:: The End of Summer Update ::
Greetings Viking friend! Our valuable try-annual newsletter has reached your retina with not a moment to spare. It’s been a busy summer for us–in between vacations, relocations and other life events, we have managed to develop a new batch of module goodness.
:: New Releases ::
The new Features module brings our token expertise from our Merchant 4 template modules into the Merchant 5 arena. It allows you to generate templates that can be used throughout your store with much desired features such as best seller lists, random products, random products from lists, and more.
Flyouts are a common feature these days and we have brought them to Merchant. As you may have experienced on sites like netflix, Flyout allows your customers to preview your products more closely without needing to click through to the individual product page. So a customer can, for example, take a look at the product description while still on the category page, then mouseover the next product and read that without needing to click through, click back, click through again, etc. Saving clicks while still promoting products effectively is highly recommended.
Order Status Manager 5 Import / Export
This nifty extension module allows flat file imports of order statuses (stati?), and can trigger the sending of email notifications with the status update.
ELM Stats and ELM2 were very popular modules for every version of Merchant. Pulse is their Merchant 5 equivalent. Taking advantage of the superior mysql database, Pulse provides a great platform for advanced queries and logging.
Another extension to one of our existing modules, Reveal is an add-on for Inventory Manager that uses AJAX (thus, no page reloads) to dynamically hide out of stock attributes.
USPS Address Validation 5.x
The United States Postal Service offers online address validation and this module ties in to that server in order to verify your customer’s address. Reduce missing or returned shipments and follow-up calls to your customers by getting a valid address as they place their order.
Continue Shopping 5
This handy module provides a continue shopping button or link, allowing the customer to easily return to their last shopping page.
:: Coming Soon ::
Focus is our uber-search module for Miva Merchant 5. While Search Manager was a hugely popular module for Merchant 4, we are taking search to the next level. Focus, currently in beta on a large retail web site, offers the high-end functionality you’d expect to find on all leading ecommerce sites–weighted results, “sounds like”, price range searches and much more. More details to come. Sign up to our wait list to be informed when it is released:
As many of you know, our Merchant 4 template modules were the backbone of any store that needed to look good and function well. With the release of 5.5, we saw that Miva Merchant had become stable–and powerful–and that we could now respond to the requests from our customers for advanced template options. Watch this space. And join the wait list to be notified when it is available:
Soft Goods 5 has been renamed as Dispatch. The forthcoming release addresses the issues many store owners had when selling digital goods–high hosting or bandwidth fees for large files, timeouts, etc. Join the wait list to be notified:
:: Sale ::
With the release of these new modules, it’s only fitting that we offer you a discount on them. Some are already discounted as early releases, but you can still use the coupon code NEWVIKING for 15% off all currently available new modules.
The coupon is valid till the end of September. One per customer.
Thanks and Ves heill!
It started out as a module for Merchant 5.x to display randomly selected products on the storefront page but it turned into quite bit more than that.
The new Features (yes, that’s the name) module provides additional Features for your Merchant 5.x store. With the placement of the module’s item tokens you can display, anywhere in your store, products randomly selected from your store, products randomly selected from particular categories, your store’s best sellers, and more! The module accomplishes this by tying particular tokens to templates configured from within the module’s admin. You can specify the exact layout of the template and display it anywhere in your store with a single item token. Particular details about the items are configured with separate tokens in the templates (for example, you can separately arrange where to display a product’s thumbnail and name).
The module comes with the follow templates but you can add as many as you want:
- Random Products
- Random Products from Category
- Best Sellers
- Images from List
- Random Images from List
- Products from List
- Random Products from List
Those among you familiar with our Storefront Template module will recognize some of the functionality in the new module as it uses the same sorts of tokens (many are identical) and functionality. But instead of focusing only on the storefront page this module will let you display the templates just about anywhere.
The module went through the development process pretty quickly but has a few major features, such as the ability to preview templates in your store before making them live, that will be showing up very soon in a number of other new modules.
Speaking of new modules, the Focus module (it’s been a long time but I vaguely recall having posted here about it before), our uber-search module for Merchant has undergone a re-working to provide for the hosting of the search indexes on our own server rather than locally on the store’s servers. This has greatly improved the installation process and has moved us quite close to a final release. Don’t hold me to it but I’m hoping to have it in the store within the next two weeks.
As an interesting aside, when we formed VikingCoders we each searched around for monikers from Norse mythology to “add to the mystique” so to speak. I stumbled upon “Brok”, one of two dwarves that worked together to create Thor’s hammer. Seemed like quite a remarkable coincidence so it stuck….perhaps too well. It wasn’t long before I was the only one with a “Norse moniker” and “Brok” is close enough to “Brock” the line is often blurred as to which is correct.
I had been going about writing the imports for Affiliate Manger 5.x rather piece meal. I had started an import module for the product data, had started on a module to import data from Affiliate Manager 4.x, and had completed a module to import affiliate data from Merchant’s affiliate feature when I finally came to my senses. I bundled all of that into a single module, with our new spiffy css based admin, and it’s finally ready to go!
It is bundled with Affiliate Manager 5.x (and you’ll need the latest version of that module to go along with the import module) and is capable of importing:
- affiliates from Affiliate Manager 4.x
- affiliates from Merchant’s 5.x affiliate feature
- category and product configuration data from flat files
At this point it does not import the payouts, orders, or hits data from Affiliate Manager 4.x (or Merchant’s affiliate feature) but if the demand is there I’ll likely update it later to import that to a separate sets of databases which can be viewed from inside of Affiliate Manager’s admin. You can view the new module’s documentation here
The only way to get the module right now is by downloading the latest version of Affiliate Manager 5.x (it’s included in the download zip). Once it’s installed, new versions can be obtained, when available, from the “check for upgrades” link in the module’s admin.
Now that’s done I’ll be focusing all of my non-tech support time on “Focus” our new search module. I’m looking forward to getting back into that groove as it’s been a great pleasure to work on (but then that’s generally true about all coding…and definitely NOT true about writing documentation).
Affiliate Manager 5.x (our MivaMerchant module for affiliate tracking, for those who stumble in here out of the dark) has been undergoing some significant development lately. Among other things, the admin has been updated to use our new css layout to brighten your Miva Merchant experience; the default grey, dark-red, and black of Merchant Admin starts to get to me after a while.
Two weeks ago I finished adding the product specific payouts feature that lets you configure each affiliate to be paid a specific amount for individual products. And along those lines, you can configure it a “category at a time” so that all of a cateory’s products have the same affiliate payouts.
Last week I added the option to send “New Affiliate” notification emails up the referral chain so that you can notify affiliates when someone they have referred signs up to become affiliates themselves.
And today I have just completed adding the ability to configure specific global headers and footers for each affiliate. These can be used in place of the default header and footers whenever customers shop in the store as a result of a referral from that affiliate.
You’ll find specific entries addressing all of these new features in the module’s FAQ.
We are officially releasing two new Miva Merchant 5.x AJAX modules today.
The first is Flyout 5. You may have already seen the 4.x version we released that a couple months ago. Flyout adds Netflix type pop-ups to your Miva Merchant store. Any place that you can display a product in your store, you can display a pop-up. You can display pop-ups on your category pages, product list page, storefront - or anywhere else. View a demo of Flyout here.
The second module is Reveal 5, for Inventory Manager 5. This module addresses the oft answered question when dealing with attribute combinations - how can I hide inventory options that are out of stock?
For example, say you are tracking two attributes: size (small, large) and color (red, blue). A customer selects small, however it is only available in blue. Given the way Miva Merchant and Inventory Manager 5 are designed, a customer would have no idea that red is out of stock. With Reveal, an AJAX request is sent when someone selects an option and checks what remaining attributes are in and out of stock. In this case, red is out of stock, so it is removed from the attribute drop down list. Additionally, when your product page is initially loaded, an AJAX request is sent and any completely out of stock options are removed. So, if red is out of stock in both small and large - that option is removed from the drop down list.
Since the module is currently in beta, there are currently a couple shortcomings and known issues. The first is that it is only compatible with drop down list attributes. It is not compatible with checkboxes or radio buttons. Support for all appropriate attribute types is planned. Another shortcoming is that if you have multiple attributes but are not tracking all of them, the module will incorrectly remove non-tracked attributes. So, if a product has three attributes displaying (e.g. size, color and style) and you are tracking two (size and color) the module will not work. A fix is currently in the works. The last limitation is that the module will only work (correctly) on Product Pages. In its final version, it will be compatible on any Miva Merchant Page that can display attributes.
Reveal, being in beta, is selling at a discount right now. All future updates and bug fixes (as with all our modules) are free. Get it while it’s at a discount!
We have just released Flyout 4.055 today. It is now out of Beta.
It is compatible with all of our template modules including Storefront Template (it was not in the beta release). I have completely re-worked the token processing in the module. All tokens in all template modules are now supported. For example, consider a case where you are using Storefront template to display a random image. You can now using the following:
%module|LC_FLYOUT| %random|thumbL|01|% |%
%module|LC_FLYOUT| %random|thumbL|02|% |%
You can do even more complex things with the tokens supported in other template modules. Consider the case where you want to display a the first 100 characters of a product’s description in your category template, then have a customer mouse over the description to see the entire description with Flyout. You can do the following:
%module|LC_FLYOUT| %var1|substring(Products.d.desc, 1, 100)|% |%
Any token supported by the template module should now work in any Product template for Storefront Template, Category Page Templates, Product Page Templates (you’d probably only want to use it in the Related products template), Other Page Templates and Search Manager.
Also, Merchant 5 store owners - do not fear. We will be releasing a 5.x version of this module over the coming weeks!
A beta release of Pulse was made available earlier this week and we are now ready to make it more widely available. There are still some features we are adding, e.g. better pagination of long reports, more user options, but in terms of data collection, the module appears to be working well. Installing the beta will not jeopardize your data–each new release will retain your existing data. Get it here: Pulse - Store Statistics for Merchant 5
With us leaving for the Miva Merchant conference on Wednesday, updates are unlikely to be released during that time frame but we will be covering support.
p.s. Here are some of the forthcoming additions to Pulse:
- hide User Agents from general reports (so they don’t take up as much space). This will be optional though as many people get a buzz when the search bots show up
- truncate/wrap long referer* urls (need this in order to prevent long urls from bleeding)
- add pagination to long reports
These have already been partially implemented so we hope to have them available in the next update.
* Did you know that “Referer is a common misspelling of the word referrer. It is so common, in fact, that it made it into the official specification of HTTP – the communication protocol of the World Wide Web – and has therefore become the standard industry spelling when discussing HTTP referers.”?
Update 03/05/08: we’re back from the Miva Merchant conference and working on Pulse. Today we have added a product name field with sorting to the Product Stats, fixed a bug that arises when you are blocking IP addresses, and changed to Order Stats referer so that it picks up the initial referer–the site the visitor came from rather than the page that lead them to the checkout. (In hindsight, it’s obvious that’s what it should have been doing but these things sometimes get overlooked when you’re knee deep in the code!) There isn’t an update as yet as we also want to include a handful of other tweaks and fixes.
Like it’s 4.x predecessor, the Affiliate Manager - Login module provides an interface that Affiliate Manager affiliates can use to view and/or modify (that bit is optional) their personal and referral data including hits, orders, payouts paid, and payout’s due. The layout and content of the pages are entirely configurable from within the module’s admin; the outer portions of the Merchant pages are maintained by Merchant “page templates”; and the main content is configured by the module’s own “templates and token”. The best of both worlds in that you can control things like the navigation bar, category tree, outer table, etc. in the same manner that you do with stock Merchant but you can control the main contents of the page from within the module’s main admin with our more robust, module specific, tokens.
Well…we’d hoped to have this ready today but I have a shortened day–celebrating a belated Chinese New Year at my son’s (and wife’s) school. There are several cosmetic issues that need addressing but, more importantly, it hasn’t been tested extensively yet under the same condition that you will encounter when you install it, i.e. when the logs are still empty. So profuse apologies for the delay. Hopefully we can get some time over the weekend and have it ready for Monday.
The world of AJAX has arrived in module form to the world of Miva Merchant! We have just released a new 4.x module,
Product Flyout, that allows you to mouse over products in your store and see a pop-up displaying the product name and description (think Netflix). Product Flyout requires our template modules and the OpenUI to work properly. Register Product Flyout as a Third Party Token, replace a token or two in your templates, and you will have dynamic pop-ups in your store!
The module is currently compatible with:
- (added 3/10/08) Storefront Template
- Category Page Templates
- Other Page Templates
- Product Page Templates (mainly for use in the related products template)
- Search Manager
The module is in beta and is selling at a discounted price of $40. After we test it out and work out the kinks, it will be priced at $49.95.
We plan on releasing a 5.x version of this module as well. Be on the lookout for other AJAX modules over the coming weeks and months!