Greetings, X-Cart users, merchants and developers! Today X-Cart 5.2 Beta is becoming available for public. We do not recommend building a production store using this beta package. It’s for testing purposes only. The release of a stable package of version 5.2 is scheduled for March.
New Layout of the Admin Back end
The mobile-friendly storefront is a must – and it’s already responsive. The admin area optimised for mobile browsing is our next milestone. And we’re doing the first step now: check out the new interface of the admin area with a vertical menu, convenient for tablets and smartphones.
The design team, winged with inspiration, created the mockups with more advanced enhancements, but the developers, our serious guys, focused on the core changes first, and for this reason they managed to implement about 30% of these “cosmetic” ideas so far, thus the admin area already looks different, but it’s not the final layout yet – and we keep working on making it even more mobile-friendly.
This is the major change you have been longing for. Navigate to “System settings” => “Look & feel”=> “Edit templates” and enable the Webmaster Mode there. Now open the customer area and find the template you need to edit: navigate through the tree-like structure on the left side or click the certain element right on the page, and the template is opened for edits. Apply your changes, and once you are done, disable the Webmaster mode. The extended “Theme Tweaker” will create a new module and copy a custom template – i.e. everything you had to do manually with the “Custom Skin” extension.
In addition to the unbeatable convenience of making changes on the fly, you may rest assured that every tweak you implemented with this tool will be saved correctly in accordance with the OOP paradigm. In the other words, your changes will NOT break the upgradability of the store you modify!
Edit email notifications in WYSIWYG. Responsive emails.
The admin no longer needs to create a new module to edit the email notifications. Open a list of notifications, enable/disable them quickly, modify the body, header and signature in seconds.
Another major news is that the emails themselves will be responsive in 5.2 – just like your site, to look excellent on a screen with any resolution!
Change layout type: one, two or three columns
Switching between the color schemes (each of them being fully responsive) is not new. But the ability to manage the number of columns is a step forward: select one, two or three columns. The sidebar menu can be shown to the left or to the right, the latter should work good for the RTL languages. If you select 3-columns layout, you will see two sidebars, to the left and to the right from the main area.
We took the same functionality in X-Cart 4 Classic as a basis and reimplemented it in X-Cart 5: the customer can SEE prices in different currencies (enabled by the admin), but the orders are processed in the primary currency of the store. The admin can set the rates manually or select one of online web-services, Google Finance Currency Converter or WebserviceX.NET. The frequency of rates update is also configurable.
The feature will be available in our commercial editions: Business, Multivendor or Ultimate.
Cache rebuild, or re-deploying the store
Many developers hated it. We also did – but it involved so complex changes in the architecture that we had to wait for a major release. Finally, it’s been revised. First of all, the store re-deployment itself has been sped up. Second, the customer area is no longer being “closed for maintenance” during the process: the buyers will keep shopping while you’re adding a new module. Moreover, if the store re-deployment fails for some reason, your store will not stop working. It will use previously compiled class chains instead, so your customers will not even notice anything.
Ordering system revision
The Ordering system was reworked based on the specification created by Tony after in this 10-pages discussion on the X-Cart community forums.
Technically, now the “cart” becomes an “order” upon payment, if this payment was successful and the order total is equal or less than the transaction total. It means subsequent order IDs without gaps.
The payment gateway integrations were rewritten, and the unique transaction ID does not operate with the orderNumber any more, it uses publicTransationID.
The “cart” may include several transactions – with all of them being visible to the admin. There will be a separate page with a list of transactions, different filters and sorting options.
It also became a good background for the upcoming improvements of the Multivendor package.
Upgrade process: request the module upgrade
Sometimes the new releases slip out of the attention of extensions developers. It results in the necessity to get in touch with them one by one and wait till the modules are upgraded. We implemented a form to make it easier for the merchants to reach the developers. Thus if you have a module or two listed with us, hurry to update it, or you’re going to receive a heap of emails=)
You can see a mockup, not a real screenshot, as there’s no upgrade from v.5.1. to 5.2. beta so far.
Performance: HHVM support
Using HHVM, or HipHop Virtual Machine (developed by Facebook team BTW – these folks do know, how to work with tons of visitors!) is one of the ways to boost the website speed providing it’s supported by your hosting. The results will be especially noticeable if you’re building a website to work in the high-load conditions.
We measured the page load time for one of such projects with 50K items and millions of active users annually, m3.Large Amazon EC2 Instance was in use, take a look:
|Number of active users||Without HHVM||With HHVM|
|1M active users/year||5.7 sec||1.5 sec|
Performance: Image resizing upon upload
The category and product images used to be resized on the fly, when the browser sends request to the server. It took some time so the pages used to load a bit longer. We optimised the workflow, forcing the images resizing at the moment when the admin is uploading the product and category images. Hence this action is no longer required when the page is opened by the customer, and the page loads faster. It affects both manual images uploading and import. The latter was split into several steps in the background, so even if not all images are uploaded yet, the admin can start working with the imported data while the images are still being processed.
Availability of upgrades
There will be NO upgrades from 5.1.10 to 5.2 Beta – as long as it’s in Beta.
There WILL BE upgrades from 5.1.x to 5.2.x, when a stable release of v.5.2 is available
There WILL BE upgrades within branch 5.2 Beta and from Beta to a stable version