Developing Custom Shopify Apps: A Comprehensive Guide

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Developing Custom Shopify Apps: A Comprehensive Guide

Developing Custom Shopify

Developing Custom Shopify

Developing Custom Shopify Apps: A Comprehensive Guide


Shopify apps are essential tools that can extend the functionality of Shopify stores, providing custom solutions to meet unique business needs. Whether you’re looking to add new features, integrate third-party services, or optimize store performance, building a custom Shopify app can be a game-changer. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of developing a custom Shopify app from scratch, covering everything from setup to deployment.

1. Understanding Shopify App Types

Before diving into development, it’s crucial to understand the different types of Shopify apps:

  • Public Apps: Available on the Shopify App Store for any merchant to install.
  • Custom Apps: Built for a specific merchant and not listed on the Shopify App Store.
  • Private Apps: Used internally by a single store or developer, often for custom integrations.

For this guide, we’ll focus on building a custom app that meets specific merchant requirements.

2. Setting Up Your Development Environment


  • Knowledge of JavaScript or Ruby (depending on the app framework).
  • Familiarity with RESTful APIs and web development concepts.

Tools Needed:

  • Shopify Partner Account: Sign up at Shopify Partners.
  • Shopify CLI: Command Line Interface for Shopify app development.
  • ngrok: Tool to expose local servers to the internet securely.
  • Node.js: JavaScript runtime for building server-side applications.
  • Express.js: Web framework for Node.js.


  1. Create a Shopify Partner Account:
  2. Install Shopify CLI:
    • Open your terminal.
    • Install Shopify CLI using npm:

      npm install -g @shopify/cli
    • Authenticate Shopify CLI with your Shopify Partner account:

      shopify login
  3. Set Up ngrok:
    • Download and install ngrok from
    • Authenticate ngrok:

      ngrok authtoken YOUR_AUTH_TOKEN

3. Creating a New Shopify App

Step 1: Initialize Your App

  1. Use Shopify CLI to create a new app:

    shopify app create node

    Follow the prompts to configure your app.

Step 2: Install Dependencies

  1. Navigate to your app directory:

    cd your-app-name
  2. Install the required dependencies:

    npm install

Step 3: Set Up ngrok

  1. Start ngrok to create a secure tunnel to your local server:

    ngrok http 3000
  2. Note the HTTPS URL provided by ngrok (e.g.,

4. Configuring Your Shopify App

Step 1: Update App Configuration

  1. Open your app’s .env file.
  2. Update the SHOPIFY_API_KEY, SHOPIFY_API_SECRET, and SHOPIFY_SCOPES with your app credentials and desired scopes.
  3. Set the HOST to the ngrok URL from the previous step.

Step 2: Create a Shopify App in the Partner Dashboard

  1. Log in to your Shopify Partner Dashboard.
  2. Navigate to “Apps” and click “Create app”.
  3. Fill in the app details and set the app URL to your ngrok URL.
  4. Save the app and copy the API key and secret.

5. Building the App Functionality

Step 1: Set Up Authentication

  1. Open server.js and configure the authentication routes:

    const { Shopify } = require('@shopify/shopify-api');
    API_KEY: process.env.SHOPIFY_API_KEY,
    SCOPES: process.env.SHOPIFY_SCOPES.split(','),
    HOST_NAME: process.env.HOST.replace(/https?:\/\//, ''),
    IS_EMBEDDED_APP: true,
    API_VERSION: ApiVersion.April21,
    SESSION_STORAGE: new Shopify.Session.MemorySessionStorage(),
  2. Add routes to handle OAuth and store access tokens:

    app.get('/auth', async (req, res) => {
    let authRoute = await Shopify.Auth.beginAuth(
    return res.redirect(authRoute);

    app.get('/auth/callback', async (req, res) => {
    try {
    const session = await Shopify.Auth.validateAuthCallback(
    const accessToken = session.accessToken;
    const shop =;
    // Store access token and shop details in your database
    } catch (error) {

Step 2: Create Shopify API Routes

  1. Define routes to interact with Shopify’s API:

    app.get('/api/products', async (req, res) => {
    const session = await Shopify.Utils.loadCurrentSession(req, res);
    const client = new Shopify.Clients.Rest(, session.accessToken);
    const products = await client.get({
    path: 'products',

Step 3: Develop Frontend Interface

  1. Use a frontend framework (e.g., React) to build your app’s interface.
  2. Set up a new React project within your app directory and install Shopify Polaris for UI components:

    npx create-react-app frontend
    cd frontend
    npm install @shopify/polaris
  3. Create a simple product listing page:

    import { useEffect, useState } from 'react';
    import { Page, Card, ResourceList, TextStyle } from '@shopify/polaris';

    function ProductsPage() {
    const [products, setProducts] = useState([]);

    useEffect(() => {
    .then((response) => response.json())
    .then((data) => setProducts(data.products));
    }, []);

    return (
    <Page title="Products">
    renderItem={(item) =>
    <ResourceList.Item id={}>
    <TextStyle variation="strong">{item.title}</TextStyle>


    export default ProductsPage;

Step 4: Integrate Frontend with Backend

  1. Serve the React frontend from your Express server by updating server.js:

    const path = require('path');
    app.use(express.static(path.join(__dirname, 'frontend/build')));

    app.get('*', (req, res) => {
    res.sendFile(path.resolve(__dirname, 'frontend', 'build', 'index.html'));

6. Testing Your Shopify App

  1. Ensure your app is running locally:

    npm run dev
  2. Install your app on your development store through the Partner Dashboard.
  3. Access your app from the Shopify admin and test the functionality.

Debugging Tips:

  • Use console.log to output values and debug issues.
  • Monitor network requests in your browser’s developer tools.

7. Deploying Your Shopify App

Step 1: Choose a Hosting Provider

  1. Select a hosting provider such as Heroku, AWS, or DigitalOcean.
  2. Follow the provider’s instructions to deploy your Node.js application.

Step 2: Update App URL in Partner Dashboard

  1. Log in to your Shopify Partner Dashboard.
  2. Update the app URL to your live server URL.

Step 3: Secure Your App

  1. Implement HTTPS using SSL certificates.
  2. Follow best practices for securing API keys and sensitive data.


Developing a custom Shopify app from scratch involves setting up your development environment, creating the app with necessary configurations, building backend functionality, developing a frontend interface, and finally deploying and securing the app. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ve learned how to create a robust and functional Shopify app that can enhance the capabilities of any Shopify store. Continue exploring Shopify’s API documentation and developer resources to expand your app’s features and optimize its performance. Happy coding!


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