4.3.0 Release

zeckoShop 4.3.0 has just been released and there are a lot of new features to talk about. Although I won’t go over absolutely every feature, I will touch on all the major ones

zeckoCatalog

Anyone who has been a partner with Terracor for at least the last few years may have already heard of zeckoCatalog. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a client side Windows application that allows you to generate rich catalogs based on the data from your UDC. This version of zeckoCatalog as we know it no longer exists and has been superseded by our new zeckoShop module which moves it off the client and onto the web. There were several reasons we made this decision but the most important ones are that it will allow us to take advantage of the latest web technologies, heavily integrate zeckoCatalog with zeckoShop and also since zeckoShop is constantly being improved zeckoCatalog will too benefit from this momentum.

We actually released this module in our 4.2.0 release under the name Catalog Generator but have decided to rename it as it’s the next generation of zeckoCatalog. So what does this version bring to the table:

  • We have added 2 editions of the module: Professional & Enterprise. For those of you who only need to generate price lists then professional is for you whereas if you want to use our other available layouts (or have a custom one built) and other advanced features then enterprise is the way to go
  • We’ve also added 3 different plans in relation to the volume of catalogs you intend to generate. There’s the bronze, silver and gold plans which allow 20, 75 & 200 catalogs generated per month, respectively
  • A new 2 column layout
  • Previously we only supported grouping by a single level of category whereas now the full category hierarchy is supported
  • Ability to filter what products are output into a catalog by product and category. This will allow you to create catalogs tailored to a particular product set e.g. you could create separate catalogs for every major category or even just for a particular set of special order items
  • A special test mode that allows you to generate your catalog as many times as you like till it’s perfect without using up one of your allowed monthly transactions

Search

The search has gone through some major changes, mostly in relation to offering you much more flexibility in creating and exposing searches to your users. Here is a list of the major enhancements:

  • You now have the ability to create your own searches. Previously we offered 5 search/browse pages (basic, advanced, category, status & manufacturer). Basic (now called keyword), browse, status & manufacturer all still exist but now you can create any other number of searches you wish. You can choose exactly what fields a user can search by, how they sort, group, page & filter those searches
  • You can create a custom page and assign whatever searches you like to it with the visibility of the page and searches controlled by conditions. This means you can create special search landing pages specific to your individual users/customers as needed
  • A new concept we call “Custom Data Types” has been added. You can consider this to be a much more powerful and flexible version of custom fields. What it allows you to do is create a complete custom data set and import/export data to it. From here you can then use any of the fields in this custom data set in your searches. For instance, if you have a data set for vehicles that consists of year, make & model you could create a custom data set for this and then create a custom search that allows users to search for products associated with a particular year, make & model. The possibilities here are endless
  • A new masked control has been added which allows your users to search against a specific pattern defined by you. For instance, you could create a pattern like ‘DDDWWR’ where DDD maps to a diameter field, WW to a width field and R to a ratio field. A user would then enter their search terms into a text field in this format instead of having to select the fields from a set of dropdowns for instance. This works great where the format of the pattern is well know in an industry and something users are used to working with
  • The dropdown control has had a new feature added to it that allows you to set it so the values contained in the dropdown are dependent on the value selected in another dropdown control. Going back to our year, make & model example. You could set it so when a user chooses a ‘year’ that only ‘makes’ matching that ‘year’ are available in the ‘year’ dropdown and then when a ‘make’ is chosen only ‘models’ matching the selected ‘year’ & ‘make’ will appear in the ‘model’ dropdown
  • The PAS (Product Attribute Selector) has now been integrated fully into our search. This means that when you run a search, only the PAS category will display in the results and not all the products matching from the PAS. This keeps the result set much smaller and also keeps the functionality of the PAS intact
  • The way our autocomplete matches on products has been updated so it’s more efficient and also more relevant. You may have noticed that previously it only matched on the start of a keyword whereas now it matches on any part of a keyword
  • It’s now possible to turn on/off partial matching at the field level. This means you could turn on partial matching for part numbers but leave it off for custom fields for instance
  • When matching against fields in a search the previous behaviour meant that all values had to match for a product to be returned. Generally this is fine but there are cases where matching against at least one control is the desired behaviour and this ability has been added

SEO

We have added some nice automation features to our SEO offering along with import/export functionality.

For instance, permalinks can now be auto generated based off a set of rules defined by you. This means you no longer have to go in and manually create permalinks but can in fact have zeckoShop take care of this for you. You can of course still manually make changes as needed.

Also, the Google Product Feed is now auto generated after your sync runs so it’s always up to date.

Finally, you can now import/export permalinks which allows much easier maintenance of this data set.

Cart

zeckoShop has previously only allowed a single instance of a product to exist in the cart at a time. We’ve updated zeckoShop so you can turn on the ability to allow a product to exist more than once. This can be useful in instances where the same product may need different instructions or custom data. In line with this we’ve also added the ability to let users add comments to an item when adding it to the cart.

Diagnostics

We’ve added a simple diagnostics module that will let you know if certain data is malformed. This includes:

  • Missing product short descriptions
  • Missing default selling price
  • Missing default unit of measure
  • Missing units of measure

And More…

Some other really great features we’ve added include the following:

  • SSL everywhere! Now every page on your zeckoShop will be secure and encrypted. The benefit of security on every page aside, this is a Google recommendation and will positively effect your page ranking
  • Custom registration fields are now included in the admin email
  • When a user registers their username and email are now included in the admin email
  • The user manager now shows the date and time a user registered on your site
  • We’ve added shipping integration to Loomis

Upcoming 4.4.0 Release

The next release of zeckoShop is going to include several more great features including more enhancements to our search, several performance improvements, a stats module, abandoned cart reporting and much more.

As soon as this version is released I’ll write another post outlining the major additions so stay tuned!

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