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Lightweight Social Buttons


Provide social buttons with (almost) no additional server load.

This post shows how to implement a set of prominent buttons, allowing a shop visitor to post / tweet / email the given shop page on their favorite social network. It’s done without an additional module, leveraging Merchant’s Edition’s capability to serve custom CSS and custom JavaScript.

By Markus “Traumflug” Hitter

Alternatives

Let’s first have a look at what else exists for providing social buttons:

  • There are services like addthis.com, which do everything by just inserting a single line of HTML. However, this requires subscribing to their services. Another, bigger caveat is, these services load a ton of additional resources at runtime, slowing down loading each shop page noticeably.
  • There’s module socialsharing, which behaves pretty well regarding page load time. Only caveat here is, this module places these buttons on product pages, only, at a fixed place. Changing this requires hacking PHP (which we want to avoid here).

The Lightweight Approach

Here we’ll take an approach using only features provided by Merchant’s Edition anyways. It requires a few lines of JavaScript, yet no loading of additional remote resources.

Providing HTML

A fairly simple way to insert HTML into shop pages is to use module HTML Block, which comes with Merchant’s Edition by default:

  • Go to back office -> HTML Block.
  • Click on Add new block in the toolbar there (near upper right corner).
  • On the upcoming page, in field Block Name, enter a name for this block. Actual name doesn’t matter.
  • At the field Content, click on the Source code button. That’s usually the leftmost one and has an icon looking similar to </>.
  • Insert this HTML:
    <div id="htmlblock-social">
      <div class="facebook">
        <a title="Share this on Facebook" role="button" target="_blank">
          .<i class="icon-facebook">.</i>
        </a>
      </div>
      <div class="twitter">
        <a title="Share this on Twitter" role="button" target="_blank">
          .<i class="icon-twitter">.</i>
        </a>
      </div>
      <div class="pinterest">
        <a title="Share this on Pinterest" role="button" target="_blank">
          .<i class="icon-pinterest">.</i>
        </a>
      </div>
      <div class="email">
        <a title="Send this by Email" role="button">
          .<i class="icon-envelope">.</i>
        </a>
      </div>
    </div>
    
  • Click on OK in the source code dialog to close it.
  • If your shop provides multiple languages, switch to each language of this field and insert the same HTML. The string after title= is subject for translation, everything else should stay unchanged.
  • In field Hook, select Footer.

At this point, the HTML block is sufficiently defined, ready for saving and should look like this:

HTML Block ready for saving

If you think seeing just a couple of dots as content looks odd, please look up expert notes below.

In any case, save this block. This part is done.

Providing CSS

Inserting CSS into shop pages is even easier:

  • Go to back office -> Preferences -> Custom Code.
  • Find the field labeled Add extra css to your pages and insert this CSS (without comments, if you want):
    #htmlblock-social {
      /* Fix buttons on the viewport, don't scroll them. */
      position: fixed;
      /* Where to place these buttons, from the top. */
      top: 35%;
      left: 0;
      /* Not much wider than a single button, to align them vertically. */
      width: 50px;
    }
    #htmlblock-social div {
      /* Size buttons and icons here. */
      width: 48px;
      transition: 0.2s;
      height: 48px;
      text-align: center;
      font-size: 25px;
      line-height: 48px;
    }
    #htmlblock-social div:hover, #htmlblock-social div:active {
      /* Highlight the button on hover by widening it. */
      width: 64px;
      transition: 0.2s;
    }
    #htmlblock-social div a {
      /* Hide these dots. */
      color: transparent;
    }
    #htmlblock-social div a:hover {
      /* Hide these dots on hover as well. */
      color: transparent;
    }
    #htmlblock-social div i::before {
      /* Icon color. */
      color: white;
    }
    #htmlblock-social .facebook {
      /* Facebook color as background for the facebook button. */
      background-color: rgb(59, 89, 152);
    }
    #htmlblock-social .twitter {
      /* Twitter color as background for ... */
      background-color: rgb(29, 161, 242);
    }
    #htmlblock-social .pinterest {
      background-color: rgb(203, 32, 39);
    }
    #htmlblock-social .email {
      background-color: rgb(132, 132, 132);
    }
    

Providing JavaScript

Inserting JavaScript into shop pages works the same way as inserting CSS:

  • Go to back office -> Preferences -> Custom Code.
  • Find the field labeled Add extra JavaScript to your pages and insert this JavaScript (without comments, if you want):
    /* Some code to extract relevant content from the current page. */
    let htmlblockSocial = document.getElementById('htmlblock-social');
    let htmlblockSocialURL = encodeURIComponent(document.location);
    let htmlblockSocialTitle = encodeURIComponent(document.title);
    let htmlblockSocialMedia = '';
    let htmlblockSocialMetas = document.getElementsByTagName('meta');
    for (let i = 0; i < htmlblockSocialMetas.length; i++) {
      if (htmlblockSocialMetas[i].getAttribute('property') === 'og:image') {
        htmlblockSocialMedia = htmlblockSocialMetas[i].getAttribute('content');
        break;
      }
    }
    htmlblockSocialMedia = encodeURIComponent(htmlblockSocialMedia);
    
    /* Assemble links for each social network with this found content. */
    htmlblockSocial.querySelector('.facebook a').href =
        'https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php'
        + '?u=' + htmlblockSocialURL;
    htmlblockSocial.querySelector('.twitter a').href =
        'https://twitter.com/intent/tweet'
        + '?text=' + htmlblockSocialTitle
        + '&url=' + htmlblockSocialURL;
    htmlblockSocial.querySelector('.pinterest a').href =
        'https://www.pinterest.de/pin/create/button/'
        + '?media=' + htmlblockSocialMedia
        + '&url=' + htmlblockSocialURL;
    htmlblockSocial.querySelector('.email a').href =
        'mailto:'
        + '?subject=' + htmlblockSocialTitle
        + '&body=' + htmlblockSocialTitle + ':%20' + htmlblockSocialURL;
    
    /* Move buttons right to the document root. Some themes require this. */
    document.body.appendChild(htmlblockSocial);
    

Final steps

Click Save on the Custom Code page.

That’s it.

Viewing the result

Do what a visitor would do: go to front office and load a page.

That’s how these buttons look with theme Niara:

Social buttons in front office

Expert Notes

Regarding the used HTML:

  • Why shows the rendered HTML just a couple of dots?

    Well, there’s no need for HTML content. All visible content (icons) is provided by CSS.

  • Why are there dots anyways?

    Without the right dot in each line, the HTML editor used by module HTML Block would delete the entire <i> element. The left dot serves as counterweight, keeping icons centered by CSS still centered.

  • Why to these <a> elements have no href?

    As one can see in the given JavaScript, these hrefs get added there, depending on page content. hrefs added in HTML would be overwritten.

Regarding the used JavaScript:

  • Why JavaScript at all?

    Key here is to have links containing not generic stuff about the shop, but content actually related to the current page.

Troubleshooting:

  • Icons don’t show up at all!

    These icons come with FontAwesome. Some themes define them not with CSS classes like icon-twitter, but with classes like fa fa-twitter. Likewise for the other social networks. Adjust classes in the custom CSS chunk accordingly.

  • My favorite network isn’t there. How to add it?

    Adding another network requires additions to all three sections, HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Easiest way is probably to duplicate each section of one of the provided networks, then to replace the network name and adjust link assembly in JavaScript. Good hints on link assembly are social generators like Share Link Creator. Authoritative for each network is their developer documentation, of course.

Thanks to …

Research for this strategy was paid by Librarie Z Bookstore. Thank you very much!

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