Zen Cart How To Use The Developer’s Toolkit – Part One

The developer’s toolkit in zen cart is an advanced tool found in the zen cart admin area. It’s primary function is to list the zen cart files associated with or affecting various functions in your store. By using it, you can determine which file, or files you will need to modify to make a change in your zen cart store. It can save you a lot of time and trouble when making customizations to your website. In this Zen Cart Easy Help Tutorial, we will be taking a closer look at how you can use this tool when making customizations to your zen cart ecommerce store. For this purpose, we will walk you through the process of making a simple change to the welcome email text.

First of all, you will need to create an account on your own website, assuming that you do not already have one. This is something you should always have, whether you are a zen cart web developer, or just a store owner. Having an account on the website you are making changes to allows you to keep track of certain modifications, so that you know if your adjustments have actually gone into effect. This way, if something has gone wrong, you can troubleshoot the problem and get it fixed with minimal hassel.

Next, decide what you want to change. For this example, let’s say you want to rewrite, replace, or update the text in the welcome email that is sent out to customers when they sign up for an account on your website. After you have decided what you will be changing, open your zen cart admin area and log in. Then, navigate to the Tools-> Developers Tool Kit page.

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Zen Cart Enable or Disable The Product Notification System

In Zen Cart, the product notification system allows customers to add items in your store to an alert list. When an update is made to a product(i.e., the product info is modified, the price adjusted, or the product is put on sale, etc.), the customer will receive an email notifying them of the changes.

Enabling and disabling the Product Notification System is very easy. To do so, open your zen cart admin, and navigate to Configuration-> Customer Details. Locate the ‘Customer Product Notification Status’ option, and set it to ‘on’ or ‘off’, depending on your preference.

How do customers sign up for these notifications?

If you have enabled the product notification system, then customers will be able to sign up to it while browsing products. After the activation of this feature, a notification sidebox will become visible on product pages which will allow customers to opt into this notification system. Extra checkboxes will also be shown after checkout, along with the products purchased. If customers have an account on your website, and are signed in, then checking the boxes and clicking the submit button will opt them in to the notification newsletter for that product.

It should be noted that zen cart’s product notification system is not automated. It is up to you to make sure that notices go out to the people who have opted into this service. To do this, go to your zen cart Admin area, and navigate to Tools-> Newsletter/Notification Manager.
From here, you will be able to create a newsletter/notice. Before saving, be sure to select ‘product-notification’ as the newsletter type. When sending, you will be asked which products your notice applies to. Choose the proper products, and press send.

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Zen Cart What Is A Download Delivery Method? – Part Two

This zen cart article is the last in a two part series that explores the various download delivery methods available for Zen Cart. In the last segment, we discussed the Download by Redirect Method. The second method comes into play when you disable Download by redirect by setting it to ‘False’. When you do this, your customers are given a link that leads directly to the product file in your /download folder. This link doesn’t expire, which means that your customers can download the product as often as they want. They can also share the download link with others, which is a pretty major security breach, and can definitely hurt your business. After all, why would anyone buy your product when they can easily get their hands on it for free?

Despite this drawback, this method works on both Windows and Linux hosts, and is not affected by PHP max_execution_time limits.

For the third and final method, ‘Download by streaming’ ‘Download by Redirect’ must be disabled. This method differs from the first two, in that it does not link customers to your products. Instead, Zen Cart sends the file as a download, in 2KB chunks. This method is recommended above the others, as it keeps server RAM loading to a minimum, and stops download links from ever being shared. While this method works Windows and Linux hosts, you will need to adjust your server’s PHP configuration so that the max_execution_time variable is set high enough to allow your largest file to complete it’s download. Otherwise, you will run into time/data limits when your zen cart store attempts to send large files, which pose potential customer service issues, and as well as introducing some technical difficulties.

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Zen Cart What Is A Download Delivery Method? – Part One

In Zen Cart ecommerce stores where downloadable products are sold, there are several different ways of delivering content to customers. Which of these is used in any given situation depends on a variety of factors, including your hosting configuration and personal preferences. In this Zen Cart Easy Help Tutorial, we will explore the various download delivery methods to help you decide which is the right one for your business to use. All of these settings can be found and adjusted in your zen cart admin area, on the Configuration-> Attribute Settings page.

The first method is ‘Download by Redirect’. When activated, this method causes your zen cart store to utilize the Linux/unix “symlink” feature. This essentially makes a temporary file ‘stub’ in your /pub folder. When a customer purchases one of your downloadable products, they are directed to this file-stub. This is the only way they can access the file, and the stub disappears after the transaction is complete.

This method is ideal, as it makes it impossible for customers to save and share the download link. If customers can come back to a download link again and again, they can steal the downloadable product infinitely. The Download by Redirect method prevents this by hiding the file’s real location. Once the stub file disappears, the only way for the customer to access the download is to buy the product again, which will generate a new stub.

It should be noted that this method will only work on Linux hosts. Windows doesn’t support symlinks via PHP, and the “pub” folder must be set to read-write permissions… typically 777 (or 755 on suexec hosts) for this method to work. The Download bny Redirect method is not affected by PHP max_execution_time limits.

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Zen Cart Create Music Products With Audio Previews – Part Two

This zen cart tutorial is last in a two part series which aims to teach zen cart users and store owners how to create music products, and setup audio previews for them. In the last segment, we left off after instructing you on how to upload the audio clips which will constitute the previews.

Now, with your desired media collection still selected, find the “Assign to Products” button. Click through, and choose the category and product you want to associate the media collection with from the drop down menu. In Zen Cart, Media collections can be assigned to more than one category and/or product.

It should be noted that you MUST select product type ‘product-music’ when assigning media collections, or the preview clips will not appear on the front end of your store. The drop down menu lists all products/categories, regardless of whether they are the correct product type, so you will need to be a little careful when selecting the product/category assignment.

The last thing you will need to do is visit the front end of your zen cart website to make sure that everything is in working order. On the product info pages to which you assigned a media collection, you should be able to listen to a free audio preview of the product. While the length and content of the clips is left to your discretion for the most part, it is recommended that you keep previews around thirty seconds to a minute long. While there are plenty of exceptions to this rule, it is generally a good length for most four to ten minute music tracks, as it is long enough to capture a customer’s interest, and short enough to foil pirating attempts.

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Zen Cart Create Music Products With Audio Previews – Part One

If you are the owner and/or operator of a zen cart store that sells music, or other audio products, you will probably want to provide your customers with clips, or previews of these items. This Zen Cart tutorial will teach you how to do this. Make sure that you have already created your Music Genres, Record Companies, and Recording Artists. You will also need to set your Media Types, which will define the allowed file-extensions for files uploaded to your server.

Create a test product in your zen cart store. Select the product type “Product-Music” from the pulldown menu during the creation process. Then, fill out all the product details. At this point, you will be able to select the Record Artist, Record Company, Genre, etc. for the product.

Next, you will need to compile your media collections using Media Manager. These are like albums/mixes of songs which can be attached to your products. To do this, click “Insert”, which will allow you to create a media collection. Enter the name of the collection, and then click “Save”.

After this, select “Edit” to add media clips to the collection. Click the “Browse” button to upload a file from your computer of the preset media type. The file should be uploaded to the Media Directory which is selected by default in the pulldown menu. You can choose to place this file elsewhere, but this is not recommended, as it will make more work for you down the line. After you have upoaded the file, you can clicked “Edit” again to upload more. If you accidentally upload the wrong clip, or duplicate a clip, you should delete the file right away to avoid confusion later on.

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Zen Cart Error Message “Error: (6) Couldn’t resolve host”

For those who own and/or operate a zen cart ecommerce store, unknown error messages can present some of the most frustrating challenges. This is because there are tons of different error messages, and deciphering them can be a bit difficult for those who are new to zen cart. One of the things that makes error messages so hard to deal with is the fact that most of these notices can indicate a host of problems rather than a single issue. In this Easy Help Zen Cart tutorial, we will discuss the error message which reads: “Error: (6) Couldn’t resolve host”, and walk you through the various reasons why this message might pop up on your site.

The “couldn’t resolve host” message appears when your webserver runs into trouble while attempting to look up the IP address of the destination server. This can happen due to problems with your web server, your hosting company’s network, public DNS services, or the destination server. Most often, these problems come in the form overloaded servers, or maintanence checks that take the server or website offline temporarily, or misconfigured server settings. If the problem is with your DNS, it could be due to replication issues.

To resolve this error message, you should speak with your web host to see if they can help you figure out where the problem is originating. If the problem is with your web servers, their hosting network, or the DNS, then you may be able to work with your hosting company to resolve the issue, or have them fix it for you.

If the problem is not on your end, you might try contacting the destination server your webserver was trying to connect with to let them know about the problem.

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Zen Cart Admin Product Updates Error Messages

As a zen cart store owner/operator, you will have to make updates and changes every now and then to the content of your website. Most often, you will be updating product details or EZ-Pages and other areas. There are certain keywords and phrases, however, that should be avoided when you are doing this. If you include them in the text, they will throw this error message: “Forbidden – You don’t have permission to access /admin/product.php on this server.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.” Occasionally, this error appears as a “500 Internal Server Error” or “406” error, but it still means essentially the same thing.

Most of the time, this error pops up because of a tool called ‘mod_security’, which webservers often use to help prevent hacking attempts. It works by monitoring the content submitted to web pages through forms. The server using the tool will set a list of keywords, and if these words and phrases are found in the text and/or data submitted, mod_security will flag the entire form-submission as at-risk. This effectively stops the entered data from being saved to the server.

Keywords that are commonly flagged include: INSERT or LYNX or UPDATE and other commonly-used SQL commands. To avoid triggering mod_security, you should find out which words are specifically restricted by your webhost, and try not to use them when editing page content. Another way to go is to talk to your hosting company about changing or relaxing their mod_security rules.

You could also try disabling mod_security for your zen cart admin area. To do this, you will need to edit your /admin/.htaccess file. Open it in a plain text editor, and add this line of code:


SecFilterInheritance Off

or this:


SecFilterScanPOST Off

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Zen Cart What Payment Gateways Are Best For Zen Cart?

As a Zen Cart store owner, there are a lot of things you need to consider, especially if you are just starting your online business, or even setting up a website for your existing store. Whatever your specific circumstance, however, one of the most important decisions you will make is what payment gateway you will use. Payment gateways are authorized, secure third parties that act as a conduit between you, and whatever payment method your customers use. You will need to choose a payment gateway, and get it working with your Zen Cart store before you can start accepting payments, so this is pretty high-priority.

Not all payment gateways are compatible with Zen Cart. Here are the ones that work natively with Zen Cart:

– Authorize.net AIM (SIM is also supported, but AIM is recommended for its security benefits)
– PayPal Website Payments Standard (IPN)
– PayPal Express Checkout
– PayPal Website Payments Pro
– LinkPoint API
– YourPay API
– C.O.D.
– Check/MoneyOrder

Out of these, we use and recommend Authorize.net AIM. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may need or want to use a different payment gateway, but this is the one you should probably go with if you are unsure.

There are also a lot of addon gateways available in the Free Addons area of the Zen Cart website. Most of these have been added by third party contributors from the Zen Cart community, built to work with many different versions of zen cart. Before you use any of these, be sure to make sure that they are compatible with the version of Zen Cart your store is currently running. It is also a good idea to take a look at their requirements to make sure that you can use them with your current webserver configuration.

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Zen Cart Add Logo To Invoices From Admin

In this Zen Cart tutorial, you will learn how to add your logo to invoices, packing slips, etc. quickly and easily from your zen cart admin. The image we will use for this purpose is found in the directory admin/images/logo.gif. This is the version of your logo that is generally used in your Admin pages, and in admin output. If your logo is named something different, you have two options. You can either rename your logo to logo.gif, which is recommended, as it is less work, and there is less room for mistakes. In this case, simply upload your version of the logo.gif image to the correct folder on your server, and it will overwrite the old one.

The other option is to delete the logo.gif image, and replace it with your image. If you want to do this, you will have to edit this block of code from the admin/includes/languages/english.php file:


// added defines for header alt and text
define('HEADER_ALT_TEXT', 'Admin Powered by Zen Cart :: The Art of E-Commerce');
define('HEADER_LOGO_WIDTH', '200');
define('HEADER_LOGO_HEIGHT', '70');
define('HEADER_LOGO_IMAGE', 'YOUR_LOGO_NAME.EXT');

Replace the logo image name with your image name, then save your work and upload the file to your server to put the changes into effect.

It is also good to note that If you have changed the size of your logo, the invoice and packing slip functions native to zen cart will not automatically take this into account. To remedy this issue, you will need to edit two files, admin/invoice.php and admin/packingslip.php. Both of these files contain this line of code:


 

Find it in both files, and change it to this:


 

Save your changes, and upload the file to your server.

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