Friday, December 8, 2017

Tips for Being a More Efficient Shopify Developer

If you’re a Shopify developer, you’ll probably want to look for ways to make your work more efficient. Here are seven questions you need to ask yourself to know if you’re maximizing efficiency in your line of work. Even if you’ve already been working on building sites, you still might find some good strategies that you probably haven’t tried yet.

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1. Do you make full use of version control?

Being able to better manage your work will involve the use of GitHub and other places where you can store your code base. This is a much more organized way of keeping track of your source code – better than keeping it within the theme, actually. The upside to doing this includes preventing lost work and having easy access to your entire code history in case you need to revert to the most recent stable version.

2. Do you know when to use JavaScript or Liquid?

Working on logic-based tasks is much better with JavaScript, even when Liquid seems to present itself as a much easier platform for doing so. Keep in mind that the latter is not a programming language and is thus unable to manage it when things get heavier, such as string appends, loops, etc. Compared to JavaScript (which is the proper platform for writing code, anyway), Liquid is designed to output the data and then follow up with the required markups of what it is that you are working on at the moment.

3. Are you able to utilize Theme Gem?

For local developments, Shopify’s Theme Gem feature should be your go-to. It allows you to monitor directories, automatically upload files right into the theme, and then save it. What’s neat about Theme Gem is that you’re free to work on the text editor that you are most comfortable with – along with other Shopify developer tools that you find essential for working on various projects. Further down the line are additional options like an online editor (great for smaller projects with some minor editing), which also translates into zero occurrences of accidentally overwriting files that are out of sync to local changes which you have made.

4. Do you abstract as many features of the site as possible?

Building themes for clients always starts with keeping the users in mind. How will they use the store? What is the extent of their capabilities, and how do you adjust the design to make it as easy as possible for them? With this, the best advice is to take as many site features as you can and abstract them, stat. When you do this, you sidestep hard coding settings that might baffle your primary users.

5. Do you know what Grunt is for and how to use it properly?

If you’ve worked with large projects in the past, you probably already know how important it is to structure CSS and JavaScript. The pre-requisite to this, however, is knowing what the proper treatment is for each. When thinking about compiling CSS via Sass, you’d probably want to use Grunt for local compiling. This task runner automates repetitive tasks; everything in Sass can be placed in a single file and inserted in an assets directory. When it comes to JavaScript, the process is a bit similar in that your numerous JavaScript files are reduced to the bare minimum when requesting for page loads.

6. Are you mindful about performance? Do you strive to meet the minimum load time?

Before a single line of code is even written, you need to be sure that the effect of your features will be the best possible one for overall site performance. Looking for a quick way to run performance checks? On Google Chrome, there are neat developer tools that will look for any performance hangups within your themes that require troubleshooting. Also, be mindful of heavy computations in both JavaScript and Liquid: avoid content rendering on pages which are primarily hidden.

7. Do you take advantage of Snippets?

If you haven’t used Snippets before, you need to use them, pronto. Snippets’ main feature is separating logic and then placing them into individual files. It makes more sense to have long strings of snippet files than trying to make sense out of so many markups. Using Snippets also allows you to organize all of your content in a manner that is more logical, thereby making any markups a lot easier to track without having to experience the ordeal of too much repetition.

Now that you’ve been enlightened with seven thought-provoking questions about your efficiency as a Shopify developer, you are in a much better position to continue on with your work faster, with more accuracy, and an overall more desirable output!

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