After looking at the showcase sites on the Prestashop web site, I could not help but be excited by the Prestashop e-commerce and the prospect that I could create shops or a shop that look as good as some of the shop listed there. Of course you soon realise that getting a shop that looks as good as the showcase sites is not just a case of buying a readymade template and then adding your products because there (at least at the time of writing) is a shortage of professional templates for Prestashop.
This is where the book Prestashop 1.3 Theming Beginners Guideâ aims to help out. It claims to help the reader develop flexible, powerful and professional themes for your Prestashop store through simple steps. This is music to a store owners ears if they want to build a nice store looking store with Prestashop but are not web designers / programmers by profession.
I decided to put the book to the test to see if it lived up to expectations and help me build a professional looking template for a Prestashop project.
The book is made up of a preface and 8 chapters . The preface states that this book is dedicated to those who want to change and modify their default Prestashop theme. At this point I was a little sceptical about the book as the default theme is not something I could envisage looking as good a the shops you see in the showcase section of the Prestashop web site. However, my fears were actually unfounded as I will explain further on.
The first chapter is a simple introduction to the store and Prestashop. It is actually fairly useful overview of Prestashop and is worth reading as it explains some of the features and preference settings available to the store owner. Most importantly from my point of view, is it shows some examples of professional looking shop themes that have been created by modifying the default theme. This proved to me that despite my scepticism it is possible to have a decent shop from the default theme.
Moving on to the second chapter, the books then begins walking you through changing the appearance of the theme by simply using the supplied modules. This chapter is useful for giving you an idea of how simply changing the different modules can greatly affect the look of your store.
As you progress further into the book you learn how to modify the CSS and how clever use of colours and imagery can make a good looking store. The book also goes in additional resources such as stock photography sites and colour selection tools which can help you obtain suitable imagery and attractive colour scheme choice for your site. Since I was working on a real Prestashop install I was able to put the book to good use. I was able to modify the default theme and morph it into theme for use with a pet store I was working on here
. This was a useful learning experience which should help me knock out more themes in the future.
The book also covers some useful extras which some may decide to use (I have not as yet). These extras such as a front page slide show and a horizontal menu bar. These I feel will be useful to me later as I build shops.
Overall I felt the book was useful and worth reading. It gives the reader a good foundation in the theme system of Prestashop. It also brought together a lot of tips and tricks that a store owner can read away from their computer which will give ideas of how to improve the look of their store.
One thing I did feel was incorrect was in chapter 4 on page 118 where the book discussed altering the template (.tpl) files of one particular module the block info. It appeared to suggest to the reader that they should modify the module files as listed under modules/blockinfos. However, this is not ideal as Prestashop offers the mechanism of module override. Module override is where you create a modules directory under your theme and add the module you wish to theme under there. Other than this confusion, the book was of considerable value and certainly goes toward to filling the gap in Prestashopâ€™s documentation.
Where to get the book
You can buy it from Amazon or from Pakt (the publishers) themselves. It comes in both paper or pdf format.