Shopify for Designers Workshops 2013

Shopify for Designers Workshops 2013


In 2012 we went on the road and delivered five "Shopify for Designers" in the UK and USA. Not only were they a lot of fun but the feedback was very positive. If you missed out last year we have good news.

Over the last couple of months we have been hard at work putting together a full global programme of workshops and meet ups for 2013. We'll be visiting cities in the USA, Canada and the UK. Exciting times.

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Tis' the Season to get a Better Job

Tis' the Season to get a Better Job


Do you want to be a Shopify Guru? Our support services will soon be going 24/7, so we’re hiring more Gurus to help out our merchants around the clock.

While we’re not huge fans of traditional interviews here at Shopify, we are huge fans of parties. So instead of inviting you in for a ho-hum one-on-one, we’re hosting a big bash for potential Shopify Gurus on December 13th from 7-10pm. Specific location is TBA, but it will be in Ottawa, Canada.

You’ll get to hang out with fun people who are interested in working at Shopify, chat about the potential job, have a few laughs – and a few drinks! You can meet the people who might become your colleagues, and get a great feel for the job, the space, and Shopify’s culture.

But wait! Before you jump on the party bus, you should probably know exactly what a Shopify Guru is:

Shopify Guru
[shaw-puh-fahy goo-roo]
1. A rare, interesting character who gets a kick out of helping Shopify’s customers get their stores up and running.  A guru is comfortable on the phone and can type like a maniac. In the wild, gurus are often spotted laughing at or telling a great joke, as they have a naturally keen sense of humour.

Space is limited, so this party is invite-only. If you’re interested in attending, please enter your info in the provided fields at the bottom of one of our 3 Guru job postings: daytime, weekend and evenings and overnight

Mention in your application that you want to attend our Guru party on December 13th, and we’ll be in touch!

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Meetups and Hackathons - come see us in real life!

Meetups and Hackathons - come see us in real life!


Shopify meetups (Ottawa) - November 20, 2012

Come to Shopify on November 20th to meet with Shopify merchants, partners, and our own developers, designers, and gurus. This will be a great chance for developers to network with merchants for app ideation synergy, and designers for great app branding justice. Be sure to register soon, spaces are filling up fast!

Windows 8: Pure Imagination (Toronto) - November 24, 2012

We're hitting the road! Come join the Shopify Developer Advocates as we adventure to Toronto to hack on Windows 8 apps. Windows 8: Pure Imagination is an all-night hackathon being held at Ryerson by our friends at Microsoft, and promises to be lots of fun. Again, spots are filling up fast, so register now to ensure your spot!

Hope to see you all this month!

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Shopify for Designers Workshops - NYC & Belfast

Shopify for Designers Workshops - NYC & Belfast


Earlier this year I hosted three "Shopify for Designers" workshops in the UK. They were a great opportunity to introduce web designers to Shopify and show them how easy it is to get started building themes. 

My next two workshops will take place on the day preceding two fantastic upcoming conferences - Brooklyn Beta and Build. If you are in either New York or Belfast a day early, or you happen to live and work there (i.e. it’s open to everyone – not just conference attendees) and fancy joining me for a FREE afternoon of Shopify theme building then here’s all you need to know.

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Throne of JS ticket giveaway

Throne of JS ticket giveaway

Throne of JS, happening July 20 to 22nd in Toronto, Canada is set up to be the best and most exclusive JS event of the year.

Sadly, tickets are sold out.

Fortunately, Shopify put a ticket aside for you, brave JavaScript developer!

Shopify is giving away one (1) FREE ticket to the best tutorial for building an example Shopify app with JS. Post it up on Tumblr, your blog, a GitHub page, or wherever you love to share. The tutorial must at the very least explain how to:

  • Sign up as a Shopify Partner
  • Create a Shopify App (get an API key/secret)
  • Create a test shop
  • Install the app in the test shop
  • Authenticate with the Shopify API
  • Make a call to fetch shop data – any call works

Contest closes this coming Thursday night, July 12th, in 6 days time. Screenshots with giant arrows and clear annotations are your friends.

Submit a link to your tutorial in a clearly marked post to the Shopify App Discussion Google Group as soon as you can. Updates to tutorials are ok; we’ll be judging them in whatever state they’re in Thursday night.

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Announcing the Shopify Meet Up Fund

Announcing the Shopify Meet Up Fund


At Shopify we are great believers in the benefits of attending industry events. They are a great way to learn, meet new people and share ideas. Whilst I try to get to as many as I can it’s of course impossible to attend all the great meet ups, mini conferences and grass roots events happening around the world but that doesn’t mean we can’t be involved!

We’ve put our heads together and come up with a little initiative we are calling the “Shopify Design Meet Up Fund”. It’s our way of helping your meet ups and events become even better. We think it’s a great approach and we are not the only ones, our friends at Creative Mornings agree too.

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Shopify is Heading to RailsConf!

RailsConf is coming up next week and a few Shopify Devs are heading down to Austin, TX to join in the fun. We're going up a little early so if you want to hang out give me a shout on Twitter @johnduff and we'll set something up.

We're planning on checking out The Gingerman Pub Saturday night (April 21st) so if you want to talk Shopify, Rails or whatever, stop in and we'll buy you a drink. We'll be wearing the Shopify T-Shirts :).

See you there!

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HackTO: This Saturday, April 14th in Toronto

HackTO: This Saturday, April 14th in Toronto


Artwork based on a Creative Commons photo by John R. Southern. Click here to see the original.

HackTO is a hackathon taking place in Toronto this Saturday, April 14th, in which developers will be challenged to come up with and implement an application that takes one or more of the sponsors' APIs and does something interesting, useful or cool -- all in the space of a few hours. The APIs that you'll be able to use at HackTO include:

Shopify will be there! Developer Relations guy David Underwood and Yours Truly, Platform Evangelist Joey deVilla, will be there to walk you through the Shopify API should you make the really excellent decision to include it in your project.

Here's the schedule for Saturday:

Time  What's Happening

9:00 a.m. Breakfast and introductions. It's your chance to meet the HackDays organizers and all the participating developers. Use this time to get settled in, see the final schedule and fuel up for a day's hacking with some breakfast.

9:30 a.m. API Presentations. Each API sponsor, including Shopify, will present their API and show you what's possible with it.

10:15 a.m. Open Planning. Come up with an idea for an application -- and remember, you have only a few hours in which to build it -- and put together a team. This is a whiteboard exercise: if you have an idea that you would like to work on, just put its name down on the whiteboard. If you're looking to build a team, identify yourself to other developers with the skill sets that you need. If you're looking for ideas, identify yourself to other developers as well.

10:30 a.m. Let the hacking begin! Claim a table and get to work! The API sponsors will be available to answer questions.

12:00 noon Lunch. Take a break, grab a bite, hang out with your fellow geeks.

1:00 p.m. Back to work! You've got until 5:30 p.m. to finish.

5:30 p.m. Presentations. Every team gets 3 minutes to present their application, and when you're not presenting, you're watching the other teams and enjoying beer.

7:00 p.m. Judging and prizes. Our panel of experts weighs in and delivers their verdict.

7:30 p.m. Celebratory food and drink at a nearby pub.

There are prizes! HackTO will offer three prizes to the apps deemed by our panel of judges to be the best:

  • First prize: $2,000
  • Second prize: $1,500
  • Third prize: $500

This all takes place at Freshbooks' new HQ, located at 35 Golden Avenue, Suite 105. Golden Avenue is just off Dundas Street West, east and south of where it branches off from Roncesvalles Avenue. The closest subway station is Dundas West; Freshbooks is a short walk away.

If you're up for a programming challenge, the chance to win prizes and the opportunity to meet the folks from some of the coolest startups there as well as the people from Toronto's vibrant tech community, come to HackTO and hack! Register now!

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HackVAN Post-Mortem

HackVAN Post-Mortem

This weekend Shopify attended Hack Vancouver, organized by the fine folks over at This was the biggest event of its kind that we’ve been part of. Want to know what happens when 100 developers get together in a small space? Read on!

Shopify sent Edward and myself to fly the flag at the event. We showed up at 9am on Saturday morning at the offices of A Thinking Ape in Gastown. Their offices are a thing of beauty. Exposed wooden beams, lots of open space, natural light, the guys and girls at A Thinking Ape know how to create a welcoming environment. Thanks for letting us invade for the day!

The Setup

For those of you who are unfamiliar, these events work as follows: Developers are given a brief intro to the available APIs, and then have until the end of the day to build something that is demoed to the judges. Beer is then consumed before the day wraps up with the prizes being awarded.

There were plenty of APIs for attendees to hack on. Aside from us there was Freshbooks, TinEye, iQmetrix, PhoneGap, Yellow Pages, HootSuite, and Twilio. I think that one of the major strengths of the hackdays events is the variety of domains covered by the API providers. Putting E-Commerce, mobile apps, location info, and phone/SMS providers in the same place made for some excellent mash-ups. At the end of the day over 20 teams presented their apps to the judges. The official results have been announced on, but here are some of my personal favourites:

Angry Mum

APIs Used: Twilio

A twist on the classic ‘alarm clock + skill testing question’ formula, Angry Mom will actually call your mother (or whoever you tell it to) if you don’t get out of bed on time. Talk about an incentive!

Caregiver Check-in

APIs Used: Twilio

A niche app (by @james_hatheway) developed to solve a real-world problem. This one provided a service for in-home caregivers to confirm that they’ve arrived at a client’s home by calling a number from the house when they get there. If the caregiver doesn’t call in, then an alert is generated to schedule someone else. It also provided a similar check-out mechanism.

Team Double Rainbow

APIs Used: Shopify, PhoneGap

The guys from PhoneGap (@mwbrooks and @yoheis) weren’t satisfied to just provide support during the day. They also built a really slick mobile shopping app for apparel. The best part? It’s open source! Go take a look at the code on github.

Team MonkeyStorm

APIs Used: Shopify, TinEye

Aside from having my favourite team name, MonkeyStorm (Kelly Miller and Michael Heyd) put together a very natural-feeling colour-based product search that used TinEye’s colour matching API to index and then search a Shopify shop’s inventory by colour. To top it off they used our new application proxy functionality to drop the search results onto a page within the shop itself.

Next Time!

If you missed out on this event, there are already plans for a third event in Vancouver later this year. If that doesn’t appeal to you (because you’re on the other side of the country for example) then there’s always HackTO on April 14th in the fair city of Toronto. Sign up now and we’ll see you there!

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Shopify Apps that You Can Build at HackVan (or Home!)

Shopify Apps that You Can Build at HackVan (or Home!)

HackVan, the Vancouver edition of HackDays -- the cross-Canada hackfest in which developers of all skill levels are challenged to use one or more of the sponsors' APIs and build a cool new app in a day -- takes place today! The apps will be judged by a panel of distinguished people from the Vancouver tech scene, and if you were at last year's HackVan, you know the prizes are pretty sweet.

Here's a compressed version of today's itinerary: At 9:30 a.m. Pacific time, each of the sponsors will present their APIs, after which the developers will form teams (if they haven't already) and come up with ideas for an app they can build by the deadline, which is around 5:00 p.m.. At 5:30, teams will present their apps to the judges, who will then deliberate and announce the top teams and honorable mentions at 7:30.

We know that coming up with an app idea on short notice isn't easy, especially when you combine it with forming a team with people you might not know, using APIs that may be unfamiliar to you and trying to get something working in a day (well, part of a day, actually). In order to make life easier (and with the not-so-ulterior motive of getting you to use the Shopify API at HackVan), we've come up with a list of apps that you might want to try building, whether you're at HackVan or "just want to play the home edition".

Product Comparison


Customers often have a general idea of what they want to buy. It gets tricky when it comes down to choosing a specific item, especially once they've narrowed down their choices. The harder it is for a customer to compare his or her narrowed-down choices, the more likely he or she is going to give up and not make a purchase.

This app idea is an attempt to solve that problem. It would allow customers to select two (or possibly more) items and see them side by side, perhaps along with the description and price of item. If you want to get fancy, you could highlight something about an item, such as which one is the cheaper one, or which one was bought by more customers.

For this app, you'll definitely use the Shopify API's product resource, which lets you retrieve information about one, several or all products in a shop. Each product object has properties that you'll want to use in this app, such as:

  • the body_html property, which contains the description of the item, complete with HTML formatting
  • the variants array, which holds info about the different variations of the product. One of the properties of each variant object is price, which you'll need, especially if you're highlighting price differences
  • the images array, which contains image objects. Each image object has a property called src which specifies the location of a product image stored within Shopify.
  • If you're taking on the additional challenge of showing which product is the more popular one, you'll want to use the orders resource, which you can use to get a list of all orders placed at the shop. You would then comb through the orders to count purchased products in order to determine which one was more popular.  

User Surveys

Just after their customers' money, the thing that shopowners want is customer feedback. Without this information, they're just guessing at what their customers want and what's working for them and what isn't. 

One way many shopowners can get this feedback is by sending surveys to customers who've recently bought something from their shops. Keep in mind that you don't want this survey to be too long, because customers will simply ignore it, or worse, choose not to go to that shop again!

You'll want to use the Shopify API's order resource for this one. You can use it to get information about one, several or all orders placed at the shop. One of the properties of an order object is email, which is the email address of the customer who placed the order. You might also want to use other properties, such as the line_items array to get an idea of what they customer bought and the total_price property to determine how much he or she spent (and possibly tailor the survey, based on these values).

Naturally, you'll only want to send the survey to people whose orders have already been shipped. Check the order's fulfillment_status!

Follow-up Email

In a world where there are so many places online to buy stuff, customer service can set you apart. Good customer service and treating the customer well creates return customers. One aspect of good customer service is the follow-up, which can often just be a quick email saying, "hey, thanks for shopping with us".

If you're new to the Shopify API or a developer just getting started, you might want to try developing this app. It should email customers who've recently made a purchase at the shop a quick "thank you" note. As an added bonus, you might want to include a discount code in the email to entice the customer to use the shop again.

As with the "User Surveys" app mentioned above, you'll want to use the Shopify API's order resource for this app. Each order object has an email property containing the email address of the person who made the purchase, a line_items array containing the items they purchased, and fulfillment_status property to tell you if the order has been completely shipped.

Store Status via Voice

Shopowners want to stay on top of their stores' current status. They check their shops' admin pages constantly, seeing if new orders have come in, if any items are out of stock, what's getting shipped, and so on.

There are times when a shopowner can't check his or her shop's admin pages visually -- while driving or walking about. To solve this problem, we suggest an app that uses voice technology (such as the great technology from our friends at Twilio) to report highlights and alerts about their shop status. Two important pieces of information that shopowners would like to know are: orders that have just come in, and if an item has become out of stock.

You can check stock of levels of each item using the Shopify API's product resource. Each product object has a variants array, and each variant object has two properties: inventory_policy, which tells you if Shopify tracks the stock levels of that variant, and inventory_quantity, which tells you how many of those items are in stock if Shopify tracks its stock levels.

To see which orders have recently come in, use the Shopify API's order resource.

Customer Image/Text Uploads

Some shopowners want to sell customizable items. This app would allow them to upload an image or customer text, which would then be incorporated into the item's design, such as putting the customer's picture or name on a t-shirt, mug or other item.

For this app, you'll definitely want to put some kind of annotation in an order object, probably in the note field.

Minimum Quota

In some cases, a shopowner doesn't want to fulfill an order for an item until s/he gets a minimum number of orders for that item. This often happens in cases where the item is hard to come by or if the wholesaler for that item has a similar quota.

The idea behind this app is to not fulfill any orders for specific items until a predetermined number of orders of that item appear in the shop. Only when that number has been reached or exceeded will those orders be fulfilled.

You'll definitely want to use the Shopify API's order resource for this one.

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