Magento theme development

Recently, I’ve started working on building a Magento theme as part of setting up a Magento store for a client. As this is the first time I’m working with Magento I run into a lot of issues that many newbies encounter. I’ll try to write up some stories about the things I ran into and how I solved them.

It’s easy enough to find general information about where to find the files used in a theme. However, once you get past that initial level, things get a lot harder. For instance, when you install Magento, you get these example banners on the homepage (the blackboard with “back to school” text). Sadly, it’s not possible to remove these through the CMS. These blocks are, for some reason, hardwired in the theme files.

From what I’ve understood, there’s two ways to remove them: either remove the phtml files that generate them, or create a file called local.xml and turn them off there. As the first solution requires that you edit files that are part of the default install, you might run the risk of the callouts returning after an upgrade. That’s why I went for solution two. This also has the added benefit of having the local.xml ready for more changes, which is very useful.

Here’s the relevant part of the Magento Wiki on how to remove the callouts.