:Apogee StoreFront v 2.0 Release Notes
StoreFront 2.0 is a major update of the web-to-print solution of Agfa Graphics. It was deployed on September 17, 2013. The main new features in StoreFront 2.0 are:
- Support for variable data processing
- Stores can use their own custom domain name
- Stock levels can be displayed in a store
- Format a detailed product description using the HTML Editor
- Shoppers can customize the size of a poster or other unbound product
- Administrators can split orders, to either approve or ship only certain order items
- An improved check-out procedure makes using multiple shipping services easier
- Users can create their own custom address book of shipping and billing addresses
- On product pages the pricing table is automatically updated when users select chargeable options
General new features
Support for Variable Data Processing (VDP)
A new VDP option allows you to create customizable products for which the data are supplied by the print buyer as an Excel file. This way they can order a range of products in one go, instead of repeatedly filling in a form to personalize a product. Some typical uses are:
- Upload a spreadsheet with 50 names to create 50 sets of business cards
- Upload 30 store addresses to print fashion posters that point customers to the nearest retail store
- Personalize 80 letters with a name & address for a direct marketing campaign
How to order and process a VDP product
- The shopper navigates to the product page. The example below shows a poster in which store addresses from the uploaded Excel file are inserted.
- From that product page the user can optionally download a template Excel file. This sample file indicates which data are needed to order the product. The spreadsheet contains two worksheets:
- The first worksheet contains the actual data to be used for the variable data processing, with all the required variables in the header row. The user can enter his data in the subsequent rows, either by entering them manually or using COPY-PASTE from another file.
- The second worksheet provides help and lists the variables, their type (text, number, list..), the required syntax and whether they are mandatory or not.
- To order the product the user has to click the Upload Data & Start Editing button. This opens a File Upload window which provides some additional information about the required data.
- After a file is uploaded the data are preflighted. The user is warned if mandatory data are missing or the data do not match the requirements. He or she can then download an Excel spreadsheet in which all the incorrect cells & columns are color coded. After correcting any errors a new file can be submitted.
- Once the supplied file passes the preflight check, the Online Editor opens and the user can see the first record. By navigating through all the records, each one can be checked visually to see if the resulting layout is correct.
- The user can browse through the records and visualize each one of them.
- There is an option to filter the shortest and longest value of each field, making it easier to check how well the supplied data fit in the space that is foreseen.
- It is also possible to do last minute corrections using the form underneath the navigation pane.
- After submitting the job to the shopping cart, it becomes an order item and the final quantities (and possibly pricing) will be shown.
- Like any other order, a VDP order can go through an approval cycle.
- In Apogee Prepress VDP orders show up as either single jobs or as multiple jobs, depending on the product definition. If a VDP order is split across multiple prepress jobs, its descriptive name will indicate this, e.g. ‘VDP Direct Mailing [1-100 of 364]’ or ‘Summer Campaign [1 of 4]’.
- A VDP order can afterwards be reordered. The user can however only reorder the entire order item, not specific records. If the latter is needed, it is recommended to reuse the Excel datasheet, delete all the records that are not needed and use this file to create a new order. Users can download the Excel datasheet from their order history, specifically to facilitate reordering.
How to create a variable data product
The workflow is very similar to creating a customizable product and also uses the ‘Forms’ workspace.
The main difference is that the product creation wizard requires you to specify how many copies of each record need to be printed. This copy count can be specified in three different ways. The quantity can be:
- specified in the Excel file – A separate column labelled ASF_QUANTITY in the Excel file determines how many prints of each record are needed.
- specified in the product page – The buyer selects a quantity and for each record that quantity will be printed.
- one copy per record – This is typically used for direct mailing where each personalized letter or card only gets printed once.
Once the product is created, the Online Editor is used to add all the variables, similar to the way a Forms based product is created. StoreFront will automatically generate a matching Excel template file.
In the Product list, variable data products have their own icon:
- Variable data need to be supplied in an Excel .xls datafile. Additional data formats such as .xlsx or .csv are not (yet) supported. This first release also support only text-based variable data. Image support is not (yet) available.
- Variable data products can be based on the following product template base types:
- Unbound - Flat
- Unbound - Folder
- Bound - Self Cover
- Bound - Separate Cover. For bound products, a fixed number of pages should be defined. The system will not add additional pages to a document if the variable content does not fit on the space that is foreseen.
- The total number of records that can be processed within one order item depend on the way the product will get processed:
- If the quantities are specified on the product page or embedded in the Excel file, a VDP order can contain up to 200 records.
- For single copy products, the order can contain up to 100 records for unbound products and 50 records for bound products.
- Variable data processing is a separate option which is not part of the regular StoreFront license. Contact your Agfa sales representative or dealer for more information on pricing and availability.
Create custom media sizes
The Advanced > Media > Media Sizes window contains a predefined list of popular media sizes, such as the ISO A-series. Administrators can now add their own categories and predefined media sizes.
Keep dialogs open for repetitive tasks
For some tasks that may be repetitive, such as creating product categories, there is a checkbox to keep the window open after the first interaction. This makes it easier for an administrator to keep adding categories.
Updated Online Help
The Online Help includes all of the new functions of StoreFront 2.0. New chapters have been added on the integration with Apogee Prepress, Ogone and PayPal.
Use your own domain name for a store
Previously all stores created using StoreFront had a fixed URL, which ended with .apogeestorefront.com. From the 2.0 release onwards a custom domain name can be assigned to a store. This can be a full domain, such as http://hks.xl, or a subdomain, such as http://store.hks.xl.
The print service provider can use any domain name which they own. It will be used for all HTTP traffic but not for any secure HTTPS traffic. HTTPS requires the use of security certificates. StoreFront will use its own certificates for all secure web traffic. This saves costs for the printer and makes configuring domain forwarding much easier. HTTPS is used for:
- login & logout – This means a user can surf to http://store.hks.xl. The login window appears and the URL automatically changes to https://hksstore.apogeestorefront.xl. As soon as the user has filled in the name & password and clicks ‘OK’, the main page appears and all URLs are http://store.hks.xl ones. In a public store users only have to log in when they want to order products, so most visitors will not see such a URL change.
- the user’s account page and the page to create a new account
- checkout – the entire checkout procedure obviously also uses HTTPS for security reasons.
A printer administrator can now delete a store, provided there are no longer any active orders for that store and any available microstores. When a store is deleted, its users are also removed. All the products will however remain since these might be used in other stores as well.
Template icons on product pages
For uploadable products it can be useful to offer shoppers an InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop template to create their layout. It is also possible to offer them a PDF that contains recommendations on how to design a document properly. Until now such templates did not really stand out on the product page. To make them more visible, the server now inserts an appropriate icon in front of the template name.
Improved meta tags
For public stores it is important that potential customers get an optimized description of the store in the results window of search engines like Google or Bing. Providing such optimized page descriptions can also be important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). StoreFront 2.0 contains additional fields for defining the <title> and/or <meta name=”description”> tags for the home page, category pages and product pages.
It is now also possible to add custom meta tags to the HTML header of all the web pages of a storefront. This can be done using the Stores > Meta Tags window. Such tags are useful for controlling page indexing, claiming copyright or site ownership and adding geotags to associate a store with a certain location.
Display stock levels on product pages
To inform shoppers how many products are still available, it is now possible to display the stock level in the top left corner of the order box on product pages. This is a setting that can be activated per store using a checkbox in the Stores > General window.
Low stocks and out-of-stock products are now also reported in the System Messages pane on the Dashboard and by e-mail to all printer administrators.
Modified language bar
At the top of store pages, there is a lighter colored bar that is used to list all of the languages that are available. The transparency of this bar can be changed using a new ‘Language bar opacity’ setting for stores that using the ‘Show Custom Background’ style. When a store is available in just one single language, that language is no longer displayed in the top right corner.
Custom text underneath the price matrix on product pages
Underneath the price table on product pages, there is a short disclaimer that informs shoppers if the quoted prices include or exclude taxes and shipping. A number of printers asked for an option to customize this line of text, for example to emphasize that shipping is free or to indicate how much VAT or taxes will be added. Customizing the line of text is done using the Custom Pricing Table Footer in the Stores > Pages > Legal window.
Messaging can be formal or informal
By default Apogee StoreFront greets and e-mails users using their first name. In some countries and with some customers a more formal approach works better. Per company the admin can now specify if people should be addressed in a formal or informal fashion.
With the ‘Informal’ setting all e-mails will, for example, start with ‘Hello Joan’ while the welcome message in the top right corner also does this. Using the formal setting, e-mails will use ‘Hello Ms. Joan Smith’ while the welcome message in the top right corner simply states ‘Joan Smith’.
The above setting requires that StoreFront is aware of the correct salutation for each user. A new dropdown box labeled ‘Title’ allows you to define how a user should be greeted. There is a unisex salutation if the gender of a user is not known.
Custom address book for users
Users can create their own custom address book and use the contacts from this book to specify a billing or a shipping address. This is ideal for people who order products for multiple departments or companies.
The address book can be accessed during the checkout process. Users can also manage it by clicking the Address Book button on their Your account page. The address book is stored on the server, which is practical for shoppers who order products from different computer systems.
Impersonate a user
For troubleshooting purposes, it can be practical for a printer administrator to log into a store as a certain user. The Users window has a new Tools button which has an ‘Impersonate’ function. This allows the admin to fix a customizable product that user may be having issues with or try to reproduce a problem they are reporting.
Products & Product Templates
Variable size products
An uploadable unbound product such as a poster can now have a variable size.
- During the order process the shopper can define how big he or she wants that poster printed
- The uploaded file automatically gets scaled to the requested size
- Pricing is calculated per square meter or foot
A variable size product can be defined by creating a new product template and selecting the new base type Unbound - Flat - Variable Size. The printer administrator can then specify a minimum and maximum size. It is also possible to offer shoppers a list of predefined sizes next to enabling them to specify a custom size.
Format a detailed product description using the HTML Editor
The product description window now has two separate product description fields.
- The Summary field is meant for a short product description that will be used for product rollovers in the store. This text is also inserted in the Meta Description tag for that page, which is useful for search engine optimization.
- The Product Description field can be used for a more elaborate product description that will be shown on the product page, underneath the product thumbnail image.
Since the Product Description field uses the HTML Editor, you can now create more extensive product descriptions, with embedded images, tables or even animations. This makes it easier to upsell options or include examples that highlight how other shoppers used the product.
Product template links
In the Product page the names of product templates are now hotlinks. Clicking them takes you straight to the product template window.
Copy a product to another company
Companies often use quite similar products. Business cards are a typical example of this. After having created a first business card product, it can now be duplicated to another company. This reduces the setup time of virtually identical products.
SKU codes per product option
For non-printed products it is now possible to define multiple SKU codes based on a specific product option. For a product that is available in different colors, this can for example be used to specify a separate product code per color.
Updated InDesign plug-in
A new version of the StoreFront Converter Plug-in is available for download from the StoreCenter menu. Version 188.8.131.52.1 of the plug-in fixes bugs and improves compatibility with InDesign CS6. It also allows operators to choose a quality preset for converting TIFFs, gradients and locked layers to PDFs.
Single admin workspace in the Online Editor
Admins now always get access to all the menus, windows and panes when working in the Online Editor, regardless of the workspace of the user.
Export a Package
In the Document tab there is a new Package Output pane. It contains a button to export the customizable product as a package.
Customize the preflight settings
The Online Editor has its own preflight engine that can warn users or generate an error for the following potential issues:
- Frame outside page – Frames positioned outside the page will not appear on the printed document.
- Text overflow – When text is too long to fit in its frame, part of the text will not be printed.
- Missing characters – The shopper can use accents or non-latin characters in a frame, then alter the typeface and accidentally select a font in which some of those characters are not supported. The missing characters might appear as spaces or small rectangles.
- Image output resolution – The resolution of images must be high enough to avoid pixilation.
- Image resize – Some companies do not want their logo to appear too small on documents.
- Empty variable – In a document using the Forms workspace you may want to assure that the user fills in all the fields.
Preflight notifications are available in a separate pane in the Online Editor. It is also possible to inform the shopper when he or she tries to save the product and order it. Below is an example of such a warning message.
An administrator can change the preflight settings per individual product. This is done in the Preflight Settings pane in the Warnings tab.
Ordering & Checkout
Optimized product specifications & pricing on product pages
When a shopper orders a product and selects certain options, such as a different type of paper, this previously did not alter the pricing table underneath the order box. Based on popular demand, this has been changed and the pricing table now takes selected options into account. Large price tables containing more than 10 rows are also automatically truncated. A link labeled ‘More prices’ allows users to see the full list.
Reworked check-out procedure for shipping
When a user defines shipping during check-out and uses a ‘User Supplied Delivery Address’, he or she will now first select a destination address and then the system will display a list of appropriate shipping services. It will no longer list shipping services that do not ship to the selected address.
Tax exemption handling for public stores in the US
Within stores that operate in the United States, TaxCloud can be used to calculate the sales tax during checkout. Some shoppers may not be required to pay tax. A new checkbox allows such customers to confirm that they are tax exempted. Clicking it opens up a pop-up window in which the user can enter their certificate ID. This information is also included on the order confirmation e-mail and summary.
Add information about delivery addresses
When a user will pick up an order at a predefined address, it is useful to show hem or her information such as opening hours or pick-up instructions. For fixed delivery addresses an administrator can now add such data in the new ‘Info’ section.
Order Fulfillment & Shipping
Certain operations such as approving/rejecting an order or marking it for shipping could previously only be done on the entire order. This was not always practical. Sometimes just one single order item needs to be rejected or it might be useful to already ship half of the items of a large order.
To facilitate this, there is now an option to split orders into suborders. To do this select the appropriate order items in the Orders window and click the ‘Split order’ button. In the example below this splits order 21987 into two suborders ‘21987-1’ and ‘21987-2’. Each suborder can then be treated separately.
Shipping cost per weight category
To calculate the shipping cost, it was already possible to define a cost per weight unit (kilo or pound). A new calculation method called ‘Weight based Fee’ provides more refined control by allowing you to specify a number of weight categories and their associated shipping cost. With the example below, any shipment up to 3 kilos costs 2.95 euro. From then on the cost gradually decreases per additional kilo.
Payment history page
When a store uses online payments, these transactions are now documented in more detail. On the Order Details page there is a new Payment History link. Clicking it opens a separate page with more information about the online payment, including the reference code issued by the payment gateway.
When a store uses online payment and an order that has already been paid for gets completely or partially cancelled, the user will expect a refund for the cancelled order items. The actual money transfer needs to be done using a bank. StoreFront however allows you to track which cancelled orders require refunds and it logs the justification for the refund and the amount.
Integration & Data Exchange
Support for the Asanti production workflow for the sign & display market
Asanti is the new production workflow for the sign and display markets. Asanti users can also make use of StoreFront as the web-to-print front-end of their workflow. The Asanti workflow can automatically download and process order items, similar to Apogee Prepress.
Apogee Prepress generates an XML or TXT file for each order item
A new optional module in Apogee Prepress can automatically generate a separate datafile for order items coming from Apogee StoreFront. This datafile can be used by MIS systems, reporting tools or other applications to retrieve data about all Apogee StoreFront orders. More information about this option is available on the SFE product page.
Post-update action items
Some of the changes and new features in this release require an intervention from a printer administrator:
Log in & approve the new License & Service Agreement. Some of the new features of StoreFront 2.0 required an update of the License & Service Agreement. The new license contains the following changes:
|Now that stores can be deleted, it is time to remove any stores that are no longer in use or that were created for training or testing purposes.
|Update the StoreFront Converter plug-in on all systems where it is installed in Adobe InDesign.