Blog

Video Tuesday: Collections June 09, 2009

Get the Flash Player so you can see an awesome video about Vae.

Today we're unveiling our new video tutorials. We've put them together to assist our new designers as they get started with Vae. Check out the Tutorials and Examples section of the Documentation and Integration Center for all of the available tutorials. We'll be posting one here every Tuesday as well.

Google Apps and Vae June 08, 2009

Once you create a domain name to point to your Vae site, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to handle email. One solution is to use Google Apps. Google Apps is an online office suite that provides Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Video, and Google Sites to your clients. We recommend it because Google's email services are more full-featured than ours.

After you create your domain name you’ll need to setup your Google Apps. See the Google Apps website for how to complete their quick setup process. Once you add a domain, you simply need to click the ‘enable’ link under ‘Google Apps’:

Google Apps

So long as your Google Apps account is properly set up, this should be all you need to do. Your emails will be handled by Google!

The Principles of Vae's eCommerce June 05, 2009

Today we're going to do a brief summary of Vae's shopping cart flow. Vae's integrated eCommerce is a framework that is both flexible and powerful. We've outlined the shopping cart flow completely in our documentation, but this will serve as a brief run-through.

Adding Items to the Cart

The <v:store:add_to_cart> tag outputs a form that, when submitted, will add an item to the customer's shopping cart. You might wonder how Vae detects what information to pass along to the cart. The answer lies in this tag's attributes. Information like the item name, price, weight, and many other details can be passed on to the cart via attributes. See the <v:store:add_to_cart> documentation page for a full list of available attributes.

The Shopping Cart

The shopping cart itself can be rendered using the <v:store:cart> tag. Within these tags, a <v:store:cart:items> tag can be utilized to output the information about each item that has been added to the cart. Any information passed along through the <v:store:add_to_cart> tag is accessible by this tag. Here's some sample shopping cart code that would exist within <v:store:cart> tags:

...
<ul>
 <li>Remove</li>
 <li>Image</li>
 <li>Item Description</li>
 <li>Qty</li>
 <li>Price</li>
 <li>Total</li>
</ul>
<v:store:cart:items>
 <ul>
  <li><v:checkbox path="remove" /></li>
  <li><v:img path="image" /></li>
  <li><v:text path="name" /></li>
  <li><v:text path="option_value" />
  <li><v:text_field path="qty" size="1" /></li>
  <li>$<v:text path="price" number_format="2" /></li>
  <li>$<v:text path="total" number_format="2" /></li>
 </ul>
</v:store:cart:items>
...

It's that easy to list out your items. Notice that Vae lets you style our output any way you like. As with any page you code with Vae, no barriers exist between you and your CSS/HTML. 

Registration

It's usually necessary to collect billing and shipping information from your customers. This information will be sent along to the payment and shipping methods you set up in the Backstage. It will also appear on invoices that Vae creates. Within the <v:store:register> tag, Vae looks for appropriately named text fields which the customer enters their information. As an example, here's how you'd collect the customer's billing city information:

<v:text_field path="billing_city" required="true" />

Checkout

The <v:store:checkout> tag creates a form for the customer to confirm the order information, and also select from the available payment and shipping methods. You may again use <v:store:cart:items> to output the items in your cart. Also useful,  <v:store:payment_methods_select /> creates a select menu populated with the Payment Methods setup in the Backstage, while <v:store:shipping_methods_select /> is populated with the available Shipping Methods.

There's More

Vae's elegant solution to eCommerce doesn't stop here. Need to accept coupon codes? Want to save user registration so the user can login in the future? This and much more is possible. Browse our eCommerce documentation for a full review of what you can do with Vae's eCommerce power.

Running MySQL-Backed Apps on Vae June 03, 2009

Vae’s blogging capabilities meet the needs of 90% of our designer’s clients. We know that sometimes a client demands third party software, such as Wordpress. Because we don’t want our designers to create a separate webspace just for a single application, we’ve made it possible to make a MySQL database.

To do this, open the Backstage of your website and navigate to the MySQL subtab.  Click the ‘Create New’ and Vae will create you a new database. The database name, username, and password will all shown on the MySQL screen tab now:

mysql

For security purposes, we don’t currently give designers the ability to have any more control over their MySQL databases than on this screen. We do allow the creation of multiple databases, however. If you’d like more specifics on what you can and can’t do with MySQL in Vae, contact your Account Manager or shoot us an email.

Your Data Is Safe May 29, 2009

Because Vae is a hosted solution, we are often asked about the efforts we make to protect your data.  In short, be reassured that your data is safe.

We store data on high performance servers in Secaucus, NJ and San Antonio, TX and perform remote backups 4 times a day to a backup location in New York, NY.  We retain these backups for a variable length of time, but we do our best to keep at least all 6-hour backups for the last week, all daily backups for the last month, and all monthly backups for the last year.

The backup system that we use for client data is the exact same system that we use for all of our own business critical data.

We also have a comprehensive Privacy Policy that explains exactly how we will treat your data.  You should read it to understand exactly how you're protected, but in short: we will not use your upload content for any purpose whatsoever, except to provide you with the Vae service.  You own your content.

If you have any questions, please don't hestiate to contact us.

The 5 Different Conditions <v:if> Can Test For May 28, 2009

Because it is so useful, today we're going to do a refresher on how to use the <v:if> tag. The <v:if> tag is Vae's conditional tag which renders some content only if a certain condition is met. There are five different tests the <v:if> tag is capable of.

Here they are:

  1. path - This is likely the most common attribute you'll use. It tests whether or not a specific value is set.
    <v:if path="address">
    Our address is: <v:text path="address" />
    </v:if>
  2. param - This checks to see if a GET or POST parameter has been specified. For example if a page is listing search results, we could do something like:
    <v:if param="query">
    Search Results for <v:text param="query" />
    </v:if>
  3. total_items - Tests against the number of items in a Collection.
    <v:if total_items="4">
    Add some thing else to your cart! Your fifth item is free.
    </v:if>
  4. id - Tests against the ID of the current entry.
    <v:if id="23552">
    Please keep this item out of reach of small children.
    </v:if>
  5. is - Checks the value of the path or param value.
    <v:if path="location" is="New York">
    We provide free shipping in New York!
    </v:if>

Pretty cool eh? You can also place <v:else> tags within <v:if> blocks to tell Vae what to render if a condition doesn't exist.

3 Newsletter Targeting Tips May 27, 2009

Sending effective newsletters is a tricky business. Not only is the content of your newsletters important, but so is the destination. To make sure your clients are reading what you send them, make sure you're not sending them too many emails, or emails that are irrelevant. To help with the latter challenge, Vae provides ways for you to send your newsletters to specific groups. Here's three ideas.

Target By Location
Is your band touring through England? Alert the masses by shooting out an email to all your English customers. Under Vae’s Newsletter tab, create a new campaign and select the country or state you’d like to target:

Newsletter1

Target By Order History
Another effective marketing strategy is to zero-in on a certain demographic of customer based on their order history. For example, if your online store were debuting a pricey new gadget, you might not want to bother your customers who haven’t spent much money in the past. Instead, you could tell Vae to email customers who have spent a certain about in a specified span of time:

Newsletter2

Target By Hand-Picking
Vae allows you to make lists of customers in any manor you see fit. Maybe you have a list of VIP customers who you’d like to email a sneak peak of an upcoming product release. Just create a list under Vae’s Newsletter tab, then choose that list when creating a new campaign.

Scheduling A Blog Post May 26, 2009

Sometimes is it necessary to publish a blog post at a later date, instead of instantly. While it has always been possible to do this manually, Vae recently added the scheduling feature, which makes it possible to enable/disable entries in a Collection at a specified time and date. Say for example you are debuting a new product on the Fourth of July, and you'd like to inform your customers of this immediately after it becomes available for purchasing. Vae lets you schedule a blog post that is made visible immediately on July 4th. Since this functionality is available for any Collection entry, you could also schedule the availability of the product itself.

Here's a tutorial on how to schedule an example blog post for Action Verb Records, our fictional record store.

Here we're adding a new post:

Schedule1

Note that we've opted to disable the entry. We did this by clicking the green dot at the top of the form, changing it to red. After saving this entry, we'll schedule it:

Schedule2

Finally, we can now see that our post is disabled but is schedule, as indicated by the clock icon:

Schedule3

As stated before, scheduling is not limited to blog entries. Because Vae makes no assumptions about what you're doing with your content, a Collection of Blog entries has the same available options as a Collection of Albums, Employees, Planes, Trains, or Automobiles.