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Latest Magento Headlines, GoMage Updates and eCommerce Best Practices

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  • Basic Magento admin panel configurations

    Basic Magento admin panel configurations

    Any website requires an administrator who can configure the necessary parameters, monitor the work and update of the site, process the orders, etc. But administering a website is quite a difficult job that requires certain knowledge and skills. Let us review basic Magento admin panel configurations.

    How to change the administrative password

    It is often necessary to change the existing administrative password by different reasons. This is quite easy. Unlike many website building systems Magento will not make you go to its official site and then check your mail waiting for a new password or a reset link.

    In order to change Magento administrative password you need to access your admin panel. Then go to System - My Account. Make the necessary changes and save the data.

    Remember that your password should be most complicated, this will guarantee the security of your personal data and your customers’ information. We recommend using a combination of letters and numbers and no less than 8 symbols. The best variant is considered to be using letters from different languages of both upper and lower case.

    If you cannot access the admin panel after your password was changed, you need to consult with Magento development or try to restore access by yourself. Below we offer a step-by-step instruction of the actions that need to be done if you cannot login to your Magento admin with a new password. If you cannot login at all, you can reset your password directly in the database:

    1. Open your database though phpMyAdmin. You need “admin_user” table;

    2. Choose the option to edit the table;

    3. Enter your password;

    4. A drop-down menu will open, there you need to press “MD5”;

    5. Save the changes.

    Magento admin panel URL

    Another very interesting configuration is changing your admin panel URL. Basically, this option is necessary due to security requirements but the administrators often change the URL for better convenience. You need to go to app/etc/local.xml and open this file. It is better to use a text editor. You need the part of code specified below:

    <admin>
      <routers>
        <adminhtml>
          <args>
              <frontname><!--[CDATA[admin]]></frontName--></frontname>
          </args>
        </adminhtml>
      </routers>
    </admin>
    

     

    Now you need to change <![CDATA[admin]]> to <![CDATA[new_admin_url]]>:
    e.g.,: <![CDATA[administrator]]>.

    You should have a result like in this example: http://your_site_magento/administrator

    After making all steps listed above you must flush Magento cache. You can use specific Magento extensions or do it manually. Open Magento root directory, locate the folder var/cach and erase all folders in it.

    Now the access to your Magento admin panel will only work at the new URL.

    Admin panel access problem

    Sometimes, when you try to access some admin panel sections you may encounter such error - “Could not determine temp directory, please specify a cache_dir manually in Magento”. In order to remove it you need to do the following:

    1) Open the root directory and create ‘tmp’ folder in it;

    2) Set permissions 777 or 755 for this folder;

    3) Open file lib/Zend/Cache/Backend/File.php and locate the following code:

    protected $_options = array(
    ‘cache_dir’ => null,
    

     

    Change these lines to the following:

    protected $_options = array(
    ‘cache_dir’ => ‘tmp’,
    

     

    Save the changes.

    Read More
  • CAPTCHA module for registration in Magento

    CAPTCHA module for registration in Magento

    Additional modules are necessary in Magento system in order to create new features for web stores and extend the default options. Let us review how to create a CAPTCHA module for registration in Magento. The code was taken from http://habrhabr.ru.

    In this article we will discuss the following points:

    1. The process of the module creation;

    2. Transformation of different blocks;

    3. Controller reconfiguration;

    4. Development of module installation scripts.

    Why this module is necessary

    Having so many various Magento modules to choose from you may indeed find it strange to create a module by yourself. First of all, this will give you more experience that will be useful for your further work on the site. Secondly, it is not always possible to find a module with the functionality you need, or you are not satisfied with its price or quality.

    Why CAPTCHA module is needed? It serves as your protection from spammers and bots which try to litter your web store with malicious links and comments. Beside that we also recommend using a closed invitation code that will save you and your customers from potential intruders. It is actually quite easy to create such an extension and we are going to show you how to do that.

    Registration page

    Our registration page is located at this path: /magento/customer/account/create. We need to add CAPTCHA check and also an invitation code field that will require customers to enter their code. By default, there are three customer groups in Magento: General, Wholesale and Retailer. A customer will need to choose their group. But Magento system does not know anything about an invitation code yet, so you need to create a new attribute for it.

    In order to start the work, locate the registration form template.

    For example:

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/default/template/customer/form/register.phtml — it is a registration form.

    The attributes are added in the module installer, below is an example for the core variant but it is not recommended to modify the core:

    /magento/app/code/core/Mage/Customer/sql/customer_setup/mysql4-upgrade-0.8.7-0.8.8.php

    It is better to write your own installer and add it to the module.

    Find the description of the attributes that are being edited in the module configuration:

    /magento/app/code/core/Mage/Customer/etc/config.xml

    In tags <fieldsets>

    In its turn, registration is also posted by the following URL:

    http://localhost/magento/customer/account/createpost/

    After this description we understand that the whole process if controlled by Mage_Customer_AccountController.

    Please note that we will not modify the existing files, we will create new ones. The existing files will serve as a sample for the future work. We begin with creating a new folder in the catalog:

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/mytheme

    default — interface name

    mytheme — a name of the future theme

    Here we will create the extension templates.

    The future theme files with the same names will override the files of the standard template.

    So, actually the standard theme will not be modified manually.

    Now we need to create a module CustomerMod. The folder structure is the same for all extensions:

    magento/app/code/local/
        Examples
            CustomerMod
                - Block
                - etc
                - Helper
                - Model
                - sql
    

     

    It is necessary to create a file with the extension descriptions:

    magento/app/etc/modules/Examples_All.xml
    <config>
    	<modules>
       	<Examples_CustomerMod>
           	<active>true</active>
               <codePool>local</codePool>
       	</Examples_CustomerMod>
    	</modules>
    </config>
    

     

    Additional fields on the registration page

    We need to create additional fields on the registration page that will allow users choose to which group they will be assigned («General», «Wholesale», «Retailer»). In order to realize that we only need to create an additional block on the registration page where the necessary group will be located.

    A group selection template should be located in a separate file:

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/example_theme/template/customer/form/register/groupselect.phtml

    See below the content of that file:

    <?php $customer_groups = Mage::helper('customer')->getGroups()->toOptionArray(); ?>
    <fieldset class="group-select">
    <h4 class="legend"><?php echo $this->__('Customer Group') ?></h4>
    <ul>
    <?php foreach($customer_groups as $cg) { ?>
               	<li class="f-left" style="margin: 2px 4px;" >
                              	<input type="radio" name="group_id" id="group_id"
                                              	value="<?php echo $cg['value']; ?>"
                                              	<?php if ($cg['value']==1) 
                                                echo 'checked=1' ?>  />
                              	<label><?php echo $cg['label']; ?></label>
               	</li>
    <?php } //end foreach?>
    </ul>
    </fieldset>
    

     

    Please note that “group_id” field name must correspond to the attribute name.

    Layout correction

    Location of the blocks and their relation to the templates is described in ‘layout’ section. These are xml files which you will find at magento/app/design/interface_name/theme_name/layout.

    In the template sample being reviewed the path and the file look as follows:

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/example_theme/layout/customermod.xml

    <layout version="0.1.0">
        <customer_account_create>                               	                           	
            <reference name="customer_form_register">                                          	
                <block type="core/template" name="customergroups-select" template="customer/
                form/register/groupselect.phtml" />
                <block type="captcha/recaptcha" name="captcha" />                            	
            </reference>               	
        </customer_account_create>             	
    </layout>
    

     

    The file refers to customer_form_register. Inside it you need to add a path to the block being created:

    type is a block class. In this case it is “core/template” which also means Mage_Core_Block_Template.

    name — any name you like.

    template — block template.

    Do not forget to setup the layout update in the module configuration files so that Magento could apply all changes specified by customermod.xml:

    /magento/app/code/local/Examples/CustomerMod/etc/config.xml

    <frontend>
    <layout>
     	<updates>
         	<customermod>
                 <file>customermod.xml</file>
         	</customermod>
     	</updates>
    </layout>
    </frontend>
    

     

    Now we need to call the block.

    We will do that using getChildHtml(name_block).

    Copy the file register.phtml from default theme into the one being used and add the call before ‘Login Information’:

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/example_theme/template/customer/form/register.phtml

    ...
    <?php echo $this->getChildHtml('customergroups-select') ?>
     
    <fieldset class="group-select wide">
       	<h4 class="legend"><?php echo $this->__('Login Information') ?></h4>
    …
    

     

    Then save the changes and the customer group selection block should become visible to customers. If something goes wrong please consult with Magento development.

    New module attribute

    All attributes are stored in eav_attributes table, so usually the work with the attributes includes making changes to the data in eav_attributes table.

    You should also remember about static attributes because their values are stored on other tables.

    1. Installer scripts

    All actions related to the module modifications are done in the installer scripts which are stored in ‘sql’ folder inside each module:

    /magento/app/code/core/Mage/Customer/sql/customer_setup

    The scripts can be of two types - setup and upgrade. Magento runs the necessary script once during the installation or update of your extension. After the installation is complete a new line is added to ‘core_resource’ tables, like this:

    'customermod_setup', '0.1.0'

    Remember that the scripts will not be removed automatically, you will need to remove them manually if needed.

    2. Attribute script

    The samples of installer scripts can be found in standard Magento modules. Let’s say, it looks as follows:

    $installer = $this;
    /* @var $installer Mage_Customer_Model_Entity_Setup */
    $installer->startSetup();
    $installer->addAttribute('customer', 'invitation_code', array(
        'type' => 'varchar',
        'input' => 'text',
        'label' => 'Invitation Code',
        'global' => 1,
        'visible' => 1,
        'required' => 1,
        'user_defined' => 1,
        'default' => null,
        'visible_on_front' => 1
    ));
    $installer->endSetup();
    

     

    Now you need to update the template.

    Add an additional field into the registration form:

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/example_theme/template/customer/form/register.phtml

    <div class="input-box">
        <label for="invitation_code"><?php echo $this->__('Invitation Code') ?> 
        <span class="required">*</span></label>
        <input type="text" name="invitation_code" id="invitation_code" 
        title="<?php echo $this->__('Invitation Code') ?>" class="required-entry 
        input-text" />
    </div>
    

     

    Now update the settings. Particularly, add the installer script characteristics:

    /magento/app/code/local/Examples/CustomerMod/etc/config.xml

    <global>
        <resources>
            <customermod_setup>
                <setup>
                    <module>Examples_CustomerMod</module>
                    <class>Mage_Eav_Model_Entity_Setup</class>
                </setup>
                <connection><use>core_setup</use></connection>
            </customermod_setup>
            <customermod_write><connection><use>core_write</use></connection>
            </customermod_write>
            <customermod_read><connection><use>core_read</use></connection>
            </customermod_read>
        </resources>
    

     

    Indicate the new field in fieldsets:

    <fieldsets>
        <customer_account>
            <group_id><create>1</create><update>1</update></group_id>
            <invitation_code><create>1</create><update>1</update></invitation_code>                                      	            	            	
        </customer_account>
    </fieldsets>
    

     

    After that the registration form will have a field for entering an invitation code, called Invitation Code. Its value is stored in ‘invitation_code’ attribute for each customer individually.

    CAPTCHA

    Before starting to work you need to download recaptcha-php library and copy it into /magento/lib folder.

    In the module configuration CustomerMod we need to describe the controller being used:

    <config>
    	...
    	<frontend>
    	...
    	<routers>
        	<customer>
           	<args>
              	<modules>
                 	<Examples_CustomerMod before="Mage_Customer">Examples_CustomerMod
                  </Examples_CustomerMod>
              	</modules>
           	</args>
        	</customer>
     	</routers>
    	…
    

     

    The controller itself should be located in catalog

    /magento/app/code/local/Examples/CustomerMod/controllers/AccountController.php

    require_once("Mage/Customer/controllers/AccountController.php");
    require_once('recaptcha/recaptchalib.php');
    class Examples_CustomerMod_AccountController extends Mage_Customer_AccountController {
                              	
        public function createPostAction() {                  	
            $request = $this->getRequest();                         	
            $captchaIsValid =  Mage::helper('captcha')->captchaIsValid($request);
            
            if ($captchaIsValid) {
                parent::createPostAction();
            } else {
                $this->_getSession()->setCustomerFormData($this->getRequest()->getPost());
                $this->_getSession()->addError($this->__('Verification code was not correct. 
                Please try again.'));
                $this->_redirectError(Mage::getUrl('*/*/create', array('_secure'=>true)));
            }
        }
    }
    

     

    In order to check CAPTCHA use controller:

    Examples_Captcha_Helper_Data:

    /magento/app/code/local/Examples/Captcha/Helper/Data.php

    require_once('recaptcha/recaptchalib.php');
    class Examples_Captcha_Helper_Data extends Mage_Core_Helper_Abstract
    {          	
        const CAPTCHA_PUBLIC_KEY = "public-key-for-the-website";
        const CAPTCHA_PRIVATE_KEY = "private-key-for-the-website";
    
        public function captchaIsValid(Mage_Core_Controller_Request_Http $request) {     	
            if ($request) {
                $resp = recaptcha_check_answer (self::CAPTCHA_PRIVATE_KEY,
                       $_SERVER["REMOTE_ADDR"],
                       $request->getParam("recaptcha_challenge_field"),
                    $request->getParam("recaptcha_response_field") );                   	
                return $resp->is_valid;
            }
            return false;                                                                                 	
        }
    
        public function captchaGetError(Mage_Core_Controller_Request_Http $request) {
            if ($request) {
                $resp = recaptcha_check_answer (self::CAPTCHA_PRIVATE_KEY,
                   $_SERVER["REMOTE_ADDR"],
                       $request->getParam("recaptcha_challenge_field"),
                       $request->getParam("recaptcha_response_field") );
                return $resp->error;
            }
            return false;
                        
        }
    
        public function getPublicKey() { return  Examples_Captcha_Helper_Data::CAPTCHA_PUBLIC
        _KEY; }
               	
    }
    

     

    CAPTCHA block

    The registration page should have a CAPTCHA image displayed. For this a special function recaptcha_get_html() is used. The function can be called from the template itself (phtml) but it is recommended to create an additional class. In order to do this you need to describe the class Examples_Captcha_Block_Recaptcha.

    /magento/app/code/local/Examples/Captcha/Block/Recaptcha.php

    require_once('recaptcha/recaptchalib.php');
    class Examples_Captcha_Block_Recaptcha extends Mage_Core_Block_Abstract {                    	
        public function _toHtml() {
            $html = recaptcha_get_html( Mage::helper('captcha')->getPublicKey() );
            return $html;
        }
    }
    

     

    Now add this block to layout.

    /magento/app/design/frontend/default/example_theme/layout/customermod.xml

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <layout version="0.1.0">
        <customer_account_create>                                                              	
            <reference name="customer_form_register">                                          	
                <block type="core/template" name="customergroups-select" template="customer/
                form/register/groupselect.phtml" />
                <block type="captcha/recaptcha" name="captcha" />                            	
            </reference>               	
        </customer_account_create>
    </layout>
    

     

    Now tell Captcha extension that it has a block and helper:

    /magento/app/code/local/Examples/Captcha/etc/config.xml

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <config>          	
        <modules>
           <Examples_Captcha>
              <version>0.1.0</version>
           </Examples_Captcha>
        </modules>
    
        <global>    	                  	
            <blocks>
                <captcha><class>Examples_Captcha_Block</class></captcha>
            </blocks>                                                      	
            <helpers>
                <captcha>
                    <class>Examples_Captcha_Helper</class>
                </captcha>
            </helpers>                                                    	
        </global>        	
    </config>
    

     

    Now, your CAPTCHA block for Magento is complete.

    Read More
  • Which Payment Gateways are compatible with Magento Enterprise Edition

    Which Payment Gateways are compatible with Magento Enterprise Edition

    Payment Gateways help to arrange the process of payment in web stores using customers’ credit cards, but sometimes it is quite difficult to select a proper payment system. Let us discuss which Payment Gateways are compatible with Magento Enterprise Edition and perform a small review of them.

    General information about Payment Gateways

    A Payment Gateway is an ‘intermediate link’ between your customer’s credit card and your web store bank account. Its principle of work is quite simple: a customer chooses the desired product, presses ‘Order’ or ‘Checkout’, then the payment system redirects them to the page on which they need to enter the credit card data. The system processes the data and confirms or declines the payment.

    In our age of progress skilled programmers almost every day create new software that allows stealing credit cards information so many web store owners prefer using special payment modules. These Magento extensions allow us easily implement a possibility to accept credit card payments into our web stores.

    Many systems offer already developed modules, which makes the work even easier. But it is not always possible to install the extension on your own due to lack of knowledge, time or experience, all the more not all payment gateways are used worldwide.

    Global gateways

    PayPal

    All webmasters already know that Magento is deeply integrated with PayPal. At the moment, it is the most popular payment system which is used by each second site in Europe and the USA. All that a web store owner needs to do is register their account in PayPal and then upload the necessary extension offered by PayPal to their site. If necessary, you can consult with Magento experts and ask for their assistance.

    Authorize.Net

    Authorize.Net is the second popular gateway that processes payments all over the world regardless of the customer’s country and currency. It has a lot of useful and necessary features: payments are perfectly protected from fraud, high processing speed, currency converter, and many others. But multichannel transactions are considered to be the best of its features: now the web store owners can configure different payment ways – online with the card, ordering by post/email/phone, even through a mobile device. Now there are about 300,000 sites using this payment system.

    CyberSource

    CyberSource is a famous subsidiary company of Visa Inc. The third well-known world gateway perfectly handles the management of payments and customers’ orders, protects you and your customers from fraudsters’ actions.

    First Data

    First Data is a payment gateway for Magento which offers not only security and speed but also support. This site provides 24/7 customer support and accepts very large sums for payments. We recommend using First Data for wholesale web stores and other large portals.

    WorldPay

    WorldPay works in 40 countries and it is a world leader of payments processing in the USA. This company was the first one to launch the system accepting payments from customers through their credit cards.

    The USA

    PSiGate

    PSiGate is often used in the North America, it is a Canadian company. This system provides secure interface for a web store, all transactions are processed in real time.

    Europe

    Money Payment Services

    Money Payment Services payment gateway is a leading independent provider of functional, secure and innovational payment services for various web stores in Europe. According to the data for the last year this system daily processes payments for tens of thousands dollars.

    Ogone

    Ogone Payment Services is another payment services that works with credit cards. It is less known than the ones listed above, but it is not less efficient. Besides, it offers perfect speed of payments processing and easy to use extension interface.

    PAYONE.de

    PAYONE is a payment gateway that mostly processes credit card payments in Germany. All transactions are absolutely secure and authorized, it is also possible to configure the currency converter and accept payments in both dollar and euro.

    Sage Pay

    Sage Pay is the largest independent online payment services provider in Great Britain. It is considered to be one of the most successful startups of the decade. The system is also very popular outside the United Kingdom.

    We hope that our review has helped you to determine which payment gateways are compatible with Magento Enterprise Edition. If you have any suggestions please write them in the comments to the article. Also please share the interesting information with your friends and partners and feel free to ask GoMage specialists any questions regarding Magento.

    Read More
  • Full Page Cache system

    Full Page Cache system

    In order to improve Magento performance speed it is necessary to enable caching. Generally, this procedure takes quite a long time for programmers and administrators however Magento Enterprise uses Full Page Cache system. We are going to review it in this article.

    Why Full Page Cache is needed

    Full Page Cache is a specific system of site pages caching which helps the server to load pages within a very short time (milliseconds). The server load is very low in this case, which is a significant advantage in comparison with standard caching systems.

    Full Page Cache system caches the whole page of your site. However, not all pages are cached. This helps to save a lot of time as not every part of the site must be cached. By default, caching is only done for product pages, category pages, CMS pages and 404 error links.

    Please pay attention to the configuration file where the following part of code is responsible for the cached pages:

    <frontend>
    	<cache>
       	<requests>
               <_no_route>enterprise_pagecache/processor_noroute</_no_route>
               <cms>enterprise_pagecache/processor_default</cms>
           	<catalog>
               	<category>
                       <view>enterprise_pagecache/processor_category</view>
               	</category>
           	</catalog>
           	<catalog>
               	<product>
                   	<view>enterprise_pagecache/processor_product</view>
               	</product>
           	</catalog>
       	</requests>
    	</cache>
    </frontend>
    

     

    But there are certain pages which are not cached by Full Page Cache. These include HTTPS pages and their variants with GET-parameter no_cache.

    How FPC works

    If you enable Full Page Cache all standard caching blocks and corresponding Magento extensions are disabled automatically. At the moment FPC is launched the event controller_action_predispatch is perfomed.

    /**
    * Check when cache should be disabled
    *
    * @param Varien_Event_Observer $observer
    * @return Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Observer
    */
    public function processPreDispatch(Varien_Event_Observer $observer)
    {
    	if (!$this->isCacheEnabled()) {
       	return $this;
    	}
    	$action = $observer->getEvent()->getControllerAction();
    	/* @var $request Mage_Core_Controller_Request_Http */
    	$request = $action->getRequest();
    	$noCache = $this->_getCookie()->get(Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::NO_CACHE
      _COOKIE);
    	if ($noCache) {
           Mage::getSingleton('catalog/session')->setParamsMemorizeDisabled(false);
           $this->_getCookie()->renew(Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::NO_CACHE_COOKIE);
    	} elseif ($action) {
           Mage::getSingleton('catalog/session')->setParamsMemorizeDisabled(true);
    	}
    	/**
    	* Check if request will be cached
    	*/
    	if ($this->_processor->canProcessRequest($request)) {
           Mage::app()->getCacheInstance()->banUse(Mage_Core_Block_Abstract::CACHE_GROUP);
    	}
       $this->_getCookie()->updateCustomerCookies();
    	return $this;
    }
    

     

    During the work of Full Page Cache each separate query receives its own identification number. The number depends on the group(s) to which a customer belongs, whether a user is authorized or not, etc.

    Another peculiarity is that Full Page Cache uses so-called placeholders. In Magento they are added using the configuration file cache.xml in the module folder called ‘etc’. Each placeholder is processed by the container.

    Full Page Cache is indeed very efficient and works perfectly reducing the server load and ensuring that your web store will work fast even when there is a high visits volume. If you have any additional questions regarding FPC functionality please feel free to contact GoMage Magento experts and request assistance.

    Read More
  • The advantages of Magento Enterprise

    The advantages of Magento Enterprise

    Free software is very convenient in terms of saving money which is very important now. But is this statement right in the field of internet business? Let us review the advantages of Magento Enterprise, a paid Magento edition, as well as some facts about Magento Community edition.

    Magento reference

    Magento is an open source code platform. A free edition can be downloaded from the official site and it is used by quite significant number of online businesses. Over 25% of entrepreneurs use this Magento edition. Originally, the system founders designed it to meet the requirements of customers from absolutely different business spheres.

    What are the advantages of the free Magento Community edition:

    1. There is a separate section where design files are stored. Unlike most of the site building systems in which design settings need to be looked for in various folders Magento has a specific directory for design configurations only;

    2. A huge quantity of additional modules. You can use different Magento extensions to extend your web store functionality. This is very convenient and efficient. The extensions can also be free or paid (those offer more functional capabilities, of course);

    3. Easy system upgrade. You do not need any specific skills to upgrade Magento Community system, the only disadvantage is that it is necessary to install each version in strict order, e.g. you cannot jump from 1.5 to 1.9 at once. You will need to upgrade it to 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 and only then install the version 1.9. From the other point of view, this is even good and will help you to avoid confusion in the upgrade order;

    4. At the very beginning, Community edition was created considering the requirements of both programmers and marketing specialists. The configuration of SEO, payment modules, product lines, sales, etc. - all is possible without a necessity to use third party extensions.

    But, despite all that, in time Magento presented a more extended edition which is mostly used by large companies. It is called Magento Enterprise.

    Main peculiarities of Magento Enterprise

    We should mention at once that Magento Enterprise is not a cheap purchase. It costs $15,550. However, for that price you get the whole set of functions that were not available in earlier editions.

    Magento Enterprise advantages

    1. A web store mobility. You can configure the system to work on mobile devices without installation of any third party extensions. The necessary module is built in the system which is very convenient. If you need any assistance with the configuration you are welcome to contact Magento experts of GoMage and ask for advice.

    2. The option of extended product offers is very useful. Now the web store owners can offer their customers those products in which they are actually interested. The list can be created with the help of the order history.

    3. A widened multi-language option, extended currency support and other useful features for large international web portals and stores.

    4. Extended SEO possibilities. For example, automatic site map generation, creation of an address list of sites that may serve as link agents, filling in metadata, etc.

    5. You can use the admin panel to manage customers’ data such as their location and order history. Besides, you can control all their actions.

    6. You have a possibility to run a private sale for VIP customers. This is very convenient for online auctions or just for stores that sale rare expensive products, such as Antiques, fashion boutiques, jewelry stores.

    7. The company states that Magento Enterprise edition performs catalogs re-index much faster, is better optimized for the search engines and is more flexible compared to Magento Community.

    8. A very simple and flexible tax calculation system that works without any additional extensions.

    9. But the most necessary option is probably the possibility of site certification to be able to accept direct credit card payments without installation of additional modules. Now you do not need to install additional extensions from PayPal.

    These are far not all advantages of the paid Magento edition. Naturally, it is only really large internet portals that actually need it, as they perform trade operations with a huge amount of clients every day.

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  • A few interesting facts about Magento

    A few interesting facts about Magento

    Magento is a very intriguing platform for web stores creation. Let us review a few interesting facts about Magento which you did not know, and also some popularity statistics of this platform.

    Facts about Magento

    Magento is considered to be the most dynamic web store creation system. It is hard to believe now but it was officially released in 2008. During the first few months the quantity of its customers grew to an almost fantastic number of several tens of thousands people. This was a unique event, a real breakthrough among the web store creation systems.

    At the moment, the quantity of sites based on this system has passed over the number of 125,000 and the value keeps growing every month. A huge part in its increasing popularity was played by a specific advertisement, as the most famous web stores are developed on Magento, we mentioned them in this article.

    Beside the sites we listed there, Magento customers also include Samsung (site mobileshop.samsung.fr), the official Ford site accessories.ford.com, Olympus cameras at getolympus.com. The main reason of such popularity is open source code which can be edited by customers or Magento experts they can hire, and also the system flexibility. Possibilities to use multi-language sites and create several stores on the same database are huge advantages, as well.

    It is also worth mentioning that Magento is known as the most secure system. Despite its open source, Magento is considered to be the most prepared to fight hackers’ attacks including DDoS-attacks. Even if you do not have any site administering skills you can perform all necessary settings to ensure absolute security of your web store data and your customers’ information.

    Magento installation package is downloaded from the official site about 5000 times a day and, according to statistics, this number keeps growing. However, you may also see a link to a pirate copy on some forums which is extremely dangerous as it can contain viruses. You should be careful and do not use files of unknown origin.

    There are a lot of various Magento modules which help you configure your store in the way you wish. Beside that some Magento extensions are used to extend the standard site functions and create new ones which is also very convenient. According to the latest data there are about 2000 extensions now.

    It is considered to be quite difficult to choose correct hosting provider to work on Magento, but it is not exactly right. It would be better to say that it is difficult to choose a good hosting provider. Magento system has specific server requirements, so get ready to spend some time searching for a hosting with corresponding servers. Although, there are about 185 companies which currently offer their service in this sphere.

    Unlike many other systems, Magento allows you create eCommerce templates by yourself. Naturally, this will require some programming skills but generally the process is not that difficult. Still, if you are not sure about your skills we highly recommend you to consult with GoMage specialists and you will have a guarantee that your site will work properly.

    You cannot but agree that this is very impressive for a system that only began its extensive work 6 years ago. By the way, the world-side known company eBay won the auction where Magento was being sold by investing 22,5 million dollars into it.

    Please share the most interesting facts about Magento that you know and add your comments on the facts we listed, we would like to know which of them have been most interesting to you.

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  • What the owner of an online store must not do

    What the owner of an online store must not do

    Do you want to run your own business and create an online store? Then we will share our observations regarding what should not be done after opening an online store and also mention some marketers’ observations.

    What you must not do

    Magento store is a perfect choice if a person wants to realize himself or develop their entrepreneurial flair. But not all the things go smoothly and according to the plan. Why? It seems that the promotion is working and the necessary Magento modules have been bought and even the business plan has been completed.

    What you should not do:

    1. Do not ignore the buyers’ complaints and demands. These are just the basics of business, the customer is always right. It is fully justified. You as a businessman should understand that people are different. Someone judges on goods and service objectively and someone just wanted to vent or express the negative emotions. You must be able to screen out such things, but in any case, you should not leave anything unattended and necessarily meet all the customers and try to satisfy their request;

    2. Do not steal ideas and descriptions from other sites. It is not only show you as a criminal, but it may entail the punishment by the search engines (leastwise, it is related to the duplicate content). Write everything yourself. It does not mean that you should create a unique and first-class description by yourself. You can hire a copywriter. The new ideas are necessary. The stolen ideas may not work out not only because they are stolen, but also because they are focused on a different kind of business or target audience;

    3. Try to pay as much attention as you can to the online store optimization. It is a very important item, otherwise you will be located at the end of the search engines pages (almost 80% of people do not go further than the second page while searching for the necessary information or a product). To get the most out of the content in your online store, hire a SEO-Optimizer, install the required extension (for example, GoMage SEO Booster), use the keywords and phrases in the products description and lead a blog;

    4. Change the style and description in the Magento store. Do not think that you can write the products description one time and forget about it. Firstly, add the products with a new data. Secondly, every product should have its unique description even if there are two same screwdrivers of different companies. Please your customers with a stylish updated design every season of the year. For example, it can be leaves when it is autumn, snowflakes when it is winter, green grass if it is spring and you can choose the sea if the season of the year is summer.

    5. Do not create a delivery problem. First of all, the owner of the international online store needs to take care of the logistics setting. Try to make contacts as clearly as possible, follow up the system of accounting and the principles of the products storage;

    6. Do not hold the flow of a new product. Regular updates are the way to success of any online store. Always keep the potential customers in suspense in order to make them wait for a new collection. It is very good if you have an opportunity to sell the old products with the discount. It will attract new customers. But, of course, it is the most convenient to organize such a style of the sales in the apparel online store;

    7. Do not work with beginners. Of course, we should give the chance to young specialist, but only in case if he is a real gifted or talented person. In all other cases you should choose only experienced partners who are checked with time and references. It may be programmers, copywriters, marketers, salespeople, Magento experts, etc. The main thing is to choose such a person who is versed in your business and like it.

    Perhaps these are the basic tips what the owner of an online store must not do. We will be glad to see your comments regarding this.

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  • Magento terminology

    Magento terminology

    Magento is one of the most popular platforms for web stores creation. The beginners often feel uncomfortable using it due to lack of theoretical knowledge. Today we will review Magento terminology.

    Magento terms

    There are a lot of terms that have the same meaning in Magento as well as in other platforms. We will discuss the most frequently used ones and explain their meaning in details.

    In order to understand some of the terms it is still necessary to know main principles of Magento functionality, Magento templates, read the user’s guide. First, let us review the difference between the concepts of Websites and Magento Stores.

    Websites. On the Websites platform there can be a certain number of web stores which use the same database, customers’ base and other information sources. You can configure different sites to display the same information.

    Stores. This is the part of site visible to customers. Depending on the configuration you can divide the stores but in most cases the stores that share the same database display the same content.

    Store Views. Store Views are the parts of sites where the products are displayed. One of the most convenient Magento options is that Store Views can be configured to use several languages. This feature is frequently used for Multilanguage stores.

    Magento architecture

    The base of Magento platform is Zend Framework which is considered to guarantee the security of the site code and your personal information.

    What makes Magento so convenient:

    1. High flexibility. If you are a skilled programmer you will not have a problem opening Magento source code. Otherwise we recommend you to ask GoMage Magento experts for assistance;

    2. You can update the system when you need it, you always have a choice and a right to not use updated versions;

    3. Very high performance speed and security of the system are above all competitors. That is why Magento is used by the most popular web stores. Despite that, your site can still be attacked by professional hackers but the probability of their penetration into the site data is very low on this platform.

    The next block of terms will be useful for configuration of any Magento site:

    Core. The core contains absolutely all site functions that is why making any modifications in it is very dangerous for further web store functionality. The source code of the core is a specific set of necessary modules. It is not recommended to change their code because after that you will not be able to install the upgrade and will have to re-install the whole system completely.

    Local. Local is the variant of Magento configuration which is stored in a separate user’s archive. They are used when it is necessary to upgrade the system or some of its functions. The principle of work of the Local is equal to the original source code.

    Community. Community is the configurations of your web store. You can change them according to your needs.

    Extensions. Extensions are the files which serve to improve the functionality of Magento, extend the platform options, etc. GoMage Extensions are known for their wide functionality as well as the guarantee that they will not affect the functionality of updates. The extensions can be installed manually or downloaded through Magento Connect.

    There are several types of extensions:

    1. Modules. They improve the standard properties and functions of Magento, e.g. payment module or translation module.

    2. Interface offers a wide range of visual options. Basically this type of extension influences customers’ interface which is configured in the admin panel.

    3. Themes. They are Magento templates. They help to make your web store design unique and complete the work of the above mentioned extensions. Magento Themes are also divided into two types - Default Themes and Non-Default Themes. The former ones are built in the system while the latter ones need to be bought or ordered from web designers.

    Additional terms

    The following terms are very popular not only with Magento programmers but with other specialists of this sphere:

    Layouts – they are standard XML files which determine the page description, its view, the number of blocks, general functionality.

    Templates – they are PHTML files which include files with (X)HTML extension and various PHP tags for connection of the other files.

    Skins – they are JavaScript blocks, CSS and image files, they serve to make the site pages beautiful.

    Blocks help to create a specific set of functions. They are used for configuration of the page layout on the web stores and other sites. There are Structural Blocks and Content Blocks. Structural are general blocks that form the site, e.g. sidebar, content column, footers, and Content blocks are what the Structural blocks are filled with.

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  • Watermark in Magento

    Watermark in Magento

    For any site on the Internet it is important to have uniqueness and preservation of copyright as in the description of the commodity positions and in the photographs. Let us review how to create a watermark in Magento which will be displayed automatically on the product images.

    What is the purpose of a watermark?

    Of course, its presence is not a perfect guarantee that the attackers will not take advantage of your photos, but you will make their work more difficult if you use this way. Many search engines use the filters of the images plagiarism, thus a criminal will not be able to place his own watermark on yours. He will have to erase it or hide and this is a fairly laborious task.

    The advantages of the watermark use:

    1. Copyright protection on the image;

    2. Additional advertisement. If a customer looks for something concrete in Google Image, for example, then he must pay attention to the image with the logo of your online store;

    3. You add an additional professional feature to your business.

    How to create a watermark

    To create a watermark yourself you can use Photoshop and your skills to work with it or you can slightly adjust the logo of your Magento store. The first variant fits the experienced users of the personal computers and people with the design skills. The second variant is an optimal one for the beginners.

    Let us start working:

    1. You need to go to the directory skin/frontend/base/default/images/catalog/product/placeholder/ because all the images which are necessary for your online store for the work are located here. We do not recommend making changes in the base theme and advising you to use the user’s one. Then you should edit the images’ files in the catalog skin/frontend/default/default/images/catalog/product/placeholder/ of your Magento Installation.

    2. Now you need to develop the image or configure the logo. In any case, put yourself in the customer’s place in order to understand what you would want to see in the online store on a product image. Also pay attention to what targeted audience you have.

    3. When you finish the watermark development, you need to configure its automatic output on the image in the Magento store. To do it you need to go to the admin panel: System – Configuration and chose the Design tab.

    4. You need to find the following category in this section - Product Image Watermarks. You will see the page with the possible Magento settings there. You need to enter a certain data in the following fields:

    4.1. Base Image Watermark Default Size is accordingly the size of the watermark. By the way, about the sizes. Any Magento Themes have several standard sizes which are 262*262, 50*50, 135*135;

    4.2. Base Image Watermark Opacity, Percent. You need to configure the optimal image in this field. It will be a bright sign or slightly prominent. It should be chosen in this line.

    4.3. Base Image Watermark Position. Everything is intuitively clear here. You should find the optimal variant for your Magento store.

    5. After making all the changes please save the configuration page and go to the main one in the online store. If everything is done correctly, then you will see a watermark on the images place if a picture is not placed on the commodity position by default. If the image exists, then it should look like regarding your settings (size, opacity, position).

    Sometimes the display of the watermark in Magento does not work even if you do all the step by step instructions. In this case, you need to clear the cache. Also you can use services of Magento development by GoMage or use special Magento extensions.

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  • Replication in Magento

    Replication in Magento

    Many options which are considered as necessary for a web store are already present in Magento. Let us review how to perform replication in Magento and why it is necessary.

    What is replication?

    Replication is creation of exact copies of certain files which are supposed to exchange the data. Correspondingly, replications are the copies of some system files, the files of Magento themes, extensions, etc.

    Magento platform can properly resist the database replication which is not always necessary for a web store. But if you use it to correct some customers’ data or to manage your database remotely, then it is a very useful option.

    There are several replication types in Magento:

    1. Bag replication;

    2. Programmed replication;

    3. Replication with the help of third party software (this type is almost never used in Magento or used very rarely).

    How to configure replication

    The replication configuration in Magento is performed with the help of an installation Master Slave for a web store. This is very convenient due to easiness of many options performance. Also it is necessary to mention that, when Master Slave is used, Magento system sends waiting queries to all servers while correct queries are sent to the database.

    Database ranging in Magento is quite a difficult task. If you wish to execute it without having corresponding skills and experience it would be better to consult with Magento experts.

    Preparing for replication

    First of all, you need to configure two MySQL servers. You will also need a hostname, IP address, username and password.

    Preparing for configuration:

    1. Open file my.cnf which is in /etc/mysql directory (this only works for those who use Debian distribution, e.g. Ubuntu). In case you work with XAMPP you will need the file my.ini from xampp/bin directory.

    2. Now you need to find the part of code you see below and comment it (put a # sign at the beginning), thus you will open access to your MySQL server for other networks:

    #bind-address = 127.0.0.1

    3. Paste the following code below [mysqld] section; you can change the parameters to the ones you need:

    server-id = 1
    log_bin = /var/log/mysql/mysql-bin.log
    expire_logs_days = 10
    max_binlog_size = 100M
    binlog_do_db = magentodb
    

     

    4. Then re-start MySQL server. For Debian distribution the command looks like this:

    sudo /etc/init.d/mysql restart

    5. After that re-login to MySQL console:

    sudo mysql -u root -p

    6. And now in MySQL shell enter the following commands:

    GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `magentodb` . * TO 'slave_user’@’%’ WITH
    GRANT OPTION IDENTIFIED BY 'slave_password’;
    FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    QUIT;
    

     

    7. Re-login to MySQL root shell, enter the following commands and check the work of Master Slave:

    USE magentodb;
    FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK;
    SHOW MASTER STATUS;
    

     

    8. You will see a black screen with some white text on it;

    9. Save the data that you see, you will need them to work with Master Slave;

    10. Use the below command in MySQL shell to unlock database tables:

    UNLOCK TABLES;
    quit;
    

     

    11. That’s it, the main part of the job is finished.

    Now we configure Master Slave:

    1. Go to the root directory of Master Slave by entering the following command in its interface:

    mysql -u root –p

    2. Now create a new database magentodb and import the database which is being replicated into your new database;

    3. Open file my.cnf or my.ini from folders /etc/mysql or xampp/mysql/bin. Add [mysqld] above the following code. Then you can change the values according to your server requirements:

    [mysqld]
    server-id = 2
    master-host = 192.168.3.12
    master-user = slave_user
    master-password = slave_password
    master-connect-retry = 60
    replicate-do-db = magentodb
    

     

    4. Re-start MySQL server again:

    /etc/init.d/mysql restart

    5. Go to the root panel of Slave MySQL by entering the following in its interface:

    mysql -u root -p

    6. Now enter the following command in MySQL. You need to use the file master log and the position ‘master log’ in the same way as in the server settings:

    CHANGE MASTER T
    O MASTER_HOST=’192.168.3.12’, MASTER_USER=’slave_
    user’, MASTER_PASSWORD=’slave_password’, MASTER_LOG_FILE=’mysqlbin.
    000001’, MASTER_LOG_POS=88;
    

     

    7. Now start the server on which the replications will be stored:

    START SLAVE;

    8. Check the status of Slave using the command below:

    SHOW SLAVE STATUS \G

    9. You will see a black screen with white text again.

    Now your configuration of Magento replication is complete. We will be glad if you share your thoughts about using this option in Magento in the comments. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact GoMage specialists directly.

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