Better Social Icons

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed the Social Share box on a standard osCommerce, it looks like this:

2.3.4

share_234

2.3.4 Responsive

share_234bs

With the ability in Admin to turn on and off share links, which I’ll call “widgets”. So far so good.

What you probably don’t realise is that these “widgets” also load a lot of javascript. Which is OK, except for shoppers who are on a slow connection. Loading all that javascript does make an impact on site speed.

With zero widgets (tested on Samsung Galaxy product on a standard install of Responsive):

before_widgets

And with all widgets loaded (same product page):

after_widgets

Obviously that’s not a *massive* difference, but every single speed point matters in my opinion and so I set out to change things…first a little bit of history. Back in Feb 2015 I made this post at the osCommerce Forum in the hope it would kickstart a little project to make an alternative (better?) system for Social Sharing. Nothing came out of it – no surprise really as there are very few people who are pro-active left in that community – the only one who was a bit interested was user “Mort Lemur” who steered the conversation away from its intended target and onto “add this” which then toyicebear got involved in the discussion…

Back from history and into the present day…I revisited the idea…

Introducing the all new Social Sharing system…

widgets_new

It’s just like the existing system, but loads no crap. This means it has a downside “potentially less user friendly” but an upside “should be faster to load”. Let’s see – prior to writing this post I have not tested the speed – here is the result, compare this to the first speed test of 100/65/76 …

widgets_new_speed

What can we learn from the speed results?

Mobile Friendliness drops from 100 to 97
This is due to the “tap targets” being too close to each other. Not a big deal and could easily be solved by spacing the widgets out using .css

Mobile Speed stays static at 65 and Desktop Speed stays static at 76
This is really really good, it means the new system is not sucking speed away from any users no matter which device they use to browse.

Conclusion

I’m very pleased that I was able to build up a system that saves a few points on speed compared to the official system of Social Bookmarking. In my opinion, the new system is far better looking than the official system and has as much usability. In addition, shop-owner can choose to have these links as a side-box as shown above, or as a product_info module…

And the best bit of all this: the whole system has no Core Changes! Just upload, and turn on!

So just what did it take to code all this?

1 new Box Module, can be put into the left or right column
1 new Product_Info Module obviously goes onto the product_info page
10 new Widget Modules; Digg, Email, Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Twitter

BOOM!

To back this up, I also tested via GT Metrix, which is a tool that is far from perfect but gives an indication of how the page is with regards to speed and loading…

With No Widgets loaded:

widgets_none_gt

With the old Widgets system:

widgets_old_gt

With the new Widgets system:

widgets_new_gt

Look at the similarity between “none” and “new”.
Then look at the difference between “none” and “old”…

The widgets (old style with javascript etc) loads two whole seconds slower and costs an extra 0.5 megabytes of code!

Hold on a moment, let’s get a sense of perspective…

Most shops won’t load all the Widget modules. I suspect that if shops use the system, they use the following; Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter.

Even so, by changing to the new system…you can easily shave off a second per page load and a few hundred bytes…it is worth it, isn’t it?

Why osCommerce was the king and is now the pauper

For the past decade and more, the users of osCommerce have wanted more say in what happens next, where it goes, how it is. That say was never granted, not once, ever. I fought to get the community a say, and I succeeded. I started a new vision of what osCommerce could be and asked time and time again for the community to pitch in and help to make osCommerce once again punch at it’s weight…

What help did I get?

From shopowners

– a few shopowners started helping out until they got enough “shop” to use on their live site, then they disappeared.
– a few shopowners tested bits and pieces, then they disappeared
– one or two great guys, who really got into it, and gave some excellent help.

But mainly, what I got from shopowners was a feeling that I should not be trying to move osCommerce forward, that osCommerce belongs to them and that I, as a mere developer, should ask “how high” when they say “jump”. That feeling manifested itself by way of email, private message and even out in the open forum. Well guys – you’ve lost the chance to have any further say.

From developers

– 1 developer got into the idea and started the admin changes
– a few other developers came up with singular bits and pieces
– lately other developers started to come up with ideas and code

But mainly what I got from developers was even more abuse than shopowners gave. All of the developers who contacted me rely on copy and paste, or adding addons to shopowners sites. Of course with the new osCommerce all that is gone. There is no more amend 50 files to do something incredibly simple, now it’s drop in a new mofdule, enter admin and turn it on. The developers are scared that they would lose business. They could not see that these new modules need careful code, and great attention to detail. They could not see that professional people running shops have no problem paying for perfect code. All they could see was that they had to learn new tricks and they did not want to…

As it turns out, the majority of the community is just not interested in a new osCommerce. In return I have no further interest in the community.

My involvement at the forum is over, save for my general duty as a spambuster…I won’t be reading any more posts, I won’t be replying to posts, I won’t be making status updates, I won’t be liking content, I won’t be starting any more discussion threads.

I won’t be spending 1 more minute helping to code the community version of osCommerce.

For me it’s over – thanks to a very vocal bunch of shopowners and developers who failed to see to what was right in front of them, a new osCommerce, built by them, for them, with shopowners input from start to finish. As of right now, it’s back to how it was; you get what you get when you get it.

Thanks to that handful of great guys for your support over the last 12 months, I do mean that for those who “got it”, the discussion threads, the modules, the hooks and all the rest of the cool stuff.

To those “hot air” developers and shopowners who talked much and did nothing – EPIC FAIL – polite golf clap.

What this means is that I can give more attention to my clients needs, so don’t be afraid to contact me, as I have more time to give you these days ūüôā

Required Product that MUST be purchased

Imagine you own a shop where you need to enforce the purchase of a particular product if certain other products have been purchased. For example;

  • you want to enforce gift wrapping at Xmas time
  • you sell items that need to be dispatched in dry ice
  • you sell mobile phones and want to also enforce a warranty purchase
  • I am sure you can think of many more scenarios

With a bit of thinking this is now a reality…with NO core code edits at all.

Introducing the “Required Products” module…

required_1

In this example I have said “if the person attempts to buy product 20 or product 21” ENFORCE “product 12” also. In a demo osCommerce, this is saying “enforce a purchase of “die hard with a vengeance” if person buys 1 or more of “beloved” or “swat 3”.

required_2

Video of the system in action

As you can see it is IMPOSSIBLE to check out if there is a need for an enforced product.

Best thing: NO core code edits, just drop in a new module, set up the enforcement list and forget about it.

Like it? Get in touch to buy it.

Summer Bonanza Special Offer

I’ve put together a nice special offer for the first two weeks in August…

7Beer me $7

  1. I will send you my Google Maps Interface.
    This interface has an admin area for adding locations as well as the interactive Google map on your contact_us page.

Offer ended.

 


 

17

Beer me $17

  1. I will send you my Google Maps Interface.
  2. Also my advanced Sort Ordering Mod.
    This sort ordering system uses a new system to allow the shopowner to quickly change sort orders (of both products and categories) without a page reload.

Offer Ended.


 

37Beer me $37

  1. I will send you my Google Maps Interface.
  2. Also my advanced Sort Ordering Mod.
  3. Also my Zack Template.
    This template is created for 2.3 series osCommerce, if you have an older version, it’s not useful to you.

Offer Ended


 

97Beer me $97

  1. You will receive my Google Maps Interface.
  2. Also my advanced Sort Ordering Mod.
  3. Also my Zack Template.
  4. Also the extension for stock tracking by attributes.
    This has been updated greatly and now includes different outputs for the buy buttons, and images per SKU.

Offer Ended


 

197Beer me $197

  1. You will receive all of the above.
  2. You will receive the Penny template for osCommerce Bootstrap, updated to allow you to change colours within the template to a number of different styles, along with the right to re-use the template.
  3. You will receive my next 5 templates (built for Bootstrap) at no extra cost, along with the right to re-use those templates (delivery of these template will be made at the time of creating them).

Offer Ended


Terms and Conditions

  • Offers are open from now until midnight on August 14th 2014.
  • Delivery of files will be made on August 15th 2014.

How to buy a Beer?

Simply click on the “beer icon” that you see below. ¬†This will take you to paypal where you can insert the amount of the “beer tokens” … thank you in advance.

Or, even easier, just click the “buy now” button near to each offer!

Remember that all downloads will be made available on August 15th!

Advanced Product Sort Ordering in osCommerce

Had a new client approach me who had tried a number of ways to sort products in each category. She got one way to work, but that approach was to insert a number for sort ordering in the product adding/editing page…

My task therefore was to come up with something that;

1. works!
2. is very simple for the shopowner to use

Here’s what I came up with:

In the video, you can see that I changed the categories page to allow this shopowner to “grab” a product and slide it up or down the list of products. Once the product is in place, the sort order updates itself. In the shop side, this is instantly reflected in the ordering of the product display.

Advanced Sort Order For Products
Advanced Sort Order For Products

As we have “the matrix” on special offer, why not have that product at the top of the list ?

Buy this Addon for $12
[nicepaypallite name=”osC Sort Orders” amount=”12.00″]
This addon is not an instant download, you will be contacted by me within 1 working day.

Need your Feedback on this idea please

I’m considering starting up a monthly subscription where subscribers get everything I make during the month for free – that’s all templates, all code, etc etc. So if I make something cool for a client, subscribers also get a copy of it.

Cost would be £10 per month on a recurring Paypal subscription. For as long as your subscription is active you get ALL the candy I produce each and every month.

I need to ascertain if there is any interest in this idea, so please comment below (or ask questions etc). At this point it is only an idea for exploration, so if you say you are interested you are not actually signing up for anything right now…

Thanks all.

Quick example (going from memory!) of code/templates completed in Janury
– Kripke Template
– Master Slave system rewrite
– Filter category product listings by options/attributes
– Grid or List layout in categories
– Updated new products module
– Updated Specials Page
– Updated Products New Page
– SEO Rewrite (cutting edge, so far unreleased)
– Images for Options (including on the fly image swapping)
– Price change on the fly (for options/attributes)
.. and too much more to list.

So far during February
– check if email is good on account signup
– pre-canned order comments system for 2.3.3.4
– see order status (and update it) without logging in (good for “guest checkout” checkouts)
– allow customers to update their order_status_history per order
– save customer name and email to CSV to blast into Mailchimp

Kripke Template for 2.3.3.4

Here’s the latest in my line of templates for 2.3.3.4 which I’ve called “Kripke”…

kripke-main

Header Area

I’ve included the breadcrumb in the header area and also a “logged in” message which has been something under discussion in the official osCommerce forum;

kripke-header

Main Content Area

I have recoded the “new products” and categories “products listing” module from scratch to utilise a more semantically correct “list” of products, example.

kripke-new-products

In the product page, I have removed the “bx gallery” in favour of a custom coded gallery which gives better results in my opinion (example; you can click on the main image or any of the thumbnails).

Footer Area

Contains a nice looking “social” and “payment” box as well as information, contact details and so on.

Other bits and pieces

Index page has a slider system of images (that fade in and out), which is controlled by the usual Banner Manager system. I’ve also made some changes in the categories box to output a line between each category and some arrow icons in each box. Shopping cart box in the header is interactive, showing buttons when a checkout is available.

Compare Products Side By Side

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently looking at other shopping cart software, particularly Magento and Opencart and Prestashop to see how they’ve gone beyond “here’s a product, here’s a buy button”.

In Magento and Opencart I particularly like their “compare this product to this product” feature, where the person browsing the shop can add 2 or more products and then see those products listed on a page with their specifications and so on. Pretty much it’s a nice way to allow the customer to decide if they would like to purchase prodcut A or product B easily…

In Magento

magento-compare

In Opencart

opencart-compare

As you can see, the products are side by side ready for the shopper to make a buying decision. We don’t have this in osCommerce other than some older addon that I don’t want to use.

So I set out to create something like these. I pretty much based it on the Magento one as the Magento product compare also has a nice little infobox which I particularly like;

magento-box

I started the modifications late last night, it took some thinking about, but pleased to say that I have something workable – it needs more polishing (which is where you guys come in)…

In osCommerce

oscommerce-compare

How does it work ?

Adding a Product to the Compare List..

On each product page (and product listings) there is a new button “Compare”.

oscommece-button

Clicking this button adds the product to the compare list. This also invokes a new infoBox:

oscommerce-box

In the infoBox is a link to the actual “Compare Products” page as shown above.

Removing a Product from the list..

A product can be removed from the list in the following places; the new infoBox, the product listing page, the product page, the compare products page.

Invitation to test the new system

If you want to have a play with the system, hit my test shop. Let me know your thoughts by responding to this blog post. Thanks.

Mailing List and wrap up 2013

In 2014 I’ve resolved to write at least a few posts per month on the blog. Now that I’m on the osCommerce Team I can share lots of interesting tidbits.

Member of the Year

If you are on the osCommerce forum, please cast your vote for Member of the Year 2013 at http://forums.oscommerce.com/topic/395387-member-of-the-year-2013

Brand New Template

I’m about to release my latest template, which is a minimal template called “Stuart”. ¬†Here’s a sneak preview:

stuart

Please join my Mailing List

In 2014, I’m going to be emailing once per month, not more – and each mail will contain interesting news, maybe a special offer, maybe some free code that no-one else gets. You can sign up by inserting your email address into the form below and click “subscribe”. Nice and easy. It’s a Mailchimp list so if you subscribe, you can easily unsubscribe should you wish to.



And lastly, best wishes for 2014.

How to send a Product Notification in osCommerce

osCommerce has a few “well hidden” features that not many people are aware of. One of these is the ability for the logged in customers in your shop to sign up for product notifications (eg, when a product is back in stock, or if you add another size or colour range or whatever).

The subscribe link is in an infoBox and in a standard install looks like this:

infobox showing product notification

This would subscribe the logged in customer to notifications about that particular product. Fairly straightforward so far.

How do you send a product notification email?

In the admin area, go tools > newsletter manager, then click + New Newsletter. In the following page, select product notification from the dropdown, and insert the title of the email and the email contents:

20130925-2

Click save. You are now back at the Newsletter page, and the new product notification Newsletter is showing in the list. You can preview the Newsletter if you wish. Click the lock button. Once locked, you now have extra options available to you. You can delete it, edit it and so on.

Press the send button. This takes you through to the page where you select the product(s) that you wish to email about (to those who have signed up for emails).

20130925-3

I select “courage under fire” and press the >>> button. This move the product to the selected box. Once I am happy, I press the send button and am taken to a new page where I am shown the number of customers to receive the newsletter and a preview of the newsletter itself;

20130925-4

If I now press “send”, the email is sent to those on the list.

20130925-5

As you can see, the system is workable if a little long-winded. It is also limited to registered customers within your shop, which is not ideal.