View customization allows you to extend or replace any view within a Spree store. This guide explains the options available, including:

  • Using Deface for view customization
  • Replacing entire view templates

Using Deface

Deface is a standalone Rails library that enables you to customize Erb templates without needing to directly edit the underlying view file. Deface allows you to use standard CSS3 style selectors to target any element (including Ruby blocks), and perform an action against all the matching elements.

For example, take the Checkout Registration template, which looks like this:

<%= render 'spree/shared/error_messages', :target => user %>
<h2><%= Spree.t(:registration) %></h2>
<div id="registration" data-hook>
  <div id="account" class="columns alpha eight">
    <!-- TODO: add partial with registration form -->
  <% if Spree::Config[:allow_guest_checkout] %>
    <div id="guest_checkout" data-hook class="columns omega eight">
      <%= render 'spree/shared/error_messages', :target => order %>

      <h2><%= Spree.t(:guest_user_account) %></h2>

      <%= form_for order, :url => update_checkout_registration_path, :method => :put, :html => { :id => 'checkout_form_registration' } do |f| %>
          <%= f.label :email, Spree.t(:email) %><br />
          <%= f.email_field :email, :class => 'title' %>
        <p><%= f.submit Spree.t(:continue), :class => 'button primary' %></p>
      <% end %>
  <% end %>

If you wanted to insert some code just before the +#registration+ div on the page you would define an override as follows:

Deface::Override.new(:virtual_path  => "spree/checkout/registration",
                     :insert_before => "div#registration",
                     :text          => "<p>Registration is the future!</p>",
                     :name          => "registration_future")

This override inserts <p>Registration is the future!</p> before the div with the id of “registration”.

Available actions

Deface applies an action to element(s) matching the supplied CSS selector. These actions are passed when defining a new override are supplied as the key while the CSS selector for the target element(s) is the value, for example:

:remove => “p.junk”

:insert_after => “div#wow p.header”

:insert_bottom => “ul#giant-list”

Deface currently supports the following actions:

  • :remove - Removes all elements that match the supplied selector
  • :replace - Replaces all elements that match the supplied selector, with the content supplied
  • :replace_contents - Replaces the contents of all elements that match the supplied selector
  • :surround - Surrounds all elements that match the supplied selector, expects replacement markup to contain <%= render_original %> placeholder
  • :surround_contents - Surrounds the contents of all elements that match the supplied selector, expects replacement markup to contain <%= render_original %> placeholder
  • :insert_after - Inserts after all elements that match the supplied selector
  • :insert_before - Inserts before all elements that match the supplied selector
  • :insert_top - Inserts inside all elements that match the supplied selector, as the first child
  • :insert_bottom - Inserts inside all elements that match the supplied selector, as the last child
  • :set_attributes - Sets attributes on all elements that match the supplied selector, replacing existing attribute value if present or adding if not. Expects :attributes option to be passed.
  • :add_to_attributes - Appends value to attributes on all elements that match the supplied selector, adds attribute if not present. Expects :attributes option to be passed.
  • :remove_from_attributes - Removes value from attributes on all elements that match the supplied selector. Expects :attributes option to be passed.

Not all actions are applicable to all elements. For example, :insert_top and :insert_bottom expects a parent element with children.

Supplying content

Deface supports three options for supplying content to be used by an override:

  • :text - String containing markup
  • :partial - Relative path to a partial
  • :template - Relative path to a template

As Deface operates on the Erb source the content supplied to an override can include Erb, it is not limited to just HTML. You also have access to all variables accessible in the original Erb context.

Targeting elements

While Deface allows you to use a large subset of CSS3 style selectors (as provided by Nokogiri), the majority of Spree’s views have been updated to include a custom HTML attribute (data-hook), which is designed to provide consistent targets for your overrides to use.

As Spree views are changed over coming versions, the original HTML elements maybe edited or be removed. We will endeavour to ensure that data-hook / id combination will remain consistent within any single view file (where possible), thus making your overrides more robust and upgrade proof.

For example, spree/products/show.html.erb looks as follows:

<div data-hook="product_show" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
  <% body_id = 'product-details %>
  <div class="columns six alpha" data-hook="product_left_part">
    <div class="row" data-hook="product_left_part_wrap">
      <div id="product-images" data-hook="product_images">
        <div id="main-image" data-hook>
          <%= render 'image' %>

        <div id="thumbnails" data-hook>
          <%= render 'thumbnails', :product => product %>

      <div data-hook="product_properties">
        <%= render 'properties' %>


  <div class="columns ten omega" data-hook="product_right_part">
    <div class="row" data-hook="product_right_part_wrap">

      <div id="product-description" data-hook="product_description">

        <h1 class="product-title" itemprop="name"><%= accurate_title %></h1>

        <div itemprop="description" data-hook="description">
          <%= product_description(product) rescue Spree.t(:product_has_no_description) %>

        <div id="cart-form" data-hook="cart_form">
          <%= render 'cart_form' %>

      <%= render 'taxons' %>

As you can see from the example above the data-hook can be present in a number of ways:

  • On elements with no id attribute the data-hook attribute contains a value similar to what would be included in the id attribute.
  • On elements with an id attribute the data-hook attribute does not normally contain a value.
  • Occasionally on elements with an id attribute the data-hook will contain a value different from the elements id. This is generally to support migration from the old 0.60.x style of hooks, where the old hook names were converted into data-hook versions.

The suggested way to target an element is to use the data-hook attribute wherever possible. Here are a few examples based on products/show.html.erb above:

:replace => "[data-hook='product_show']"

:insert_top => "#thumbnails[data-hook]"

:remove => "[data-hook='cart_form']"

You can also use a combination of both styles of selectors in a single override to ensure maximum protection against changes:

 :insert_top => "[data-hook='thumbnails'], #thumbnails[data-hook]"

Targeting ruby blocks

Deface evaluates all the selectors passed against the original erb view contents (and importantly not against the finished / generated HTML). In order for Deface to make ruby blocks contained in a view parseable they are converted into a pseudo markup as follows.

Version 1.0 of Deface, used in Spree 2.1, changed the code tag syntax. Formerly code tags were parsed as <code erb-loud> and <code erb-silent>. They are now parsed as <erb loud> and <erb silent>. Deface overrides which used selectors like code[erb-loud] should now use erb[loud].

Given the following Erb file:

<% if products.empty? %>
 <%= Spree.t(:no_products_found) %>
<% elsif params.key?(:keywords) %>
  <h3><%= Spree.t(:products) %></h3>
<% end %>

Would be seen by Deface as:

  <erb[silent]> if products.empty? </erb>
  <erb[loud]> Spree.t(:no_products_found) </erb>
  <erb[silent]> elsif params.key?(:keywords) </erb>

  <h3><erb[loud]> Spree.t(:products) </erb></h3>

  <erb[silent]> end </erb>

So you can target ruby code blocks with the same standard CSS3 style selectors, for example:

 :replace => "erb[loud]:contains('t(:products)')"

:insert_before => "erb[silent]:contains('elsif')"

View upgrade protection

To ensure upgrading between versions of Spree is as painless as possible, Deface supports an :original option that can contain a string of the original content that’s being replaced. When Deface is applying the override it will ensure that the current source matches the value supplied and will output to the Rails application log if they are different.

These warnings are a good indicator that you need to review the source and ensure your replacement is adequately replacing all the functionality provided by Spree. This will help reduce unexpected issues after upgrades.

Once you’ve reviewed the new source you can update the :original value to new source to clear the warning.

Deface removes all whitespace from both the actual and :original source values before comparing, to reduce false warnings caused by basic whitespace differences.

Organizing Overrides

The suggested method for organizing your overrides is to create a separate file for each override inside the app/overrides directory, naming each file the same as the :name specified within.

Using this method will ensure your overrides are compatible with future theming developments (editor).

More information on Deface

For more information and sample overrides please refer to its README file on GitHub.

You can also see how Deface internals work, and test selectors using the Deface Test Harness application.

Template Replacements

Sometimes the customization required to a view are so substantial that using a Deface override seems impractical. Spree also supports the duplication of views within an application or extension that will completely replace the file of the same name in Spree.

To override any of Spree’s default views including those for the admin interface, simply create a file with the same filename in your app/views directory.

For example, to override the main layout, create the file YOUR_SITE_OR_EXTENSION/app/views/spree/layouts/spree_application.html.erb

It’s important to ensure you copy the correct version of a view into your application or extension, as copying a mismatched version could lead to hard to debug issues. We suggest using bundle show spree to get the location of the Spree code you’re actually running and then copying the relevant file from there.

Drawbacks of template replacements

Whenever you copy an entire view into your extension or application you are adding a significant maintenance overhead to your application when it comes to upgrading to newer versions of Spree. When upgrading between versions you need to compare each template that’s been replaced to ensure to replicate any changes from the newer Spree version in your locally copied version.

To this end we strongly suggest you use Deface to achieve the desired customizations wherever possible.