Build Websites Faster Using Liquid

by Rick O'Halloran

August 21, 2014

One of our primary goals in developing is to make web development much faster and easier, without losing any of the flexibility and control that is needed for enterprise websites. As a product architect, I knew that one of the important problems to solve was to allow developers to safely execute server side code. Traditional CMS platforms avoid this issue by exposing APIs in the language the core platform is written in. Since each instance (website) is run separately, there’s no risk of conflict. We required a different solution.

The challenge

We also wanted to select a language that would be powerful enough for senior developers, but intuitive for junior developers. Everyone has their favorite language and we knew that no matter what we picked, we couldn’t make everyone happy. At first, we thought that providing Javascript libraries to interface with RESTful services would be the best solution. We quickly realized that the performance and SEO tradeoffs of this approach weren’t acceptable. Then we found Liquid.

About Liquid

Liquid is a templating language designed to solve the exact problem we were facing. It was developed by the team at, a highly popular SaaS ecommerce platform. Liquid provides a safe and simple way of interacting with select variables and application-specific functions. It also provides standard flow control as well as basic data formatting and manipulation.

With Liquid, we’re able to expose site level variables such as page hierarchy and website settings. We can also provide access to model content and structure. Developers can even write their own plugins which allow content editors to persist data, without having to worry about configuring a database.

Easy to Learn, Faster Development, Highly Customizable

Liquid was developed with designers and front end developers in mind. The syntax is simple enough that it can be used by those who only have HTML and CSS experience. It’s also fast on, regardless of the quality of the code that’s written. We accomplish this by pre-generating most of the content required to display pages into static files. Even if custom sections of Liquid code aren’t written to be performant, they will still be served quickly and efficiently to the end user.

Experienced web developers also have access to a large amount of built-in functionality and an ever-growing library. Many of the common components required to create a great website have been abstracted so that they can be reused across multiple sites. If a developer requires features not available natively in Liquid or through the library, they can use Liquid, HTML, CSS, and Javascript to write a custom plugin which can be shared across the platform.

For a firsthand account of how Liquid can be utilized by senior developers, read this post from Boris Krone at one of our agency partners.

Rick O'Halloran is a Principal Architect at