We’ve upgraded all stores to SolidShops version 1.4.1

In this first update of 2012, we have made a couple of improvements for you. First of all, our template language is now more consistent by following a specific coding convention. This will make it easier for all of you who are using the language to build  flexible designs for your clients by providing a consistent way to code up themes.

We’ve decided to make small adjustments to the syntax of some of the variables and methods used in the template language. These changes will apply to our API later down the road as well, so that you will always have one clear way of coding things on SolidShops.

The following is a list of changes that have been made. Of course we’ve also updated our documentation, as well as all store templates, email templates and invoice templates where necessary.

Changes to the template language

  • old: stripwhitespace / new: strip_whitespace
  • old: striptags / new: strip_tags
  • old: charlimit / new: char_limit
  • old: random / new: random_number
  • old: orderby / new: order
  • old: shopname / new: shop_name
  • old: shopurl / new: shop_url
  • old: assetsurl / new: assets_url
  • old: productscount / new: products_count
  • old: firsturl / new: first_url
  • old: previousurl / new: previous_url
  • old: lasturl / new: last_url
  • old: currenturl / new: current_url
  • old: nexturl / new: next_url
  • old: taxpercentage / new: tax_percentage
  • old: taxsetting / new: tax_setting
  • old: trackstock / new: track_stock
  • old: alwaysavailable / new: always_available
  • old: parentid / new: parent_id
  • old: paymenttext / new: payment_text
  • old: productid / new: product_id
  • old: taxpercentage / new: tax_percentage
  • old: firstname / new: first_name
  • old: lastname / new: last_name
  • old: postalcode / new: postal_code
  • old: countrycode / new: country_code
  • old: datemodified / new: date_modified
  • old: trackstock / new: track_stock
  • old: thumb / new: thumbnail

In short, the most important change here is that we are consistently using underscores in our variables and filters whenever a new word starts.

Additional image formats

When you upload a product image, we now generate three different versions of that image:

  • .thumbnail (this is the cropped thumbnail with a height of 200 pixels and a width of 200 pixels
  • .full (the original image, compressed and optimized for faster loading, recommended in most cases)
  • .original (the original image, uncompressed in full quality)

Other updates and improvements

The following improvements have also been made to the SolidShops application.

  • CSV export of orders now includes all details like name, address (thanks David)
  • linking Facebook stores can now be done without navigating away from your store backend
  • you can now sort products by stock in your store backend
  • theme name is added to the browser tab’s title for easier editing (thanks Pascal)
  • new payment method: “pick up in store without charging shipping costs” (thanks Jill)
  • you can now show “related products” in your store based on product tags (thanks Peter)
  • sometimes, thumbnails would be 199 pixels high instead of 200 pixels. This has been fixed (thanks Samir)

All stores have been upgraded to SolidShops version 1.4

Version 1.4 of the SolidShops application brings a number of improvements to your stores. Here’s what’s new.

Managing products with different combinations or options just got easier

Do you have products that come in different styles or variations such as color, size, fabric, … ?
Then you probably want an easy way to keep track of your stock and pricing for those variants.

Let’s say you are selling T-Shirts in different sizes and colors. That new fancy shirt you’ve got in store comes in the following options:

  • color green / size XL: 2 in stock, costs $ 11.99
  • color red / size XL: 2 in stock, costs $ 11.99
  • color green / size small: 2 in stock, costs $ 9.99
  • color red / size small : 3 in stock, costs $ 9.99

You can now easily track these stock and pricing combinations as follows (documentation is right here if you need it)

SolidShops JavaScript framework for better product templates

Let’s take the T-shirt example we discussed above. When a product has multiple product options, you’ll probably want to show them in different select boxes to your users. That’s great, but you’ll also want to print out the correct price for your user. The problem is you can only do that once a user has selected the options he or she wants.

That’s where our Javascript library come in. We’ve created a simple Javascript library that you can use to update pricing and stock info live on your product pages, whenever a users selects an option. The advantage of doing this client-side with Javascript, is that there is no need to submit a form or refresh a page in order to update the price and stock info.

You can even hook in your own functions by using a custom callback, in case you want to e.g. use jQuery or another library to throw in some effects when showing price or stock info to your user.

Documentation for the Solid Javascript library can be found right here. New stores are automatically configured with the new Javascript library. Existing templates don’t need to be updated, unless you want to make use of this new functionality. In that case, simple go over the documentation and get in touch if there would be any problems. We’d love to help out wherever necessary.

Oh, before I forget: your product pages will still work without Javascript as well. If a user blocks or does not have Javascript, he or she will see the following fully working alternative (right side of the screen shot):

Other improvements include:

  • google sitemaps are again automatically generated (thanks David)
  • you can now use a contact form in any of your theme templates
  • we added a json filter so that you can more easily implement AJAX functionality
  • the SolidShops application is now responsive and ready for use on tablets or other smaller screens
It’s been an exciting year for us and I’m sure it was equally exciting for many of the web designers and store owners that are relying on SolidShops. I’d like to take this chance to thank every single one of you for your continuous support.
Thanks for making e-commerce better, together with us, one shop at a time. Let’s do even better next year!

Deployment Day: Version 1.3.5 is now live

Hello everyone. As you will probably know we made a promise last year that we would consistently deploy a new version of the SolidShops software every two weeks.

We haven’t missed one deployment since then and after one year of implementing new features and bug fixes, we’re going to tweak our deployment process a bit. More about this later in this post, let’s first see what has been improved in SolidShops version 1.3.5.

New feature: customizable PDF invoices

We have one clear goal: to be the most flexible and user friendly e-commerce platform out there for anyone who’s building professional online stores. We keep that goal in mind all the time when we evaluate wether or not to include a new feature in the software. PDF invoices have been requested by a number of users in the past few months and we agreed that this was a very nice feature to offer.

There was only one side-note: we wanted the PDF invoices to be 100% flexible and customizable, since we’re here for web designers and other creative creatures. Anyone can now build an invoice in HTML and CSS. Combined with our Solid template language you have a 100% flexible way of automatically generating PDF invoices from within your admin panel.

To customize the layout of your PDF invoices you can log in to your store and go to “Design” / “Invoice PDF”. There you can use all the available variables from the template language, together with your own CSS and HTML. Just try to keep things simple as the process of generating a PDF is not a simple task to do. One big drawback is that the “float” CSS property is currently not supported (sorry about that, but PDF’s aren’t shiny new browsers to say the least), but other than that, you will see that you can get some pretty invoices printed quickly.

To generate the PDF itself, just open up one of your orders in your store and click the “download PDF” link. That will generate a PDF invoice based on the current order data and your invoice html template. Simple, yet flexible.

Some minor features and bugfixes have also been implemented in this release:

  • support for Indonesian language in the checkout process
  • we found a bug in the code editor’s “toggle fullscreen” option, this has been resolved
  • for easier template editing, we now show the theme + template name (Thanks Pascal)

We’re changing our deployment frequency

What we’ve learned in the past year is that a bi-weekly deployment promise forces you to get your bug fixes and new features out there on a predictable basis. We’ve been able to release and deploy features that were most important, while pushing other features to a future date. The ability to focus on what matters is truly the most important advantage we’ve experienced from practicing this deployment habit.

Now that we have implemented the core functionality we need for the future, we are stopping the bi-weekly release cycle and will deploy new versions of the software when the time is right. This doesn’t mean that we’ll be deploying less or less frequent. This does mean that we’re making a mental switch to now focus on a number of larger improvements to the software that will require more than two weeks of work before we can actually release them for our users.

Keep filing bugs if you can find one and keep letting us know what you guys and gals need to improve the software. We’ll continuously make the software better  like we’ve done from the beginning and that’s a promise. It’s been an amazing first year and there’s plenty more to come.

Until next time friends!

Deployment Day: Version 1.3.4 is now live

Exactly one year ago, we started our bi-weekly deployment promise. This means that today, we have consistently upgraded and improved the SolidShops application 26 times.

As you know, we fix bugs and add new features based on your feedback. We couldn’t have done this without you!

This release is a maintenance release where we re-worked the subcategories functionality that we launched a few weeks ago. Let me explain:

When you or your client add a product to your store, you need to select one or more categories that product belongs to. When you have multiple categories and subcategories like in the screenshot below, you now need to select all categories where you want to product to show up when a user is browsing your store.

In the screenshot above, you can see that we have selected “Shoes” and “Men”. This means that the product will show up when a user is browsing “Men’s” products and also when browsing “Shoes”. Some of you have reported that it would be nice to be able to only show a product in a subcategory and not when browsing the parent categories. This can now easily be done by just selected the subcategory, without selecting the parent category.

We are convinced that this is the best and most flexible solution for all stores running on our platform. Please note that we have updated all stores automatically with this new category structure. This will not cause any downtime for your store.

The following features and bug fixes have also been  implemented in this release:

  • if you log in to our mobile app, we remember you for 30 days, so that you don’t have to log in over and over again (thanks Tim)
  • support for Indian Rupee (INR) has been added (thanks Peyusha)
  • support for Indonesian Rupiahs (IDR) has been added  (thanks Carpus)
  • we added an extra permission in the “manage staff accounts” screen so that other staff logins can also manage user accounts (thanks Tam)
  • when trying to reach a page to manage your store (e.g. add a page) when you aren’t logged in, we now remember where to send you after logging in again
  • when filtering on category nicename or id in our template language, not all subcategories would be returned. This has been solved. (thanks Mark)

We hope you will enjoy these updates. Please let us know if you have any feature requests or if you find any bugs and we’ll hunt them down!

Thanks again for the feedback and support everyone, you’re the best crowd we could wish for here at SolidShops. Keep building better stores!

Deployment Day: Version 1.3.3 is now live

Every month, we get several feature requests from our passionate users. Thanks for that!
In this release, we’ve implemented the following much requested features:

  • easier product management with search filters and sort options
  • easier order management with search filters and sort options
  • easier content pages management with sort options

To use this feature, just navigate to your products, orders or pages in the backend of your store and use the filter options on top to refine your search. If you want to order your results, simply click on the column name you want to filter by.

Your filter preferences are “remembered” until you refine them again, or until the next time you login to your store.

On top of the additions above, we have fixed the following issues or bugs.

  • some Javascript files wouldn’t get uploaded in the assets manager, this has been resolved
  • when building a search function for your store, you can now also search on “tags”
  • the mobile version of SolidShops sometimes threw warnings about HTTPS, this has been fixed.
  • the product and page description textarea can now be maximized for easier editing.
    Press the “maximize” button on the top right side of your text editor to use this feature
  • when you lock a store and open your store to the public afterwards, your store wouldn’t be locked anymore. This has been resolved.
  • we removed the animations when navigating between screen in the mobile app, because that would cause screen flickering on some mobile devices

Thanks to all our alert users who have noticed the above bugs.

Enjoy the update everyone and let us know if you have an idea that can improve our application and our service to you. We’d love to know!

Deployment Day: Version 1.3.2 is now live

In order to create the best possible e-commerce solution for you guys and gals out there, we release a new version of our software every two weeks. In those bi-weekly updates we incorporate fixes and improvements that you – our users – have asked for.

In the past couple of weeks, some of you have asked us to start supporting subcategories for products. That way it becomes easier to  group products and build navigation structures for your stores, like so:

Together with the support for subcategories, the following improvements have been made in this release.

  • the themes overview page has been re-designed to be more user friendly
  • renaming of themes is now possible
  • support for subcategories
  • a user can now change his or her email address for their account
  • updated documentation for rendering subcategories
  • when searching for products in your store, non-standard characters in a search query wouldn’t return results. This has been fixed.

That’s it for this release. Let us know what we can do to improve the software for you in our next version.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Deployment Day: Version 1.3.1 is now live

Every two weeks we release a new version of SolidShops this year. That has been our promise when we launched on the first of January earlier this year. We haven’t missed a release since then and are once again here with an update to further improve the application.

The following things have been fixed or implemented in this release:

  • a minor bug has been fixed where user gravatar pictures weren’t served correctly over HTTPS
  • minor performance improvements have been made to the “Simplesse” and “Social” templates
  • order details now show whether an order has been created and paid for in “test” or “live” mode
  • added support for Costa Rican Colones (CRC)
  • all Facebook stores now runin HTTPS-mode, which is obligatory starting October first 2011

This is a maintenance release in which we have fixed a small number of issues that our users have reported. We’ve listened to the feedback from our users as always and will be releasing several interesting features in our upcoming releases. Please let us know if you have any feature requests or if you find any bugs.

Thanks again for the feedback and support everyone, you’re the best crowd we could wish for here at SolidShops.

Deployment Day: Version 1.3.0 Is Now Live

Today we are happy to announce a major update to the SolidShops application, packing some exciting new features. Let’s start of with the biggest one first: Facebook Stores.

Facebook Stores, included in all plans

From now on you can build Facebook stores for your clients, with your own html and css templates. From the start, we focused on making our app as flexible as possible for web designers and we do so by providing you an easy way to create 100% custom themes for your clients, even on Facebook.

We also ship a Facebook-optimized theme in our new theme store (more on that below) to get you started right away. Exact details on how to set up your own Facebook store can be found in the documentation.


Theme store

Also new is the theme store. To start with, we have added one theme to the theme store called “Social” which is a theme optimized for use in Facebook stores. The width is exactly 520 pixels wide, so that it fits perfectly into the Facebook stream.

If you are a web designer and you have a cool theme you want to ship in our theme store, feel free to get in touch with us about that. We’re actively looking out for nice themes to ship in the store.

To install a theme, simply click the “install” button and you’re ready to roll.

Other updates

We’ve implemented a couple of useful new filters:

  • excerpt filter: enables you to show only excerpts of your product descriptions
  • random filter: generates random numbers, which enables cool stuff like this
  • striptags filter: strip html from strings, useful for creating clean descriptions for SEO purposes
  • stripwhitespace filter: strips all excess whitespace from a string
  • new currency supported: Malaysian Ringgit

I hope you guys like this new release and start building Facebook stores for your clients like crazy! Let us know if you have a Facebook store live on the Solidshops platform, we’re really curious to see what you all come up with! Enjoy the update everyone and have a nice weekend.

Deployment Day: Version 1.2.6 Is Now Live

With our previous release – two weeks ago – I mentioned that we noticed a steep decline in clients sending in bug reports. That’s of course good news, as we have been working hard in the past few months to optimize and improve the SolidShops application.

We have used the time that we normally spend on support and bug fixes to speed up the release of a feature that many of you have been asking for. We are excited to release version 1.2.6 of the application, which now includes discount coupons in all pricing plans.

New feature: Discount Coupons

Boost sales by combining your online and offline marketing efforts: by giving away discount coupons to your customers you can convert a one time customer in a recurring shopper in your store. For example, some stores are sending coupons to their existing clients by slipping in a discount coupon in their order confirmation emails. That way existing customers might be tempted to do some more shopping or even pass the coupon to one of their friends.

The same can be done offline. Get out, step into the light and pass out coupons at offline events or even put an exclusive discount code on your business cards. Here’s how it works: navigate to the “marketing” tab in your store and select “Coupons”. From there add a new coupon like the one below:

In the screenshot above you can see that we have created a coupon that gives a client 100% off shipping costs, which essentially just means “free shipping” on orders above 100 USD. Be creative with the available options and please let us know if there’s anything more you’d like us to include in this feature. Documentation can be found here.

New addition: set email notifications per staff login

Another addition in this release is the possibility to enable or disable email notifications for certain staff users in your store. Click on “account” on the top right corner of your admin panel and from there go to “Staff logins”. If you edit an existing user account you will see the option to enable or disable email notifications for that user there.

Thank you all again for sending in your feedback and feature requests. It is that feedback that is making SolidShops the most user friendly e-commerce solution out there. Enjoy the update and keep building better stores!

Deployment Day: Version 1.2.5 Is Now Live

This is the first time that we didn’t receive a single bug report from our users since our last release two weeks ago. That means that we’re reaching a point where the application is even more rock-solid than it was already. For this release, we’ve implemented a new feature that has been requested by a number of our clients: export of order data.

New feature: exporting of order data

The possibility to export order data is a feature that has been requested by several of our users. Today we’ve released a basic but fully working order export utility for all shop owners. This is especially handy for people that are using external tools to do their bookkeeping.

In order to export your order data to a CSV-file (which can be easily opened in Excel or any other spreadsheet software) or to an XML-file, navigate to the “Orders” tab in your admin screen and click on “Export orders”. There you can choose in which format to export your orders.

Enjoy the new feature and stay tuned, we’ve got several other features that we’ll be releasing in the coming two months. Since we haven’t got a bug report in the past two weeks, we’ll throw in a freebie for the first one that finds a significant bug in our application. If you find one, send us an email and we’ll give 3 months for free to the one who finds one first.

We’re just that committed to making SolidShops the best product possible.