Posts Tagged oxidforge

Recap of the OXID Developer Meet-Up on January 13 2012 in Hamburg

Posted by on Monday, 23 January, 2012

The 2012 season for OXID developer meet-ups started in Hamburg on January 13. Sigmar Kress from Rhinos Media organized the location and we set up a page on OXIDforge for gathering information about participants and ideas for talks.

Although we announced the event relatively late, more than twenty people came to the meet-up. I was glad to see partners and shop owners sending their developers and project leaders to the event.

As previously announced, Joscha started talking about his TOXID project and how it can be used to integrate Typo3 content with OXID eShop (and vice-versa). We also discussed integration with other content management systems like WordPress and Joomla using TOXID. If you’ve been using TOXID for this purpose, please feel free to share your insights, or write a tutorial about it, on OXIDforge.

OXID Developer Meet-Up Hamburg 2012-01-13

Later in the evening, I spent some time talking about OXID’s development plans for 2012, including OXID eShop 4.6.0 beta, and we had an interesting and spirited discussion about this.

Another big topic also came up: the idea of developing another admin panel with the community, which was first born at the OXID Unconference in May 2011. Now, in Hamburg, almost everybody who was interested in this venture was in attendance, and so we agreed on a kick-off meeting and coding event between March 9-10. If you are interested in supporting this project and have some spare capacity, please contact me.

The bottom line: we held a very successful and informative developer meet-up again. If you would like to see a similar meet-up in your location, please talk to me about the date first. The rest is pretty simple: just reserve a table for enough people and help to spread the word.

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!

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.

The story behind the Russian language files donated to the OXID community

Posted by on Friday, 19 February, 2010

Some days ago, I accidentally found the Russian search engine Yandex and encountered some online stores based on OXID eShop Community Edition in Russian language while exploring it. I contacted three store owners in Russian (yep, I did learn Russian, but didn’t use it for a long time) and asked if they would like to contribute their language files for community use. I got immediate answers from two of them :-)

Konstantin and Vadim gladly sent to me the Russian translation for the OXID eShop front end as well as for the administration area. Both files have been published on the language site of OXIDforge. Feel free to use them in your own online shop instance.

To be honest, I am pretty glad we have Russian now for several reasons. Firstly, I believe Russia (and former member states of the Soviet Republic) are a huge and growing business region in ecommerce. Hence it would be great to grow an even larger Russian OXID eShop community and attract more developers. Last not least, it’s a great opportunity for me to practice my rusty Russian in the forums ;)

Константин и Вадим – спосибо большое, вы молодцы!

OXID developer network (ODN) and OXIDlab

Posted by on Saturday, 12 December, 2009

The past few days, dev.oxidforge.org thingy was launched. We are still looking for a proper name for it (vote at http://www.oxid-esales.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3401, need to be logged in as a community member!).

Now “OXID developer network – ODN” is about to win that race and I personally like it very much. I already requested an additional subdomain like odn.oxidforge.org for it.

Like Ralf posted today to our corporate blog, a separate user was introduced for that kind of stuff called OXIDlab “… where we publish prototypes or test implementations, which are prepared by our teams. These results of our daily work are very often the first steps to new features for our products … ” like he says. He already uploaded the first finished extension, “SuperClix Export“, to OXID eXchange – the module market place.

Well, and I am still hassling around with that bl**dy SVN+SSH write access to the projects SCM sites on http://dev.oxidforge.org. Reading SVN works properly as committing is followed by an error message like “Authorization refused”. Will get it fixed by the next week, promised!

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.