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Everything You Need To Know About Development Stores


As a Shopify Developer, you need to be familiar with development stores. They are used for testing and installing your apps, providing example stores running your app, and for signing up clients to Shopify

In this article, we condensed everything you need to know about development stores into a step-by-step guide. We’ll walk through:

Make note of each section and keep this article handy, as it will be useful when you repeat or scale your development process.

Understanding development stores

A development store is a Shopify account that allows you to:

  • Install and test any apps that you create
  • Display an example store for your app listing page
  • Set up a store for a client
  • Test a custom theme you're building

As a Shopify Partner, you can create unlimited development stores, which you can access from your Partner Dashboard.

They’re free of charge, hold no time restrictions, and offer most of the same functionality as the Advanced Shopify plan. You can also process an unlimited number of test transactions using Shopify's Bogus Gateway. However, until you switch to a paid plan you can’t:

  • Process orders through an active payment provider
  • Install paid apps (except for a selection of partner-friendly apps)
  • Create more than 10 private apps
  • Remove the password page

When you are building a Shopify app, one of the first actions you'll need to take is to create a development store in order for there to be an environment where your app can be installed to. For example, if you are using the Shopify App CLI to create a Node.js or Rails app, you will be prompted to select a development store before the app project is generated. 

While you cannot remove the password on a development store, this password page won't be displayed for example stores linked on your Shopify App Store listing page. When a visitor clicks on the demo link in a listing, the password page will be automatically bypassed. You do not need to change any settings in the development store to enable this functionality.

“You must create a development store for any merchant you refer to Shopify to receive recurring revenue share.”

Additionally, it’s important to note that you must create a development store for any merchant you refer to Shopify to receive recurring revenue share. For the full details on what you can earn as a partner, consult our revenue share breakdown.

You might also like: How to Build a Shopify App: The Complete Guide.

Creating development stores

Having access to unlimited development stores means you can test, create, and explore as many test accounts as you’d like.

Here’s how to get started:

1. From your Shopify Partner Dashboard, click Stores.

2. On the Stores page, click the Add store button.

Development stores: Screenshot of the Stores page within the Partner Dashboard, showing four development stores and an arrow pointing to the button in the top right corner that says Add store.
From the Stores tab, click Add store.

3. For your store type, choose Development store.

Development stores: Screenshot of the Add store page within the Partner Dashboard, showing the option to select one of three store types: development store, managed store, or plus sandbox store
Choose Development store from the list of options.

4. Give your store a name, URL, password and purpose. 

5. When you’re done, click Save.

After it's created, you’ll be able to log into your new development store through the Stores tab in your Partner Dashboard. 

Now that you know how to create a development store, you can start building out your app.

Enhancing development store functionality

Developers can install a selection of apps in the Shopify App Store onto development stores. All Shopify Partners get access to our collection of Partner-friendly apps, which incur no cost when being tested in development stores. The paid apps on this list only start charging once the development store is switched over to a paying plan. 

If you already have an app in the Shopify App Store, and you'd like it to be available for free on development stores, then you can submit this form to request that your app is added to the partner-friendly collection.

Keep in mind that if you want to install non-partner-friendly apps, you will need to transfer your development store to a paid plan. 

Here’s how to install apps onto a development store:

1. From the Shopify App Store, click on the app you’d like to add.

2. Click on the Add app button.

3. Enter your store’s address to authenticate the app.

4. Confirm the installation of the app.

5. Start using the app.

You might also like: Tips for Creating Effective Technical Documentation for Your Shopify App.

Developer preview stores

When you create a development store, you have the option to enable a developer preview. A developer preview gives you early access to new features of Shopify so that you can build and test your apps against upcoming features before they're released to merchants.

A development store with a developer preview enabled includes all the features that are available on the Advanced Shopify plan, but the store can't be transferred to another owner or transitioned to a paid plan. To learn more about developer previews, and the specific versions that are available, check out our developer documentation

Transferring store ownership

If you're setting up a store for a client, you'll want to know how to hand over the reins when you've finished building and designing their store. 

This is the exciting part, as your clients are now ready to get up and running — all that’s left for you to do is transfer store ownership in a few simple steps:

1. Log into your Partner Dashboard, and click Stores.

2. Click Actions and select Transfer ownership beside the store that you want to transfer.

3. On the Transfer store ownership dialog, select the new owner from the list of eligible new owners. If you haven't added your client as a staff member yet, then click Add a staff account and create a new account for your client before you continue.

Development stores: Screenshot of the Demo development store page within the Partner Dashboard, showing a modal box prompting the users to Transfer Demo development store ownership by choosing a new owner
Transfer ownership of your development store.

4. When you're done, click Transfer store. The new owner receives an email with instructions to create the account and select a plan. Until your client accepts the transfer, the store is paused

After the client begins paying for a Shopify plan, a collaborator account is automatically created and you start to receive your monthly recurring revenue share.

Learn more about collaborator accounts

For a full understanding of collaborator accounts and how they're different from development stores, please visit our blog post Everything You Need to Know About Collaborator Accounts.

Visit post

Archiving development stores

You can also archive development stores that you’re no longer working on. After you archive a store, you can unarchive it later if you want to continue working on it.

To archive a development store:

1. From your Partner Dashboard, click Stores.

2. Click the name of the development store that you want to archive.

3. Click Archive.

Unarchive a development store

If you need to restore a development store that you've archived, then you can unarchive it.

To unarchive a development store:

1. From your Partner Dashboard, click Stores.

2. Click Filter, and select Archived.

3. Search for the store you would like to unarchive, and click on it.

4. Click Unarchive.

Build apps for Shopify merchants

Whether you want to build apps for the Shopify App Store, offer custom app development services, or are looking for ways to grow your user base, the Shopify Partner Program will set you up for success. Join for free and access educational resources, developer preview environments, and recurring revenue share opportunities.

Sign up

Get up and running with development stores

We’ve covered everything you need to know to help you and your team get started.

Development stores are the perfect test environment for your app projects, without the limitation of a 14-day trial. You'll also want to ensure you use them when building and referring client stores to receive revenue share.

If you need more information, check our in-depth developer documentation as well as the community forums.

Special thanks to our friends at the Shopify Partner Blog for their insights on this topic.
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