Posted by Aaron on March 05, 2015

Powerful Theme Architecture of BVC 2015

Comments (2)

The new responsive theme in BV Commerce 2015 gets all of the attention, but what made that theme possible was the powerful enhancements to the theming architecture. 

Themes of the Past

The biggest problem with themes before BVC 2015 was that they did not provide enough control over the site design. The reason was simple: a significant portion of the HTML was outside of the theme (e.g. templates and controls). Part of the reason that this was such a problem was that the HTML in many parts of BV Commerce 5 through 2013 was over 8 years old!

To modify this HTML to work with a specific layout, a designer was forced to alter files outside of the theme folder. This not only meant that the site design was no longer encapsulated in the theme folder but also that changes to non-theme files were now tied to a specific theme. Consequently switching themes, without reverting those changes, might cause unexpected results in other themes. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, modifying files outside of the theme made it more difficult to upgrade to newer versions of BV Commerce.

Theming in BVC 2015

In BV Commerce 2015 this all changes. Rather than change files outside of the theme, files can now be overridden from inside the theme! Here's what can be overridden from a theme:

  • Templates—category, product, kit, and custom page templates
  • Pages in the site root
  • Controls in the /BVModules/Controls/ folder
  • Content Blocks
  • Checkouts

In fact, the new responsive theme overrides a significant portion of the frontend files. Below is a screenshot that shows the new theme folder structure. The overridable items listed above have their own folders inside the theme, mirroring the folder structure of the /BVModules/ folder. 

This gives designers ultimate flexibility to alter HTML for just about anything on the frontend of the website without making any changes outside the theme. For example, to change the markup of the login form, simply copy the /BVModules/Controls/LoginControl.ascx control (and its .vb code file) into the Controls folder of the theme and make the necessary changes there. BV Commerce will now automatically use the LoginControl control from the theme instead of the one in the /BVModules/Controls/ folder for all instances across the application; no additional code changes are necessary.

Functional Changes, Too

In addition to overriding the items above to alter their HTML, their VB.NET code can also be changed. That means templates, controls, and even content blocks & checkouts can be customized inside a theme. Going back to the LoginControl example above, custom code could be added to run after a user successfully logged in.

A New Way of Thinking

This powerful override functionality is a paradigm shift in how themes and customizations should be built. A designer or developer should strive to never alter code outside of the theme folder unless absolutely necessary. Keeping all custom code encapsulated inside the theme will significantly reduce the difficulty of future version upgrades.

There are, of course, some cases when a theme will not hold every piece of custom code. For example, when a new item is needed it is not something that can be overridden. The most common example of this is creating a new template.

The Downside

It's not all rosy with this powerful new architecture; there is a complexity trade-off. Beyond the initial learning curve, the ongoing challenge is keeping the copies of items in the theme up-to-date. For example, if a control is duplicated into a theme and in a subsequent version of BV Commerce a bug fix is made to that control, that bug fix will need to be applied to the control in the theme.

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Categories: Documentation

Comments (2) -

Steven Gurgevich PhD
Steven Gurgevich PhD
6/6/2015 11:04:41 AM #

I purchased a license from BV Commerce through one of your partners, Simply Bits.   I sell audio CDs and want to also sell audio downloads (MP3s).  I was hoping to offer my customers a choice of either a CD (hard goods) OR a download (MP3) on the product page for each of my 40+ titles.  But we don't seem to be able to do that with your software (unless I am mistaken).  When I visit some of the websites in your showcase of other merchants, like New Balance for example, I see that their product pages offer choice of attributes like size.  Is there a way for me to allow my customers to choose between a CD OR or and/or a download on my individual product pages?
Thank you,
Steven Gurgevich


6/8/2015 11:09:08 AM #


You can create customer-selectable options, yes, but the problem is that the download will still be available to the customer regardless of what option(s) they select. Put another way, options are not related to downloads. There are two ways that you can handle this:

1. Create separate products for the CD and download
2. Customize the software to only make the downloads available to customers that selected that option


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