It’s been sitting on our bookshelf for a while, and my conscience finally got the better of me! So, here’s a review of OpenCart 1.4 Template Design Cookbook by Tahsin Hasan.
OpenCart 1.4 Template Design Cookbook is aimed at web designers with experience of HTML/CSS but without familiarity of the OpenCart ecommerce system. The book is in Packt’s relatively new ‘cookbook’ format, with the content provided as short ‘recipes’ with a walkthough to an achievable task within OpenCart. Here’s the table of contents from Packt’s page about OpenCart 1.4 Template Design Cookbook.
- Getting Started
- Store Decoration
- Layout Structure
- Module Adjustment
- Header Structure
- Dynamic Content
- Customizing Menus
- Footer Layout
- Modifying the Administration Panel Theme
As you would expect from Packt, the book is relatively easy to follow, with plenty of screenshots throughout to help orientate you as to what you should be seeing on your screen.
There are some useful-looking recipes for the things I would expect to look up in OpenCart 1.4 Templates Cookbook, such as customising your store’s footer (a whole chapter devoted to it, strangely), altering image slideshows, and customising your store’s 404 (‘page not found’) error page.
Where OpenCart 1.4 Template Design really excels for me, as an experienced themer, is in highlighting the relevant blocks of code to affect changes in the products grid and other areas I’d be likely to want to change: for this, the book is likely to provide a good reference tool!
Some of the recipes struck me as a little redundant, or misplaced in a book about OpenCart: in particular, one recipe seemed to be, rather than concentrating specifically upon OpenCart.
There’s a whole chapter of recipes devoted to customising the administration panel’s design, too: something that I don’t imagine is a popular task most people would want to tackle with OpenCart – the admin panel is certainly nicer to use than that of, say, PrestaShop! There’s a recipe that covers setting up an SMTP mail server in OpenCart.
In particular, the first chapter covers topics largely unrelated to OpenCart, and I feel this is a wasted opportunity for the book. For example, there’s a recipe on installing GIMP, and then another on creating a logo in GIMP: not content I expect, or want, in a book about OpenCart. The chapter then goes on to cover using Firefox’s Web Developer extension (perhaps slightly more relevant as it is used in recipes later on in the book): again, not something I’d want crammed in to a book ostensibly about OpenCart!
Finally, some of the steps in the task walkthroughs in the book are too brief: they simply fail to mention vital information (e.g., one recipe stipulates you need to add CSS to a conditional stylesheet, but fails to mention where this might be, or even provide a reference on where to learn more about these; simple for more advanced web designers, but possibly enough to waste hours of time for novices!).
Overall: OpenCart 1.4 Template Design Cookbook
OpenCart 1.4 Template Design cookbook is a good place to start for those new to OpenCart, and I suspect it’s a useful reference to have to hand. It does have its limitations, though – a lot of the book isn’t so much about OpenCart as it is about using GIMP or the Firebug tool, and this redundancy feels like a waste of my time, and a waste of paper, at times!
Bear in mind that the most recent version of OpenCart at the time of writing is OpenCart 1.5 (not 1.4), but having looked at a few comparisons between versions, I still think the book would be of use for those looking for a point of reference for OpenCart theming.
I was gifted this book by Packt Publishing as a reward for acting as a technical reviewer on another of their publications. The opinions in this blog post are my own, though, and I’ve provided my true feelings as an OpenCart consultant.