Core Principles for Theming in Magento

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Learning Objectives

After completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Customize both the look and feel and the functionality of a website at the theme level
  • Create new themes from scratch and build them in a way that ensures the best possible upgrade path for their websites


Students must have a good knowledge of HTML and CSS. Students should also be comfortable editing HTML and CSS directly, not just using a WYSIWYG editor. Students should also be comfortable working with FTP clients. Some experience with PHTML and PHP is helpful but not required. Students should also already be familiar with the Magento Enterprise Edition feature set and frontend functionality.

Course Description

This course provides a strong introduction to Magento's templating system and best practices. Class time combines lectures, guided examples and hands-on lab exercises. Students will understand the fundamentals of Magento's templating system and learn how Magento themes work and all the components of a theme, especially layouts, page templates and block templates. Course based on Magento Enterprise Edition v1.14.

Course Outline

1. Magento Templating System—Architecture and Components
  • Gain a conceptual understanding of the Magento templating system and the components of the templating system and how they inter-relate.
2. Working with Themes
  • Learn how to work with and apply themes to Magento websites, including understanding the directory structure, fallback hierarchy and website scopes.
3. Recommended Approach to Customizing
  • Understand what can and can't be changed at the theme level, including what can be customized without theming. Adopt a structured approach for evaluating and executing website customizations.
4. Working with Page Templates, Layouts, and Block Templates
  • Understand the purpose, structure and interrelationship of all of the key components of the Magento templating system. Learn how to modify templates at each level and the benefits of each.
5. Creating Your Own Default Theme
  • Learn how to create your own design package and theme as a starting point for your designs.
6. Creating Modules with Custom Theme Components
  • Learn how to create and declare the frontend layout components of a Magento module or how to use a module for your default theme overrides

"I feel like a light has finally come on. I am a lot less confused now. This is helping me with my daily work tasks already (and I've found some errors that need to be fixed before the next update)!"

Jessica Thornton, Jr. Web Developer, Delta Apparel, Inc.