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Squarespace Server vs Developer Mode


Baltha

Question

Site URL: http://localhost:9000

Hello! Diving into local Squarespace development and very confused about the territory.

TL;DR  - Do I need a premium account to be able to develop a template locally?

I used this guide: https://developers.squarespace.com/get-started
The script crashed on first run while trying set up an account, so I set one up through the browser instead. I then got as far as the local dev site running on localhost:9000, but browser requests crashing out with HTTP 500 "Unable to access this website." (Note that the guide above doesn't mention Developer Mode.)

As per the guide above I was using:

npm run start:auth

I next noticed that this guide https://developers.squarespace.com/local-development was using a different command, so I tried that:

squarespace-server [my url copied from browser] --auth

The site now kind of runs, off my locally cloned template, but is pulling no data, so I'm just seeing a blank page with the site title. Is it supposed to be pulling the data I can see by logging into my account through the browser, or is the reason that it is pulling no data that I need to activate Developer Mode, which in fact is a premium feature?

Is Developer Mode needed to develop a template from scratch?

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Hi Baltha,

I've recently jumped into Developer Mode myself and it took some time to understand how it all works. Let me try to shed some light on what you're dealing with...

I'm going to start with some assumptions - you've turned on the Developer Mode on your site and you've been able to properly install the squarespace-server with npm. It sounds like you've properly cloned the template git too, so you're off to a good start.

Here's what I didn't understand at first, the template and the server are 'separate entities'. By that I mean you have to think of it like the server is pulling data to stuff into your template. You can literally point the server at any domain and it will scrape the assets to stuff into the template that you're currently working in. It's actually pretty cool when you think about it.

You technically don't need to activate Developer Mode to have this work either. Developer Mode allows you to download the current template being used on your site. It also allows you to push changes you make to the template back up to the live site. But it doesn't need to be active in order for you to run the server and test local development. All you need is a proper template folder - which can be cloned via git, and a site that implements that template. If you point the server to a site that doesn't use the template, you will see a site that looks completely unformatted as the server doesn't know what to do with what data it has pulled.

squarespace-server https://your-site.squarespace.com

Note the 's' in the http protocol. That's important.

If you've run that within the template folder you cloned from your site, localhost:9000 should display your site as you would see it online. If not, something is up and I would refer to your browser console for more information.

You will likely not be able to develop a template from scratch. I'm under the impression that the template variations you see are modified base templates. That's why you'll see so many variations within the Brine Family. They are built on the same base. But Squarespace does not provide public access to build templates from the ground up.

I hope that helps a bit. Let me know if you have any questions.

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