Work is continuing fast and furious on the much anticipated 1.1 release of Shopp. We’d like to update the community on our progress and let everyone know about some of the other happenings surrounding the project.
iThemes for Shopp
It’s finally happened. Great theme support for Shopp is on its way from the amazing crew of talented designers and developers at iThemes. Theme support for Shopp has been oft requested. It’s a space we’ve intentionally left wide open for the best and brightest theme designers from the WordPress community to fill. Today, the iThemes crew is the first to deliver by integrating Shopp with their ever popular FlexxTheme. It’s killer taking the the raw power of the Shopp e-commerce development platform and adding it to a theme with an easy to customize layout. It’s a winning combination that makes a Shopp-powered storefront that much easier and faster to deploy.
We had the chance to meet the some of the iThemes team at WordCamp Raleigh and today’s announcement is a realization of that meeting. The guys at iThemes are really awesome, truly genuine people with a passion for helping others make the most from WordPress. That sounds a lot like what we’re trying to do too. Since Raleigh, we’ve been forging what we foresee to be a strong, long-term partnership that will deliver some fantastic solutions for the WordPress community. To ensure that, we will be providing support for iThemes integrated with Shopp on our forums and in our official support Help Desk. The announcement today is only the beginning and we couldn’t be more excited. Not just exited for Shopp, but for both the Shopp and iThemes communities.
Be sure to checkout Flexx, and the over 80 other great WordPress themes they offer! The same team behind iThemes also runs PluginBuddy developers of an easy backup plugin for WordPress called BackupBuddy. It takes the headache and stress out of backing up your site. If you’re running an e-commerce site without backup you’re running a huge risk. BackupBuddy takes care of it for you backing up everything from the database to all the files in your WordPress installation, the plugins, themes, scripts and uploaded content. BackupBuddy is a commercial plugin for WordPress, backed by the great team at iThemes. Its affordable peace of mind for your storefront. Who wouldn’t want that?
Shopp Webinar at iThemes
In concert with all the iThemes goodness, Jonathan Davis will be providing a guided tour of Shopp in a free webinar hosted by iThemes on Wednesday, July 21st from 1-2 pm CDT (2-3 pm EDT). You’ll need to register to reserve a spot at the Shopp E-commerce Webinar before it fills up! Thanks again to iThemes for hosting the webinar! Also check out all the other great webinars and courses available at WebDesign.com a hub of training resources for web design and development with a focus on WordPress.
In case you missed it, last Monday we posted Shopp version 1.0.18. It is a simple maintenance release primarily to address a compatibility issue with the now available WordPress 3.0 release. It also includes a handful of other small fixes for some well known issues in the previous release.
Support for Supporters
As of today, the community support forums and official documentation is now only available by login with a customer account linked to a purchase of the Shopp core. Without a verified purchase of the Shopp plugin, you will not have access to view or post topics on the forums or read articles on the official documentation wiki. A number of purchases were made before our integrated account system, so there are a fair few without any login, but a valid purchase. If you have a valid purchase of the Shopp plugin but no login, please contact the support team on the Help Desk with details of your purchase. It’s important that you provide these details up front so we can get your account created pronto.
We honestly hate that this has to happen, but we feel it’s another necessary step to ensure we are pouring our support resources back into the community that has supported the project.
1.1 in Beta
On the 1.1 side of things, we’ve wrapped up feature development work and are now fully in beta. We’re really excited about this release and can’t wait to deliver it. We made the transition to beta just a couple weeks ago and while we were making the transition to quality testing, we made some changes to make it easier to for the Shopp community to work with us and play a role in the future development of the project:
- The Feature Requests forum now allows the community to submit and vote on features to make it easier for us to see the difference between what the community really needs versus what some feel would be nice to have.
- We also announced that we opened the Shopp Bug Tracker to the public so that anyone can report bugs both in current releases and the in-development version.
- Finally, we provided Developer Key owners access to bleeding-edge releases to preview and test the latest and greatest work. At 3 am EDT (GMT-4) every day, the latest code from our development repository is packaged up and made available as a download to Developer Key owners. Just login to your Shopp Store account and select Downloads from the menu. The bleeding-edge downloads appear below purchased downloads.
- Lastly we’re now in IRC every day to work interactively with those testing the bleeding-edge releases. Details on this are in the Developers forum (only accessible by Developer Key owners).
All of these steps demonstrate that we want to engage the Shopp community to help make Shopp the best e-commerce development platform possible. It also helps us get releases out sooner. Everyone wants Shopp 1.1 released tomorrow. We really, really do too! The reality is that Shopp is such an enormous system with so many moving parts that it makes ensuring everything works for everyone in every environment for every use… well, it makes it an extremely large task. Doing it all ourselves means it could be into the fourth-quarter of the year before we finish 1.1. With help, we think its possible to see release within a month.
There are already several people participating and I’d like to acknowledge a few of them that are providing really amazing feedback: Dave Johnson, Jonah Coyote, Anders Hassis and Shaun Robinson. Thank you for taking the time to help out, submit tickets and even follow-up reviews. Your participation has already helped tremendously to find issues we’d not yet uncovered ourselves. The quality of your reporting has also helped us reproduce and fix these issues quickly. Keep it up! It’s exactly what we’re looking for!
In wrapping up architecture and feature development we’ve been spending a huge amount of time polishing up the code base. With it, we’ve done some serious optimization work. Shopp now sports it’s own script queueing with concatenation support. All those Shopp scripts are now in a single request. We’ve also pruned through each script to trim every spare byte possible. That in addition to running all of the Shopp graphics through image optimizers adds up to a cumulative savings of 20KB off the total overhead of Shopp resources. With Google’s announcement that speed is a factor in ranking websites, we’re going the extra mile to ensure things are nice a snappy.
The tax system is the last system to get an overhaul with the addition of support for local tax rates and layered tax rules. With tax rules, you can now apply a tax rate based on conditions of an item in the order, such as by product category, tag name or even by customer type. Local rates support now allows specifying a local level of tax rates to be added to the base rate to support taxes at the county or municipal level (or any level beyond country and state/province). It is a far more complete, far more flexible tax system that allows us to get out of the way and provides the tools to model nearly any tax environment accurately.
Custom Image Cropping
With the new image server system, images are sized on-demand from the template layout settings. When a cropped image is requested for a template, you can now custom crop each individual image with the new cropping tool in the product and category editors.
Promotional Discount Limits
We’ve also added support for specifying promo use limits so that a given promotion can only be used by a set number of customers. This makes it easy to run promotional discounts for the “first 100 customers” or for any one-off discounts you might provide.
New Add-on Testing
We have several new add-ons that we’ve developed especially for Shopp 1.1 that need tested including:
- ShipWire – An inventory storage and shipping fulfillment service and shipping rate calculator. Available as a shipping module for Shopp.
- Amazon S3 – Fast content delivery from Amazon.com. Available as a storage engine add-on for your digital product files or catalog images.
- SagePay – UK & Ireland based payment processor. Available as a payment gateway add-on.
- Manual Processing – Process credit cards manually using a credit card terminal with secure credit card number storage. Available as a payment gateway add-on for Shopp.
All you need is a developer access key (single-site key owners can upgrade to developer access quickly and easily). Once you have the bleeding-edge Shopp core downloaded and installed, make a request to the Help Desk for any one of the add-ons above that you’d like to test and we’ll give it to you for free. After testing is done, you can keep the add-on and get free updates as our thanks for your efforts for testing and reporting bugs.
So when will Shopp 1.1 get released? We will be releasing Beta 2 to developers soon and expect to hit Release Candidate status by the end of the month. If things progress as they are currently it could be as late as the end of August before it’s released. We’d love to speed that up if at all possible, we’re just looking for developers willing to begin deploying sites with it so we can quickly identify and resolve the little issues that aren’t found in our internal sweeping tests.
So the hope is that as we reach each new phase of stability (Release Candidate) we’ll have more willing developers ready to develop with the new code and report bugs. If the amount of bug reports picks up we could be more confident to release 1.1 in mid-July. All of these dates are our best guess based on the current environment. Now that things are coalescing we will be able to make better and better decisions about how soon to expect the official release.