The Squarespace Developer Platform gives complete access to the underlying code of your site's template. Some of the world's top brands, artists, and creative agencies trust the Squarespace Developer Platform to run their websites.
Under your Advanced Settings, you’ll see the option to enable Developer Mode. This places your site on the Developer Platform. However, you should only enable it with certain coding knowledge and only if you need it. This FAQ is for customers of the regular Squarespace platform who are interested in learning more about Squarespace for developers.
The Developer Platform is a Premium feature available in Business and Commerce plans.
Tip: If you’re already using the Developer Platform, visit our Developer Docs at developers.squarespace.com.
What is the Developer Platform?
While the majority of Squarespace customers use our built-in templates to design sites without coding knowledge, some advanced users need more flexibility. We created the Developer Platform so developers and design agencies could modify our existing templates and even create templates from scratch.
By enabling Developer Mode, you’ll get:
- A JSON API to output content from the CMS for use in the developer environment.
- Complete access to your template's markup, style sheets, scripts, and template design assets.
- Ability to use and modify the Base Template.
- Access to use (but not modify) our existing editing tools, like blocks.
To learn more, visit developers.squarespace.com.
Why would I need the Developer Platform if I’m not using it yet?
If you have a site on a built-in Squarespace template and don’t have coding knowledge, you probably don’t need the Developer Platform and won’t need to enable Developer Mode.
The only reason to switch to the Developer Platform is if your template doesn’t do something you want it to do and there’s no other option than to code the function yourself. The Developer Platform is best for advanced developers, typically those who create custom websites for others.
What do I need before getting started?
HTML, LESS CSS and JSONT
An SFTP client and a plain text editor of your choice.
- You'll upload template files via SFTP or Git. For SFTP clients, we recommend Cyberduck or FileZilla. Dreamweaver isn't compatible with the Developer Platform.
- For plain text editors, we recommend Sublime Text, Coda, or Atom.
The right billing plan
The Developer Platform is available in these plans:
- Legacy Website Personal
- Website Business
- Website Commerce (no longer available)
- Website Professional (no longer available)
- Commerce Basic
- Commerce Advanced
An understanding of how the Developer Platform works
This FAQ explains how your site changes with the Developer Platform and our policy on supporting Developer Platform sites. We recommend reading it carefully before getting started.
How do I get started?
In the Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then click Developer Mode.
Switch the toggle in the panel to On.
Read the warning message and click Continue to confirm. Complete the reCAPTCHA window and click Verify. Your site will refresh with Developer Mode enabled.
The Developer Mode panel will expand. From here, you’ll need to set up your file management (SFTP or Git).
For next steps, visit our Developer Docs.
Will my site automatically change after enabling Developer Mode?
If your site still includes demo content, this content disappears after enabling Developer Mode. Otherwise, there won’t be any changes to your live site. Changes will appear on your site after you update your code.
After you enable Developer Mode, you can no longer switch templates.
When you enable Developer Mode, Squarespace forks your template to create an identical codebase that you can edit. You won’t receive template updates from Squarespace’s internal developers. All the usual content and Site Styles options will be available in Developer Mode.
What will working in Developer Mode look like?
At first, there's nothing visually different. You'll still add content like images, text, blocks, and gallery media in our WYSIWYG interface. This makes the Developer Platform a great option if you’re designing a site for a non-tech-savvy client. You can build a custom design and then hand the site over to the client for smaller, one-off content edits.
The only change is in how you can make style and structural changes. This is done with code using your plain text editor and your SFTP client or Git.
If you started with a Squarespace template, you'll notice that you still have Site Styles. You can still make changes in Site Styles, but we recommend that you use the Developer tools and use code to style your site.
What can I do with code in Developer Mode?
You can use code to build and modify structural elements of your site. While the platform is a robust option for experienced developers, it doesn’t replace core editing functions. It also isn’t possible to use SFTP or Git to manage media files, modify blocks, or run server-side code.
Can I customize blocks and Cover Pages in the Developer Platform?
No. Using the Developer Platform, you can change your site structure and style, but not the HTML markup of our blocks or Cover Pages. While you can’t modify these features, you’ll still be able to use them when editing your site.
Can I contact Customer Care for help with my site?
We provide 24/7 email and live chat support for the main Squarespace platform, including our editing tools and templates. We don’t provide support for any custom code. For this reason, we only recommend the Developer Platform if you have advanced knowledge of coding languages and can troubleshoot code issues independently.
If you have questions about custom code, there are some places you can go for help. Your first line of defense is Squarespace Answers, our peer-to-peer developer forum. It’s a great resource for reaching out to the developer community. You can also visit our developer documentation or attend a developer meetup.
Will I receive updates and new features?
Sometimes. You won’t receive updates specific to our templates (for example, new sidebar or style options), but you’ll receive new system-wide enhancements which include features like blocks, Analytics updates, and store management tools in Commerce.
For example, if you start with the Bedford template and enable Developer Mode, you’ll no longer receive updates to the Bedford template (for example, a new sidebar or Index feature in Bedford). However, if we add a new block to the system, you’ll receive that update.
What will happen if I disable Developer Mode?
If you started Developer Mode from a Squarespace template, you can disable it at any time. Doing this will affect your live site. Most notably, custom code changes will be permanently deleted.
Proceed with caution and back up your files first so you can re-add them if you restart Developer Mode later.
What stays on your site after disabling Developer Mode
- Pages added using default collections
- Content added to collections before or after Developer mode was enabled. For example, images to a Gallery Page and posts to a Blog Page.
- Custom CSS
Content you’ll lose after disabling Developer Mode
- Content added to sidebars, footers, and headers
- Style changes made in Site Styles (i.e. font, color, and background changes)
- Custom modifications to your template code
- Any updates that were made to the Squarespace template since you enabled Developer Mode will be applied to your site.
What happens if I use Developer Mode during a trial?
The Developer Platform is a Premium feature. During a trial, you have full access to Developer Mode. Trial sites with Developer Mode enabled don't expire, giving you as much time as you need to build your custom Squarespace site.
When upgrading to paid service, choose the Website Business plan or higher to continue using Developer Mode.
If you choose the Personal Plan, we recommend turning Developer Mode off first. If you leave Developer Mode on, it stays on, but you can't make further changes. See the next section for more information.
What happens if I use Developer Mode and then downgrade?
If you move your site to the Personal plan after activating Developer Mode:
- The Developer Mode customizations you made to your site will remain.
- Developer Mode will stay "on," but you won't be able to make any further changes.
- Because Developer Mode is still on, you won't receive template updates.
- To regain access to Developer Mode, upgrade to the Website Business plan or higher.