All About Magento Layouts

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Layouts can be deceiving! Do the layouts make you feel you need to have perfect knowledge of coding? Is that why you don’t feel like building eCommerce shops on Magento? Well, frankly Magento does that to everyone. But, reality is slightly different. With Magento, you just need knowledge of XML codes and, there you can create different customized layouts.

The Layout: Anatomy

There are two segments to layouts in Magento: Default layout and the layout updates. Now you need to create blocks (structural/content) or, you wish to customize functionalities, you just need to play around this layout. Use XML codes to your advantage and, create utterly beautiful layouts. Now, you need to understand that layouts are module based.

So, if you wish to create changes in a particular module then you need to create customized codes for their layouts. Interesting right! Simply put this means, if you wish to make changes to your catalog, open the catalog module layout and, make the necessary changes using XML codes.

The various segments to the layout include handle, block, and reference. Let’s try to understand each one of these in detail.

Handle

Handle is used to identify where the updates are to be made. For example if you wish to make changes in the default layout, the handle for default layout would be used for the necessary updates. But, if you wish to change a particular module, then the handle for that layout would be taken into account.

Block

How can you judge the behavior and visual representation of your shopping website? Well that’s where the feature of block comes to your help. The structural and content blocks are two main facilities that help you behave as designers for your website. These blocks are segregated with the help of attributes.

A deeper look at the attributes will help you understand how. Type attribute is generally used to identify the modules and should not be modified. Name can be modified as you want to name it. You can position your content blocks within the structural blocks using before and after attributes. Which template will help define the functionality of your block is determined using the template block.

You can code the store front functionalities like loading and unloading using action. Basically all store front activities are taken care by this attribute.

Reference

If you wish to refer to other blocks on your layout, you can do so using this. You should mention the target block in this reference to which you wish to make the necessary changes.

Using the Layout

When you begin developing your shopping website using layout files, you will find many XML files lying beneath this default layout. The two major types that you should look out for is the frontend and the backend layout files. Now that you have a default layout, you just need to add on customization to your layouts. See, the brighter side is you don’t need to make layouts from the scratch. Now, Magento begins by identifying handles and, the default handle is where it begins.

How Magento is Rendering Layout?

The final layout is created when all the necessary and relevant handles are merged. Once this final layout is created, the next step includes rendering the web page. Magento begins its rendering process from a block that’s named root. The functions within this block allows loading of sub blocks. Now all the sub blocks within a block, when defined, will be rendered by Magento. When this block gets called, the sub blocks defined will get called along. In this way Magento renders its blocks.

Adding New Files: Method

If you wish to add a new layout file or, a new template file, you can do so using Magento layouts. Here’s how you can add new files using this platform. Remember, you just need to make use of basic XML codes for creating whatever it is you wish to.

All you need to do is create simple logic using strings. You can even revive dynamic content from any block in the Magento layout codes. You don’t need to modify the existing templates. You can create new Magento templates that you need.

So, now that you are aware of the various features and, the way XML codes are used on Magento layout, it is going to be easy for you. So, try getting a brand new design appearance for your Magento based shopping cart.

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