Name Change, Rewriting History, and Upcoming Infrastructure Updates March 29, 2011

Hey everyone -- I'm writing to let you know about some big changes.  As you can see, we changed our name to Vae Platform. 

On this blog, we've taken the liberty of "rewriting history" -- we've edited old posts to reflect the new name and URL.  This isn't for any reason other than making it easier for newbies to follow what's going on without having to learn new name and URLs.  I hope you can forgive me for doing it, we're very proud of our past and we weren't trying to erase it.

Furthermore, over the next several weeks, we are going to be rolling out some major changes to our platform that will hopefully be exciting to many of you.

Upcoming feature relaeases include:

    * Support for 'git' and deployment using 'git push'.
    * A totally revamped rich-text editor.
    * Integrated SEO tools.

But the biggest changes to come are internal.  While we are very proud of the 99.85% uptime record we posted during the last 12 months (despite multiple incidences of server hardware failure), we knew that we could do better.

To that end, we have been totally revamping our server architecture to eliminate as many single-points-of-failure as possible.  We're taking quite a radical approach.  Rather than maintaining multiple servers in just one location, we are going to be setting up dual copies of our entire infrastructure stack in multiple physical locations.  Each location will have independent power, cooling, Internet connections, and copies of your entire website.  Even if an entire building drops off the grid, your site will continue entirely uninterrupted.

We are currently rolling out this system gradually to customers.  We already have a few sites live on the dual-copy system and so far, so good.

We think that this new infrastructure is so awesome that once we get all our existing customers migrated to it, we are going to market it like crazy.  Almost no shared hosting companies do this, and we think that it has the potential to radically shift the baseline for reliability in the shared hosting market.

It's so cool that we think that people will start using our service even if they don't want the CMS or eCommerce but do want reliability on their website.  So, we are going to update our plans to include the option to purchase a hosting-only package that doesn't include the CMS.  And we're going to push it, hard.

There is nothing you need to do about the name change.  At some point, you may see yourself get redirected to when trying to log in, but that's it.  All URLs will continue to work.

Thanks for supporting us through the first 3 and a half years of our service.  We're looking forward to growing even bigger and finding new ways to serve you guys better and better.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

To you!

Kevin Bombino // Manager
Action Verb, LLC

New Design, New Publishing Status September 02, 2010

As many of you have noticed, we launched a redesign of the Vae backstage on Sunday.  Thanks for all the compliments.  We're really excited to get this out the door.  We are continuing to fix a few bugs that remain, and hope to have it all cleared up by the end of the week.  Thanks to everyone who reported bugs.

We also want to mention another cool feature that recently rolled out -- three-level publishing status.  It used to be that you could toggle content between 2 states:  Published (green) and Not Published (red).  Well, we've added an in-between state:  Published (Staging only), represented by a yellow icon.

When content is in this state, it will be visible on http://<;you>, but not on your live domains.  It's a great way to test new content on your site without taking it fully live.

Price Drop! August 31, 2010

Hey everyone --

It is with great excitement that I can share some recent news.  We have just reworked the Vae hosting plans to be much more affordable and competitive against other hosting providers.

Check them out now at

Here's a summary of the changes we made:

  • There is now an unlimited transaction option for eCommerce within each plan level.  So now, you don't have to worry if your customers will be successful -- we will not charge them extra for their success.  Our cheapest unlimited transaction plan starts at $59.95!
  • The flexibility granted by this option also allowed us to reduce the number of plans we offer.  Rather than offering 6 plans, we now only offer 3 full-featured plans, plus the Solo plan.  Furthermore, now more than ever, we expect 95% of our customers to use the Medium plan (with or without the unlimited transaction option).
  • We have raised the amount of included data transfer (bandwidth) from 10GB on the Medium plan to 100GB.  This is a full 10x increase!  This change alone will prevent most customers who currently pay overage charges from paying them in the future.  The Large and X-Large plans include 250GB and 1TB, respectively.

The new plans are available now.

We converted all existing customers plans to the equivalent new plan at the same price point.  For the overwhelming majority of our customers (98%), this will either result in an overall decrease in their spending or their spending will stay the same.  In the few cases of customers whose costs are higher under the new packages (mainly customers from early 2008), we will grandfather them in under their existing plans.

Thanks again for trusting Vae and I hope that these changes help you launch even more websites in the coming months.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Better if/elseif/else support update June 30, 2010

A few days ago, we posted about VaeML's better if/elseif/else support.  I mentioned that this was available to all existing sites.  What I forgot to say is that mixing and matching the old-style (<v:else> tag inside the tag that it applies to) and new-style (<v:else> tag after the tag it applies to) on the same site can cause ambiguity when there are nested tags.  We've had some designers get confused because I mistakenly gave the impression that mixing the styles on the same site would work.  This is not the case.

Here's how we're going to handle this:  for new sites, the new style will be expected by default.  For existing sites, the old style will be expected by default.

For existing sites wishing to use the new style, you will need to explicitly disable the old style by going to the Site tab > Optimization tab and unchecking the checkbox for "Allow <v:else> inside the tag they apply to".  For new sites wishing to use the old style, go in and check that checkbox.

PayPal changes might affect your site June 29, 2010

We have become aware that PayPal has made changes that *may* impact the integration between Vae CMS and PayPal.  This applies to people using PayPal Website Payments Standard, PayPal's no-monthly-fee product.

Specifically, our PayPal standard integration relies on a PayPal feature called Instant Payment Notification ("IPN").  IPN used to be enabled by default on all PayPal accounts, so our integration worked out-of-the-box. 

It seems that PayPal no longer enables IPN by default, and in some cases has retroactively disabled it on some accounts.  We're not sure why.  It is supremely annoying that PayPal made these changes without making any official announcement (at least that we can find), and it is easy to find reports on the Internet of other people who have been bitten by this.

If you are using PayPal Website Payments Standard, you should log into your PayPal account and verify that IPN is enabled.

Here are instructions on how to do so:

  1. Log in at
  2. From the navigation bar at the top, choose "Profile", under the "My Account" tab.
  3. Click the link that says "Instant Payment Notification Preferences".
  4. If you are in the USA, you should be on this URL:
  5. If you see a button that says "Choose IPN Settings", you need to enable IPN.  Click that button.  Select the option for "Receive IPN messages (Enabled)".  For the URL, enter the following:


    Replace <yoursite> with the same subdomain that you use to login to the Vae backstage.  So if your site's backstage is "", use "btg".  Note that this URL uses "", not "".  Then click the "Save" button.

    You should then see that IPN message delivery is Enabled.
  6. If you see that IPN is already enabled, you do not need to take any action.

Additionally, you should check your PayPal account to make sure that there are no transactions in there that did not get synced to your Vae CMS backstage.

We are very sorry that this action is required, however, when supporting 3rd party payment gateways, we will always be at the mercy of any decisions or changes they make.

Please feel free to contact your account manager or support if you have any questions.

VaeML gets better if/elseif/else support June 25, 2010

VaeML, our awesome content presentation language, now has better support for if-statements.  Before, we did not support the idea of an elseif statement, and we had a weird notion that a <v:else> tag should be nested inside a <v:if> tag rather than coming after it.

We have fixed both of these issues.  Observe:

<v:if path="price>500">
Comes with free overnight shipping!
<v:elseif path="price>250">
Comes with free 2-day shipping!
Comes with free ground shipping!

It's the new hotness.  Note that you can still nest <v:else> inside <v:if> if you'd prefer it that way.

By the way, if you use Haml, it makes the above look a lot more elegant:

Comes with free overnight shipping!
Comes with free 2-day shipping!
Comes with free ground shipping!


VaeQL brings more power to Vae June 15, 2010

We are proud to announce our latest innovation to the Vae platform: VaeQL.  VaeQL stands for Vae Query Language and it is a new layer in the stack that handles the vae() PHP function and paths provided to VaeML tags via the path="" attribute.

VaeQL adds the ability to perform math operations, comparisons, if statements, variables, and PHP functions directly in your path="" attributes and any other place a path is used in Vae.  There's a lot here, so we'll break it down with some examples.

1.  Beef up your <v:if> statements.

Previously, you could only test for the existence of a field within a <v:if> statement.  You can now perform any kind of test, and you may also group tests together.  Let's start with a simple comparison.  This would test if the price structure is greater than 5:

<v:if path="price>5">

Yep, that's now valid VaeML.  <, <=, and >= also work.  You can also test equality and inequality:

<v:if path="name=='Kevin'">
<v:if path="name!='Kevin'">

You may also use a single equal sign for equality and the <> operator for inequality.  Whatever you prefer.  Now, let's get fancy:

<v:if path="(price+5)</home/featured_price">
This item is more than $5 less than the featured item price!

The math operators +, and - work as expected for add and subtract. Multiplication and division are also supported, though their operators are doubled: ** and //.  This is to prevent confusion, as otherwise, we wouldn't know if artist/123 meant the artist with ID 123, or the value of artist divided by 123. 

What if you wanted to test if the price is an even number?  Do this:

<v:if path="!(price%2)">

The % operator is the modulus operator, which represents the remainder from performing an integer division.  In our example, this will be 0 for even numbers.  We add the not operator (the exclamation mark) to take the reverse of this -- return true when the modulus is 0, and false otherwise.

You can also check for multiple conditions:

<v:if path="featured&&digital">This is a featured digital product</v:if>

&& is the symbol for and, || is the symbol for or.  You can also use the words 'and' and 'or' directly.  This would be the same thing as above:

<v:if path="featured and digital">This is a featured digital 

2.  Adding conditional statements to other VaeML tags

VaeQL also supports the "inline-if" statement popular in many programming langauges.  It works like this:

<v:text path="featured ? featured_description : description" />

If the path featured evaluates to true (it's a checked checkbox or a text field with text in it, etc.), then we will display the featured_description.  Otherwise, just the regular description.

Combine this with the above, and we can make some pretty awesome statements:

<v:text path="(price>=100 and featured) ? 'SUPER VALUE!' : 'Good Value')" />

Note that you can use request variables within VaeQL as well:

<v:text path="($from == 'wholesale' ? wholesale_description : description)" />

Note that in VaeQL, variables correspond to the request variables sent to the page either via a POST or in the URL.  This corresponds (and is linked into) the $_REQUEST array in PHP.

3.  Built-in support for PHP Functions

Vae paths have always supported some functions such as now() and host().  These were built-in functions, and there were only a few available.  Now VaeQL supports the entire PHP function library, and you can even define your own functions in PHP and use them in VaeML.  All the old functions are there too.

Here are some examples:

<v:text path="substr(description, 10, 10)" />
<v:collection path="items[price<PRICECUTOFF()]">

Functions can take arguments, which can be paths, variables, functions, or a full VaeQL query in its own right.

VaeQL also supports "range queries", which will let you specify a range for values.  Use a colon and a function within a predicate.  This would search for items with prices between $10 and $50:

// in __verb.php:
function PRICERANGE() {
  return array(10, 50);
}<v:collection path="items[price:PRICERANGE()]">

4.  Go crazy!

All of these things can be combined and used in all sorts of ways.  Play with it and figure out what works best for your applications.

VaeQL is immediately available on all Vae sites.  As always, thanks for using Vae!

Uniqueness constraints in vae() and <v:collection> May 21, 2010

Let's say you had a catalog of albums stored in a collection.  Each album was released during a specific year.  If you wanted to display to display all the years where your record label created albums, you'd probably do something like:

<v:collection path="/albums" order="DESC(year)">
 <v:text path="year" />

But this might actually produce something like this:


Eww, look at all those repeats.  That's not what you wanted.

Now Vae provides a way to select only the first record for each year, so you can display your list as intended.  Simply add unique="year" to the <v:collection> tag.  Or, if you're using our PHP API, just add 'unique' => 'year' to your array of options that you pass into vae().

So something like this:

<v:collection path="/albums" order="DESC(year)" unique="year">
 <v:text path="year" />

Would produce something like this:


Note -- you can look for unique sets of structures by specifying their names separated by commas.  For example unique="year,month".

This was non-trivial for us to implement, so I hope that you are able to take this and go make something cool with it!