The Technical Side of How To Make A Shopify App: APIs, Frameworks, And Languages
Last Updated | August 30, 2023
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Apps are a crucial part of the Shopify environment as they play an important part in building the Shopify ecosystem. Most of the unique or advanced functionalities that are added to your store always come through apps and these apps are easily found on the Shopify App Store. However, you must be wondering how a Shopify App is actually created and made available on the app store.
Therefore, in this blog, we are going to discuss the process of how to make a Shopify App and try to understand the factors, which will answer your query “whether you can make an app with Shopify”. Moreover, we will also talk about different types of Shopify Apps and the full process of uploading and making the app live as well.
- According to BACKLINKO, Shopify has around 7 million merchants on its platforms.
- TRUELIST states that there are 7000+ apps available on the Shopify App Store.
- PageFly says that more than 87% of merchants on Shopify use multiple apps to streamline their processes.
What Languages Are Shopify Apps Written In?
The tech stack for Shopify is vast and consists of various programming languages. While Shopify provides the official library for Ruby and Python, you can also create the app in various languages such as Node and PHP.
Read also How to Install Apps in Shopify
However, the most used languages to build Shopify Apps right now are Ruby and Node. Ruby has been the most used language to build server-side apps for Shopify as it was the first-ever language to be used on Shopify’s platform, and Shopify also provides official libraries for it. On the other hand, Node has been a popular choice for the last few years due to the ease of development, installation, and development.
Benefits of Using Apps in Your Shopify Store
Types of Shopify Apps
Before starting to answer your query of whether can I make an app on Shopify, we will understand the types of Shopify Apps, which can be built. There are in three types, which are listed below:
Read Also What is Shopify App Blocks
Private apps are specifically built for your store and have only one purpose of adding functionality to your own store. These apps are not uploaded to the app store or made available for anyone to download.
These are the official Shopify Apps which are always on display in the App Store of Shopify. These apps are made for public use, and you can sell these apps as well. All of these apps are made installable on every store with the purpose of enabling functionality universally.
Read Also Shopify Theme App Extension Setup Guide
This is similar to private apps but has limited access to APIs.
The Road Map to Publish An App on Shopify
The process of creating, publishing and connecting an app is quite complex and can require the help of an expert who provides Shopify App development services. However, it is also quite possible for a developer to create an amazing app with the instructions provided in this article.
In order to understand the whole process in a streamlined process, we will divide this section of the blog into three sections to understand the whole process of how to make a Shopify app.
The first section will be handling the initial authorization of the app after you have cracked an idea and are ready to just dive into the development process.
The second section will focus heavily on talking about the ways and options to host the Shopify App on a reliable platform.
Read Also Top 15 Reasons Why We Convert Shopify Store To Mobile App?
The third section will focus on Shopify APIs. We will understand the types of Shopify API and the place where we can get them.
Lastly, we will focus on providing the step-by-step guide to creating a legitimate Shopify App with prerequisites and the whole step-by-step process.
Part 1. Authorizing App in Shopify
Authorization is the process of registering the app with Shopify. In order to do that, you will need a Shopify partner’s account.
Simply fill in all the details in the form, as this is not actually publishing the app; it’s only registering the app with Shopify to get API keys. However, you will need the public address of your app to register it completely, which will bring us to the section of Hosting.
Read Also Inventory Management Shopify App
Part 2. Hosting it somewhere
Hosting the app is the most crucial part of the whole Shopify App-building process, and it provides you with a public address that lets you get the Shopify API key to eventually make the Shopify App live.
Now there are various hosting platforms, that provide Shopify Apps hosting services, such as Heroku, AWS and even Hostinger. It all depends on the framework and language that you are using.
For instance, if you are using Python to build your Shopify App, then you can easily host it on any hosting service, that can host Python apps, and the same will follow for other languages and frameworks as well.
However, these hosting services are used at the end when you are about to deploy your App. Therefore, in order to get the public address at the initial stage, you have to use a tunneling service and the widely used tunneling service for Shopify is called ngrok.
What Are Service Tunneling and ngork?
Service tunneling is a technique that allows you to expose a local web server to the internet, making it accessible from anywhere. ngrok is a popular tool that provides a secure way to create a public URL for a local web server running on your machine. It does this by creating a secure tunnel between your local machine and the internet, allowing external traffic to access your local web server.
ngrok is useful for testing webhooks, APIs, and other web services that require a public URL for testing or development. It also provides features such as inspecting HTTP traffic, logging requests, and replaying requests for debugging purposes. If you would like more information on service tunneling and ngrok, please let me know.
In simple words, using ngrok can provide you with a public address to your app, which you can use to authorize the app perfectly. The following picture shows the service tunneling process.
Do remember that this process is only while developing the app, as you have to deploy the app on a proper hosting service provided by a reliable hosting company. Before understanding “how to make a shopify app”, you have to understand these APIs.
Part 3. Using Shopify API
In order to start creating a Shopify App, you must understand the concept of Shopify API properly. There are two main types of Shopify API. The first is the Admin API, and the second is the Storefront API. Each API has their own set of functions and is used accordingly within the app. Both APIs use RESTful principles and return data in JSON format. They also require authentication using an API key and access token.
The Admin API allows developers to access and modify a merchant’s store data programmatically. This includes information such as products, orders, customers, and inventory. With the Admin API, developers can create custom integrations that automate tasks, import or export data, and build custom dashboards or reports.
The Storefront API, on the other hand, allows developers to access a merchant’s store data from the perspective of a customer browsing the online store. This includes information such as products, collections, and customer data. With the Storefront API, developers can build custom storefronts, mobile apps, and other customer-facing experiences that integrate with the Shopify platform.
Part 4. Building the App with Node.js
Follow the steps below to learn how to make a Shopify App:
Step Number 1: Creating Shopify Partner Account
A Shopify Partner account is necessary for any developer who wants to create an app for Shopify as it provides the much-needed environment for developers to work with. Moreover, since we are using Node, it also provides libraries, which can be quite helpful.
Step Number 2: Test Store Creation
One of the features of a Shopify Partner account is the access to creating unlimited stores, which will be great for testing purposes as you can test your apps whenever you want to on a live environment. You can also identify if the app is causing some issues with other apps installed on the store or the theme, which can be a lifesaver for many businesses.
Step Number 3: Install Node.js
Step Number 4: Installing CLI
The next step is to install the command line interface tool for Shopify, which will be a crucial tool for building the app. This tool supports many languages, including Node.js and generates app extensions as well. Developers can also automate a few tasks using this tool, such as finding the conditions within the code or increasing the product quantity while testing.
Step Number 5: Installing React
Step Number 6: Signing in to Shopify CLI
In order to access the CLI, you also have to sign in with the CLI.
Step Number 7: Creating New Project
After logging into the Shopify CLI, you have to create a new project, which you can easily do with the help of a simple command line: $ Shopify app create node. This will create a new project for you to work on.
Step Number 8: Local Development Server
Now that you have created a project, it is time to create a local development server to finally start developing. Use the command line “$ shopify app” to the terminal in order to start a local server. The Shopify CLI also uses the same ngrok to create service tunnelling. You can also use the command “$ shopify app tunnel auth <toke> ” to authenticate the server,
Step Number 9: Installing the App
As the server is set up you have to install the app by writing the command line “$ shopify app open” in the terminal. This will install the app onto your store.
Read Also Shopify Development Roadmap
Step Number 10: Build the App
Now you have completely built the infrastructure for you to just start coding and building the app. So write clean and intuitive code to bring your idea to life.
Step Number 11: Adding Products
Since Shopify is mostly used for eCommerce purposes hence if you are creating an eCommerce app, then you can you the populate function to add data such as orders, products and customers. Finally, you can use the command “ $ Shopify populate” to test this data in your app.
Read Also Best Shopify B2B Apps
Step Number 12: Adding Empty State
An empty state is a design element which is visible on the storefront. Shopify has its own UI tool called Shopify Polaris, which is used for Shopify website design while building an app. You can use Shopify Polaris to add the empty state to the app you are building.
Step Number 13: Adding Resource Locator
A resource locator is basically a search option which will let the user select a product within the app. Hence, we suggest that you use a JS library like App Bridge to add the search-based interface to your app.
Step Number 14: Adding a List of Resources
In order to add the list of resources so that the app can display products, we suggest that you use the GraphQL Admin API.
Step Number 15: Updating Prices
Now since you have already established GraphQL, you can easily create a GraphQL query to update or modify any kind of data such as prices, categories, stock status and many more.
Conclusion About How To Make A Shopify App
After reading the above guide, you must have an idea about how to make a Shopify App. We suggest that you must know about Shopify Store development before diving into the Shopify Plugin development. We have also provided you with enough knowledge about all the important factors to create a fast, intuitive and superb app, which won’t need any kind of Shopify speed optimization.
FAQs About How To Make A Shopify App
Do I Need to Use a Specific Framework to Build a Shopify App?
No, you can use any web framework that supports your chosen programming language. However, Shopify provides official SDKs and libraries for Ruby on Rails, Node.js, and Python, which can help simplify the development process.
Can I Use Third-Party Libraries or Packages In My Shopify App?
Yes, you can use any third-party libraries or packages that are compatible with your chosen programming language and framework. However, you should be mindful of any potential security risks and ensure that the libraries you use are trustworthy and well maintained.
Read Also Shopify Development Roadmap
How Do I Test My Shopify App?
Shopify provides a development environment called Shopify Partners Dashboard, which allows you to create a test store and test your app before submitting it for review. Additionally, you can use tools like Postman or Insomnia to test your app’s API endpoints.
How Do I Deploy My Shopify App?
Once your app has been approved by Shopify, you can deploy it to the Shopify App Store or distribute it privately to your clients. Shopify provides documentation on how to package and submit your app for review and how to manage and update your app once it’s life.
Is It Possible For Me To Convert My Shopify Store To An App?
Can I make my Shopify store an app? Yes, it is possible to make the Shopify store an app with the help of many app builders available on the Shopify App stores. You can also create native apps, and for that, you can read the article above to understand how to make an app for your Shopify store. Moreover, you can also get help from a Shopify development company as well.