First Steps

Let's get it started

In-Depth Structure

The Shopware Bootstrap Theme consists of a quite high number of files, and in order to not to get lost completely in its vast structure, here is a short orientation.

Plugin Structure

The Shopware Bootstrap Theme is in fact a theme wrapped in a plugin, and therefore located in the /custom/plugins-Directory of your Shopware installation unlike regular themes in the /themes-Directory. While Shopware themes work exactly the same no matter in which of these directories they are located in, having a theme wrapped in a plugin is beneficial, because it allows for easy updates and versioning of the theme.

The structure of a plugin is quite simple. It is covered in-depth in the Shopware Documentation, but here is a short summary of the relevant bits for theme development.

The minimal directory structure for a plugin containing a theme is following:

│  └──Themes
│     └──Frontend
│        └──MyTheme
│           └──...

whereby the names MyPlugin and MyTheme are up to your choice.


As you can see, the plugin’s directory structure is quite simple. It should be after all, because it’s only a wrapper for a theme. The only files in your plugin that are not part of the theme itself are plugin.xml and MyPlugin.php, whereby plugin.xml holds meta-data like the plugin’s version, description and changelog, and MyPlugin.php consists of installation routines - something we can safely neglect at the moment.

As this guide is mainly about theme development, we won’t cover the plugin structure in-depth. If you want to read more about it, please refer to Shopware’s Developer Guides


The following example is available for download in a separate project on GitHub


namespace MyPlugin\MyPlugin;

use Shopware\Components\Plugin;

class MyPlugin extends Plugin


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<plugin xmlns:xsi=""
    <label lang="en">My New Theme</label>
    <label lang="de">Mein Neues Theme</label>

    <compatibility minVersion="5.3.0" />

    <changelog version="1.0.0">
        <changes lang="en">Initial release</changes>
        <changes lang="de">Initiales Release</changes>

Theme Structure

The Themes-Directory is structured in the same way as the Themes-Directory in Shopware itself. Likewise, once the plugin is installed and activated, its contents are treated identically.

Shopware’s main Themes-directory consists of one Frontend and one Backend directory. As the name suggests, the Backend directory contains templates for the Shop administration. Consequently, our custom theme only contains a Frontend-directory.

In above example, the Frontend-directory contains one single directory - this is our Theme. Theoretically, you can ship as many Themes as you like in one single plugin; the Shopware Bootstrap Theme makes use of that mechanic with the BootstrapBare and BootstrapExtension themes.

The minimal directory structure of a theme is


If you can’t think of anything else than floating question marks right now and are asking yourself why there is only one file to be found here, let me explain!

Just like the plugin.xml in a plugin, the Theme.php in a theme contains basic information about its name, author and its license. Also, this is the place where you define which theme yours is going to inherit from, and where you can perform some elementary configuration.


// The deepest level of the namespace is identical with your theme's name
namespace Shopware\Themes\MyTheme;

use Doctrine\Common\Collections\ArrayCollection;
use Shopware\Components\Form as Form;
use Shopware\Components\Theme\ConfigSet;

class Theme extends \Shopware\Components\Theme
    /** @var string Defines the parent theme */
    protected $extend = 'BootstrapBare';

    /** @var string Defines the human readable name */
    protected $name = 'My Theme';

    /** @var string Description of the theme */
    protected $description = 'An example theme';

    /** @var string The author of the theme */
    protected $author = 'conexco';

    /** @var string License of the theme */
    protected $license = 'MIT';

Template Directory Structure

Most template files are named after the controller action that renders said template For example, the cartAction in the Checkout-controller renders the template frontend/checkout/cart.tpl. The rest of template files are either extended from a template loaded by a controller action, or included into one as a reusable component, for example the main menu.

Creating Our First Theme

Let’s get our hands dirty and create our first theme. Suppose we sell only a handful of different products, all of which are advertised on the front page of our shop. We decide to reduce the search bar and move it to the right, so that the shop’s logo can be presented more prominently in the centre.

Laying Out a Foundation

First of all, we want to have a plugin in which we wrap our theme; we’re going to call it SmallSearchBarTheme. Starting from the shop installation’s root directory, we do following

cd custom/plugins
mkdir SmallSearchBarTheme && cd NoSearchBarTheme

In it, we’re going to create our plugin.xml file for metadata and the SmallSearchBarTheme.php, which contains the empty plugin class that’s required for every plugin.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<plugin xmlns:xsi=""
    <label>Small Search Bar Theme</label>
    <description>The Bootstrap Theme, but with a smaller search bar.</description>

    <compatibility minVersion="5.3.0"/>


namespace SmallSearchBarTheme;

use Shopware\Components\Plugin;

class SmallSearchBarTheme extends Plugin

We are now able to install the plugin in the shop backend’s plugin-manager, but we won’t do that yet.

Now, we’re going to create the directories for our theme. From the plugin’s root directory (where we stopped earlier):

mkdir -p Resources/Themes/Frontend/SmallSearchBarTheme
cd Resources/Themes/Frontend/SmallSearchBarTheme

In it, we’re going to create the Theme.php, which contains a class providing meta-data for the Theme.


namespace Shopware\Themes\SmallSearchBarTheme;

class Theme extends \Shopware\Components\Theme
    protected $extend = 'BootstrapBare';

    protected $name = 'Small Search Bar Theme';

    protected $description = 'The Bootstrap Theme, but with a smaller search bar.';

    protected $author = 'conexco';

    protected $license = 'MIT';

Now, let’s install the plugin. After installing and activating the theme, open the Theme Manager (Configuration->Theme Manager). The theme should be listed there. Enable it by clicking on it, then on the button Select theme in the lower right corner.

Upon visiting the frontend, no changes should be obvious, because our theme extends the Shopware Bootstrap Theme and provides no changes to it. But that’s something we’re going to change now.

Step by Step

Let’s start with the search bar.

We know the search bar is visible on every page within the shop (well, except during the checkout process), in the shop header. We can therefore assume that the template for the search bar is probably included in one of the templates in the frontend/index-Directory. Just by looking at the file names in there, we can pinpoint the search bar’s location quite accurately.

/var/www/Shopware/custom/plugins/SwfBootstrapTheme/Themes/Frontend/BootstrapBare/frontend/index $ ls

One of the files is called search.tpl. That sounds exactly like what we’re looking for. A quick look inside tells us that the entire search container, along with a form that wraps the input element, is located inside the file. If we manage to stop including it in the header file, it shouldn’t appear any more.

By a simple grep 'search.tpl' * within the frontend/index-directory, we find out that the search.tpl is included in the shop-navigation.tpl. Let’s have a look


{block name='frontend_index_header_row_right_inner'}
    {block name='frontend_index_shop_navigation'}
    {block name='frontend_index_search_trusted'}
        <div class="row mvm">
            {block name='frontend_index_search_trusted_inner'}
                {block name='frontend_index_search'}
                    <div class="col-xs-12 col-md-8 col-lg-8">
                        {*! Search *}
                        {block name='frontend_index_search_inner'}
                            {include file="frontend/index/search.tpl"}
                {block name='frontend_index_trusted'}

The search container is being included in a block called frontend_index_search_inner, which is part of the block frontend_index_search. In that block, there is a div, which uses some of the Boostrap framework’s classes to define its size within its overlaying container, the header.

We’re going to create our own frontend/index/shop-navigation.tpl-file in our SmallSearchBarTheme-directory, and it is going to extend the original frontend/index/shop-navigation.tpl.


{extends file="parent:frontend/index/shop-navigation.tpl"}

{block name='frontend_index_search'}
    <div class="col-xs-12 col-md-6 col-md-offset-6">
        {block name='frontend_index_search_inner'}
            {include file="frontend/index/search.tpl"}

The first line tells Smarty that we’re going to extend the parent theme’s frontend/index/shop-navigation.tpl template. That means, we take it as it is, and apply our changes to selected blocks. In our case, to frontend_index_search, which we overwrite entirely to replace the div’s classes col-md-8 by col-md-6 and col-md-offset-6.

Next, we’re going to move the logo a little bit into the centre. The logo is located in frontend/index/logo-container.tpl, which is being included in the frontend/index/index.tpl. I decided to move the logo into the centre by offsetting it slightly to the right. To do that, we must also reduce the entire right part of the header a little bit so that there is enough space for the offset.


{extends file="parent:frontend/index/index.tpl"}
{block name='frontend_index_header_row_left'}
    {* class col-md-offset-1 added *}
    <div class="col-sm-12 col-hd-5 col-md-3 col-md-offset-1">
        {*! Shop logo *}
        {include file="frontend/index/logo-container.tpl"}
{block name='frontend_index_header_row_right'}
    {* class col-md-8 replaces col-md-9 *}
    <div class="col-sm-12 col-hd-7 col-md-8">
        {* Shop navigation *}
        {block name='frontend_index_shop_navigation'}
            {include file="frontend/index/shop-navigation.tpl"}

And here is the result:

Before before

After after

This example is available for download in a separate project on GitHub

Extending Blocks Without Fully Overwriting Them

Often, you might want to extend a certain block by attaching a div with some specific content before or after it. To do that, you want to make use of the {$smarty.block.parent} variable - it contains the contents of whichever block you are currently overwriting. For example, in the frontend/index/header.tpl, you want to add some meta tags. This can be done by overwriting the frontend_index_header_meta_tags block:


{extends file="parent:frontend/index/header.tpl"}
{block name="frontend_index_header_meta_tags"}
    <meta name="myMetaTag" content="something"/>

Adding Javascripts and Styles

Changing template files is just a minor part of theme development. The biggest and most desirable changes for a theme developer are done with style sheets, and maybe few Javascripts to grant components a custom behaviour.

Within a Shopware theme, Javascript, Css and Less source files have to be located in the frontend/_public directory. Relative to that directory, you can specify your source files in your Theme.php through the attributes javascript and css. Less source files can’t be specified in the Theme.php; instead, a frontend/_public/src/less/all.less will automatically be recognised by the Less preprocessor. In it, you can include more files.


namespace Shopware\Themes\CssAndJavascriptTheme;

class Theme extends \Shopware\Components\Theme
    protected $extend = 'BootstrapBare';

	/* more variables for meta-information */

    protected $javascript = [

    protected $css = [

	/* LESS source files are not to be included in the Theme.php */
├── CssAndJavascriptTheme.php
├── Resources
│   └── Themes
│       └── Frontend
│           └── CssAndJavascriptTheme
│               ├── Theme.php
│               └── frontend
│                   └── _public
│                       └── src
│                           ├── css
│                           │   └── my-css.css
│                           ├── js
│                           │   └── my-javascript.js
│                           └── less
│                               └── all.less (automatically registered)
└── plugin.xml

Development Environment Setup

Shopware’s own themes can be compiled with the grunt Javascript task runner. This helps you building Javascript- and Less-heavy themes a lot faster, since you don’t have to start the theme compilation process manually every time you make changes. We recommend setting up Grunt on your development environment to save yourself from a lot of hassle.

Grunt and Less are based on Node.js. If you didn’t do so already, please download and install Node.js from its official download page or through your favourite package manager.

How to use it

Before you start with developing using Grunt, you have to make some preparations. First of all, clear Shopware’s theme cache from any old files created by Shopware’s internal theme compiler. To do that, navigate to the shop’s root directory, then execute following:

cd var/cache

Grunt has to know how you configured your theme in the Theme Manager, and which files are being included by which theme. A command line program by Shopware dumps the relevant configuration ready for use with Grunt. Fron the shop’s root directory, execute

./bin/console sw:theme:dump:configuration

At last, we need to install grunt itself, along with its dependencies. From the shop’s root directory, execute

cd themes
npm install
sudo npm install -g grunt-cli

whereby grunt-cli is a globally available wrapper, that searches for the grunt executable at whichever location you’re executing it from.

We’re now set. Start grunt by executing


# optionally, specify shopId
grunt --shopId 1

Grunt will compile the Less and Javascript files once, then it watches for any changes in the source files. If it recognises one, it’ll start the relevant compilation process again.

Don’t forget that upon changing the Theme in the Theme manager, or upon adding or removing Javascript source files in your Theme.php, you will have to dump the theme configuration again!

For an in-depth guide on how to use Grunt and how to add additional tasks to execute in Grunt, please refer to the official Shopware documentation