article.alt Article last updated: December 2, 2021

Shopify and I

My relationship with the world's best e-commerce platform.

In 2014 I was looking for a change of pace and I decided to look into web development as a career. I went through a program at BCIT to get the necessary skills, and then promptly started freelancing, building Wordpress sites for clients. I liked Wordpress just fine, and I still do, but at the time I didn't know about Advanced Custom Fields or Timber or anything that makes Wordpress development nice and easy. Instead I was slogging through PHP templates and building massive CSS theme files with no Sass. A few years into this I met the guys from Sunbowl through a mutual friend in Vancouver, and they hired me for my first agency job, building Shopify sites.

I couldn't believe the world of difference between building user interfaces in Shopify compared with what I had been doing in Wordpress. Shopify had repeatable sections with custom fields, built-in Sass compilation, a straightforward templating syntax, and so much more. All of a sudden a world of opportunity opened up for me and I was amazed with what I could build. This is high praise for a SaaS platform, and I understand if I come off sounding inexperienced (which I was back then), or a fanboy, but it really did blow my mind at the time.

Eventually I wanted to take the lessons I had learned working with Shopify and apply them to Wordpress development. I had just moved to Halifax and I was looking for a brick and mortar agency so I could meet some people.I ended up interviewing at an agency and remember proudly asking them in the interview if they used ACFs, Sass and other things I'd learned about while building Shopify themes. They answered "of course", so I took the job.

From there I've worked with all manner of web technologies and platforms, but I still have a soft spot for Shopify. I'm an active Shopify partner and I take on a freelance client everyone once in a while as long as it doesn't interfere with my full time job. You can see some outdated examples of my Shopify work on my old personal site I even built that site with Jekyll so that I could use Liquid templates.

I still think they are one of the most innovative companies in tech, and I keep tabs on theme development updates, because I feel like it's a good indicator of upcoming front end trends. For instance this year they have done away with the built-in Sass compilation that I lauded above. I can see the logic behind it, so I like to keep in the back of my mind that I should try to use modern native CSS where I can, rather than rely on Sass features. After all, we have native CSS variables (CSS Custom Properties) and mixins and nesting are being actively developed by browsers.

I think most developers have companies or entities that they take the their cues from, or that influence their work, and Shopify is definitely one of mine.

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