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osCommerce and EP Documentation

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There are 2 sections to this long diatribe. The first is a handholding walkthrough of the osCommerce Admin area. Many folks get it installed and have no idea what to do next or what each area does. This documentation is desgned to help answer some of those questions for the basic functions. The second section is a re-release of the popular Easy Populate Addendum. I still get emails thanking me for this document way over a year after its release, so I'm re-releasing it for a new generation of people who are pulling their hair out importing wth EP. Enjoy.

 

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OsCommerce Storefront Walkthrough

from Chris Horton of Horton Web Design

 

 

Note: If you don't want to deal with installing or setting up the osCommerce software or just need help in importing products via EasyPopulate and were hoping for someone to simply do it for you, refer to the end of this document for contact information for our installation services. But this document is for people who like their hands held and would rather do it themselves. This is NOT designed to promote my business, but to add additional documentation for these great pieces of software. Enjoy!

 

This document does not cover the installation of the store because this assumes that the store has already been installed and now you just want to be able to do things like add products, delete products, set up product attributes, etc. We're going to discuss the Admin area only, not the general store. The other part of this is that this document won't cover EVERYTHING since it's simply designed to give you the basics and that's about it. So without further ado…….

 

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To start, the storefront can be downloaded and supported by osCommerce (www.oscommerce.com) and is a phenomenal open source program. They have a HUGE support forum for it at http://forums.oscommerce.com where you can get add-ons to change the way your store looks, change the colors of it, import mass amounts of products, add components like UPS shipping capabilities, tricky pricing adjustments and more. So basically if you want your store to have a certain feature that's not included in the basic storefront, you will most definitely find it there in the Contributions area.

 

But PLEASE NOTE: Any adjustments or changes you make with any add-ons or contributions to the storefront are at your own risk! Your web developer/programmer will most likely NOT fix something you mess up by tinkering around with coding or layouts. If you find a add-on or contribution you like, send them the web address to it and they'll let you know how much it will cost for them to install it for you.

 

Now on to the basics. When we install and set up a store for our clients, we leave it at the default directory of www.yourdomainname.com/catalog (or .org, .net, etc.). Check with the person who installed yours if that directory is not correct. This is the address where people will browse your store, buy things, add and remove things from their cart and pay for their items. They will be given a username and password when they sign in and they can use that login each time they visit to avoid entering the same info over and over again.

 

Logging In

The area that we’ll be talking about though is at www.yourdomainname.com/catalog/admin/. It will prompt you for a username and password and you can just use the one you were provided by your website administrator to login. If you've forgotten it, email your website admin and they’ll make sure you get the proper login info.

 

Now You're Logged In

Now that you’re logged in, you’ll see a table that will offer you a huge variety of options asking for you to “Choose An Option”. With exception to the osCommerce side menu on the left, they will all take you to the same screen no matter which one you choose with the item you chose opened.

 

So at this point, let’s start by clicking the word “Configuration” right under where it says “Choose An Option”. If it prompts you again for your login info, go ahead and enter them again.

 

On all of these options from here on out, if you have any questions about a specific item, just click to highlight the item that you’re wondering about and it will tell you what it does on the right hand side. Then if you decide you want to change it, click the Edit button, make the changes and then click the Save or Insert button. If you’re not sure, it’s probably best not to touch it. Just ask us and we’ll tell you in layman terms what it does. Again, we’re just covering the basics. If you only want to know about adding, editing, deleting products, etc, scroll down to the section called “Catalog”.

 

It’s best to follow along step by step as we move from section to section.

 

Configuration

Under Configuration you’ll find about 14 selections. Here’s what each one does.

 

• My Store – This area allows you to enter general information about your store that the visitor will see such as mailing address, phone number, Store name, etc. All of this should be self explanatory. The items you probably don’t want to mess with are the Search Engine Friendly URL’s area because it really causes issues sometimes and the search engines are doing a great job at finding stuff anyway even without this.

 

• Minimum/Maximum Values – This is pretty basic stuff. For instance, if the minimum value is set to 2 on the Last Name and a visitor registers, the last name they put in must be at least 2 characters long or it will give them an error. There are also maximum values too, but that’s pretty much how it works. The only thing different is where it says “Best Sellers”, “Also Purchased”, etc. This doesn’t refer to characters. This refers to how many of those products will be shown in your store. So for instance in that Best Seller window on your store Home Page, it will only show one product at a time in this window unless you change this number to 2 or 3. Best bet is to leave it alone. Maximum values deals a lot with these types of settings, so again, if you have questions, click on the item and it will tell you what it does on the right hand side. Then click Edit if you want to change it.

 

• Images – Ok. This one is very tricky. This is where you indicate the image sizes as they appear in your store in the various areas. In a perfect world, all the pictures that you upload would be a perfect square like 200 x 200, but yeah, that’s not going to happen. When you upload a picture, it could be one of a few typical sizes, but if you cropped, edited, resized or got the photo from somewhere else, it could one of a million different sizes. By default, when you add products, the store tries to resize the image down from the standard 800 x 600, 640 x 480, 1024 x 768, etc. Those are typical sizes. But if the image is not a typical size, then the picture will appear distorted in your store until the visitor clicks the image to see the full size photo. These settings allow you to tinker with those settings by allowing you to tell the store what dimensions to resize the photo to. You can also remove these dimensions altogether and it will always show the full size image everywhere in the store. That’s not suggested since that means when people are just browsing, the full size photo appears in even the standard table listing which could throw off you entire layout. So tinker with it and find the best setting possible or upload small photos only and remove the settings altogether so that it appears exactly how it’s supposed to without any distortion.

 

• Customer Details – This area simply gives you the option to ask the visitor for information that’s not typically asked for with an online store like Gender, Suburb, etc. If you want to get that info from them, here’s where you do that.

 

• Shipping & Packaging – This area is self explanatory. If you plan to use the USPS, zone based or UPS add-on’s or ANY shipping add-ons that will calculate the shipping cost from your zip code to the buyers zip code, you need to set these correctly. Enter your zip code, the heaviest you’ll ship, if it’ll cost more for items over that max weight, etc. But your shipping cost calculations will be wrong if the areas in this section are not right.

 

• Product Listing – This area regulates what and how much product info the visitor sees. Some people turn off the manufacturer to avoid the buyer bypassing the seller and going direct to the manufacturer to buy. If that’s an issue for you, then you probably want to turn that off. It’s not too clear here, but basically it’s 0 for disable and 1 for enable to turn these features on or off.

 

• Stock – Stock is a useful feature. If you have limited supplies, you can choose to have the store control your stock. If you say you have 5 of a product, then once those 5 are sold, it marks the product as Out Of Stock and won’t allow the buyer to buy any more or you can also opt to let them go ahead and pay for the items even if the stock can’t meet their order. You can also have it alert you when the stock is low. Change all of that here. Be aware that if you have a brick and mortar store also, you may have to keep an eye on stock sold from there and how that affects these numbers.

 

• Logging and Cache – These 2 areas allow you to either log everything that happens in the store or alternately save it in cache memory. The logging part is fine and can serve as a useful tool when you’re trying to figure out what’s going on with your store, but leave the cache option to false, because it causes all types of strange things to happen like mysterious old store menu selections and other weird happenings unless you regularly clear the cache in Cache Control under Tools.

 

• Email Options – Unless you’re familiar with the different email sending methods, formats and some of the geeky things that happen in the background with email, then just leave this at the default. Your website administrator will change this if the emails are not going through or if you’re having problems.

 

• Download – This area is pretty neat. If you plan to sell MP3’s, audio files or some type of downloadable content like documents or whatever, enabling the download features will let you do that. The customer will buy the item, the store will take payment, and then give them the option to download the file from a special URL. You can also regulate how many downloads they’re allowed per purchase, when the download expires and more.

 

• GZip Compression & Sessions – Yeah, don’t even touch these unless you know what they are. Leave that to your website admin.

 

Catalog (Adding, Editing, Deleting Products Oh My!)

Yes, it’s the area we’ve all been waiting for. I should have saved this for last because there are 6 more headers after this one. But here we are. This area is where you’ll add products, categories, attributes, delete, set pricing, descriptions and so much more. Deep breath and here we go:

 

• Categories/Products – This is a MAJOR section of the admin area. This is where it all happens. In this area, you’ll see two buttons on the right called New Category and New Product. Click New Category to create a new category and New Product to create a new product. Duh. So the first thing you need to do is click New Category and create all of the categories you plan to have in the store. Then click on the folder icon on the left of the category name to open that category and THEN click the New Product button to add the product into that category. Or you can add another category to create a sub-category like for instance having the category of Shirts and then sub-categories under that called Womens, Mens, etc. There’s really no limits to category levels, but don’t make it frustrating for the customer. The point of this is to make sure that you’re inside of the category you want the product to be posted in before clicking the New Product button. Just play with it some.

 

When you create a Category, you’ll have an option to upload a picture for that category. If you don’t upload one, then it will just show the little folder icon. But once you’re done, you can edit it, delete it or even move it. Just highlight the category you want to change and then the appropriate button. Or click the picture of the folder to the left of the category name to open that category to add products or subcategories.

 

Adding products is a tad trickier. When you click Add Product, you’re going to see a BUNCH of fields available to you. Here’s what each field means that you’ll see when adding a “New Product”

 

o In Stock/Out of Stock – If it’s something that’s not in stock yet, choose out of stock or in stock if it’s available now.

 

o Date Available – By default if you leave this blank it will post the product into the store as soon as you save it. But if you want the product to appear in the store in the future, just put the date its available here and the store will not show that product until the date you specify.

 

o Products Manufacturer – We haven’t covered this part yet, but there is a manufacturer’s area we’ll discuss in a little bit where you can indicate manufacturer names. After you enter those names in that area, those names become available here to choose from the drop down box. This will help you if you plan to let the customer search for products by manufacturer.

 

o Products Name – Put the product name here.

 

o Tax Class – With internet sales (mostly or until the laws change), you do not have to pay taxes on items sold online unless the buyer resides in the same state as the seller. This differs from state to state, so don’t go by this here. But you would indicate here whether an item is taxable or not. If it is taxable, set that here. And that doesn’t mean that it will charge tax every time, but only when it falls within the guidelines that you set up in Locations/Taxes area that we haven’t talked about yet.

 

o Products Price (Net and gross) – Input the price for the item in the Net column and your cost in the Gross column. It will automatically fill in the Gross area for you based on some strange percentage scale. I typically just leave it alone since I don’t want my costs indicated anywhere in the logs anyway just in case.

 

o Products description – Put the description of the product here. The problem here is that even if you make it look all pretty, it will put it into one ugly run on paragraph unless you use html tags. Posting html tags here to show you examples doesn't work too ell, because these pages just go ahead and translate them as actual tags. So I've moved the quick html lesson to www.hortonwebdesign.com/lesson.htm. View it there.

 

o Products Quantity – If you plan to use the stock control option of the store we described earlier where it shows the item as out of stock when the stock is depleted, put how many you have of this product here.

 

o Products Model – Put the products model number or part number here.

 

o Products Image – Click the Browse button to upload the photo of the image. Just remember what we talked about with the images above.

 

o Products URL – If you have another website where people can find more detailed info about the product, put that site address here.

 

o Products Weight – Put the products weight here if you plan for the store to calculate shipping based on the weight of the product. Make sure it’s the packaged shipping weight.

 

And once you’re done, click Preview to see what your masterpiece will look like to visitors. If you like it, click Insert. If not, click Back and fix it or Cancel to forget it ever happened.

 

• Products Attributes

Products Attributes is a confusing section, so I’ll keep the description minimal to avoid confusing the issue. There are 3 sections to this area which are Product Options, Option values, and the Product Attributes. The first thing to state is that you can’t use this area until you’ve entered products into the Products area above because you attach an attribute to a specific product.

 

Let’s use an example like a shirt. Let’s say you’ve entered the shirt as a product in the Categories/Product area above. Now let’s say that the shirt comes in various sizes and colors. Size would be one attribute of the shirt and color would be another, so you’d have to set up 2 separate attributes for that product.

 

The first thing you’d do under Product Options is put the word Color in the field that says “en:”. En stands for English. If your website is available in multiple languages there will be more fields here. But we typically remove any other languages for our clients, so there should be only that one field that says en: and I’ll proceed assuming that’s all that you’re seeing as well even though you may see more. We’ll talk about removing the other languages later. Once you put the word Color in that field, click Insert and it will create that option. Do this again for Size and insert that also.

 

The next thing is Option Values. Go over to the right side under Option values, use the drop down box and find the Option you just created (color or size). Once selected, you then enter the value. Let’s say you’ve chosen “Size” from the drop down box. You’d then enter Small, Medium or Large in the Option value field and click Insert. Once you’ve created all of your options and values, we can move onto the Attributes area at the bottom.

 

In the Attributes area, choose the product these values are for in the first column, the option name in the second column, ad then the option value in the third. So in our example, we’d choose Shirt, then Size, then Large. There are 2 columns after that called Value Price and Prefix. If you’re just providing the options for a customer to choose and there’s no price difference when they choose that option, you’ll leave the next 2 columns alone and just click Insert. Then you’ll do this for each option value (small, medium, large, etc.).

 

BUT if that option choice increases or decreases the base price, then that’s different. You would put the dollar amount change in the Value Price and a + sign for an increase in price or a – for a decrease in price. So if the shirt is $10, but $12 if the shirt is large, you would put a 2.00 in the value price field for a large shirt and a + sign to show that $2 will be added to the base price for that item.

 

In some cases you’ll want to leave the price at 0.00 when you’re entering the product into the store (In the Categories/Products area) and then put the full cost of the product in this Attributes area based on which choice they choose. We’ve done that before on several occasions because sometimes product pricing can change widely based on which products or options they choose.

 

• Manufacturers

Very simply, you enter the various manufacturers of the products you carry here. Click Insert to add a manufacturer name and logo image and then save it. Then when you add products to the store, you’ll be able to choose that manufacturer from the drop down box in that field.

 

• Reviews

There will be nothing in this area if no reviews have been posted. When customers login to the store, they can then post a review about a product they purchased. This area simply lets you edit or delete any reviews that may have been posted.

 

• Specials

If you’d like to offer special pricing on a product, you can do that here. Click New Product, choose the product from the drop down box, enter the new pricing and then the date that the pricing is good until and click Insert. When that date arrives, it will remove the special pricing.

 

• Products Expected

Products Expected keeps track of items that are about to become part of your inventory if you indicated that the product was going to become available at a later date when you were entering the product.

 

 

Modules

Ok, now that we’re done with the long part. Now we can move onto modules.

 

• Payment – In the Payment module area, they offer a wide variety of payment options that will be presented to the customer once they’re done shopping. We’re going to cover these out of order from most popular to the ones you probably won’t use. By default it will offer you about a dozen selections and only 3 of which are the most widely used. The BIGGEST thing to keep in mind is that ALL of the options you install will be available to the customer. So if it’s got a 0 in the Sort Order column, that option will appear for them. Multiple payment options are good.

 

o PayPal – With PayPal you’ll need to set up a Business account with PayPal first at www.paypal.com. This is free to do, but you’ll need to give them personal info and then they’ll ask for your bank account info. Once they have that, they will make 2 small deposits into your account. Once they do that, you log back into PayPal and tell them what those deposit amounts were and then you’re verified. Once verified, you can choose this payment option here. As with any of the options, if they’re not pre-installed, you’ll click Install to offer that payment option and you’ll then click Edit to enter the information they need. With this PayPal payment option, once the buyer is done shopping they can choose to pay via PayPal which will allow them to pay via checking account, automatic draft or any major credit card without having to get a merchant account with any banks.

 

o Credit Card – This one you’ll want to be careful with. Most online credit card transactions that happen online are done via a secure socket layer (SSL) and are processed right there online. This requires purchasing the SSL through a company like Verisign which runs about $400 per year to maintain and then the setup of a merchant account through a credit card processing facility or your bank. That’s why PayPal is a great option for processing credit cards to avoid all of these extra costs. This walkthrough assumes that you don’t have an SSL, but if you do, get with your website administrator and let them help you set this up right.

 

Assuming you don’t, here’s what happens if a customer pays via credit card direct on your site instead of going through PayPal. First, make sure that you select the split card option. That means that the middle numbers of the credit card will be e-mailed to you and the first and last digits and expiration date are stored in the password protected area of your website. We show you how to get that info later. Just make sure that if you use this payment method, that you indicate how this is done in the Privacy area for your customers to protect yourself from any privacy nuts. Better Business Bureau members will be required to do this anyway.

 

o COD or Checks/Money Order

Doubtful that you’ll use this, but if you allow them to pay when they physically get the order, then these options would be fine. This would probably work for a pizza delivery place or something.

 

o The rest of them

The rest of the options are RARELY used. 2Checkout is becoming more popular and has about the same type of setup as PayPal. If you’re familiar or comfortable with any of the other ones listed, go for it. If not, leave them alone.

 

• Shipping

Out of the gate, the shipping modules offered are slim and sometimes even popular ones like UPS have to be obtained from the Contributions area of the osCommerce website. But most of these suffice for a lot of people so we’ll talk about the ones that typically come pre-installed. The BIGGEST thing to keep in mind is that ALL of the options you install will be available to the customer. So if it’s got a 0 in the Sort Order column, that option will appear for them. And they will go with the lowest priced option regardless if it calculated wrong and comes out of your pocket. Test them out and see which one is more accurate and stick with that one.

 

o Flat rate – This option is for when you have one flat rate that you charge no matter what they order or how much they order.

 

o Per Item – This allows you to indicate a dollar amount for each item purchased. So if you want to charge $2 PER item ordered, you’d use this option.

 

o Table Rate – If you want to charge shipping based on total dollar amount of the order, use this option. For instance, 0-$10 is $3 shipping, 10-20 is $5 shipping, etc.

 

o USPS – USPS will base the shipping charge on the total weight of the order, so unless you have indicated weights for all of your products, don’t use this option. It does not update its shipping charges when postage increases happen either, so you have to manually update it or simply add on a handling charge to cover the difference. A $5 handling charge normally hits it right on the head. They try to update the charts with each new version of osCommerce, but play it safe.

 

• Order Total Modules

This area allows you to set some neat features and here they are.

 

o Low Order Fee – Set this if you want to charge them a fee for not ordering up to a specific dollar amount. For instance if you want to charge a $5 fee if the order is not $10 or higher.

 

o Shipping – Here you can offer free shipping if the order is over a certain dollar amount.

 

o Subtotal – Turn this on to show the user the subtotal of their order before taxes, shipping, handling, etc is added in.

 

o Tax – Turn on if you want to show them how much tax they paid.

 

o Total – Turn on to show them the complete total order charge with everything included. Leave this set to true because everyone wants to know what the TOTAL cost will be and leaving it off is bad business.

 

 

Customers

Now for the customer area. There are only 2 sections here which are Customers and Orders. Both will be blank until you get some orders placed in the store. Once someone orders items, their information is stored in this area. The Customer area will show you their info like address, past orders and also the option to email them. The other area is Orders where it shows orders placed in your store in chronological order. If you chose the credit card option as a payment method, you’d click on the order and then click Edit and the credit card info will be in that area with exception to the middle digits which will be sent to you via email.

 

 

Locations/Taxes

This area is important for those wishing to charge tax on the items or taxes only in certain states, etc.

 

• Countries – Unless you’re planning to sell products worldwide, this area will show every country out there. You could kill yourself deleting each one or have your website administrator kill them in one swoop by deleting them from the database in phpMyAdmin. I’m not going to show you how to do that here because that’s just asking for trouble. So just highlight the ones you want to delete and then click Delete or contact your web guy to do it for you.

 

• Zones – All of the zones are pre-entered and these get deleted when the country that they’re a zone of get deleted. But for instance, if you were to remove every country except for the United States, you’ll still see about 60 zones showing. There are only 50 states though, so how could this be? That’s because, along with the states, it will also show the Armed Forces locations and even Guam and Virgin Islands. So if you do narrow it down to one country, go through the zones and delete stuff like that unless you plan to ship there also. They are WAY too thorough.

 

• Tax Zones – These zones are different from the regular zones above. These are zones that will be taxed. Remember that in most states, online orders are not taxable unless the Buyer is from the same state as the seller. So if you reside in Florida, Florida is the only zone that needs to be shown here. By default, Florida is typically the only tax zone showing here out of the box. If that’s not your state, click Edit and change the name to your state. You can also add other states also of course. Once you’ve done that, you’re not done though. Click on the image of the folder next to the zone name to open it (just like you did with the Categories). You’ll then see what zone that folder is set to. If it’s not right, click edit to change it and then Update. But look inside that tax zone folder! Just like people, the folder name means nothing. It’s what’s inside that counts. As always, check your local and state tax rules.

 

• Tax Classes – You can set up tax classes here. The default is taxable goods which will be added to all products from buyers from your state IF you indicated the item was taxable when you entered the product.

 

• Tax Rates – Here you will indicate what the tax rate is for each tax zone you’ve set up. Make sure that even if it’s right, click Edit anyway because by default it will say “FL tax rate” in the Description field of the order. So even if its right monetarily, it will read “FL tax rate” on the order and that may set off red flags to your buyers regardless of whether the actual total is right or not. It’s just text, but it’s wrong (unless you live in Florida).

 

 

Localizations

Here you’ll set stuff like currencies, languages, etc.

 

• Currencies – Add, edit or delete the currencies that you plan to accept.

 

• Languages – Add, edit or delete the languages available on your site. My pet peeve is the British flag for English. It’s correct to an extent, but for U.S. based stores, it’s not right. Email us at info@hortonwebdesign.com for a replacement US flag image for this oversight. Then you just drop it into the following directory: /catalog/includes/languages/English/images and overwrite the icon.gif file.

 

• Order Status – One of the neat features of the store is the ability for customers to log back in and see the status of their order. By default, the options are Pending, Processing and Delivered. Under the Customers area, you click on Orders and highlight and edit the order (like you do when retrieving the credit card info). On the bottom of that edit screen for the order will be a drop down box where you can choose one of the 3 options, as well as leave notes to be emailed to the customer or only for your personal viewing. This area allows you to create more than just these 3 default options such as On Hold, Payment Declined or whatever you’d like.

 

 

Reports

I’m not going to delve too much into this since it’s self explanatory. This gives you 3 reports to choose from which include Products Viewed, Products Purchased and Best Customer Orders-Total. You can view the best selling products, who your most valuable and loyal customers are and what your most popular products are along with other details.

 

 

Tools

And finally, the last section, Tools.

 

• Database Backup – This provides you with options to backup the store. If you make a lot changes to the store (or plan to), be sure to back it up here. If things get messed up, you can also restore from the backup from here.

 

• Banner Manager – If you’ve gone about the hassle of creating ad banners, you can use this banner manager to rotate them on and off the pages, manage them in groups, indicate when they’ll stop and start and on and on. This also is a nice feature if your store becomes popular and advertisers want to pay you to place their ads on your store in rotation.

 

• Cache Manager – If strange things start appearing on your site like other people’s info or old info you’ve removed ages ago that just won’t go away, use the cache control. Choose the cache file you want to clear ad then click the little recycling looking icon to clear it out. It won’t erase your store information, so it’s okay.

 

• Define Languages – Oh boy. The big daddy. Everything you see on the store can be altered from this area. From the “What’s New Here” to “Welcome” to “Privacy” to “Conditions”. Simply click the file you want to edit, scroll through and find it and change it. If it gives you permission errors, check with your website administrator to set those permissions for you to give you free reign here.

 

BUT BEWARE! This is coding and alterations here can screw up your whole store, so be careful. We will not fix clients stores that have tinkered around in here, so ask before messing with this.

 

• File Manager – This can have the same devastating effect as Define Languages above. This allows you to literally alter EVERY AREA of your website and not just the store. It’s like a trimmed down website editor. So unless you know what you’re doing, avoid this area like the plague.

 

AND AGAIN BEWARE! This is coding and alterations here can screw up your whole store and in this case your ENTIRE website, so be careful. We will not fix clients stores or websites that have tinkered around in here, so ask before messing with this.

 

• Send Email – This is a cool feature that lets you email specific customers, All Customers or only customers that have signed up for your newsletter. Choose who you want to send an email to, type out the Subject and email and click Send! Great to announce specials to your past customers. But use sparingly or find yourself spam blocked!

 

• Newsletter Manager – Create weekly or monthly newsletters here and then save them to send later. If you’re satisfied with it, click Lock and then click Send and it will send it to everyone that signed up for your newsletter.

 

• Server Info – This will give you detailed information about the server that your website is on all the way down to the program versions. It will even tell you the last time your website guy scratched his scalp. Use this if you start having problems and the techies need more detailed info about what software you’re using.

 

• Whose Online – And finally use this to see if any of your customers are in your store browsing around. Not sure why you would need this unless you were some kind of control freak, but here it is!

 

 

And that’s it! Obviously, we didn’t cover EVERYTHING in GREAT detail, but it’s pretty darn thorough. If you just don’t want to deal with any of this and just have us set it up for you, email us at osc@hortonwebdesign.com for more osCommerce installation information or for product imports using the EasyPopulate product, email us at ep@hortonwebdesign.com. We look forward to serving you and hope this document has served you well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Easy Populate Addendum (The Re-Release)

Common Importing Issues using the greatest software ever.

 

Haven't really changed anything. Any additions/suggestions are welcome for future revisions.

 

Support Thread: http://forums.oscommerce.com/index.php?sho...=163358&hl=

Contributor: Chris Horton (Daddyslipdisk)

Email:

For EasyPopulate - ep@hortonwebdesign.com

For osCommerce - osc@hortonwebdesign.com

 

These guidelines below are based on osCommerce 2.2 Milestone 2 version and using Mibbles Easy Populate With Product Attributes released on 7-26-05. There have been dozens of releases since this, so just use what you wish and enjoy.

 

Well, I have finally and successfully uploaded over 3000 products into the osCommerce store. But it surprised me how many problems I had during the configuring of it that EVERYONE should have run into. Even if you follow the instructions to the letter from the easypopulate.pdf file, you still get hammered with all types of obstacles that are not mentioned anywhere. And even common things that laymen like myself would run into are covered in the oscommerce forum MULTIPLE times. I'm NOT going to cover items that are addressed in the easypopulate.pdf file of the docs folder you unzipped. Read that thoroughly and follow it to the letter. The following are items that I ran into that I feel weren't covered well enough or at all. All of these problems are covered within the support forum somewhere, but this should cover everything you'll experience when importing and how to avoid the problems ahead of time. Enjoy and let me know if this helps anyone at all.

 

Problem 1 - Warning: file (/blah/blah/blah..) The first issue I got was the one that everyone seems to experience at least once during importing and that is the setting in easypopulate.php for the line that says $TEMP_DIR. If it's not set correctly, you'll get errors that look like this;

 

Warning: file(/yourserverusername/homepages/16/d100301682/htdocs/catalog//catalog/temp/test898_tabdelimited.txt): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /homepages/16/d100301682/htdocs/catalog/admin/easypopulate.php on line 684

 

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /homepages/16/d100301682/htdocs/catalog/admin/easypopulate.php on line 689

 

The directory structure will be different, but that's the error.

 

Solution - There are 2 reasons that I came across that cause this issue. The first (but not the reason why the specific error above happened) is that during the regular installation procedure, a "temp" folder isn't created in the "catalog" directory when it should be. And if it is, it isn't set with the right permissions. That's a big problem because the program is trying to write to that folder and obviously, if it doesn't exist or can't be written to, you get errors. Use an FTP program and log onto your site. Open the "catalog" folder and see if there is a folder called "temp" there. If there isn't, make one. If there is (or if you create one), chmod it to 777, meaning give all permissions to User, Group, and Other. That's the first thing. The second thing, and the reason for the error above is that you'll notice that the address it's looking for is "..htdocs/catalog//catalog..". Obviously catalog//catalog is not correct. This problem originates from a file that you uploaded during installation in the catalog/admin folder called easypopulate.php. By default, if you open that file using a text editor, you'll see that the file has 2 lines in it that say;

 

$tempdir = "/catalog/temp/";

$tempdir2 = "/catalog/temp/";

 

You can update multiple files to fix this issue or just change those lines. You'll want to give it "directions" on how to get to that temp folder from the root of your server. In my case, I changed mine to;

 

$tempdir = "/home/globeche/public_html/catalog/temp/";

$tempdir2 = "/home/globeche/public_html/catalog/temp/";

 

Do not use a web address like “http://www.mysite.com/catalog/temp” because http wrappers won't allow it to write to that temp folder. I've seen some posts in the forum here that say, "put $localhost in there", etc. But when I tried that, I got the same error again, but with $localhost as part of the error. Just put the full server path to that temp folder like I did above and you'll be good to go and those errors will go bye-bye.

 

Once I was able to get past that first error, I then began experiencing problems with the import. And how you configure your import file is VERY important. The best thing I can tell you is to download the "complete" store file using Easy Populate to see how the columns should be named. That's very important. The easypopulate.pdf file does a great job explaining each field and what it's for, as well as how to do categories, product attributes, etc. READ IT!

 

Problem 2 - EOREOR field The first import issue that is easy to miss in the instructions though is the EOREOR field. I read somewhere in some documentation that if you left that field blank it would default to some default setting. My sides hurt.

 

Solution - You MUST put "EOREOR" (without the quotes) in EVERY CELL AT THE END OF EVERY ROW in the EOREOR column. If not, it'll import the first product and that's it. EOREOR tells Easy Populate that it's the end of that row and to now go to the next row to import the next product.

 

Problem 3 - The Apostrophe Catastrophe The second thing an import will die on is apostrophes ('). Easy Populate does NOT like apostrophes in the file you're importing.

 

Solution - Replace all of your apostrophes with \'. So, for instance, the word "won't" will look like this instead - won\'t . And if you're using a text editor and using the "replace" feature, make sure you physically look for apostrophes in the file, because for some reason, there can actually be apostrophes that it doesn't recognize. For instance, there's a difference between ' and ’. There's not a key on the keyboard to generate that latter character. I don't even know how it's created in the first place, but Easy Populate doesn't like either one. So look closely at your data and make sure you replace both by putting a forward slash (\) in front of each and every one, regardless of whether it's ' or ’.

 

 

Problem 4 - Delimited Unlimited Your fields are all screwed up when it imports. Pricing is in the description field, model number in the product name, vice versa, etc. It's just all messed up.

 

Solution - Go tab delimited. Stay away from comma delimited files completely. I simply don't see how anyone can even describe a product without using commas anyway. So just avoid it. The next obvious thing is, check your field names. Again, I can't stress enough to read that section of the easypopulate.pdf document. It's your Bible.

 

 

Those are the most popular errors you’ll get when importing products. Follow the easypopulate.pdf file word for word and then use this document and you shouldn’t have any problems. If you feel that any of this needs revision or items need to be added to it, please post your issues in the support forum and we’ll revise this document as needed. They want Easy Populate to be the easiest program for you to use and enjoy and these steps along with the pdf file documentation will have you squealing with joy!

 

And of course, let me know if any of this has helped anyone at all. God bless and enjoy!

Email:

For EasyPopulate - ep@hortonwebdesign.com

For osCommerce - osc@hortonwebdesign.com

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