Posts Tagged open source

The Very First European Community Leadership Summit

Posted by on Friday, 2 May, 2014

Community Leadership Summit Europe

I’m happy to announce that the very first European Community Leadership Summit (abbr: CLS) will take place on May 9th during the LinuxTag in Berlin.

Community Leadership Summit originally was conceived back in 2009 by Jono Bacon, the community manager for the global Ubuntu community and author of “The Art of Community” by O’Reilly, and he has organized it each year since now in Portland, Oregon, prior to OSCON. He put together the summit as a first step in helping community managers and leaders to define and refine their work, to share knowledge and make connections in a vendor neutral way.

European Community Leadership Summit is strongly tied to CLS. Currently Ben van ‘t Ende, community manager for TYPO3, Sandro Groganz from Age of Peers and me are getting this event of the ground.

Usually the CLS is being conducted as an Unconference, but given that we have only one room, this is unfortunately not possible, and we will do it a traditional style “mini”-conference in this first issue. I personally think that the European CLS ought to be held a barcamp/unconference style from the next year on.

Facts:
Where: STATION, Berlin | HALL 5, STAGE A
When: May 9, 18:00 – 22:00
Entry fee: none as you’re attending LinuxTag Berlin most likely anyway
Registration: not necessary
Website: http://cls-europe.com/

A Personal Recap of dmexco, Salon E-Commerce Paris and MOW

Posted by on Wednesday, 23 November, 2011

In the recent months, I attended all of the main trade fairs of the e-commerce industry in Germany and France:

  • dmexco (Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference) in Cologne
  • Salon E-Commerce in Paris
  • MOW (Mail Order World) in Wiesbaden

I joined the OXID eSales crew at our booths and I would like to share my very personal take aways of the events with you.

Don’t just ask me what the software can do for you – also ask what you can do for the software

A main part of my job as the Community Guide at OXID eSales is to help spreading the word about OXID eShop and to ultimately help grow the open-source community. Thus, I am very happy to talk to booth visitors and agencies interested in our product range and the community. In particular, I enjoyed a lot of very interesting conversations to folks who knew what open source software is about; people who came up with really good ideas, being excited about new challenges to enhance OXID eShop and committed to sharing some very interesting extensions.

Yet, there have been visitors at the booth who made me feel cheap because they were just interested in free as in free beer. I could smell their greed and selfishness. In such cases, I will kindly ask you to download, install and check for yourself. Also, I will not walk you through all the implemented features and I will not help you find modules available for no or very low cost.

If you want e-commerce software at no cost and don’t want to get involved in an open-source community at all, that’s perfectly legit, but don’t waste my time. If, on the other hand, you ask questions on our forums, I and other community members would be happy to help, because the answer to your question will help others.

To make a long story short: Free riders are welcome as long as they don’t waste the time of those in our community who want to build something together.

There are many ways how to contribute: Your translation to another language is as welcome as bug reports, module and core contributions. Even with the purchase of a commercial license you foster the development of our open-source edition.

What does open source development mean for a product also sold under a commercial license?

At the booths, I often got asked about how the OXID eShop open-source community influences development of the Professional and Enterprise Edition.

The short answer is: The community would kick our ass if we developed and communicated badly – and it did so in the past.

By going open source in 2008, we deliberately self-imposed community pressure upon OXID eSales. Since then, the community influences our product development.

For example: Instead of hiding security issues, we are forced to fix those issues in a short time, in fact until another developer will come up with the problem. On the communications side, we inform solution partners and support contract owners beforehand by distributing a private security bulletin to them, given that they still need some time to implement the fix we provide, before we make the bulletin publicly available.

Dear potential partners, get to grips with your channel concept

I have also been approached by potential partner companies at the three events. Most of them would like to join for just one reason: to have us forward leads to them. Of course, this is totally fine from a business perspective and OXID eSales is happy to negotiate such agreements. Yet, such a one-sided approach neglects the benefits of the open-source community for our partners.

So, at the booths, I always advised potential partners to consider how they can tap into the OXID eShop community or related open-source communities to promote their products or services. For example, the payment providers we partner with have developed interfaces or modules for connecting OXID eShop with their infrastructure. That way, they provide something useful to the OXID eShop or related communities and get word-of-mouth marketing going.

Technical Facts About Newsletter Distribution for Online Merchants

Posted by on Wednesday, 28 September, 2011

There are many different aspects to consider when distributing a newsletter to clients of your online store: categorization, definition, content, legal conditions and technical facts. In this post, I’ll concentrate only on the technical aspects.

Newsletters are emails containing information or promotions that you, as a shop owner, wish to send to your registered customers. In some countries, the newsletter recipient has to explicitly agree to receive such information through a checkbox or the so-called “double opt-in” method.

Email Format: HTML or Text
As you may know from your email client, you can choose whether (newsletter) emails should be sent in HTML or in plain text format. Usually, you will use HTML to mark up your text content as bold, italic or underlined, to use tables or to display images. This is not possible in plain text emails at all and it also depends on whether the recipient’s email client is configured to receive text or HTML emails. Thus, the MIME format was created, which sends along both text and HTML formats in the same message. Plain text will be displayed for recipients who only allow text emails, and HTML will be displayed for everybody else.

Transmission Agent: SMTP or Sendmail
Sendmail is a standard email transfer agent (client) for Unix-based systems that can be triggered by other clients on the same system to send email messages. You can install it on any arbitrary Linux machine of your choice and send messages from this server. However, it’s important to note that these days, all messages sent via this method will typically end up in the Spam folder of your recipient’s email client or may not even be forwarded by the server in between.

SMTP as a server protocol, is supposed to be a more secure solution. In most cases, the SMTP server accepts email forwarding requests coming only from localhost (the server where your online shop is hosted). Using an SMTP server on another system is nearly impossible as this SMTP could be misused as an email relay.

Filter Lists: Don’t Think Only Black and White
To avoid email spam, many different mechanisms have been developed during the last few years. One of them is the black-, white- or grey-listing method. A blacklisted server or IP range on the recipient’s machine, for example, is barred from delivering emails to the recipient at all. In the past, providers for black, white and grey lists developed and these lists are used by regular ISPs and hosting service providers.

If the server of your hosting provider has been blacklisted, you can assume that none of your emails will reach their intended recipients. Most professional email marketing providers by the way, have contracts with these list providers to ensure they are whitelisted and can transmit large amounts of email ;).

Grey lists cover everything in between. If you are not on a blacklist or on a whitelist, a filter on the recipient’s Website will put your email into a queue and check for other spam indicators (like content). If this queue gets too many requests at a certain time, your email might take a few hours or even days to be passed through to the recipient.

Email Transmission Tools
Newsletter emails, even to a large number of recipients, can be send via various email client applications and servers. You have wide choice depending on your given circumstances in respect of the above technical facts. Let me introduce you to some of the options.

Standalone Client Programs
It is possible to send multiple-recipient emails via an email client like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook. For data privacy, you must ensure that none of your clients can see other email addresses in the message: add yourself to the TO field while putting a list of your newsletter subscribers in the BCC field. Avoid using CC (from my own experience :-)).

As far as I know, an Exchange server will accept 200 recipients with one dispatch. Also, under this method, it is not possible to enrich the content of your email with dynamically generated data.  For example, it won’t be possible to inform your clients about cross-selling products on the basis of their previous purchases.

Integrated Shopping Cart Solutions
OXID eShop Newsletter ExampleThis is differently handled in shopping cart solutions, as they usually provide the ability to send email newsletters to opted-in customers and also to enter product data with the newsletter. Using this option, you can define personalized content using the order history of each costumer. For example (independent of any legal requirement), you could ask Mrs. Meyers for a review of the suit case “Canoono I Pak Classic” she bought on August 16th 2011, promising to raffle off a voucher of 100 EUR for the most inventive review. It’s great technology, but you must be careful that you don’t end up on a blacklist somewhere…

The OXID eShop newsletter feature can help a little bit here as it sends out newsletters in batches (number adjustable from the admin panel).  But at the end of the day, every newsletter transmission could be misunderstood by your hosting service provider, by list providers as well as by the recipient’s servers. In short, if you have too many recipients with too much similar content, it is time to begin thinking about using a professional, whitelisted email marketing provider.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the “magic number” of newsletters that will work properly from your shop server as I think it depends on your hosting provider, your monthly newsletter frequency and the number of newsletter recipients.

Open Source Scripts
There are a number of  scripts (some open source) that can apply to the same needs. However, they too will break down when faced with black- and grey- lists.

Summary

As your customers grow in number, you certainly will have to think about a professional (white listed) solution for your newsletter emails. This solution should ideally provide an interface to your shopping cart to compute the opted-in addressees as well as product items and order details. There are already a number of solutions available but there should definitely be more… right? :-)

Please write to the email marketing provider of your choice and ask if they provide an interface to OXID eShop. Also, please feel free to contact me personally – I would be happy to support you from this end with contacting the channel marketeers of those services.

Recap of the Developer Meet-up in Leipzig on Friday, March 11th

Posted by on Thursday, 17 March, 2011

As earlier announced in my blog post on oxid-esales.com, Friday, March 11th, was our first local developer meet-up in Leipzig, Germany.

I personally was really surprised to see 16 people attending, including developers from our partners D³ Data Development (Thalheim, Saxony), GN2 netwerk (Coburg, Bavaria), marmalade.de (Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt), dotSource GmbH (Jena, Thuringia) and Ontraq Europe (Augsburg, Bavaria). Dirk Senebald (Gera, Thuringia), Gregor Berg (Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia) and Alexander Thomas (Berlin) also took part, together with my personal friends and (former) co-workers Mathias Fiedler (Leipzig/Berlin) and Erik Kort.

OXID Developer Meet-Up Leipzig 2011 - Christian Zacharias explains

Christian Zacharias explains

OXID Developer Meet-Up Leipzig 2011 - Joscha Krug is proud on his OXID Commons shirt

Joscha Krug proudly shows off his OXID Commons shirt

OXID Developer Meet-Up Leipzig 2011 - The guys found something really interesting

These guys found something really interesting

Our host, Hannes from Geyserhaus, worked really professionally to ensure that everything was set up for us. The projector and the screen were already installed, together with the tables and power cords. Fortunately, there was no Internet connection; this allowed us all to concentrate on  Christan Zacharias‘ talk about the OXID eShop framework, the OXID eFire platform, how to write extensions, and news for developers in OXID eShop 4.5.0.

The entire talk took about six hours including interposed questions, laid-back discussions and straight comments to OXID’s (Erik’s and mine) point of view. We also had an interesting four-person discussion about the pros and cons of Open Source Software. Through the process, I picked up at least 25 points to be “injected” into OXID’s product management cycle. Thanks for all the comments, mates!

At the end of the day, I think the aims of a meeting like this – namely, getting to know the faces behind forum or mailing list posts, learning about the experiences of others and bringing coders together for collaboration chances – were absolutely fulfilled, and that it was an enjoyable and learning experience for all.

I’m curious now about upcoming meetings in other cities like Berlin, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Munich (in progress), Cologne and Frankfurt. Are any of you keen to take over the organization of such meetings? Drop me a line or post a comment if so!

Switching to Ubuntu Part III: Working with VirtualBox

Posted by on Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

After publishing my last blog post about switching to Ubuntu, I took a short break for a while. I had a few problems:

  • I couldn’t get the VPN running as my company was using a proprietary protocol.
  • I couldn’t find a good Exchange client replacement under Linux.
  • My company had bought me an iPhone and iTunes was not available on Linux.

I came up with a solution to bypass these problems. I installed Oracle’s (Sun’s) VirtualBox OSE from the sources on my Ubuntu installation, and then added Windows 7 to it. Everything worked well, except for the USB connection. Googling the problem, I found VirtualBox OSE doesnt support USB on the virtual machine.

I decided to try the proprietary version of VirtualBox. VirtualBox OSE didn’t de-install at first attempt, so I had to remove it via the command line:

$ sudo apt-get remove virtualbox-ose

After that, I downloaded and installed the proprietary version of VirtualBox. Hooray! It supported USB and recognized my iPhone as a USB device. All systems were now go!

The process of switching over to Ubuntu continues…stay tuned for more of my experiences.

Configure the Language Sites of your OXID eShop Installation

Posted by on Wednesday, 3 November, 2010

Daily, there are more and more new online stores using OXID eShop. Some of these shops are supposed to be available in just one language (e.g. German), nevertheless they tend to forget to disable English, which is enabled as an additional language in OXID eShop by default.

This issue rears its ugly head if for example a browser’s standard language has been configured in English and the shop is supposed to be available in German only and the administrator forgot to disable English. Then, visitors will see a English version of the shop that looks rather strange. All looks good in a browser with German as the language identifier. Then OXID eShop will show the nicely crafted German content as intended.

If you don't use English in your OXID eShop

Above screenshot shows the English version of a supposedly unilingual German eCommerce site. Looks creepy, doesn’t it?

Hence, if you don’t need a language, please

  • deactivate it (see below screenshot) and
  • clear the cache (/tmp/ folder)

de-activate English in your OXID eShop installation

Hope this helps to avoid creepy zombie multi-language sites :)

My Impressions of Chemnitz Linux-Tage 2010

Posted by on Wednesday, 17 March, 2010

More or less spontaneously, I decided to go to “Chemnitzer Linux-Tage” for the first time, the probably second biggest Linux event in Germany, and was really surprised: Not only Linux geeks but a very mixed up audience of Germans and Non-Germans, developers, administrators and interested people in any kind of open source software found together in a very familiar and comfortable atmosphere.

In my role as OXID Community Guide I usually go to such events to talk to owners of interesting projects and maybe find synergies and a surplus for the OXID community. The entry fee at € 5.- was more than reasonable and to be honest: I found more valuable contacts there than on my CeBIT visit a couple of days before.

Of course, I visited the booth of my favorite Linux distribution run by the guys of Ubuntu Deutschland e.V. and furthermore, the Communtu project. Communtu is a Ubuntu based Linux distribution that lets you choose which application projects to install but most interesting is the backup feature: When you have to refresh your installation (what may happen from time to time), you are able to store your complete configuration to the Communtu server and moreover, download a CD or DVD for your new installation without loosing any application.

Also the PIM and CRM project tine 2.0 is absolutely worth mentioning. Tine is based on the Zend Framework and makes extensive use of the JavaScript library jQuery. The project is still young, doesn’t provide that many features that you would expect and really took me some time to install it today. But from it’s approach, it is very promising and the code looks clear on a first glance.

YaCy is a Java based search engine software that I hope to get evaluated for use on oxid-esales.com as well as on OXIDforge as a replacement for the Google search service we implemented presently.

After listening to two talks about IT management and OTRS (Open Ticket Request System) I hooked up with the OTRS guys Shawn and Martin and apparently it turned really, really, really interesting. We use this Perl-based software very successfully in our support department and our installation needs to be adapted for our needs. Shawn is the new OTRS Community Manager and Martin actually the inventor of the OTRS system. Hope to collaborate very tightly with this guys in the future.

For the next year, I personally would really like to have an OXID booth at the “Chemitzer Linux-Tage”. Let’s see whether we can sort it out.

A name for the baby on dev.oxidforge.org is needed

Posted by on Monday, 30 November, 2009

Tomorrow morning I will officially and proudly announce our collaboration and development platform available at http://dev.oxidforge.org. The software basis is FusionForge, a GForge fork. This platform seems to be ideal for team-work on committing code, language extensions, localizations, themes and much more.

There is just one thing we are still suffering from: How the heck shall we call that baby?
Of course, “collaboration and development platform” or even the URL name is much too long while “dev” is too short and not very meaningful. How about something like “developer zone” or “com-zone”? The word “forge” is already occupied by the whole OXIDforge thing including download pages and so on.

Let me know about your ideas.

OXID gets a Portuguese translation

Posted by on Monday, 30 November, 2009

Very good news if you want to run a modern, free and open source e-commerce plattform from Portugal:
Thanks our Portuguese community member, monteiro, Portuguese translation is now available for OXID eShop. In a first step, I put the complete file to the language section of OXIDforge. This file for displaying the front end in the correct translation, is available under GNU GPL.

Of course, you may use Portuguese lang.php as an additional language if you run your shop somewhere else then Portugal. Just make sure you translated your products and categories as well.

Also, an Italian fellow, tassoman, found his way back to the forums and promised an Italian translation to come up soon. His request for implementing gettext is interesting enough: AFAIK the PHP library “gettext” has got a lot of clients that would make both, front and back end translations pretty easy. I handed that proposal over to OXID’s shop product management.

For future, maybe we could use the new collaboration plattform on OXIDforge that we are working on for translation stuff as well as for new themes, templates or modules. It will open up the next few days.

First Open Source Meeting in Leipzig Recap

Posted by on Thursday, 26 November, 2009

Awesome, awesome, awesome :-)

I never expected 35 (!) people bringing together after this very short-term announcement, I was really surprised! Obviously, most attendees did not even see the direct announcement but heard it somehow as a rumor from their friends: “Did you hear about that Open Source Meeting? I cannot go but you ought to… “. And this is how it actually shall work. Hey, Leipzig was over the Munich line of “Attendees of the first OSS meeting”!

Although the aim of this kind of meetings is to bring users together with the “makers” of open source, of course, mostly the enthusiasts took part this (first) time. Another aim is the comprehensive exchange of experiences over the different projects. Interestingly, there was no convention like this before. However, we happily welcomed Linux users, system administrators, guys attending the Open Street Map (OSM) project, a hand full of freelancers and developers of the zope project.

The talks were pretty interesting and full of requests: Carsten spoke about the Mozilla project, Kai about working with DTP applications on Linux, Florian about OpenOffice.org (told us some secrets :-)) and Volkmar about the OSM project. Of course, in conventions like that the requests go like: What is your business model?, Where do you get your salary from?, What does the project do with your committed data? Interesting enough, isn’t it? The atmosphere thankfully was very laid back.

We thank Jan from GET AG for attending and sponsoring the rides of the long-distance attendees, also MaFi for the canvas an Henrik (yasni.com) for the projector. Not to forget Karsten (SPIZZ) for the location, the Internet connection and the nearby bar.

As we agreed, the next Open Source Meeting Leipzig will take place in about quarter a year (Feb?). And yes, you are allowed to bring your proprietary friends then :-)

ost_000 ost_002 ost_005
DSC05715 DSC05719 DSC05727

See more pictures of the event here:
http://picasaweb.google.de/floeff/OpenSourceTreffenAm23November2009InLeipzig
http://picasaweb.google.com/carstenbook/OpensourcetreffenLeipzig231109?feat=directlink#