chance to attend Shopify Unite 2017 with a few of my colleagues including my fellow Shopify developer, Yana Tzvetkova! This our first time in San Francisco, and attending Unite, so all-in-all (despite the power outage) the trip was beyond amazing!
The two-day event was an exciting opportunity to meet and share knowledge with other app and theme developers in the Shopify Ecosystem. I was able to speak with with Shopify employees across departments about the needs of our merchants, and learn about the new offerings from Shopify that will help us to effectively meet those needs!
From a theme/app developer’s perspective, one of the best parts of the event was learning about the new tools and Liquid improvements we could look forward to upon our return to the office. Last year, we were introduced to Sections – a major game changer in the field of theme development.
The 7 Biggest Announcements from Shopify Unite 2017!
Shopify announced a complete overhaul of their design system set to launch at the end of May. Along with that redesign, they announced a set of impressive new resources for app developers that will allow them to create a seamless experience for merchants who use Shopify.
Included in those resources is a React component library as well as CSS components for capturing the look and feel of their new design. The components are easy to use, well documented, meet accessibility standards, and are fully responsive. They’ve also included a ton of resources for writing support documentation, providing an accessible/inclusive experience for merchants who are using your app, and much more.
2. New Theme Setting Types
Shopify also announced some new theme settings types that will facilitate the development of highly customizable themes, as well as the merchant’s experience of customizing that theme in production.
We’re very enthusiastic about the new `image_picker` setting, which allows merchants to upload image assets directly to the storefront and provide image alt text in one easy step. We were also introduced to the new `video_url` setting which lets merchants insert a video link that matches specific URL types accepted by the field, such as YouTube and Vimeo.
Another great new setting is `html`, which allows merchants to add custom HTML code in their theme settings without worrying that their code will break the page layout.
3. Responsive Images
Developers were also acquainted with three new properties on the Image object: `image.width`, `image.height`, and `image.aspect_ratio`. These properties are a fantastic addition to the object as they allow us to conditionally show images depending on those three properties, providing a powerful and clean way to manage responsive images going forward.
Developers will now have access to a new Liquid object leveraging `product.option_with_values`. This object includes three methods: `product_option.name`, `product_option.position`, `product_option.values`, and `product_option.selected_value`. This will make accessing product options all-the-more effortless.
Read more about Shopify’s theme and image improvement updates here!
5. Nested Navigation
Developers in the room were delighted to learn that Shopify will be releasing a brand new solution for nested navigation. The current method involves associating linklists by name/handle and checking for the presence of that association in Liquid – it works but it’s a bit cumbersome at times to implement. Soon we will be seeing a drag and drop interface that allows merchants to easily connect lists up to three levels deep – an improved experience for developers and merchants alike!
For theme developers, perhaps one of the most intriguing announcements to come out of Unite was the introduction to Slate. Slate is a theme scaffold and command line tool designed to assist development workflow and speed up the process of developing, testing, and deploying themes to Shopify stores.
Slate is made up of two parts. The first part is a stripped-down theme scaffold with templates, sections, minimal starter styles, and helper scripts. The second part is a toolkit of useful commands that leverages Themekit in order to sync local files to the live store. We can’t wait to see how Slate can improve our workflow and maximize our development timeline for our merchants.
Get excited and read more about Slate here!
7. Storefront API
Think of Shopify’s Storefront like that of a physical retail store, with a shoppable storefront. Similar to a physical storefront the Storefront API allows your customers the ability to perform a set of actions digitally. You can now build a Shopify buying experience into any platform of your choosing: mobile, desktop, in-game, etc. Here are some more examples of what you can do with the Storefront API
- Fetch data about a single product or a collection of products to display on any website or device.
- Create unique checkout experiences with full control over the shopping cart.
- Create new customers or modify existing ones, including address information.
- Allow customers to select unique product options.
Shopify is Helping us Solve The Biggest Problems in Commerce!
The extraordinary experience at Unite has left us theme/app developers even more excited than before!
It was clear to us that Shopify truly cares about the challenges we face, and that our clients are looking to solve. They’re taking the time to build the tools we need in this complex commerce landscape.
Shopify is more than ever making commerce and their platform faster, more reliable, future-proof, and client friendly.
A huge thank you for Shopify for putting on this fantastic event ,and working so hard to provide us with product updates that are not only beneficial to our merchants, but make developing on the Shopify platform an absolute joy!