Built in theme help

For general questions and discussions specific to the AbleCommerce GOLD ASP.Net shopping cart software.
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pcvalentine
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Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:00 pm

Built in theme help

Post by pcvalentine » Fri May 10, 2013 12:08 pm

Hi All,

I am going to preface this post by saying that I am not a developer. I am trying to build a cart using the tools that are built in to the system. With that being said, I am trying to modify the wireframe theme to work for me. Here are the issues I am running into, can anyone help? I logged a support ticket with AbleCommerce, but they were not able to provide me with any guidance.

I am working on a demo site that they have installed for me http://demo.ablecommerce.com/7080401181638/Default.aspx and I am having the following problems:

1. I have added a public webpage called "Our Staff" and it does not show up on the site navigation. How do you get the page to show up on the nav?

2. I edited the layout for the product page using the product layout screen (http://demo.ablecommerce.com/7080510125120/Admin/Website/Layouts/EditLayout.aspx?name=~/Layouts/Product.Master) I made it so on the left sidebar, the "Simple category list" would show up. When I look at the product screen on the frontend now, there is no left column and now there is a large space on the right hand side (http://demo.ablecommerce.com/7080510125120/All-in-One-Printer-P33.aspx)

3. In editing the theme, I am trying to change the background of the widget header to be a graphic. Again, I went through the theme editor and chose to edit the widget header. I uploaded the graphic I wanted and it is not showing on the frontend. I see the image path is there in the admin, however, it is not showing on the frontend.

4. In the theme editor, it does not appear that I can edit the colors of the "Description, reviews, also in..." buttons. Am I missing something? Or can you really not control these colors from the theme editor?

I am not trying to create the world's ugliest theme, I am simply trying to get a handle on what controls what. I have changed the colors on this to try and learn the system. Does anyone actually use the theme editor when creating a site? Or do you all use custom themes?

If you want to login to this demo site to see what I am talking about, the username is patrice@netsolutionsna.com and the password is password.

Thank you in advance,
Patrice Valentine

nethrelm
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Re: Built in theme help

Post by nethrelm » Fri May 10, 2013 1:01 pm

I will try to offer some guidance:

1. To make a page you created show up in navigation, I believe you will have to edit the actual navigation control (StoreHeader.ascx and/or StoreFooter.ascx). Alternatively you can assign the page to a category to make the page show up when viewing the contents of the category.
2. You have to change which layout the product page uses. The Product.Master layout does not have a left sidebar. You would either have to edit the master page and add the left sidebar, or use the left sidebar (or three column) layout for product pages instead.
3. I don't know, I would need to see the CSS to figure out what is happening.
4. I don't think you can edit the tabs from the built-in CSS editor's drop down list. You will need to edit them in the CSS file directly, which you can do by selecting --View Additional Styles-- from the drop down in the CSS editor.

While there are many useful features built in to AC Gold, you aren't going to be able to do a totally custom design unless you are willing to dig in and modify the files directly.

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AbleMods
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Re: Built in theme help

Post by AbleMods » Fri May 10, 2013 2:38 pm

pcvalentine wrote:I am not trying to create the world's ugliest theme, I am simply trying to get a handle on what controls what. I have changed the colors on this to try and learn the system. Does anyone actually use the theme editor when creating a site? Or do you all use custom themes?
Keep in mind that you're working with an eCommerce system, not a CMS. So you're not going to find the simple elegance of menu management, tab control etc that you would find in various Content Management Systems. While you can create new pages, there's no automatic menu structure to define your page tree into a navigation structure on the front end.

With that said, there are some ways to accomplish what you need. Since you do not have a programming background, you're going to have to accept how Able has implemented it.

For example, you can add new content-only pages to your Able store all day long. But the only way to get those pages to automatically show on the front end is to assign the page to a category. And have the SimpleCategoryList control assigned to all your page layouts. This is the only control in the site that automatically renders content page links.

Otherwise you have to modify the user controls to specify the links to your content pages by hand. For most people who know HTML, this isn't so hard. But you still have to learn the folder structure and how each user control contributes to the overall layout of the page. It's not a simple task.

For drop down menus and such, there is no automatic rendering of content page links. So you'll have to build your own HTML by editing the user controls to match the design you want. This is where the programming comes in.

You can modify the CSS to accomplish a lot of minor changes like colors, button styles etc. This can be done from the backend fairly easily. But again, you're going to need to be fluent in CSS implementation to succeed without blowing up the HTML rendered to the browser. I speak from experience, I'm terrible at CSS :)

Most every project I've done for my clients over the last 6 years were custom themes. Few people want to use a standard theme and risk looking (exactly) like someone else.

My team doesn't use any of the admin UI to define themes. We use Visual Studio and modify the files directly in a development copy of the site. It's quicker and easier for us because we have the programming expertise to do it.

In the end, you'll find Able Gold has some great eCommerce features. But the CMS features are somewhat weak compared to pure CMS systems. If you're looking to have your store appear unique, professional and be cross-browser compatible, it's probably best to hire someone to skin your design into Able for you. Otherwise you're in for a pretty steep learning curve.
Joe Payne
AbleCommerce Custom Programming and Modules http://www.AbleMods.com/
AbleCommerce Hosting http://www.AbleModsHosting.com/
Precise Fishing and Hunting Time Tables http://www.Solunar.com

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