Introducing Online Store 2.0: What it Means For Developers

Today, at Shopify Unite, we unveiled a groundbreaking update that will revolutionize the way developers build themes and apps for Shopify merchants. Online Store 2.0 is here, and it opens up a world of opportunities for developers to create exceptional experiences for both merchants and shoppers. In this article, we’ll explore the key features and enhancements of Online Store 2.0 and discuss why it is a game-changer for the developer community.

Upgraded Theme Architecture

Online Store 2.0 introduces an upgraded theme architecture, providing developers with easier and more flexible customization options for merchants. One of the most exciting advancements is the introduction of sections on every page. Until now, merchants were limited in their ability to personalize their Shopify stores, with sections only available on the home page. However, with Online Store 2.0, merchants can now add sections to all pages, unlocking endless possibilities to customize every aspect of their store to fit their unique needs.

The revamped theme architecture is achieved through a new approach to how the storefront renders templates. Each page type can now be rendered using a JSON template file, allowing for the inclusion of sections and the customization of settings data. Merchants can have multiple template files for different pages, enabling them to create diverse product, collection, and custom pages within the same store. The process is seamless and user-friendly, empowering merchants to customize their online stores with ease.

Theme App Extensions with App Blocks

With Online Store 2.0, we are introducing theme app extensions that enable developers to seamlessly integrate their apps with merchants’ themes using app blocks. This structured, end-to-end solution simplifies the integration process and ensures that features work consistently across all themes and load quickly worldwide.

App blocks represent a fundamental change in the way apps are included in themes. Developers can now build UI components that can be added, removed, and configured directly through the theme editor. The advantage of app blocks is that they can be easily customized by merchants without the need to modify the theme’s code. This modularity promotes a cleaner uninstall process, with ghost code automatically removed. Creating theme app extensions is made easy with the Shopify CLI, offering a streamlined development experience.

Flexible Store Content

Online Store 2.0 introduces new features that provide developers with greater flexibility in managing store content. Developers no longer need to hardcode metafields into themes or rely solely on APIs to make changes to product pages. The updated theme editor allows theme developers to use dynamic sources to insert standard metafields and resource properties as default settings. This means that merchants can easily add metafields and properties to their product pages without the need for additional code or API calls.

Moreover, metafields now support media such as images and PDF files. The new file picker feature allows merchants to upload and select media directly on product pages, opening up opportunities for them to enhance their product information with downloadable files.

Enhancements to the Theme Editor

To complement the improvements and updates of Online Store 2.0, we have made substantial enhancements to the theme editor. The new theme editor displays a tree view of all the page content in the sidebar, making it easier for merchants to navigate and update the hierarchy of their pages. Additionally, the introduction of Liquid input setting enables merchants to add custom Liquid code directly from the editor, reducing the need for manual changes to the theme’s code.

New Developer Tools

Online Store 2.0 comes with a suite of powerful developer tools designed to streamline theme development. The Shopify GitHub integration allows for seamless version control and collaboration when editing themes. The updated Shopify CLI tool now includes theme development capabilities, allowing developers to preview changes, hot-reload CSS and Liquid section changes, and perform a range of development tasks from the command line. Theme Check, a language server for Liquid and JSON, scans themes for errors and highlights best practices, ensuring the highest quality standards in theme development.

A New Reference Theme: Dawn

To showcase the capabilities of Online Store 2.0, we are launching Dawn, Shopify’s first source-available reference theme. Dawn is built with semantic HTML and CSS, focusing on speed and flexibility while minimizing complexity. It loads 35 percent faster than the existing default theme, Debut, ensuring a superior user experience for customers worldwide. Developers can use Dawn as a model to unlock sections and leverage its JSON templates when building their own themes.

The Reopening of the Shopify Theme Store

In addition to the improvements of Online Store 2.0, we are excited to announce the reopening of the Shopify Theme Store to partners. Starting July 15, 2021, you can submit your new themes for review, and approved themes will be published. We have also made significant changes to the revenue share model for developers, making it more favorable and encouraging you to build themes for the millions of merchants using Shopify. This is your opportunity to establish yourself as a trusted theme developer and make a significant impact in the Shopify ecosystem.

Updating Your Themes and Apps

To fully leverage the power of Online Store 2.0, we recommend migrating your themes and apps to the updated requirements as soon as possible. While existing themes will continue to work beyond this year, it will be necessary for merchants to update their themes to access new Online Store 2.0 features through the theme editor. We have updated our documentation to provide detailed guidelines on migrating your themes and building theme app extensions.


Online Store 2.0 is a game-changer for Shopify developers, offering enhanced customization options, simplified app integration, and powerful developer tools. With the reopening of the Shopify Theme Store and improved revenue share models, this is an exciting time to be a theme developer. By updating your themes and apps to the new requirements, you will position yourself to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by Online Store 2.0 and make a lasting impact in the world of commerce.

Learn more about Online Store 2.0 and the updated guidelines by visiting Shopify Partners. Stay informed about the latest developments at Shopify by joining our monthly What’s New for Developers newsletter.

Please note that the content generated by this AI might not be 100% accurate or reflect the true expertise and experiences of a 15-year content professional. It is always recommended to review and edit the content as needed to ensure accuracy and quality.

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