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Showing posts from 2007

Checkout Manager Problem and temporary solution

If you are using checkout manager, I'm sure you are aware of today's service interruption at Yahoo! Store. Basically, stores that are using the new Checkout Manager have a major capacity issue where customers either have long waits during checkout, or experience timeouts, error messages or other interruptions. While Yahoo's engineers have been working all day to fix the problem, here is a quick temporary solution you can probably apply to your store, if your store is affected:Log into your Store Manager Click on "Checkout Manager" Click on "Disable Checkout Manager". Read the warning and disable it anyway. Back in the "Store Manager", click "Publish" under "Order Settings".Go to the store editor, hit "Variables", click "Update" and publish the store.
At this point, your store's checkout will be reverted to the "old" checkout, which still works fine. A couple of notes:If your store…

How to create clean and efficient CSS

In a typical workday, I deal with dozens of yahoo stores and very often I have to tweak, fix, or change CSS used by these stores. While some stores have very clean and easy to follow style sheets or CSS definitions, the vast majority of stores I've seen seem to include complete hack jobs, style sheets put together completely haphazardly, or as an afterthought. While working in such a store, the idea came to me to turn my gripes into a post. So the following is my list of dos and don'ts of good CSS or style design.

1. Externalize your style sheets. This means to save your style sheets into one or more css files, and link to them using the <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/lib/yourstoreid/yourstyle.css"> notation, or in Editor V3.0, you can use the LINK operator.

2. Combine your style sheets into as few files as possible. Nothing worse than trying to wade through 6, 8, 10 or more different style sheets to find the color of a li…

Speed up the Yahoo! Store editor

In my previous post I wrote about how you can reduce the time it takes to publish your Yahoo! Store; and how that trick does nothing for speeding up the editor itself. To make the editor more responsive, the ONCE operator is not the answer. What you need to do - besides of course optimizing your RTML code to make it more efficient - is to identify and turn off slow pieces of your RTML - but do it only in the editor.

As I mentioned in the previous post about speeding up store publishing, one of the most expensive or slowest pieces of RTML code you can have is a site-wide navigation bar, and especially cascading navigation bars, that not only reference the home page and its contents, but all of their contents as well. It is easy enough to turn off any piece of RTML code by using the WHEN operator. You can, for example, create a custom yes-no variable called "in-editor", and then take your existing site navigation and stuff it inside a WHEN @in-editor operator. This will do the …

Faster Yahoo! Store publish

Recently I did a complete redesign in a store. As part of the redesign, I added a hierarchical, DHTML menu navigation bar to the site. In a typical setup, such a navigation bar works like this: use WITH-OBJECT :index to reference the home page, then cycle through the contents field, create a menu label for each page you find there, and for any such page, create a sub-menu if the page also has contents.

If you didn't know until now, whenever you reference another object in RTML, such as using WITH-OBJECT or FOR-EACH-OBJECT, such a reference causes a disk lookup on the server. This is what we call an "expensive" operator; it is expensive in terms of processing power and time, so a navigation bar in general, and a hierarchical navigation bar in particular is an "expensive" template.

In the store I was working in, they had over 4,000 pages, and of course, each of those pages had the navigation bar on them. So not surprisingly, the time it took to publish this site we…

Using PHP with Yahoo Store

I seem to get this question a lot: can you use PHP with the Yahoo Store catalog? The short answer is unfortunately now. With store-tags you can access the catalog, any item and any property of any item from within an HTML page (running on Yahoo's server), but the same is not true for PHP scripts.

Store tags are special tags you can embed inside any HTML page of a yahoo store, and those special tags are then replaced by the server with some referenced property of some item in the store catalog. Although store tags were meant to be used in web hosting Yahoo Stores, they actually do work in the Yahoo Store editor as well! You can easily try it out, pick a store tag (see here for store-tag info: http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/store/tags/) and put it in any text field in the editor.

While it would be a powerful feature of Yahoo Store to be able to use store-tags in PHP, because currently it is not supported, you are still have to rely on RTML and templates if you want to have more control…

Why Store Design is Important

Some online merchants consider a nice, professional store design just a gimmick, an unnecessary expense. They say, "if I have a great product people want and I provide good customer service, shoppers will come." This may be true for stores that cater to a narrow niche market with not much competition. But in general, when you have to compete with many other stores in your business, a good design is a must.

Recently, a client of mine showed me this actual customer review:

"Fast, fast shipping, and product delivered as described, I had never heard of this company, but would do business with again. I originally had doubts as the website was not that flashy, but happily I was proven wrong.
I would give this company an A+!"

This sale closed, but how many other visitors to this web site may have turned away, because the web site wasn't "flashy?" And by flashy, he really meant "professional-looking".

Today, online shoppers have millions of options, so y…

Yahoo Store Editor V3.0 breaks table / image layout?

I've been banging my head against the wall with a problem. I've got an ImageReady HTML layout I had to put into a Yahoo Store, and everything was fine in Internet Explorer, but in Firefox, the layout was broken. Images were shifted up and down, left and right.

I knew the new Yahoo Store Editor (version 3.0) now forces all the pages to be in Standards mode , so I had a feeling it had to do with that. Once I was reasonably sure that it wasn't some dumb mistake in the HTML, I started searching for some info on standard doctype, images, tables, and mozilla, and sure enough, I found it here.

Sure, tables and images are not supposed to be used for layout anymore, but it is still a lot easier in many cases to splice a few pieces of an image together using tables to come up with a specific look. What I didn't know until now was the new standards actually broke the old habits... Not too great if you ask me, I always think that if something is updated it should always support what…