Why We Built The Paper Toolkit

Why We Built The Paper Toolkit

Sep 25, 2023

In the vast realm of online businesses Shopify has emerged as a powerhouse platform that empowers entrepreneurs to create and manage their digital stores with ease. The platform uses themes as the foundation for brands to build their digital storefronts, providing a template for design, functionality, and user experience. However, the journey from selecting a theme to crafting a unique and fully optimized online store isn't always straightforward. In this blog post we will dive into the common gap in the developer experience and present a solution—the Paper toolkit. Let's explore how this toolkit addresses the challenges developers face and revolutionizes the Shopify ecosystem.


The Common Gap in Developer Experience

Despite the benefits that Shopify themes offer, one of the challenges that developers often face is the lack of comprehensive documentation. This deficiency can turn what should be a seamless customization process into a frustrating struggle leaving developers to navigate uncharted waters. On top of that themes have JavaScript files that are compiled and are mostly completely unreadable and extremely difficult to decipher.


The Importance of a Strong Foundation

Shopify themes serve as the backbone of an online business's digital presence, ensuring quality, consistency, and a user-friendly interface that appeals to customers. Shopify themes are held to high quality standards, promising a technically sound website right from the start. However, not all themes are created equal, and many are not tailored to the needs of developers looking to customize and extend their functionality. We have experienced firsthand how frustrating it is working with themes without any documentation.

We have worked on hundreds of storefronts over the years and it’s always a gamble working with Shopify themes. What might seem to be a relatively simple task could end up taking much longer, simply because of the amount of time spent digging through theme code and trying to reverse engineer a solution. Some themes come with partial documentation which is helpful, but developers are still locked out of source files which makes it hard to make significant changes. Most Shopify themes use their own CSS library which often causes another delay as developers are forced to learn a new approach. This is where the Paper toolkit comes in, bridging the gap between developers and their desire for flexibility and customization.


Introducing the Paper Toolkit

The Paper toolkit was born out of a genuine desire to improve the developer experience. We have worked with hundreds of Shopify brands and working with themes is more often than not is a messy process. Developers often find themselves struggling with inconsistent CSS and JS standards, leading to confusion and inefficiency. That is why our toolkit's first goal is to provide robust developer resources to merchants, regardless of their coding skills. Merchants have more control over the code to make required changes and customizations. Even non-technical entrepreneurs can have a peace of mind knowing they have a developer-friendly theme at their disposal. This becomes particularly valuable when they are looking to hire developers for customizations, allowing for a smoother collaboration and quicker results.

The second goal of the Paper toolkit is all about guidance for merchants. Having a clear and detailed guide full of insights and resources makes theme changes more accessible and understandable. This empowers merchants to create polished personalized online storefront without feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of coding.

Another goal of the Paper toolkit is to attract agencies to choose Paper for custom projects. As more agencies and developers become familiar with Paper's capabilities, merchants gain easier access to experts well-versed in the theme's intricacies, leading to efficient, high-quality customizations and customer support. Our goal is to launch a partner program with vetted professionals that are proficient in our theme.


Inside the Toolkit

Diving into the technical aspects, the Paper toolkit equips developers with tools to navigate the complexities of Shopify theme development. Using the toolkit developers can access and modify the source code, easily update and compile new JavaScript and CSS assets. For visuals Paper uses Tailwind CSS to easily customize styling. To add functionality and interactivity to the theme toolkit uses Alpine.js. Lastly, for asset integration it uses the Shopify Vite Plugin that generates an asset snippet that has all the liquid logic needed to load your assets.

The advantages of the toolkit are not just based on stories, but our customer’s feedback. The increased efficiency of developers who are familiar with the toolkit's technical framework and tools cannot be emphasized enough. Whether it's seamless code editing, hassle-free compiling, or effortless source code updates, the Paper toolkit streamlines the development process from start to finish.


A standout feature that sets Paper apart is its theme kit for developers. It's a huge time-saver and perfect for developers looking to customize and personalize the theme to fit their requirements.” –Hybrid Racing


"Paper has become our goto theme for all our clients! As a Shopify agency it's got everything we need and it's so easy to convince clients to go with Paper as our recommended "foundational" theme. I look for two things in a Shopify theme: good documentation and fast support. The folks at Brickspace do both, and do it well. Five stars, would recommend again!" –Apples & Oranges


Maria Rokina
Maria is a content creator with technical background. She has recently joined Brickspace Lab and is diving into the world of ecommerce.


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