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OXID team meets students in Konstanz and Furtwangen

With a spring mood set the OXID team off for a two consecutive student job fairs in Konstanz on May 9 and in Furtwangen on May 10 in search for prospective interns and employees.

Konstanz University of Applied Science and its organized student job fair with a meaningful slogan “Connect 2012 – power for success” positively surprised us with their hospitality and a high level of organization.  More than 50 firms came together to offer various career opportunities for future professionals in diverse areas. Our booth was constantly surrounded by curious students. The bright red OXID color was really eye-catching. Young people took their time to get possibly more information about OXID, the internship opportunities it is offering and other advantages. We also did our best to satisfy students’ curiosity. Hardly any student left the room without getting to know an ambitious E-Commerce Software producer OXID eSales AG.  Special interest was paid to the forthcoming OXID Commons event. Students looked thrilled about the possibility to get to know more about E-Commerce world and to meet many companies in the field personally at one place. And of course people were excited to get our new OXID Commons T-Shirts, which were admitted by everyone to look really trendy. The fact that we run out of our 100 T-shirts already before 12 p.m. was another encouraging factor for coming to the OXID Commons, as our tiptop T-shirt will be distributed there as well.

I have to say a few words about the organization of the job fair as well. It was really great! The full service from the very beginning till the very end: help with parking, bringing all the equipment to the place, unexpected and nourishing breakfast, delicious lunch, complaisant and helpful staff. The overall impression about the fair was very positive. Our team came back to Freiburg inspired and full of positive emotions.

 

 

The job fair arranged by Furtwangen University was very successful as well. More than 90 companies were present there in search of ambitious students. The job fair rooms quickly filled with students carrying around bright red bags containing OXID leaflets, brochures and of course the new OXID Commons T-Shirts. Students were approaching the OXID booth with an interest and were leaving satisfied. Our team was pleased to talk to so many interesting students. OXID is coming to Furtwangen not for the first time and is always satisfied with the results and the high level of organization. Many thanks for that!

We hope to come back to the job fairs in Konstanz and in Furtwangen next time again, but for the moment, we are looking forward to get in touch with the interested students and to see many of them during the OXID Commons 2012.

 

 

OXID Commons 2012 Coming Soon!

OXID Commons 2012

The fourth-annual community day and ecommerce conference will be held at the Trade Fair in Freiburg (Breisgau), Germany on May 24th and 25th offering a great opportunity to meet online merchants, agencies, developers, service providers and of course, the OXID staff 🙂

Thank you all for the many presentation submissions. Many of them were accepted and promise an entertaining schedule, packed with specialist talks on all the colorful topics we have surrounding e-commerce. The schedule for OXID Commons 2012 is presently about to be put together and will be published on our website as soon as possible.

Our thanks also goes to more than 40 exhibitors and sponsors for empowering this day. You can personally contact most of them and other service providers at their stands in the trade fair area – the entry for visitors is free.

For the first time we promise the OXID Best Solution Award in five distinguished categories. Shop owners as well as partner agencies could take part and we received many submissions for it. Not an easy choice for the poor guys in the jury 😉

There will be a Get Together in the evening where you can recap the day and do some networking.

Already over 500 people registered for OXID Commons, not too many tickets left. Hurry up and still be able to get your ticket today!

Please also don’t miss out by not participating in OXID Unconference for developers on May 25th. OXID Unconference is entirely free but requires pre-registration by adding yourself to the list of attendees.

See you at OXID Commons 2012!

OXID eShop Version 4.6.0 Released

By the end of last week, we proudly published the final release of OXID eShop version 4.6.0 providing a bunch of new and useful features such as downloadable products, RDFa support as well as improvements under the hood for module handling, and another performance boost.

Downloadable Products
The shop owner, with downloadable products, can offer for example software, photographs, mp3s or document templates. A client purchasing such a type of downloadable product, obtains the associated files. This functionality allows many different business models such as download platforms or App-stores. Even mixed shopping carts containing physical as well as downloadable products are possible.

OXID goes semantic web with RDFa and GoodRelations
With Rich Snippets, based on RDFa and the vocabulary from GoodRelations, data on pages will be allocated in a well-structured format for machines such as search engine robots. We are concerned with the fact that search engines should appreciate it – maybe with a better ranking? 🙂

Improved module handling
There’s now an extended menu called “Extensions”, containing themes and modules. The shop automatically lists all installed modules here. A standardized meta file will provide all relevant details and options of the modules. Please note that you have to explicitly activate older modules that you have already installed. Nevertheless, they shall work properly with the new system.

Increased Performance
The performance of OXID eShop could be increased significantly in high load scenarios by reducing SQL queries, fine tuning of the caching mechanism and other code optimizations.

Although we have released OXID eShop version 4.6.0, we will continue maintaining version 4.5 with patches for bugs marked as important, while in parallel we will release patches for 4.6 as usual. i.e. that there will be a version 4.5.11 and most likely a 4.5.12, while you for sure can also expect patches 4.6.1, 4.6.2 etc…

Please note, that we couldn’t deliver 4.6.0 with French as a third language like promised. Instead, you can download the language files needed for the storefront and the admin interface from the translation tool. Please log in here using „guest“ as user and password.

If you want to dig a bit deeper into technical details, at our release page on OXID forge.

OXID eShop: Update Cycles and Maintenance Releases

In a couple of weeks we will release OXID eShop version 4.6.0. Thanks to our proven Open Source development and beta testing process this release will be in time and built to highest quality standards.

However, starting with the release of version 4.6.0 we will introduce some slight changes in the update cycles. This will make the update process easier and clearer for everybody. We will also expand our maintenance activities for previous versions of OXID eShop.

Terminology

There will be three different kinds of releases:

  • Major releases: Upgrades OXID eShop to a new version number, e.g. 4.0 or 5.0
  • Minor releases: Updates the current major release, e.g. 4.6 or 5.1
  • Patch: Indicates the stage of development for current minor release, e.g. 4.6.1 or 4.5.8

Maintenance

As with previous version of OXID eShop you will continue to get a monthly patch that fixes known bugs for the current minor release. Extending our maintenance activities, from now on we will also supply patches for the previous version (X.X-1). But patches for previous versions will be released only when needed and not a regular basis. They will not contain any new or additional features.

As usual, you will have two possibilities to update: You can either download the full release or you can generate a cumulative package. Just pick your current version and you will get one package that will automatically do a complete update to the newest version of OXID eShop for you.

Keep your system up to date

Every release will be compatible with PHP 5.2 and PHP 5.3.

For optimal functionality of OXID eShop and its extensions we recommend regular updates and always using the latest versions. We also recommend working with a test and staging system at all times.

Update cycles

The next major release will be 5.0, coming this summer. About a quarter of a year later we will supply you with the first minor release 5.1.

For the upcoming major releases we aim to get them out around the beginning of each year. The first minor release will follow early in the year, so our customers have enough time to update their shops and go into the Christmas trade with a smoothly running OXID eShop.

Now Available: OXID eShop Version 4.6.0 Beta 3

A few days ago, we published another OXID eShop beta version in which we were mostly working on feature completions according to our roadmap. Are you astonished about the version number beta3? Well, the first beta release hasn’t been published and beta2 was simply called “beta”. Now there is another public version available for download. Please feel free to check it out, especially the new features “Downloadable Products” and “Rich Snippets with RDFa and GoodRelations” and submit your opinion to the usual channels (forums or dev-general mailing list).

Module and template developers might be more interested in the new extension handling and the built in template documentation via $this->iDebug=8 in config.inc.php. Please also take a look at the download section on OXIDforge where the core developers will submit all important changes and draft explanations during the development process.

Additionally, we implemented a credits page that shall be available in all shops under http://www.youroxideshop.com/Credits. It is requested that this CMS page, that works independent from the language, not be removed in accordance with GPLv3 FAQ and in honor of code contributors. Of course, you are allowed to remove the link to it in the footer section.

Due to reasons of administration we had to remove French as a third language from this beta version. We would like to assert that we are working hard to make sure French will again become part of the final distribution of OXID eShop version 4.6.0.

Alright, now have fun checking the new beta. If you don’t want to install it, you could have a first glance at it in the demo installation.

Once again: please do not use any beta version in a business critical environment on your live system. We will not provide update patches to or from this version nor tell you how to remove the orange welcome banner 🙂

Recap of Admin2.0 Hackaton

In our last blog post, we announced a special community event: a kick-off meeting for starting coding on a new admin panel. In all roundabout 10 interested developers from the community, from our partner network and also from shop owners came together in rooms in our branch office in Halle (Saale), Germany.

@Tobias writes in his German blog post:

“From the get go on Thursday evening, we were talking about, in a cozy atmosphere, the first common issues. The entire Friday was needed for working on the concept of the project so that the first lines of code could be written on Saturday.

In general, the new admin panel shall be so encapsulated that it can be used in parallel to other possible admin panels. As a basis for this, a REST API will be used so that even other applications have the possibility to pull or push data from and to the shop in a standardized format (JSON, XML, CSV etc).

After we planned this concept together, we split up into two groups, one for the admin front end (Rafael [HEINER DIRECT], Dennis [Koffer-direkt.de] Simone [marmalade], Rüdiger [GN2-Netzwerk]), and one for the REST API backend (Joscha [marmalade], Dave [GN2-Netzwerk], Daniel [Mayflower], Stefan [Mayflower], Tobias [shoptimax]). Not to forget the “hands by remote” (Kristian [D3], Ray [Haller Stahlwaren] -> Thanks for the care package!)
The result already looks good, and the present state can be seen at github.”

OXID Hackaton March 9th/10th: OXID Hackaton March 9th/10th

Of course, the development process continued after the event. In the meantime, the basis of the REST server is finished and all data from the oxarticle object can be called up. The authentication routine is nearly finished, and only token support is missing, but it will be done soon.

We applied for open source support at Atlassian and thankfully got a Jira + Confluence account. Also, there will be a server for the quality assurance with a Jenkins installation to check the status of the coding style and PHPunit tests.

In our last conference call on Monday evening this week, we agreed on how to share the upcoming tasks. Most likely, there will be another face-to-face meeting on the eve of OXID Commons 2012.

Stay tuned. If you want to get in touch with the team, please register to the mailing list or register yourself to the Jira account. Of course, any help would be appreciated 😉

OXID invites: A Community Project to Start in Halle on March 9th and 10th

In the last year, at our annual unconference accompanying OXID Commons, we already reported on the idea of developing a community driven admin 2.0 panel. This idea was followed by investigations into the client site and first rough drawings. Now, with the first developer meet-up this year in Hamburg, this topic came into swing again. We agreed on a kick-off meeting and coding event on March 9th and 10th which will take place in rooms in our branch office in Halle (Saale), Germany.

If you are interested, even from a distance, we’d be glad if you would join us! Or supporting this project, want to contribute in any other way. For example, we already have got some care packages for the coders 🙂 Please feel free to register yourself on the event’s wiki page on OXIDforge.

See you there!

Interview with Roman Zenner

Roman ZennerRoman Zenner is an author, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur. In his latest book “Online-Shop mit OXID eShop” (published in German by O’Reilly) he guides the reader through the installation of OXID eShop Community Edition, focussing on topics such as payment, basket, social media and fitting the shop to the needs of the own business model.

We asked Roman to give us a little insight about the work on his book.


When O’Reilly asked you to write a book about OXID eShop – why did you decide to take the job?

There were several reasons why this project got started. First of all, after having spent a lot of time working with the Magento platform (and writing two books about it – also published by O’Reilly) I had the feeling it was time to get to know another system better. In my daily job I advise companies which shop software best fits their individual needs, so I need to be objective about those kinds of things. The OXID eSales team was my first choice because I think they make good software since 2003 – and a user handbook was well overdue. As far as O’Reilly is concerned  – they are simply fantastic to work with!

How easy was it to get to know the OXID platform? Which difficulties did you face during the research?

Since the Community Edition can be easily downloaded and installed, I could play around with it practically within minutes. Although it’s not the most elegant thing in the world, the admin interface is easy to get along with after a short while, so doing things like adding products and categories wasn’t a problem. Thankfully, the OXID team invited me to a three-day workshop, so I got an even closer look at the nuts and bolts of the system.

What I found difficult was my lack of experience with the everyday-use of the system and all the little tricks you can do. There are people out there who use the system since the early days and have much to say about tweaking the system to make it run and look the way you want. Fortunately, there were members of the community who could help me out here – especially our technical advisor and editor Andreas Ziethen, who provided invaluable insights.

Why is a book necessary at all? The documentation for OXID eShop Community Edition can be found on the internet, the community is very agile to share experiences, and many OXID partners advise future shop owners if they want to use the Community Edition.

I’m an avid user of forums, wikis etc. and clearly see the advantages of digital publications – one of which being that obviously, one can keep track of new developments and keep everything up to date. Yet, a printed and bound book still has unmatched authority: As an author, you are very careful to make sure that everything you write is correct, and the publisher checks and double-checks that no mistakes are made with regard to language either. Also, the aim is to construct one’s text in a way that it contains a clear didactic path.

The OXID employee Juergen Busch counselled you for the book – isn’t there a danger to lose the neutrality towards the product a writer should have?

When discussing the book project with all stakeholders, I made it very clear from the beginning that I wanted to in fact write a neutral book about the subject and not let marketing lingo and cover-ups take over the manuscript. If something does not work the way it should or a function is not solved ideally, I wanted to have the freedom to call a spade a spade, and I think I succeeded in this respect.

Who are the soon-to-be shop owners who should concentrate on OXID eShop and read the book?

That’s a tough one. I would say that everybody thinking about starting an online business should have a look at whether OXID eShop supports their business model, i.e. provides the desired functionality. If this is the case – and will be in most cases because the software itself is quite flexible – people should buy the book and ideally follow it from cover to cover to setup their own onlineshop.

Other than reading the book and using OXID eShop – which additional advice would you like to give those shop-owners?

Very often I see shop-owners using features not because they provide an additional value for their customers but simply because they can. OXID eShop has many functionalities ready to be used out-of-the-box – but only in very rare occasions it is advisable to use all of them. For a retailer of automotive parts, for example, it does not make a lot of sense to automatically show all the latest products when those products are vehicle-specific and this kind of information would only be interesting to a very small subset of your users. So: the more you can leave out, the better. Or to quote da Vinci: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Most of our readers are not so familiar with writing books for special needs – could you explain us a bit the writing process?

Typically, you begin by building a table of contents that structures the sheer endless amount of information you face when you begin writing a book. What I like to do is to think about the book as being a class with a couple of consecutive units: You start with installation and configuration, then move on to entering product and category data, talk about altering the design and push the shop online etc. When you follow the line of argument, the book should guide from beginning to end, covering everything important along the way.

When a raw structure has been set up, it’s just writing, writing, writing. I’m the type of author that needs to write something in order to find the structure and I’m constantly shifting things around as new ideas come up. Fortunately, my editor constantly reads the manuscript and provides ideas as well as criticism so that I’m not missing important details but also not dwell on the little things too much.  So this constant shuffling around and ping-ponging of text is what at the end of the day results in such a book.

Will you have another book project coming up soon?

After having written three books on onlineshop software now, I think it’s time for me to do something different this year. I have a number of ideas I’d like to see published, all of which are strategy- and business-related commerce-topics I usually blog about on ecomPunk, one of my latest ventures. I’ll let you know when I fire up the old word processor again 😉

Thank you for the interview.

You’re very welcome.

Hot Off the Press: Online Shops with OXID eShop

Picture of the cover of the German book "Online-Shops mit OXID eShop"On February 1, O’Reilly published the first book on OXID eShop, „Online Shops with OXID eShop“ by Dr. Roman Zenner. I was pleased to support him in this effort. In this book, we describe how OXID eShop can be installed, how product items are entered, how shipping and payment methods can be adjusted, and how the shop can be adapted to one’s own requirements. We also highlight aspects like marketing and social media, as well as how to connect OXID eShop to our e-commerce intelligence platform, OXID eFire.

The book is intended for ambitious online merchants who want to gain a basic understanding of OXID eShop usage. It imparts the knowledge needed for building a successful online business using a fictional online store, „Theo’s Pet Paradise“, as an example. Step by step, it leads users through the initial installation of OXID eShop and provides a crash course in using the standard front end and the admin area. In subsequent chapters, it builds up „Theo’s Pet Paradise“ into a complete online store that makes full use of OXID eShop’s features, together with the reader.

The book is available in German and can be purchased directly at O’Reilly’s Web site. And if you can’t wait until your order is delivered, we have prepared a downloadable PDF containing „Chapter 3: OXID crash course„, the entire table of contents and the index of the book for you to check out in the meanwhile. Take a look and see what you think!

Preview of OXID eShop’s New Downloadable Products Feature

OXID eShop 4.6.0 will come with a set of great new features, such as support for downloadable products. Using an early beta version, I produced a screencast about this new function and added it to the screencast section of OXIDforge. If you haven’t seen it yet, why not take a look now? Note that some things might have changed since the screencast was produced, so you might find some differences to the present beta version.

You may also want to have a look at the roadmap for version 4.6.0 or at the changes on the download page – it documents, step by step, the new functions we plan to introduce. And while you’re inspecting the beta version, please send us your feedback and any bugs that you might find.

By the way: the „downloadable products“ feature was originally contributed by marmalade.de, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post. If you have coded a feature that could fit into the standard OXID eShop software, please take a look at the contribution page on OXIDforge. This explains how a contribution can be made, whom to contact and what are the surrounding conditions. If you think your new feature would be an interesting and useful contribution to OXID eShop, feel free to contact us and tell us all about it – we would love to hear from you!