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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Default 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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    26,503
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    9

    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    The tutorials/FAQ's and the wiki are a sinificant source

    http://tutorials.zen-cart.com/index.php?article=232
    http://tutorials.zen-cart.com/index.php?article=142
    and
    http://tutorials.zen-cart.com/index.php and search

    I hope you find it valuable
    Zen-Venom Get Bitten
    Get Your Business Found

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    Thanks, but as the number of questions brought to this forum should indicate, the FAQs and Wiki entries are incomplete and often inaccurate. I've spent hours combing through them and have given up because of conflicting descriptions. I'm well aware these are maintained by volunteer efforts, having worked on projects like this myself, but no information would be better than incorrect and unmaintained information.

    Something as simple as cloning a template should be nearly trivial to do, but there exists no simple and accurate list of steps to do so that I can find, leaving me with wading through the code in order to join the Zen-Cart user's club -- or simply dropping it and using another solution. I'm actually mystified that a project of this magnitude and life span hasn't generated more contributed documentation, as has been the case in other open source projects. Makes me a bit apprehensive of it's continued future...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    New York City
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    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    It sounds like you're making it more complicated than necessary (a common mistake).

    To create a very basic custom template (you can build from there), you need:
    • includes/languages/YOUR_TEMPLATE/english.php
    • includes/languages/english/YOUR_TEMPLATE/index.php
    • includes/languages/english/YOUR_TEMPLATE/meta_tags.php
    • includes/languages/english/YOUR_TEMPLATE/header.php (to change the logo)
    • includes/templates/YOUR_TEMPLATE/template_info.php
    • includes/templates/YOUR_TEMPLATE/common/tpl_header.php
    • includes/templates/YOUR_TEMPLATE/common/tpl_footer.php
    • includes/templates/YOUR_TEMPLATE/images/logo.gif
    • includes/templates/YOUR_TEMPLATE/css/stylesheet.css


    Anywhere you see a /classic/ folder, you can create a folder for your custom template. You can copy the necessary files from either the /classic/ folder, the /template_default/ folder or the parent folder.

    Edit includes/templates/YOUR_TEMPLATE/template_info.php to give your template identifying information so you'll recognize it in the admin under tools->template selection.

    There are also a number of FREE templates available. You can see them in action at http://www.zencarttemplates.info/. They can be used as a guideline on creating your own.
    Mary Ellen
    I came; I saw; I Zenned
    Taking over the world... one website at a time
    Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear... or fingers to keyboard.

    Holzheimer
    Fan Odyssey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    1,064
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    2

    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    Also, here: http://tutorials.zen-cart.com/index.php?article=143

    Are you developing locally on your computer? Or, uploading the files
    to your host/server? Settings on your FTP program may be a big part of
    the problem.
    [FONT=Arial]Country Kitty Crafts[/FONT][FONT=Arial]
    [/FONT] [FONT=Garamond]
    [/FONT]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    4
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    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    Hope this is the right place to post an extension to custom stylesheet issues within a template package...

    I created a custom stylesheet, named it c_68_231.css and put it in my template's CSS folder. It did everything it was supposed to for that product's page, but it also changed the All Listing page, EZ-Pages, Shopping Cart, and Advanced Search page. It did NOT modify any other products' pages.

    The noticeable component is the background image...it's showing up on all those other pages for some reason.

    I'm using ZC 1.3.8, and the issue is the same in Safari, Firefox, and IE 6/7. I would put a link up to the site, but I've taken that CSS file out to avoid a jumbled looking live site.

    Any ideas? Can I provide any further information?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    1
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    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    How do you create a folder and override a file? I am trying to change the heading of my storefront from zencart to my store name, i understand that i have to create a file or folder or something but i can not find the place where i need to do that, is it in the admin page or where do i go on my computer to do this?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    7,160
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    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    Download and unzip a copy of Zen Cart on your local computer. You don't have to be able to run Zen Cart locally, but you'll be able to see the folder/file structure that way.

    The list I posted earlier in this thread gives an idea of where to create the folders and what files should be copied into those folders for editing.

    I do all my editing on my local computer (thereby creating an instant backup) and upload the changes using an FTP client. Crimson Editor and Notepad+ are good editors to use. SmartFTP and Filezilla are good FTP clients. All are free downloads on the net.
    Mary Ellen
    I came; I saw; I Zenned
    Taking over the world... one website at a time
    Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear... or fingers to keyboard.

    Holzheimer
    Fan Odyssey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    14
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    0

    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    Hi afo,

    sorry for the silly question, but how do you download it locally to your pc and work on the files.

    also can you preview your work before you upload it via ftp

    I am new here, but other websites (not shop carts) I have built are always done locally, previewed and the uploaded, but with website builder software.

    please help.

    thanks
    Graham

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    21,991
    Plugin Contributions
    25

    Default Re: custom templates - HOW?

    Your server control panel should have a "backup" function that can save your folders and files to your pc, and a database backup function as well. You can also download all of your Zen Cart files using Filezilla or other FTP client, though that may take a very long time.

    Create a folder on your pc to save the ZC fileset to (avoid putting it under C:\Program\ because it may make it hard to save changes to files).

    When I am debugging, I keep Filezilla open to the file in local and remote views and the site storefront open in a window, so I can change a line, hit Upload, ok the overwrite, refresh the storefront and see the result. Obviously you don't want to do this with a live production site on anything that will matter to viewers; this is why a test site is so useful, either on the server or on your pc.
    A local installation using XAMPP or the like has the advantage that you don't even need to upload to see the effects of edits, just refresh.

 

 
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