Updated for 2008 – STS Templates – the original and best eBook on STS

I have just updated the original and best STS Template tutorial eBook over at oscbooks – have a read about it, and if you like what you see, please buy it from this page, not oscbooks. If you do buy it, I still have a special “BOGOF” promotion – Buy One Get One Free…

DO NOT PURCHASE FROM OSCBOOKS DIRECTLY.

Here’s a special buy link – the first 5 buyers will get this eBook and the associated files for just £10…sorry, offer now finished, the price is £14.99.

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Here’s some comments I’ve received about this eBook;

I have just purchased your new book “osCOMM STS”. WOW !! .. you have done it again another great easy to follow manual. Whilst waiting for my printer to finish printing a hard copy .. I started to read the book on screen and already I am confident that I will be able to create a fantastic oscommerce cart.

and

I run a site on oscommerce and have no experience with .php. I bought and have used the new ebook from AIS (Gary) at oscbooks.com. Very well written, easy to follow and in the space of a few days I have learned a great deal. A really good product and a great guy to deal with.

osc-sts-new-thumb.gifSo, there you go – the all new, updated for 2008, STS Tutorial eBook – for a price that is kind to your pocket.

And don’t forget the “Buy One Get One Free” offer.

Just choose the other eBook you would like once you’ve purchased the STS Tutorial and I’ll send your chosen eBook free of charge!

Create this Store;

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and take the techniques you’ve learned and apply them to ANY html template!

Top 100 osCommerce Sites Update

Another 3 great looking osCommerce Shops found and added today:

And the Top 5 as at this moment in time are;

Go vote for your favourite shops at the osCommerce Hot 100. If you know of any great looking stores, submit them please!

I can’t believe that there are so few exceptional looking osCommerce Stores – surely there must be more!

Another 4 sites added to the HOT 100

Another 4 sites have been added to the HOT 100 list, bring the grand total up to 54 best osCommerce sites.  We still have another 46 to go before the magic 100 is reached!

Todays additions are (in no particular order);

And the Top 5 best osCommerce Stores presently look like this:

  1. TexereSilk
  2. 3hmp3
  3. Assault Shirts
  4. Kustom Tees
  5. Punk Baby Clothes

Go visit these sites and see just how they look – none of them look remotely like standard osCommerce.

I really need every reader of this Blog to submit any osCommerce sites that they feel have a chance of being one of the Best 100 osCommerce Stores.  Let’s get to that Magic 100 sooner rather than later!

Hot 100 News and Views

The osCommerce Hot 100 idea has taken off pretty well.  It started with just 42 sites on the list, and I know there are many more great sites – I can’t find them all so if you know of any outstanding osC sites, please submit them using the orange “Add Url” button.

Yesterday, I made a post at the official osCommerce forum with a link to the Hot 100 list – I meant it as a fun way for people to see great sites and to vote them up/down.  Lots of visitors came by and voted, and a few people submitted their websites to the list.  I authorised some and deleted others that had been submitted (I see no point in adding sites that have nothing outstanding about them – if I did that, it’d be a never ending task to keep the list updated).

Anyway, one of the people who submitted a site (which I did not authorise) then started sulking and posting personal abuse at me in the forum thread (called me a c**t even!).  I won’t divulge his URL as that’d be unfair for me to out this person as he might well lose potential customers due to his outbursts – suffice to say that his site is standard osCommerce with a few contributions and a new colour scheme – noting wrong with that – but it would add no value to the Hot 100 list in my opinion.

In the end, I asked a Moderator to delete the thread due to this persons abuse.  There’s no place for that.  It was supposed to be a bit of fun, and this person basically acted like a complete idiot.

I also had 1 shop owner ask to be removed from the list, of course, this is no problem to do so.

Introducing the osCommerce HOT 100

I’ve been working on coding up a new twist on the “Lives Stores” area of the official osCommerce site.  I went through lots of shops over the past few days, trying to find those that have something exceptional about them.

So far, I am at 42 Stores which (in my opinion) show some skill with regards to the look/theme.  I’m going to call it the osCommerce HOT 100 – hoping eventually to reach 100 outstanding osCommerce sites.

Not only will a list of sites give us all something to look at, it will also help other sites to become better.  Anyway, I would like to introduce the osCommerce HOT 100.

If YOUR site is listed, well done!  You are one of the best looking osCommerce Stores out there.   If you know an exceptional osCommerce site that should be on the list, click the Orange “Add URL” button and input the URL and Shop Name (Anchor Text).  It will then get added to a list which I will then go through and authorise.

Remember that your site needs to have something exceptional about it’s appearance in order to make the list!

So, come on guys – vote for the HOTTEST of the osCommerce HOT 100!

FishEye Menu in osCommerce

I’ve been trying to break away from the standard “header, footer, 3 column grey layout” that osCommerce ships with out of the box. I find that particular look awful – and I would never buy a product from such a store. After all, if the Store Owner is too lazy to change the layout a bit, they are probably going to be as lazy when it comes to delivery, customer service and all the rest of it.

With that in mind, I’ve been coding up little cosmetic tweaks and trying to make things “sexy”. I’ve been using jQuery (basically a javascript toolkit) on a number of sites and I came across “FishEye”…

What is FishEye?

It’s a graphical “menu” that interacts when you pass your mouse over it. In this case, the images get bigger. It looks cooler than it sounds, trust me.

Here’s a video

This video is very jerky, but that’s because of my screen capture software – the operation of the images getting bigger and smaller is actually very smooth.

The upside

For starters, it looks great! And I have also managed to pass the SID (Session ID) through the links as well. So it all works well, osCommerce-wise.

The downside

There is a big downside, which means that this code is not really usable on a live commercial site…the script requires JavaScript to be turned on in the viewers browser. If JS is not turned on, this menu doesn’t degrade at all well. This is a major problem and is something I need to take a look at before using in a live store.

osCommerce and Template Monster

Almost every day, there is someone in the official osCommerce Forum who is moaning about how they bought a pre-made osCommerce template from Template Monster.

Template Monster have loads of osCommerce designs available, but 99% of them are based on outdated osCommerce code.  The outsourced programmers used by Template Monster to integrate the designs have usually made lots of mistakes, many small mistakes, some big mistakes.

Heck, I’ve seen Templates that have hardcoded links rather than using the usual tep_href – so sessions can’t be carried throughout the shop. That might sound like no big deal to you, but I assure you, it IS a big deal.  Smaller mistakes like hard-coded language settings are not such a big deal – but can still cause problems for multi-language shops.

Just recently I installed a TM template for a client of mine – it actually turned out to be not very problematic.  On closer inspection, the underlying code was found to be very poor – I spent at least 5 hours solidly cleaning the code up.

I’d suggest to anyone thinking of buying a osCommerce Template Monster that it shuld should be used as a starting point.

Buy the template, find a good osCommerce developer, and pay that developer to PROPERLY integrate the LOOK of the template, making sure that the developer uses correct osCommerce coding practices.

Yes, this might be expensive, but it will save you a lot of headaches long term.

So, when all that is said and done, shuld you use Template Monster?  I say yes, why not – but only if you are aware that the template will most likely be poorly coded by someone who knows very little about osCommerce.  You’ll also need to be aware that you will get hardly any help in the official osCommerce Forum – as no help is given for 3rd party products.

HOW TO: make just 1 infobox a different style

There are lots of ways to make osCommerce look different. Here is 1 way to make 1 infoBox look different to the rest – it’s easy – and is done using a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) “trick”…

Step 1: decide which infoBox to change

In this example, I’m going to change the look of the Categories infoBox. Open up the file /includes/boxes/categories.php and find the following line of code

<td>

Change this to:

<td id="categorybox">

Save this file and upload it.

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Step 2: Give it some style!

We know that the usual infoBox styling is controlled by three CSS entries;

  1. infoBoxHeading
  2. infoBoxContents
  3. infoBox

So, all we now need to do is use those to control the box we are changing, but we do it using a special CSS “trick”…open up stylesheet.css and scroll right to the very bottom of it. Add the following code;

#categorybox .infoBoxHeading { background: blue; color: yellow; }

Why did we add this code? Well, for starters you can see that the very first piece of code says #categorybox – you’ll remember that in Step 1, we gave this id to the Table Cell (td) that hold the Category Box.

The rest of the code is standard osCommerce style using the existing .infoBoxHeader style definition. In this example, I’ve made the background blue, and the font color yellow. We end up with this:

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As you can see, this box is beginning to show the style we want – but some of the style is still showing the standard osCommerce grey colours! Let’s change that…

Add this code to your stylesheet;

#categorybox .infoBox { background: blue; }

We now see the infoBox like this:

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Getting closer! Let’s make the background of the box a dark grey and make the text white. Add this code to the stylesheet;

#categorybox .infoBoxContents { background: #aaa; color: white; }

Now the box looks like this:

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And we have a problem – the actual links within this box are still the standard black with grey rollover. That’s easy to change, simply add this to the stylesheet;

#categorybox a { color: white;}

This says that any link with our category box should be white. Now the box looks like this – which is almost perfect for the style needed:

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The only problem remaining is the goofy little curved corner graphic that is now looking totally wrong. let’s change that to a square corner. This is really easy 😉

Step 3: Get rid the crappy graphic

Open up /includes/classes/boxes.php and find the following code;

'text' => $left_corner),

Change it to:

'text' => ' '),

Now our box looks like this:

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Perfect! But the best part is, the rest of the boxes all look as they normally do!

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Really Sexy osCommerce Shop

Check out this osCommerce Shop.  I think this might be the nicest design I have ever seen done with osCommerce.  It does have a couple little cosmetic things that could be done to make it nic, but overall, for design, I think it’s excellent.
www.bboheme.com

What do you think?  Does your site come anywhere close to that in terms of design, layout and presentation?

HOW TO: create osCommerce buttons in seconds

Creating buttons for osCommerce is a chore.  There is a “css button” contribution that I recall seeing years ago – but I thought it would be nicer to point out a really cool site that creates buttons for you – have a look at The osCommerce Button Generator.

Although the button sets are fairly limited – a nice touch is that you can play with the colours and text etc.  Once you are happy with your button set, you can download them and then upload to your osCommerce site.

Creating osCommerce Buttons could not be easier!