News

Issue #38: March 31, 2005
31st March 2005 by Harald Ponce de Leon

By Harald Ponce de Leon

March 31, 2005

Discussions regarding this progress report can be found here:

http://forums.oscommerce.com/index.php?showtopic=143923

Project And Community Issues

Team Reorganization
New Support Site Navigation Menu
Forum Structure Updates
Daylight Savings Time On The Forum
Updated Blogging Version
Knowledge Base Update
Most Downloaded Contributions
3 Steps to Better Forum Searching (jcall)
Half A Million Forum Postings! (ozcsys)

Development Issues

New PHP 4.1 Minimum Server Requirement
Template Structure Implementation For The Catalog

Project And Community Issues

Team Reorganization

The osCommerce team has been reorganized to have the amount of resources available optimized, and to spread responsibilities throughout the team.

Information regarding the changes can be read here:

http://www.oscommerce.com/about/news,114

We look forward to the new goals and focuses the team reorganization brings in, and, as always, appreciate the feedback the community has provided.

The team page on the support site has been updated to reflect the changes, and can be reached here:

http://www.oscommerce.com/about/team

New Support Site Navigation Menu

A new navigation menu has been added to the support site, which now offers pull down menu entries to the pages in each section of the support site.

The addition of the navigation menu brought in some changes to the CSS layout of the support site, and introduced some errors. The major errors have already been fixed, and the minor errors will be taken care of as soon as the support site moves to a complete CSS based layout.

Forum Structure Updates

The forum structure has been updated to improve the usability of which postings should be made in which forum channels.

The Payment Modules, Shipping Modules, and Order Total Modules forum channels have bee moved to the osCommerce Contributions forum category. This change aims to better support core and contributed modules in their respective forum channel instead of in the general Contribution Support forum channel.

On popular request, a new Next Steps / Marketing forum channel has been added to the General Topics forum category to hold discussions on what to do once the store is up and running.

The Community Forums can be reached at:

http://forums.oscommerce.com

Daylight Savings Time On The Forum

To correctly set the time on the forums to reflect Daylight Savings Time, please go to your control panel -> Options -> Board Settings section and select the "Is daylight saving time in effect?" option.

This will then correctly display the times on the forum in the time zone selected with Daylight Savings time in mind.

The Board Settings section in your control panel can be reached here:

http://forums.oscommerce.com/index.php?act=UserCP&CODE=04

Updated Blogging Version

The blogging module used in the community forums has been updated to the 1.1 version and now allows you to pin your favourite blogs so they are always appear at the top of the listing.

The blogging entries can be read here:

http://blogs.oscommerce.com

Authoring a community blog is only available to community sponsors - more information about participating in the sponsorship program can be found here:

http://www.oscommerce.com/about/sponsors,community

Knowledge Base Update

A table of contents page has been added to the Knowledge Base site to provide an overview of all knowledge base articles currently available.

We'd like to thank Carine Bruyndoncx for making the suggestion and hope it provides an added benefit to browsing the Knowledge Base site.

The Knowledge Base site can be reached at:

http://www.oscommerce.info

The Table Of Contents can be reached at:

http://www.oscommerce.info/contents

Most Downloaded Contributions

The contributions section has been updated to allow browsing the contribution packages ordered by the most downloaded.

The most downloaded contributions can now be seen at a global scope, and on a per category basis.

We hope this update provides a benefit to browsing the contributions section, and look forward to presenting further updates with a new community based contributions site in the near future.

The contributions section can be reached at:

http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions

3 Steps to Better Forum Searching (by Jared Call)

Many folks, forum newbies and veterans alike, have at one time or another expressed frustration with their attempts to effectively search these forums. Some (including myself) have suggested searching via Google instead (though this has the obvious drawback of not finding up-to-the-minute results).

Here are a few simple steps that can go a long way to in your quest for osCommerce knowledge.

1) Click on the "Advanced Usage Help" link. It's really not just for long complicated searches; but rather gives some valuable insight into how to search more effectively.

2) Use the + symbol to require a specific word to be in the search results. For example, if you want to know more about optimizing your site for Google, consider the following searches:

Google Search Engine Optimization (returns 24789 results)

+Google +Search +Engine +Optimization (returns 51 results)

+Google +SEO (returns 166 results)

3) Use " " to search for a complete phrase. For example, if you want to know more about changing the text "Welcome Guest! Would you like to log yourself in?" to something more personalized, consider the following searches:

"Welcome Guest! Would you like to log yourself in?" (Search fails because some words are too short)

Welcome Guest (returns 2076 results)

"Welcome Guest!" (returns 292 results)

As you can see, just a few search operators can make quite a big difference.

Half A Million Forum Postings! (by Richard)

The osCommerce community have reached the 500,000 forum postings milestone, and is currently at 511,758! The osCommerce community currently has 55,862 registered members, with the most ever of 642 being online on Feb 21 2005.

Congratulations to all in the community!

Development Issues

New PHP 4.1 Minimum Server Requirement

The results of internal team discussions and discussions held on the community forum were both positive in placing a PHP 4.1 minimum server requirement on the osCommerce 2.2 Milestone 3 release.

Placing such a requirement allows for further optimizations to be made to the current codebase, and removes compatibility logic no longer needed.

The key issues of this change involve no longer setting the super global variables ($_GET, $_POST, $_SESSION, $_COOKIE) as global variables within functions for PHP 4.0.x compatibility, and improving the multi-language support by utilizing the argument swapping capabilities of the sprintf() function introduced in PHP 4.0.6.

The community discussions leading to this decision can be read here:

http://forums.oscommerce.com/index.php?showtopic=123218

Template Structure Implementation For The Catalog

The start of the template structure has been implemented into the Catalog module on the account and checkout procedure related pages.

The implementation of the template structure also brings in new changes to the way the pages are called, and can already be seen on the account and checkout procedure pages.

For the account area, all relevant pages are now called through a main account.php file, with the relevant page content being called through the first GET parameter key name.

For example, the following URL will call the address book page:

http://www.example.com/oscommerce/account.php?address_book

With Search Engine Friendly URLs enabled, and some simple Apache configuration (not rewrite related), the following URL can be used:

http://www.example.com/oscommerce/account/address_book

The checkout procedure uses a similar URL scheme, and loads its relevant page content depending on the first GET parameter key name through the main checkout.php file.

A further change to the checkout procedure has also been made by having the shopping cart page the default page for the checkout procedure.

To prevent the main account.php and checkout.php files being clogged with processing logic for all relevant pages, each page loads a module containing the processing logic needed. This clean implementation allows for further pages to be added to the sections of the Catalog module without the need to edit core source code files, and provides an easier means for contribution authors to integrate their work on a clean codebase installation.

The implementation of the template structure also brings in a new CSS based layout to the account and checkout procedure pages. Some CSS based quirks still exist that will be fixed when the template structure implementation into the Catalog module is completed.

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