Dugway Save

Easily build and test Big Cartel themes.

Project README


The easy way to build Big Cartel themes.

Dugway allows you to run your Big Cartel theme on your computer, test it in any browser, write code in your favorite editor, and use tools like CoffeeScript, Sass, and LESS.

View Dugway on RubyGems.org


Dugway is used internally by Big Cartel to develop our themes, and only we are able to modify a theme's settings.json file, host a theme's assets, and upload a fully packaged theme zip. You're free to use Dugway to develop a custom theme, or modify one of our default themes, but you'll need to base your settings.json on one of our default themes, host images, fonts, and JavaScript assets separately, and copy/paste theme pages individually in the Big Cartel admin.


Install Ruby

Dugway is Ruby gem so you'll need to have Ruby installed. Ruby is usually pre-installed on Mac OS X and Linux, and Windows users can install it using RubyInstaller.

Supported Ruby versions:

  • 2.3
  • 2.4
  • 2.5
  • 2.6
  • 2.7

Install Dugway

From there, simply install the dugway gem from the terminal.

gem install dugway

Creating a new theme

With Dugway installed, you can now create a new theme, simply give it a name.

dugway create mytheme

This will create a new directory named mytheme that contains a few configuration files and a starter theme to get you going.

├── source
|   ├── fonts
│   │   └── all font files for your theme
│   ├── images
│   │   └── all image files for your theme
│   ├── javascripts
│   │   └── all JavaScript files for your theme
│   ├── stylesheets
│   │   └── all CSS files for your theme
│   ├── cart.html
│   ├── contact.html
│   ├── home.html
│   ├── layout.html
│   ├── maintenance.html
│   ├── product.html
│   ├── products.html
│   ├── screenshot.jpg
│   ├── settings.json
│   ├── theme.css
│   └── theme.js
└── config.ru

Developing your theme

All of the assets and source code for your theme goes in the source directory.


Develop the HTML for your theme using our Theme API. Barebones versions of all of the required HTML pages for your theme are provided by default, so feel free to expand on those or replace them entirely.

CSS & JavaScript

All CSS for your theme is handled by the theme.css file, and all JavaScript by theme.js. If you don't have much CSS or JavaScript, or you're just a glutton for punishment, you could simply put all of your code in these two files. However, we recommend you use Sprockets to break your code into multiple files in separate directories.

Using Sprockets

Sprockets allows you to bring in CSS and JavaScript from different directories into a single file. We've created stylesheets and javascripts directories by default that you can put your code in, but you could delete those and put files anywhere you'd like. After that, use Sprockets directives to package them into theme.css and theme.js.

 *= require stylesheets/example_1
 *= require stylesheets/example_2
//= require javascripts/example_1
//= require javascripts/example_2

Using Sass, Compass, LESS, and CoffeeScript

Dugway also allows you to use Sass in your separate files by appending the .sass or .scss extension after .css. You can even use Compass right out of the box to help author your stylesheets by utilizing its mixins for CSS3, typography, and its utilities.

And finally, for you JavaScript folks, we've baked CoffeeScript support right in. Just append the .coffee extension after .js to your separate JS files.

Embedding CSS & JavaScript

You can embed the CSS and JavaScript into your theme by passing the theme variable to the theme_css_url and theme_js_url filters.

CSS (theme.css)
<link href="{{ theme | theme_css_url }}" media="screen" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
JavaScript (theme.js)
<script src="{{ theme | theme_js_url }}" type="text/javascript"></script>


And as you've probably guessed by now, all images for your theme go in the images directory. You can reference an image in your code by passing its name to the theme_image_url filter.

{{ 'sample.png' | theme_image_url }}


Fonts work more or less the same as images. Place font files (say if you have created a custom icon font) in the fonts directory. Reference them by passing its name to the theme_font_url filter. Please be aware of licensing restrictions. If you're using a font from a forge and don't have permission to host the files directly or have restrictions about only making them available to certain domains, you will need to use another mechanism for hosting your fonts. Any font uploaded as part of a Dugway bundle will essentialy be publicly available and not CORS-restricted to specific domains.

{{ 'myfont.woff' | theme_font_url }}

Running your theme

Run your theme in any browser by starting the Dugway server:

dugway server

By default this will serve your theme at You can then stop the server by hitting CTRL+C.

Testing your theme

Part of building a great theme is making sure it works well in a variety of contexts and with a variety of content. Dugway makes it easy to test your theme's versatility by utilizing the .dugway.json file. This file will be specific to your computer for your own testing, and shouldn't be checked into source control.

Note: changing .dugway.json will require you to restart the server.

Store content

The best way to see your theme under a different light is by previewing it with a different store's products, categories, pages, currency, and other content. To do this, simply set the store.subdomain variable in .dugway.json to any Big Cartel store's subdomain, and Dugway will bring in their content using the standard Big Cartel API. By default we use dugway for dugway.bigcartel.com.

"store": {
  "subdomain": "beeteeth"

Note: don't worry, any sensitive data like inventory levels and discount codes is faked by Dugway.

Store customization

Another important thing to consider is how store owners will customize your theme. You establish what can be customized in your settings.json file, and Dugway allows you to simulate potential values people could choose by setting them in the customization variable in .dugway.json. By default we use the default values from your settings.json file.

"customization": {
  "logo": {
    "url": "http://placehold.it/200x50/000000/ffffff&text=My+Logo",
    "width": 200,
    "height": 50
  "background_color": "#CCCCCC",
  "show_search": true,
  "twitter_username": "bigcartel"
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