If your eCommerce store is hosted on BigCommerce, you’ve likely heard of Blueprint and Stencil – the two available BigCommerce theme frameworks. Since being introduced in 2015, Stencil cleared the way for a new era of theming that supports a number of benefits for eCommerce businesses.
If you haven't upgraded to BigCommerce Stencil and are still using Blueprint, you could be missing out on many benefits of the updated framework. In this blog, we're covering the key benefits and drawbacks of each framework to help you make an informed decision about what setup works for your business.
BigCommerce Stencil Vs. Blueprint
Here at Groove Commerce, our developers have worked with both Blueprint and Stencil frameworks on a number of websites. Before we present the benefits of Stencil, we want to point out the biggest frustrations that our developers have experienced while using Blueprint.
First, all development on Blueprint must be to be done within the editor available within the BigCommerce admin account. With the prevailing use of modern development tools and applications, the old, limited BigCommerce Blueprint editor can hinder productivity for developers.
BigCommerce Blueprint can cause many store variables to be blocked and inaccessible to developers. Blueprint hides many of the store attributes inside %%GLOBAL%% variables that do not let developers access and change their contents. As a result, this can lead to major project roadblocks.
No Local Testing
Local testing is also not possible in Blueprint, so any changes that you want to test out must be made live on your eCommerce website. This drawback makes it inconvenient to carry out any conversion rate optimization tests, A/B tests, etc. These tests are essential to maintain the efficiency and UX/UI of your site.
BigCommerce Stencil Benefits
Now that you understand some of the frustrations experienced by front-end developers when dealing with Blueprint, you can better appreciate all the changes BigCommerce made when creating their Stencil framework.
Modern Front-End Development Framework
Stencil has bypassed limited editing capabilities and global variables by implementing handlebar templating language. This grants developers the freedom to make changes as they wish. This framework makes it easier to redesign, develop and change a site with much less coding.
Using CSS preprocessors, developers can write code much faster by writing in abbreviations that are then translated and expanded into full code. This is another functionality supported by the Stencil framework.
CLI to Facilitate Local Testing
Not having the ability to carry out local testing was a huge grievance to developers in the Blueprint framework, making it a focus when creating Stencil.
Stencil allows developers to use a command line interface to facilitate local testing and development that does not affect the live site. It also lets developers test the store theme with the store data within settings. Additionally, Stencil has 160 industry-specific theme variations (compared to Blueprint’s 58), so you’re destined to find a customizable theme that perfectly suits your store.
Another modern functionality in Stencil is the BrowserSync preview. Developers are able to view any changes they have made in real time on any device. This eliminates the possibility of making changes to a desktop view that comes across negatively on mobile or tablet devices.
Cornerstone and New Functionalities
BigCommerce supplies its own base Stencil theme called Cornerstone. It is regularly updated with the latest features and functionalities offered, including Apple Pay and Google AMP (accelerated mobile page) support.
Cornerstone's native AMP compliance ensures faster page speed and great website experiences on a mobile device.
Whether you are looking for a migration from Blueprint to Stencil or a entire eCommerce platform migration, Groove Commerce can help you facilitate that move. If you have any questions or want to learn more about what an upgrade could look like, feel free to contact us below!
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