:Apogee StoreFront v 1.2 Release Notes
Version 1.2 of Apogee StoreFront, the web-to-print solution of Agfa Graphics, was launched at the GRAPH EXPO 2012 show in Chicago, USA. De upgrade was made available to existing customers on October 25, 2012.
The 10 main new features of Apogee StoreFront 1.2 are:
- Users can browse through documents using an HTML5 flipbook.
- Templates can be made available for certain products to facilitate off-line editing.
- A new preflight engine can check fonts, images and colors in uploadable products.
- Shipping costs can be based on the weight or dimensions of the order items.
- Products no longer have to be offered with all of the options specified in their product template.
- For the US market PayPal can be used as a payment gateway service.
- By integrating with the TaxCloud service sales taxes can be calculated automatically in US stores.
- Prepress operators can see all production related data of an order item on one comprehensive page.
- Shipping regions can be defined using ZIP or postal codes.
- A QR code can be updated automatically in products such as business cards.
New features in storefronts
These are features that end-users of Apogee StoreFront benefit from.
In the product pages of On Demand Products and Printed Stock Products, users can now click a new FlipBook icon. This opens a separate window in which users can flip through the pages of the document. It makes it easier for potential customers to evaluate if they are ordering the correct product.
The flipbook function has been implemented in HTML5. This means it also works on mobile devices such as the Apple iPad or Android tablets. Currently you can only browse documents with a vertical spine. Fold-outs are not supported yet.
Downloadable templates for off-line editing
When a user can upload his or her own file to order a product, this file has to meet certain requirements. To help the user meet those requirements, Uploadable Products can now include a downloadable template. Some examples are:
- For a point-of-sale product the user can download a ZIP package that contains an Illustrator template and a PDF with the exact production requirements that the designer has to keep in mind.
- For a monthly company newsletter the user can download an InDesign template that contains proper master pages, margins and character & paragraph styles.
A printer administrator can make up to 4 template files available to users. This is done in the upload files section of the wizard used to create Uploadable Products. The use of ZIP or PDF files is recommended but other file formats are supported as well: .PSD (Photoshop file), .INDD (InDesign file), .INDT (InDesign template) and .AI (Illustrator file). It is mandatory to add the proper extension to the file name.Â
Cancel an upload
If a user orders an uploadable product, he or she can now cancel the file upload while it is still in progress. This can come in handy if the user accidentally selects the wrong file to upload.
Option pricing is hidden
Previously the option list for a product would display how much each option costs, for example by quoting that a different type of paper is 10% more expensive. This price reference has been removed because it tended to confuse customers and gave away the pricing model of the print service provider. The user will now simply see a recalculated total price when he or she selects options in the Place Order box of the product details window.
New preflight engine
Based on feedback from customers the number of preflight checks that can be done for Uploadable Products has been extended. When a user uploads an image or PDF to have it printed, Apogee StoreFront can be configured to validate the incoming data and warn the user about potential issues.
In StoreCenter the printer administrator can define how uploaded files are preflighted. This can be done on two levels:
- The default settings can be defined in the Advanced > Production Settings > Preflight Defaults window.
- Each Product Template inherits the default settings specified in the Advanced tab. These settings can however be changed in the Preflight tab of the Product Template.
By default Apogee StoreFront has only two options activated: reject the document if its trim box is incorrectÂ and reject it if the number of pages is incorrect. This was also the standard behavior in previous releases of Apogee StoreFront. It is up to the printer administrator to customize the settings.
The following parameters can be validated and possibly corrected during a preflight check:
- Number of pages - Are the number of pages the customer uploads allowed within the page range of the product template?
- Dimensions of pages - Does the trim box of the uploaded file match that of the product template?
- Missing fonts - Are all the fonts fully embedded or subsetted?
- Number of spot colors - Does the number of spot colors in the uploaded file match that of the product template?
- Files requiring color management - Does the uploaded file contain content in RGB or LAB or does it contain any ICC-tagged elements which force the print service provider to color manage the job?
- Image resolution - Is the resolution of binary and grayscale/color images sufficient to guarantee proper print quality?
For the above parameters the following settings are allowed:
- Ignore - Do not check the incoming file on any or all of the above parameters.
- Fix - Apogee StoreFront will modify the incoming file to meet the requirements. This can be done for:
- Number of pages - For Bound Products blank pages are inserted to get to the nearest supported page range. For selfcover products they are added at the end of the document. For products with a separate cover they are inserted before the back cover pages.
- Dimensions of pages - The Trim Box is modified which rescales the submitted file. The shopper can download the fixed PDF to verify the changes before actually adding the product to the shopping cart.
- Warn - The user is informed that any or all of the above parameters do not meet the requirements. He or she can cancel the upload which means the uploaded file is not added to the shopping cart. The user can also choose to continue and add the product to the shopping cart.
- Error - A pop-up window informs the user that any or all of the above parameters do not meet the requirements. The uploaded product is not added to the shopping cart. After closing the preflight window the user will return to the product page.
Please note that the use of preflighting may affect order intake. In a B2B store geared towards professional designers who want to print their creations, it can be a valuable tool. In more B2C oriented stores that target an audience of casual users, it is not uncommon that users do not understand why their files need to be reworked in order to guarantee optimal print quality. You might lose up to 50% of all incoming orders if uploaded files frequently lead to preflight errors.
Entering a purchase order code can be mandatory
During check out a user can add a reference code to the order. This text field is typically used to enter a purchase order code or PO number. Within some companies the use of such a purchase order number is mandatory. In StoreCenter in the Stores > General window a new checkbox is available labeled 'Customers must supply an order reference at check out'. When this option is activated and the user forgets to enter a reference code, a small window will ask for one. The user has to enter a line of text in order to finalize the order. The purchase order code is included on the order confirmation as well as the package slip.
Support for Faroese
Storefronts can now also be made available in Faroese. The following languages were already supported: Czech, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish and Swedish.
General changes in StoreCenter
StoreCenter is the back-office web site in which administrators manage orders and configure storefronts.
Simplified StoreCenter menus
The Advanced menu option in StoreCenter has been reworked. Several functions have been grouped and can now be accessed using a second submenu. This has been done for Translations, Media, Shipping, Payment Gateway and Production Settings.
Simplified Orders window in the Dashboard
The orders window no longer lists the number of order items that have the status Incoming, In Production, to be Shipped or Shipped. Removing that extra column makes sure the Dashboard is updated faster.
Improved language support
A distinction is now made between British and American English. Portuguese has been relabeled Brazilian Portuguese.
Improved storage calculation
The previous version of Apogee StoreFront did not report about all of the data that are consumed by orders. These files are now also taken into account when reporting on disk usage.
Warning if an admin tries to use Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8
FireFox 10 or later is the recommended browser for accessing StoreCenter. If an administrator or operator tries to access StoreCenter with an outdated browser such as Internet Explorer 6, there will be a warning in the log-in window to please switch to a different browser.
Notification if the License Agreement of Apogee StoreFront changes
In the event that Agfa changes the Service & License Agreement of the StoreFront service, the first printer administrator who accesses StoreCenter will see a message window with the new agreement. In this window the agreement can be read and, if needed, printed. To continue using the software, the printer administrator has to click the Accept button. Print service providers will be notified ahead of time about pending changes by a notification in the System Messages window of the StoreCenter Dashboard.
Compared to the initial printed version of the Service & License Agreement all pricing information has been removed. Based on customer feedback paragraph 7.2 about the use of the customer name for publicity purposes has also been removed.
Defining a production center
In the Advanced settings the location from which all products are shipped can now be defined. This is called the production center. For print service providers in the USA this is needed to properly calculate sales taxes. Print service providers in Europe can ignore this setting.
Product related new features in StoreCenter
Weight & packaging based shipping
Up to now Apogee StoreFront offered limited options for defining shipping costs. This has now been extended by allowing a printer administrator to define shipping costs based on the weight or number of packages.
To use this function:
- Packaging units have to be defined. This is a list of all the boxes, tubes or wrappings that are used to ship products. For each unit its dimensions, how much weight it can carry and its own weight need to be provided.
- If the weight of all media types is defined, Apogee StoreFront can automatically calculate the weight of any order item. If necessary an administrator can overwrite the automatically calculated weight as well as the automatically calculated product dimensions on the Product Template level. If the weight of a media type is not specified, an administrator needs to manually enter the weight of the product.
A Packaging Simulator function can calculate how many packaging units are needed for a certain amount of pages and quantity.
- For each Product Template the preferred packaging unit and possible alternatives need to be selected. For example: ‘A4 brochures’ are usually packaged in the ‘A4 Brown Cardboard Box’, else use the ‘42x30 Beige Cardboard Box’.
- For all the relevant Shipping Services a weight or package based cost calculation method can now be defined.
The following calculation methods are supported:
- Fixed Fee per Package - A base price for shipping one package can be specified, as well as a surcharge for each additional package. Weight is considered irrelevant.
- Fee per Packaging Unit - A fixed fee can be defined and for each packaging unit a surcharge can be specified. For example: every ‘A4 Brown Cardboard Box’ costs 2 dollar to ship and every ‘42x30 Beige Cardboard Box’ costs 3 dollar. Their weight is considered irrelevant.
- Fee per Weight Unit - A fixed fee can be defined and for each weight unit a surcharge can be specified. For example: the base shipping cost is 3 euro with 1 euro added per kilo. The number of packages is considered irrelevant.
Adding support for weight and dimensions clears the road for more sophisticated algorithms that can automatically calculate shipping costs. Such features will be added in future releases of Apogee StoreFront.
Define the options for a product
Adding options, such as a list of media types that the user can order or additional finishing options such as a varnish, is done on the Product Template level. Up to now each product inherited all the options from the template it was based on.
Apogee StoreFront 1.2 is more flexible because for each product you can now define which options are available to users and which options will be omitted. The screen capture below show how one particular business card will only be offered with 2 of the 5 available paper types.
A future release of Apogee StoreFront will add the possibility to change which the default option is.
Allowing users to upload TIFF or JPG images
In the previous version of Apogee StoreFront, allowing a user to supply a TIFF or JPG file for ordering an uploadable product was defined in the Product definition. This setting has moved to the Preflight settings in the Product Templates tab.
Improved order handling in StoreCenter
Support for PayPal as a payment gateway
Next to the Ogone payment gateway service, PayPal can now also be used as a payment gateway service to handle online payments. The PayPal payment gateway can currently only be used in the USA. Support for other countries is under investigation.
TaxCloud support for US web-to-print stores
In order to properly calculate sales taxes for public stores that operate in the US, StoreFront can now utilize TaxCloud. This is a free service that assures that the tax calculation is accurate and up-to-date. More information about the TaxCloud service can be found on their website.
- Print service providers in the US need to define their ‘nexus’ (the location from which they ship products) in the Advanced - Production Center window.
- In Advanced - Payment Gateways and Tax an extra tab labelled TaxCloud Integration is used to fill in the TaxCloud account info and Default TIC. Creating an account on the TaxCloud service is free.
- In the General settings window of all applicable stores activate the ‘Use TaxCloud for US sales tax calculation’ setting. This makes sure all the orders in those stores include sales tax.
- If there are products that utilise a different TIC, this can be defined in their specifications.
One of the additional checks that the TaxCloud service automatically performs is a validation of the shipping address. The service may alter that address, for example by changing the street name to upper case characters and reducing the word ‘avenue’ to ‘AVE’. The user will be notified if the address has been rewritten.
Invoice-based payments in a public store
For select users of a public store a printer administrator can now specify that they do not have to pay online. All the purchases of these users will then have to be billed separately. This function was added for repeat customers for which you do not want to set up a separate store. A typical example is the local city council, who prefer to purchase print from a local company and for which you can be sure that they will pay their bills.
To define that a user is billed separately, first create a company that this user belongs to. Then select the user profile in the Users tab and change the Payment selection from ‘via gateway’ to ‘via invoice’.
Printable job bag
An operator who needs to print a job ordered through Apogee StoreFront can now see all of the essential order data at a glance. When you select an order item in the Orders tab, there is a new 'Information' icon. Clicking that icon brings up an Order Item Details page which summarizes the order details, quantity, product & product template data, ordered media, options, packaging details and user comments.
Exported Excel tables contain additional fields
In the Order Items tab the MIS ID and Template ID have been added.
New shipping related features in StoreCenter
Support for ZIP or postal code-based shipping regions
Previously a shipping region consisted of either one or more countries or one or more subregions (departments or states). This proved to be too limited for print service providers who want to offer a local shipping service within a 50 kilometer radius around their offices. Some also needed the ability to specify a large metropolitan area as a separate shipping region.
A new ‘ZIP-based Region...’ option allows the creation of a shipping region that is defined using a range of ZIP codes or postal codes. The example below shows the shipping region ‘Catalonia’ which is defined using the postal codes of the four Spanish provinces that make up this region.
When a user selects during checkout a shipping service that uses this region and the user’s shipping address is outside the region, a message will inform the user that a different shipping service needs to be used.
To define a ZIP-based region:
- Select Advanced > Shipping in StoreCenter. Select the Shipping Regions tab and click on the Create button at the bottom. Select ‘ZIP-based Region’.
- Specify the country in which the shipping service operates. In the window underneath a list of ZIP-codes or postal codes can be defined. You can specify ranges and add multiple values, as the above screen capture shows. Depending on the country, the syntax of area codes is slightly different.
- For Canada and the United Kingdom the validation mechanism is slightly different because of the way ZIP or postal codes are implemented. The built-in help gives an example on how to define area codes for these countries.
- For the following countries, there is no support for specifying shipping regions using area codes: Argentina, Brunei, Jamaica, Malta & Venezuela.
Specify both the weight and thickness of media
Previously an administrator could specify either the weight or the thickness of a media type. Now both values can be specified simultaneously. Apogee StoreFront will assume that the first weight in the list matches the first thickness in the list,... This does mean that if 4 weights are specified, there also have to be 4 numbers in the thickness field. It is recommended to always specify all available weights if weight or package based shipping will be used.
Specify taxes for shipping
Previously shipping was not taxable. Per shipping service it is now possible to specify which tax rate applies to it. In the USA taxes for shipping can be calculated automatically by the TaxCloud service.
Import a list of users
In the Users tab there is an option to export a list of all the users. There is no corresponding option to import a large list of user accounts. This is however a service that the StoreFront team can provide upon request. Please contact the Agfa Services team or dealer if you need to import a large number of users for a particular store.
New features in the Online Editor
Support for QR codes
It is now possible to automatically generate a QR code for customizable products that are created using a forms based workspace. A practical example are business cards, which can be set up so that the Online Editor inserts a vCard QR code with the contact details of the person for which the card is created.
To add a QR code to a product, a new barcode frame tool is available in the toolbar of the Online Editor. Once a barcode frame has been added to a layout, the Barcodes tab on the left hand side can be used to define the properties of the QR code. The example below shows settings for a vCard.
The Value field allows various types of data to be embedded in a QR Code. These include:
- Calender event - allow readers to add a concert or other event to their agenda
- Geolocation - point to the location where an attraction is or an event is taking place
- URL - point to any web site
- SMS - useful for games in which people win prices by sending an SMS
- vCard - allow readers to add a person’s name and contact details to their list of contacts
New options in the Objects tab
The Objects tab has a new Objects location pane. It can be used to position frames using coordinates or to enter their size manually. Below this pane is another new one labeled Layer List. It provides more control over layers.
Updated Online Help
The Online Help function that is accessible in StoreCenter is currently being reworked. The updated version will document all of the new features that the 1.2 release offers. A notification will be posted in the StoreCenter Dashboard as soon as this new manual is available.