custom templates - HOW?
OK... I've now spent days on this and from scanning every zen-cart related forum and blog, I'm not alone in this problem. Loading zen-cart was non-trivial, but at least there is some accurate documentation for this and I had no problem setting up the default solution. However....
Customizing the default template seems to require either a personal crystal ball or days of agonizing trial and error to finally come to grips with the seemingly randomly scattered files and technologies used to control zen-cart's appearance. Obviously, some people have managed this steep ramp and go on to doing interesting things with this package. BUt, why oh why is there no simple, ACCURATE, and complete description of the steps needed to clone the default template into something one can safely modify? Even the available hard-copy books on zen-cart deal mostly with setting up the business side, not site aesthetics -- valuable, but leaving users with a standard, stock looking site that is easily ignored. Take a look at the phenomenal variety of WordPress templates (and their ease of implementation) to see what a difference that makes.
I have spent hours overstressing myself and Google, only to find at least a half dozen "How to create a custom zen-cart template" so-called documents. I have carefully analyzed (and tried) them all, and no two agree on the steps required -- and none of them work. In every case, the result is a blank page after switching to the latest attempt. I don't know if they are describing how to do this on prior releases of zen-cart, assume that everyone is born speaking ZenCise, or making sure there are ample opportunities for lucrative consulting. Clearly, after enough trial and error, probably combined with wading through scattered PHP code fragments to understand the program flow, the missing or erroneous step can be found, but is this any way to encourage people to use zen-cart?
I'm a retired computer scientist with 40+ years of programming and design experience, and have used numerous open source packages (and contributed code to many), but the appalling dearth of usable documentation for zen-cart has got to be it's most significant drawback. I'm willing to soldier on for a few days, but I may just have to wait for Magento to become stable.
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