I've read through all the docs on the Magento E-Commerce website, but I'm still fighting with Magento to get my theme looking just right. I have the basic understanding of the XML file layout files, but all the template code is frustrating me. Can someone explain the basic tags and maybe give a reference or two on where I can learn more?

+1  A: 

Unfortunatly magento suffer's from it's poor documentation and outdated wiki.

I'm afraid that the best place for finding any info on this topic is magento forum community.

Also, I'd suggest to use their blank theme. It's easier to modify since it's pretty "clear" design.

+1  A: 

Yeah, the magento theming is definitely the hugest barrier-to-entry, but here are some things i found helpful:

  1. magento cheatsheet
  2. Firefox and, either the CSS Viewer or the Web-developer add-on. this allows you to just point at any element and get the CSS.
  3. magento screencasts

Man, I wish they'd work on this side of Magento. It actually all makes sense, once you get the hang of it and it's very clever as the system is designed to be easily upgradeable, despite customisations. Perhaps a wizard might be in order as a start.

Justin Lawrence
+1  A: 

Similar to what Justin Lawrence said, I would recommend checking out the Firebug Firefox add-on.

This add-on allows you to view and change CSS on the fly, so that you can see what changes you make to each element without destroying your original styles. You can also use the built-in tools to find out what each element on the page does, and what styles apply specifically to that element, including inheritance.

I recommend reading this tutorial for using Firebug to redesign a CMS theme.


You can turn on template and block hints by going to- Configuration -> Developer, select "Main website" from "Current configuration scope". Then turn on "Template Path Hints" and "Add Block to Hints"

Don't do this in production.

This will add a hint around each box pointing to which template file is being used for that block.