May 4, 2009

Where is the homepage in Zen-Cart?

Filed under: Blog Articles — Tags: , — Doug Robertson @ 6:55 pm

I often get asked, “Where is the homepage in Zen-Cart?” All my client’s want to do is add or change something simple to their homepage but they just can’t find the file. Is it hidden? Well, the answer is technically no but it might as well be.  I hope this article will help newbies to Zen-Cart find their way.

Zen-Cart is a dynamically generated, PHP shopping cart software. This to say that each segment or “module” of the home page is separated into individual files. The Header, Body, and Footer are all separate files that get assembled at the time the page gets called by the browser. And it doesn’t stop there. Just about every element on the homepage is a separate file such as the Shopping Cart, Categories and Manufacturers boxes. Why would they do that? Doesn’t that just totally complicate everything? Yes, this does increase the difficulty factor of editing individual elements in your Zen-Cart template, but does offer many advantages and flexibility for the store manager.

Zen-Cart allows the store manager to not only select what infomation boxes that will appear on the homepage but also choose their sort order. This call be done by changing simple settings in the Admin Control Panel. If the store manager decides he wants to run a special, he can activate the “Specials” box to apper on the homepage. Then, deactivate it when the specail is over. You can even create Custom User Pages with whatever content you want using the “EZ-Page” function. This type of versatility and fluidity would not be possible with traditionally coded HTML pages. So, there is a reason behind the madness. Zen-Cart is fragmented into small pieces intentionally so it can have more freedom to dynamically assemble it’s pages based on  parameters set by the store manager. These settings will alter the carts apperance and content all from completely within the Admin Panel.

Now after all that, you proabably still don’t know where the home page is, huh? Well this question isn’t as easy to answer as you may think. I will list the location of some of the most edited files below. Many times there are different templates involved so replace ‘YOUR TEMPLATE’ with the name of the folder your template is in.

  • Master Template Files:  /includes/templates/’YOUR TEMPLATE’/common
    In this folder you will find the master template files for the header, main page, footer, etc.
  • Template CSS Files:  /includes/templates/’YOUR TEMPLATE’/css
    In this folder you will find the master template CSS style sheet files.
  • Template Images:  /includes/templates/’YOUR TEMPLATE’/images
    In this folder you will find the master template images. Catalog Image are not kept here.

Knowing the location of these key files should allow you to edit the appearance of your Zen-Cart installation. But these instructions come with a word of CAUTION. You should have a good foundation in HTML and some PHP programming knowledge to tackle editing Zen-Cart. Also, you should ALWAYS backup each file your are editing. Due to it’s content-mangement-like funtionality, a small error could bring the entire store down. A backup file can get you back up and running quickly. Without it you could be doomed. My advise is to edit these files at your own risk or hire a professional to do the work for you. Zen-Cart is complicated, delicate, but powerful shopping cart software.

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