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Wow! What an event that was! We’ve just got off the conference where Shopify brought all of their partners together to discuss everything Shopify. The annual event is always jam-packed with content, speakers and new features and this year was no different!
The event opened with Tobi Lütke, the founder and CEO of Shopify. In this new digital world with all of the new web technologies, we have in our lockers! The introductory talk gave us an insight into the future of commerce and provides a summary of how Shopify has become the best platform for all types of businesses.
So, let’s get straight into it. How can Shopify’s newly announced features benefit us as developers and you as store owners? Here’s a list of what Shopify has announced at Shopify Unite 2021
1. Online Store 2.0 - We would say the biggest update that Shopify has brought to the Shopify platform is Online Store 2.0. We have been waiting for this day for several years as this feature brings the ultimate power for page and post customisation across your whole store. This new feature brings the ability to add customised, drag-and-drop sections across the whole store rather than just on your website homepage. The section and drag-and-drop facility have only been available to the homepage over the years and now with customisation across the whole store, there are endless opportunities to customise your pages on the fly as and when you please.
As well as a full architecture customised Shopify Online Store 2.0 also brings with it META fields. In the past we have had to use third-party apps to achieve custom META and fields however now, we get the feature natively. Simply activate custom meta fields in settings and go into your pages and products to see and add custom fields and meta.
From the developer’s point, this opens up a whole new playground within Shopify. Having access to the contents of Settings/Files through the new Files API. This GraphQL API enables apps to upload or select existing media content from Settings/Files. Apps can now benefit from access to this area of the admin, including populating media meta fields with content.
This opens up opportunities for apps to use this space for files and images that aren’t directly associated with a product, including images used in themes.
2. All of the goodies! - Zero per cent revenue share annually on your first million dollars in the Shopify App Store.
If you’re a big user of Shopify apps then you’ll be very familiar with the Shopify App Store. These apps are developed by third-party developers and companies which bring nice cash royalties when users of stores purchase or subscribe to them. Shopify announced at Shopify Unite that you will pay absolutely nothing on the first 1 million dollars in revenue made, compared to the previous which was 15% of any amount made. Previous to 15% it was 20% on any cash made so this is a huge move from Shopify! At the same time, Shopify does however introduce a one-time registration fee for all developers who sign up after August 1, which will be paid when you submit your first app to be reviewed.
3. Extended checkouts for all! - Before today you can only extend, customise and modify the checkout if you are a Shopify plus customer. This will cost you a considerable amount of money per month as well as going through a vetting system to make sure you and your business are eligible for the plus platform. Today, Shopify announce that through a specific app we’ll have the ability to modify the checkout no matter what plan you are on. At this point, we are a little unsure of this will work and with what apps but we’re excited that Shopify is bringing this forward for everyone! We get a lot of people requesting this type of change!
4. App development and great tools for developers - GitHub Integration.
We were impressed with some of the changes coming to Shopify for developers. The first of those is direct integration with Github. As avid GitHub users in house we’re so happy this has come about. As a team, we can now pull changes to our themes continuously. This means we can collaborate safely with native support for version control and can implement workflows where changes must be reviewed and merged on GitHub before populating to a live environment or theme.
Using GitHub to sync also allows us to send preview links from our local server without having to manually sync or submit zipped files, making it easier to interact with our clients and team.
Developer Documentation - Shopify developer documentation has been updated to focus on the goals that we want to achieve, making it easier to access the information we’re looking for. Changes to language making documentation easier to read, as well as layout, and multi-programming language blocks in tutorials, have also been created to make them easier to understand. To make things easier for us developers, we’ve included copy-and-paste snippets in our references.
Developer Console - Improving the development process in Shopify is something we’ve wanted Shopify to focus on for a long time. It has its flaws and so Shopify is introducing a developer console where you can build and test extensions in a real store environment.
At this point, app bridge extensions do not allow admin extensions to be tried and tested on real-world stores with real data without using the extension up to Shopify’s CDN which is far from ideal. With the new developer console we can now do things faster and to a higher standard giving us a more realistic developer experience whilst building and testing apps.
With the new console provided by Shopify, our changes on our local environments can be rendered immediately and so we no longer need to push or publish our apps to view changes. With the introduction of QR codes, we can now ensure that our extension will render properly across both desktop and mobile environments.
Google Cloud Pub/Sub - Working with webhooks events? Then this one is for you. With Google Cloud Pub/Sub you can pull in events at a speed that you can fully control. Incoming events will be delivered more reliably and consistently and delays in app errors will be massively improved, even during the busier times.
Google Cloud Pub/Sub - Sub/Sub makes it super simple to consume webhooks on a massive scale since you are no longer required to build and host API and queue systems to receive webhooks. Alternatively, Pub/Sub will look after the receiving of all webhook events with extremely low latency. You don’t need to be concerned about scaling web servers.
5.Updates to the Shopify API - This year, Shopify’s main themes are performance and scalability, which extends to their APIs. To extend the GraphQL engine to every major geographical location, they are making significant speed progress and gains. In the up and coming July release, Shopify will be releasing some new exciting features that will be coming to the Storefront API and in particular, this will enable developers to build more powerful experiences for merchants.
6. Say Hello to Hydrogen - Whilst the Storefront API is an extremely powerful force behind the front end of your website, there is still a lot of work involved in setting up a functional storefront that will allow you to start designing and building a customer-focused, unique buying experience. Shopify asks themselves “what batteries included” website storefront solutions should look like, and their answer to that is Hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a quick start environment that provides a more than efficient path for web developers who want the ability to build custom storefronts quickly. Hydrogen acts as a developer toolkit that includes the scaffolding to help you get up and running in just a couple of clicks, as well as a set of React components to help you build the basic foundations of the online store so that you can spend time focusing on the styling and design of features that make up your merchants unique brand.
As you have read, this year’s Shopify Unite event has been nothing short of packed full of features and functionality! It does seem like they have been hard at work! It seems the investment in performance, scale and tooling for developers has been a major focus and this will help us push on and innovate using their platform. We’re so excited to get to work and sharpen our skills with what we have been given to create some of the most impressive online stores for our clients.