Finished subscription reminders for the Job Scheduler tonight. It's not live-tested, but I've walked through the code enough times that it looks solid. It shouldn't take long to work out any minor bugs that appear – the code isn't all that complex just "bulky". I could rewrite it twice more and probably still not be happy with it – always a good sign it's time to move on.
Now for abandoned basket reminders. The design model is probably going to be very similar. Give the site admin the opportunity to schedule a specific number of generic reminders with a single final reminder. The icing on the cake will be the ability to assign a coupon code to the whole process so that if/when the final message is sent, the user is automatically added to a security group and the coupon code goes into effect. This'll allow the site admin to toss a hail-mary teaser coupon to save the basket sale. Hopefully the coupon code will work out to be anything coupon-able i.e. discount, free shipping or whatever.
The configuration page is getting too large – going to have to break it up into multiple pages (not ideal) or clean it up. More options mean more flexibility but coding for all this stuff is slowing down everything. I'll have a better product in the end, but it's difficult to see the end with so much extra coding involved. Guess time will tell.
According to the tech documents from NexTag, they support both Shopzilla.com and Shopping.com file formats. As a result, there is no need to write a specific NexTag format given Feed Builder already generates both of these formats.
Well I gave Job Scheduler the longer-than-usual testing period. I've had too many bugs crop up in some recent software modules and that's not good for my mood or customer perception. This always equates to insufficient testing time on the development side.
With job scheduler, I decided to force myself into a two-week process. Of course this time, no bugs showed up after a serious two-week run through. Figures
Regardless, it was necessary. Granted the software releases later than I want but at least I know my customer sites won't be throwing exceptions left-and-right.
I'm still on the fence with how to handle Feed Builder. The Job Scheduler is an enormous benefit with Feed Builder as you can fully automate the CPC marketing feed generation. However, my original thinking was that they would be separate products. Well I can't exactly make references to another product without actually including the product – the compiler will refuse to compile the module.
So it seems, at least right now, if I want to automate feed builder generation then I'll have no choice but to combine the two products. Guess it's not a major deal, but I would like to still keep prices reasonable yet feel some sense of financial reward for my efforts.
Next step is to redesign feed builder so that it will work with job scheduler. Then do some documentation, package it up and test-deploy to AbleMods.com since it's a clean AC7 install. Revise the documentation, clean up any little details and then set a release date. Whew! Software releases aren't easy at all.
Finally some time to write some programming!
Business has been far more busy than I would like. Normally that's a good thing, but when it keeps you from the things you do best, that's a whole different problem. Fortunately I have some help coming that will take some of the daily paperwork workload off my plate.
In the mean time, I managed to get an update out for Feed Builder. This one is marked v1.3 and includes the following changes:
Improvements to formatting of descriptions in all feed formats
Resolved issues with odd HTML tags crashing the file construction
Improved Affiliate URL handling – now you can specify whether the 3rd party affiliate URL should be put at the beginning of the product link (like AffiliateWiz) or at the end of the product URL.
Updated documentation that includes better explanations. This will be further enhanced as time permits.
CPC Feed Builder has been released to beta. One minor error with a reference to PageHelper was encountered and is now fixed.
This project was pretty tough. Exporting data from SQL into a variety of text formats is never simple. Each CPC marketing campaign engine has different requirements. One mistake or formatting error and the entire feed file gets kicked back out.
Compounding the issue is the delay in testing. Some of these feed engines take 24-48 hours just to tell you it worked or it failed. But at this point, I believe it is ready for beta with support for the following marketing feed files:
Yahoo Search Marketing
There are several more formats I will be adding, so if you have any suggestions please post here and I'll do my best to get them added. PriceGrabber.com is one I'll probably add.