Shopify Local Environment Development Guide

Setting up a development environment for Shopify can seem daunting at first. There are a lot of moving parts, and if you’re not familiar with the platform it can be tough to know where to start. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know to set up a local development environment for Shopify. We’ll cover topics like installing the Shopify Theme Kit, setting up your development store, and more. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to start developing custom themes for Shopify—without having to worry about the technical details. So let’s get started!

Developing on Shopify Locally

Shopify is a platform for businesses of all sizes to create an online store. It offers users a customizable platform, an easy-to-use checkout process, and a wide range of features.

Shopify also has an excellent developer platform that allows you to create custom applications and integrations using the Shopify API. In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up a local development environment for your Shopify projects.

Why Develop Locally?

There are several advantages to developing locally on your computer instead of on the Shopify servers. First, it’s faster. You can test and iterate quickly without having to deploy your changes to the live site each time. Second, it’s more secure. You can work on sensitive data and confidential projects without worrying about them being accessed by others. Finally, it’s more reliable. If something goes wrong with your local development environment, it won’t affect the live site.

What You’ll Need

To develop locally on Shopify, you’ll need the following:

• A text editor or IDE (Integrated Development Environment) like Atom, Sublime Text, or Visual Studio Code
• The Shopify Theme Kit command line tool
• A Shopify partner account (optional)
• A Shopify development store (optional)

Creating a Development Store

If you don’t already have a Shopify development store, you can create one for free through your Shopify partner account. 

Tips and Tricks for Local Shopify Development

If you’re new to developing Shopify themes, or just want to improve your workflow, here are some tips and tricks for local Shopify development.

1. Use the shopify_theme gem

The shopify_theme gem is a great way to manage your local Shopify development environment. It allows you to create and manage your themes, and provides a number of helpful commands for working with your theme files.

2. Use the Theme Kit CLI tool

Theme Kit is a command line tool for managing Shopify themes. It can be used to sync your local theme files with your live Shopify store, and can also be used to create and edit theme files directly on your server.

3. Use a code editor with Shopify integration

There are a number of code editors that have native integration with Shopify, making it easy to work with your theme files locally. Some of our favourites include Sublime Text, Atom, and VS Code.

What is a Local Environment?

When developing a website on Shopify, it is important to have a local environment set up in order to test your changes before pushing them live. A local environment is a copy of your Shopify store that you can work on without affecting the live version.

There are a few different ways to set up a local environment for Shopify development. The most common way is to use the Shopify Theme Kit, which is a command line tool that allows you to sync your local files with your Shopify store. Another option is to use a third-party development tool like Mixture or Grunt.

Whichever method you choose, setting up a local environment will give you the ability to test your changes before making them live, and will make your development process much smoother overall.

Developing Your Shopify Theme

The process for developing a Shopify theme is relatively straightforward. However, there are a few key steps that you’ll need to take in order to get started.

1. Choose a development platform: In order to develop a Shopify theme, you’ll need to choose a development platform. There are many different options available, but we recommend using Shopify’s own Theme Kit. This tool will allow you to easily manage your theme files and upload them to your shop’s server.

2. Set up your development environment: Once you’ve chosen a development platform, you’ll need to set up your development environment. This includes installing the necessary dependencies and setting up your IDE or text editor.

3. Create a new theme: The next step is to create a new theme. This can be done using the Theme Kit CLI or by manually creating the necessary files and folders.

4. Develop your theme: Now it’s time to start developing your theme! This involves creating the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for your design. We recommend starting with a simple design and then adding more complexity as you become more comfortable with the process.

5. Test your theme: Before you upload your theme to your shop’s server, it’s important to test it thoroughly on a local server first. This will help ensure that everything is working as expected and avoid any potential issues when live customers start using your theme.

Testing Your Shopify Theme

To test your Shopify theme, you’ll need to create a local Shopify development environment. This will allow you to make changes to your theme without affecting your live shop.

There are two methods for setting up a local Shopify development environment: using the command line or using a graphical user interface (GUI).

Using the command line:

1. Install theShopify Theme Gem: gem install shopify_theme
2. Create a new directory for your project: mkdir my-shopify-theme
3. Initialize a new Git repository in your project directory: git init
4. Create a new file in your project directory named config.yml: touch config.yml

Debugging Your Shopify Theme

If you’re working on developing a Shopify theme, it’s important to have a local development environment set up so that you can test your changes before pushing them to your live site. This guide will walk you through how to set up a Shopify development environment using the Theme Kit CLI tool.

Once you have Theme Kit installed, you can use it to clone your live Shopify theme into a local directory. From there, you can make changes to your theme files and preview them in your browser using the Theme Kit watch command. When you’re ready to push your changes to your live site, simply run the Theme Kit deploy command.

If you run into any issues while working on your theme, the first step is to check the Shopify Developer documentation. If you can’t find a solution there, try asking for help in the Shopify Forums or on Stack Overflow.


With the Shopify Local Development Guide, you now have all the tools you need to develop your very own Shopify theme locally. So what are you waiting for? Start coding and see how easy it is to create a custom Shopify theme that fits your unique business needs.