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by Michael P. Hill April 19, 2017

Updating Shopify themes has long been one of the most frustrating parts of running a Shopify store — and Out of the Sandbox took a giant step in making this easier with our free Shopify theme updater app. But guess what? We’ve taken this another step farther.

One feature that the first generation of the app lacked was that any customizations that had been made directly to the theme files didn’t carry over and would have to be copied over manually.

If you or your developer had made a variety of changes in a number of different places, that meant a lot of hunting down bits of code and trying to replicate them in the new theme files, a time-consuming and often error-prone process.

But no more.


We’re excited to announce that the next generation of our exclusive Shopify theme updater app supports customized themes!

If you are currently using Parallax 3.0+, Retina 4.0+, Mobilia 5.0+, Responsive 6.0+ or Turbo 2.0+, the new version of the app will scan your current theme’s files and attempt to locate any custom code and carry it over for you.

Yep, you read that right.

The new (still free) Shopify theme updater app, which works exclusively with Out of the Sandbox Shopify themes, has been engineered to locate custom code in your sections compatible theme files and move it over automatically whenever you update to the latest version of your theme.

For those of you who may have avoided updating your sections compatible theme in the past due to extensive customizations that you didn’t want to have to re-create, you’ll now be able to benefit from all of the new features and bug fixes that come with the newest version of your theme and still keep your custom code!

And, since all Out of the Sandbox themes come with free upgrades for life, it’s now easier than ever to keep your theme up to date and running smoothly.

The following items should be carried over:

  • Custom code added to your Liquid code, including those made by third party apps
  • Customizations made to your CSS, including new code you introduced
  • Your language (locale) files
  • Additional custom files you've added
  • Sections and their respective configurations

A few notes

The first, and most important thing to note, is that the app will only move custom code over if you are upgrading from Parallax 3.0+, Retina 4.0+, Mobilia 5.0+, Responsive 6.0+ or Turbo 2.0+.

If you are using a theme that’s older than these versions, the app will still be able to upgrade your theme and move over select settings, but any custom code will not be moved over.

This is a good reason to upgrade to Parallax 3.0+, Retina 4.0+, Mobilia 5.0+, Responsive 6.0+ or Turbo 2.0+ now — even if it means having to copy over custom code initially. Once you are using a more recent version, you’ll have the ability to move over custom code.

If you need help moving over your customizations, you can hire a Shopify Expert to help out. Please note that, unfortunately, Out of the Sandbox is unable to provide upgrade assistance.

It’s also important to note there will inevitably be some cases where code is too complex for the app to move over automatically, but the good news is that you’ll be notified of any problems that the app finds and be given the opportunity to fix the conflicts.

In some cases this may require you to move over the code manually, but most store owners shouldn’t run into problems with typical customizations.

If automatically moving theme customizations over does pose a problem, at the very least, the app should still be able to minimize the amount of manual code updates you need to do.

Also, it is important to note that we still recommend keeping theme customizations to a minimum.

In the past, one of the main reasons we recommended avoiding Shopify theme customizations was that the code needed to be moved over manually from version to version.

Although the new version of our theme updater app does have the ability to transfer over customized code, customizing code can still result in some issues:

  • The higher the number of customizations you’ve added to your theme, the longer the app will take to process your updates.
  • Themes with high customization counts are also more likely to fail or have blocks of code that cannot be carried over automatically.
  • Complex code customizations may be unable to be transferred over automatically.
  • The theme updater app won’t be able to address conflicts with the default theme code and your custom code in current or future theme versions.
  • The Out of the Sandbox team generally doesn’t troubleshoot someone else’s custom code; if it’s causing issues our advice will be to remove it, so best to keep it to a minimum and be prepared to work only with your own developer to address specific issues that come up with customizations you’ve made.
  • Finally, please note that we never guarantee that the app will be able to carry over all customizations.

Of course, you should always test the unpublished version of the theme that the app creates to make sure everything is in order.

We also strongly recommend making a backup of your theme files before attempting to perform an upgrade (plus, keeping a backup copy of your theme is always a good idea).

Where to get the app

If you’ve never installed the app, you can download this new version for free from the Shopify App Store.

If you already have the app installed, you’ll be upgraded automatically!

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn.

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