Migrating from Blueprint to Stencil on BigCommerce
Jan 14, 2023

Migrating from Blueprint to Stencil on BigCommerce

If you are still using the BigCommerce Blueprint theme framework, it's high time that you switched over to their new STENCIL framework. I'll show you how to do just that in this video!


Blueprint, BigCommerce's legacy theme framework, was built on a rigid, proprietary codebase, making it difficult for developers to customize and extend theme functionality. Stencil themes are built on non-proprietary, open-source code to minimize the learning curve for developers and to provide access to the best developers in the industry.

Basically, STENCIL improves the overall storefront experience for merchants and their customers. With enhancements in speed, security, and updates to your themes, this framework provides a more streamlined process for the everyday maintenance and tasks required to run a store.

If you want to see more of our BigCommerce Learning Series, click here to access the entire playlist.

Video Transcript:
(Migrating from Blueprint to Stencil on BigCommerce)

Hey there, are you still on the blueprint framework on big commerce and thinking about moving over to stencil, or they keep telling you to move to stencil?

... Or you're just thinking what is this stencil everybody keeps telling me about.

In this video, we're gonna talk about migrating from blueprint to stencil.

Before we get started, my name is Kal, I'm a developer store owner and I run the E commerce growth private group for starters, just like you and me completely free to join.

I'll leave a link under the video and check it out.

Every week, I post more ecommerce videos.

So if you find this one useful, subscribe or hit the bell.

And you can hear me talk more.

All right, big commerce blueprint.

So when big commerce started, before blueprint, there was a different framework that we all just kind of call three column blue, because that's the theme that everyone started with.

And it was, it was hideous, and it was three columns.

And it was terrible.

And they came out with blueprint, and it was so much better.

And then in 2016, they said we are moving away from blueprint.

And we're going to we have this new thing called stencil and everybody was like what is this stencil thing, right? stencil to clue you in is a combination of handlebars, J S, and stencil CLI.

People in the big commerce community just refer to it as stencil as a conglomerate.

But that's what it is, is the combination of stencil CLI and handlebars.

Now stencil CLI is a huge tool for developers like me, because it lets us develop locally meaning on our computers, and then push it up when it's ready to go.

So we can test we can develop and test things and make it live once it's ready.

Before that we kind of were doing a lot of things on the fly and try not to make a mess.

So stencil CLI was was a big leap forward.

And that's great, much better development process.

Handlebars JS is a JavaScript library that lets us have these little curly bracket template tags that call things in your database, like they call, you know, a title on a product page.

And we had kind of a similar thing on blueprint, but it was different with handlebars.

Jas, though we could do some more advanced things like we can loop through, like all of your custom fields, for example, on your product page, or you know all of your product cards on a category page.

We can also do things like if statements, so we can say if a product has this custom field, then do this thing.

And that makes it way more powerful.

And that's why everybody wants you to update because, you know, the newest stuff is just so much more powerful than the blueprint framework was.

And so there's a lot of reasons to upgrade.

But you're probably watching this video, because you're wondering, what does it take to actually update, upgrade, right from, from blueprint to stencil.

So the big difference is how your template is written.

The database tags that were in blueprint are not compatible with stencil, nor is that so compatible with blueprint.

So they're two completely incompatible templating systems.

So long story short, if you want to go from blueprint to stencil, and you like your design, then you need a developer to come in and coat a stencil theme to look like your design.

If you want to, you know, if you don't care about your design, then you can just look at the at the stents at the you know, the big commerce theme marketplace and pick out a different design and migrate to that, right.

So the power of that is you get to upgrade to stencil without, you know, a reasonable development cost.

You know, but the drawback is, when you turn that theme on, it's going to instantly be live on your site.

And you're going to have to get it into shape real quick, otherwise, your stores potentially a mess.

So if that's what you're going to do, I recommend you be prepared for some downtime, and use that maintenance.

Use that maintenance mode to make sure that your customers don't see a mess in the interim.

You want to make sure that you have a developer on to help you with that in case you know, it's a real big mess, so that you can get it into working shape as quickly as possible.

But I would suggest that you know, if you've been around this long, you know, this stencil went live in 2016.

So, you know you've been around since longer than that.

You know, maybe it's time to do something a little bit more custom.

Maybe it's time to talk to somebody like us.

And maybe this migration is an opportunity to say instead of just making a lateral move from a blueprint template to a stencil template.

What if we made our store look better in the meantime? By engaging somebody like me, too, or my team to, you know, either recode your site or do a little bit of a design, boost and recode your site.

The nice thing about doing that is while it will be more costly up front, you know, you're gonna end up with usually a better store overall, because you're going to have some of this little bit more designed.

And it also means that, you know, because we're developing it prior to, you know, flipping the switch to go to your set your new stencil template off of the marketplace, it means that we can actually code it and test it, and then again, make it go live once it's ready.

So I think it's a little bit more of an upgrade friendly path to do it that way.

You know, but either way, long story short, you're going to have to go away from your current template altogether.

And then recode on the new on the new stencil framework.

Now, if there's old functionality that needs to be brought forward, like maybe you had a custom script written bad news, it's probably got to be rewritten, at least partly rewritten.

So depending on how hairy that code was, you know, you may have, you may have some rework, and it is what it is.

So this is kind of what it takes to go from blueprint testing.

So I think the roughest path is just to flip it into, you know, a premade theme off the off the marketplace, because you can't really test it out in advance.

And one thing to note is that, if you flip the switch, to go away from your blueprint template, whether it's to, you know, a custom template, whether it's to a marketplace template, there is no going back sees so once you're not on blueprint Bigcommerce will not let you turn your blueprint theme on again.

So this is a one way flip.

That's important to know.

Let's see, what else should I say I, you know, that's about it, it's a, it's a good opportunity to recode your store, clean your codebase hopefully improve your design, it will probably cost you some money if you do it the right way.

But, you know, stencil is a much better framework, it's, it's faster, there's so much more that you can do with it.

You know, some of the apps that are out there right now aren't compatible with blueprints.

So, you know, bringing your store up to current and being on stencil is, you know, better and that way as well.

I mean, there's just, there's no reason not to do it, except for cost, I guess.

But, you know, you got to you got to put some, you know, effort in here and there.

So, if, if you're still a blueprint in, you know, 2021 2022 probably, it's probably time to do it, you know, so if you guys need a developer reach out to us.

And, you know, if you found this helpful, hit the like button.

My goal here was to, you know, have you guys understand a little bit about what the upgrade path looks like if you want to even call it a path.

But stencil's better so it's worth doing.

It's worth staying on the platform and it's worth being current.

So there's a little bit of a primer, be sure to join the community at joinecommercegrowth.com, and if you need help, if you need a developer to help you with this or anything else in your store.

Reach out to us at Epic design labs and we'll see if we're a fit.

We're always looking for new ways to help you guys out so let me know what you guys are stuck on.

Leave me a comment below the video and that might be the next video that I shoot for you guys.

And thank you so much.

I'll see you next time.