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Reactions from Shopify Unite 2022

Following two days of learning, networking and announcements at London Shopify Unite 2022, we’re catching up with some of our development team to get their thoughts on how the latest developer opportunities will impact us and our merchants.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

This week marked the much anticipated in-person return of Shopify Unite in London. Developers from across the country gathered at Tobacco Dock to learn about the opportunities on Shopify and connect with peers from across the ecommerce industry.

Three such developers were Swanky’s Ian Jamieson, our Head of Technology, Alec Wayman, Shopify App Developer in our New Build department, and Alistair Gibson, Lead Developer in our Growth Accelerator team. They each returned with fascinating reflections, new connections, and plenty of ideas around how Shopify’s latest updates would help to drive digital growth for our clients …

Swanky’s developers talk Shopify Unite 2022

 

What was your highlight of the London Unite event?

Ian:

It was great to be able to connect with the Shopify development team, as well as see some familiar faces from other agencies, app developers and tech partners.

There were some really great talks over the two days, but it was particularly fascinating listening to Nir Rehav, Head of Global IT at SodaStream International, talk about the brand’s success in expanding to D2C ecommerce.

Hearing their story really solidifies and validates my conviction that Shopify Plus is a robust and capable platform for large-scale global enterprise brands.

Alistair:

One of the things that I found most valuable from being at Unite were the Q&A sessions at the end of each talk and workshop. I found it a really insightful part of the event, getting a window into things that other development teams in the industry see as limitations or features that they would like to see in the future.

Alec:

The highlight for me as an app developer was listening and talking to other app developers from different niches throughout the Shopify ecosystem.

Firstly, we heard Natalie Porter from Auctane talk extensively about her team’s creation of an app generation tool which they could use to very quickly create and host apps for microservices used by their customers – what she described as “cutting cookies”.

Secondly, as part of the Partners panel, Bjorn Forsberg of Forsberg+Two spoke about his evolution as a developer and how he built his app company. I also managed to corner him and pick his brains about his personal development style later on.

Here at Swanky, we will be able to take the valuable lessons learned by the Auctane dev team and by Bjorn through his many apps, and apply them to our own development processes to speed up and improve development and support of our Shopify apps.

 

It sounds like there were some really insightful talks and discussions. What about the guided workshops – did you attend any of those?

Ian:

Yes, we particularly enjoyed the workshops on store data visualisation with Polaris-Vis UI components and the ShopifyQL API, as well as extending business logic functionality via Shopify Functions (move over Scripts, hello Rust!) and getting hands-on with Hydrogen.

Big thanks to the Shopify Developer Advocates for facilitating those workshops with much patience and humour. We only wish we could have dived deeper.

Alistair:

It was really good getting to dive a bit deeper into the checkout UI extensions in the workshops. These extensions open up solutions to issues that up until now have had to be solved with complex or time-consuming workarounds.

For example, previously, when it came to adding extra custom data capture fields to the checkout, we have been limited to either placing them above or below the main content of the forms, where visually it doesn’t really make much sense. Or, we’ve had to run some Javascript post-load and have the fields visually pop into place – yet again, not the nicest user experience. Now, we will have the flexibility to place them within the flow of the page, presenting the options and inputs to users exactly where they make sense.

 

Which of the development updates you learned about do you think will have the most tangible practical impact for merchants?

Ian:

The new Checkout UI Extensions API has amazing potential for augmented checkout capabilities, including pre-and post-purchase upsells and cross-sells. This a meaningful improvement to the developer experience, as well as providing more capabilities overall. We’re particularly excited about this new toolset, as it’s going to bring so much added value to our merchants.

We were pleasantly surprised to have an early preview of the new Shopify Content Platform, soon to be available to merchants in beta. This is a welcome improvement to managing global content on storefronts in conjunction with the newer Store 2.0 architecture. Gone are the days of leveraging awkward hacks with page resources. Shopify remains tight-lipped on this development but can barely contain their own excitement, so watch this space!

Alistair:

Similarly to Ian, I think the introduction of the Shopify Content Platform will initially be a really nice quality-of-life improvement, reducing the need for some repetitive admin tasks like having to input the same content in a section on multiple pages. Plus, it will give merchants the ability to get rid of some of the overly complex solutions that are wide open to user error.

I’m hopeful that there’s lots of potential for taking this functionality a lot further in the future, hopefully producing a robust content management solution that can fit a lot of niche needs.

Alec:

Shopify Functions are set to replace Scripts as the method of implementing customisations to the backend logic that powers Shopify storefronts. Initial access surrounds discounts in the checkout, but will later be extended to other areas, allowing merchants to more easily integrate custom business logic into backend processes.

Functions are designed to be fast, language-agnostic and implementable in multiple stores using apps, so this will streamline development, whilst the admin menu integration will improve the user experience for merchants as well.

 

Which updates excited you most as a developer?

Ian:

There were exciting developments in Hydrogen and Oxygen announced. Shopify is certainly pushing forward the composable commerce future, with exceptionally well-thought-out React component libraries that enable innovative buying experiences with less development complexity and blazing fast performance thanks to edge rendering.

An upcoming decoupled Hydrogen UI now also means even more platform flexibility, allowing React developers like myself to employ Hydrogen within other great frameworks we know and love like Remix and Next.js.

And just when we thought we’d had our fill of tech updates, once we’d returned from Unite, we learned that Shopify had launched some new internationalisation features. Their new Translate and Adapt plugin provides a native interface for language translations, whilst Markets Pro enables merchants to more easily navigate the complexities of selling in international markets with localised content and inventory management features. These are welcome improvements that we have immediately adopted within current projects at Swanky.

Alistair:

As someone that got into web development through React, I am very excited to see Shopify really embracing it as the framework behind Hydrogen and hearing about the advancements being made to the system. I’m looking forward to being able to utilise what is shaping up to be a developer-friendly setup!

 

Thank you to Ian, Alistair and Alec for sharing their reactions to Shopify’s latest developer opportunities. You can find out more about Shopify Unite 2022 on the official event website.

International Shopify development agency

At Swanky, we’ve got a proven track record of delivering exceptional Shopify Plus websites for established enterprise brands, as well as disruptive challenger start-ups. For 12 years, our clients have trusted us to navigate their most complex requirements with cutting-edge ecommerce solutions, developed with a combination of creative and technical expertise, data-driven strategy and commercial acumen.

To find out how Ian and our team of experienced Shopify Plus developers could help unlock your ecommerce potential, contact our team today.

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