Well it’s just day 2 of XcartGuru’s life as a website and a company. I am obviously excited and happy to be blogging again, on a new platform with the same great audience. 2 posts in 2 days? I doubt I’ll be able to keep that up!
I didn’t talk enough about the re-branding in my last post, so I am going to do so now. I have operated for the last 6-7 years under the name babyMonkey Studios. http://babymonkeystudios.com
babyMonkey Studios provided logo design work, video work, programming, and our bread and butter: custom X-cart development. Mostly we worked for individual clients performing upgrades, redesigns and custom fuctionality to their X-cart stores. XcartGuru’s mission is a little different. Sure we will still take on design projects, or custom work for X-cart 4 and X-cart 5 sites. But our main goal is focused on building and supporting modules released through the X-cart marketplace.
X-cart 5 is changing the face of the X-cart community, quite literally, some familiar faces are leaving, and many more new ones are entering. And the culture of the community is changing, especially for those that make their living from X-cart. Upgrading X-cart 4 was a pain in the neck for both merchants and devs, but it was a good source of revenue and steady work for a team like ours. There is no way an non web savvy person could upgrade the software, and often the look and feel of the site would be lost, forcing everyone to rework the site. While I think that some merchants will still be hiring devs to do upgrades, with X-cart 5 most anyone can click the button and update the site. So the brunt of the dev work can now be on creation and improvement rather than maintenance. There will still be bugs, there will still be custom code needing to be written, but I think there will be less than before.
What X-cart 5 brings for developers is a whole new way to get paid for our code. Rather than just building solutions one time, for this specific client, we can easily package our work and share it or sell it to the community. Now you can spend hours, days, weeks writing that perfect module for XC5, and rather than be forced to bill one client a small fortune for it, the cost can be spread among hundreds if not thousands of potential customers that may want to access those features. This model makes a lot more sense for everybody. Sure we could build modules with X-cart 4, and many companies have had great success doing so, but the different versions of X-cart and the customized code of the sites always made it a support hassle. At least to me, the prospect of building a module for X-cart 4 was not very tantalizing. Plus the module installation process either took hero-level code guru skills to properly complete, or the process of building a self installing module required it’s own Herculine effort on the part of the dev.
All these issues are a thing of the past. Now modules install in a few clicks, are available directly through a centralized marketplace, meet coding standards, have dependencies, etc. And with this new world came time for us to change too. BabyMonkey Studios is growing up. We are now XcartGuru. “Forged from the molten steel of ten thousand freelance nightmares.”
So what’s this about a bug? Are you going to talk about it? Oh yeah! The bug. Its not a huge deal, but one of my favorite clients is fighting it right now with their new site. This thing affects both the breadcrumbs and the clean URLs of category pages. Its repercussions might go further than I currently know, as his site is experiencing similar but even more tangled and bizarre behavior than I have witnessed.
Update: This bug has been fixed in X-cart 5.1.6, and we announced it in our post on September 26th.
What happens is the clean URL path, and the breadcrumb path get maligned after some category imports. Rather than displaying the proper trail, as all breadcrumbs should do, third and fourth level categories will display parent’s sibling categories in the hierarchy rather than the correct structure. So visiting Root->Sub1->Sub-Sub will give you a path of Root->Sub2->Sub-Sub. This path will also be present in the URL which gives us the incorrect path to the category root/sub2/sub-sub. This is the most concerning, because rather than just a display issue, it becomes a problem for SEO. The oddest and most disconcerting part is that the category can now be accessed from several URLs, root/sub1/sub-sub, root/sub2/sub-sub, root/sub3/sub-sub and so on. I have recorded a video explaining just about all of that, and recreating it all on a server from our favorite hosting guys at TSS.
I’ve listed the bug in the X-cart forums here: http://forum.x-cart.com/showthread.php?t=69828 and created a ticket in the bugtracker. I’ll keep you updated if I hear anything about the status or come up with a solution. Till next time, thanks for reading and good luck with all your e-commerce efforts!
Mike White- signing off.