The variety of Shopware's extension interfaces can be overwhelming, so let's start with a simple overview comparing the three approaches Plugins, Themes and Apps.
Plugins are the most powerful extension mechanism as they can be used to extend, overwrite and modify almost any part of the software. At the same time, obviously, they can also be the most harmful for the same reasons. If you make profound changes or complex functionalities such as e.g
- Custom price calculation
- Product imports
- Custom Content/Products
- Connecting 3P identity providers
- Dynamic validations
- Customer tracking
A theme lets you perform the tasks listed below.
- Template overrides
- Custom styles
- Configuration interfaces
- Control the order in which styles and templates are loaded
Technically, plugins and themes are very similar and overlap in most of their logic. However, some special aspects are handled differently, such as template and style priority or their activation. Once plugins are installed and activated, their styles and templates are applied immediately. If a theme is installed, it must first be selected in the theme manager.
Operation in cloud environments is not possible due to the aspects listed under Plugins. Therefore, a different, less intrusive pattern was introduced. Apps enable event-based integrations that communicate with external services via a synchronous API.
Most of the app's logic resides in this third-party service, so developers must ensure that they handle the details of the API and provide their service with appropriate security, protection, and reliability. While it comes with these responsibilities, you are free to choose which operating environment, framework or programming language you wish to use as long as our guidelines for Shopware apps are followed.