Posts in: web-to-print features
02/12/2008

Reports on your web-to-print orders already contain most of the information stored in the database, except the texts entered by users into web-to-print templates. It may be difficult to reconcile orders if they are placed by one person for the whole office. From now on, reports contain top 5 fields from every order added to the right of PayPal transaction columns. You may need to re-shuffle and merge some columns to add some sanity to the data if field names do not match across templates.

20/10/2008

Delivery addresses can now be structured for better data quality and address validation.

Simple structure

The simple structure is just what it always was – a single text box for the whole address. It’s easy for users. They don’t need to hop from one field to another, nor they have problems with unusual addresses.

The simple structure is the default option. There has been no changes to any of your existing catalogs.

Structured address

A structured address has a country dorp-down and sate drop-down for some countries. This is a good option if you want to import delivery addresses into your workflow application or accounting system. Read more.

Address validation

We are looking at options to add address validation for different countries. Contact us if you want one. We are talking to several providers of global address validation solutions to get the best deal for you. At this stage we will probably limit our role to providing an API that you will need to utilise and connect to the chosen validation provider using your own set-up. We need more input on this. Please, give us your ideas and requirements.

23/06/2008

2 new web-to-print features were released last week, but stayed in the stealth mode until now.

Bulleted text can now be mixed and matched with other fields within the same frame like in this example. Note that all the text is in one paragraph frame aligned to vertical-center.

Read more here.

bullets for web-to-print

Bullets for web-to-print

Paragraph style matching

Different paragraphs within the same paragraph frame are now matched to user input and retain the original styling, including color, font, alignment, spacing, etc. The following example is a single input field.

Read more here.

web-to-print paragraph styling web-to-print paragraph styling

14/07/2009

How to get more traffic

We’ve just released a WordPress plugin for an image generator.

The plugin can connect to your catalogs and users will be able to email your designs as e-cards.

It is not possible to email directly from Flash. The server-side part of the plugin handles all the configuration and emailing.

There are a couple of minor glitches, still, but overall it is usable.

This service is free. You are not paying anything. There is a link on every design page in Flash to jump to the ordering page.

Make a few simple templates your audience may want to use and let them have a bit of fun before they are ready to order.  Ideally, you need to approach other blogs and ask them to embed this to get more traffic to your site.

Magento

We’ve been flat out working on Magento web-to-print integration. It is now in a stable beta stage. You can grab it directly from Magento website. Contact support@zetaprints.com if you run into any glitches. We are giving full installation assistance at this stage. This is an open source project, so you can always get your own developers to turn it into a web-to-print store you want.

Upcoming features

Three main streams of work:

  • Improve Text.1, Text.2 web-to-print ext field linking and Text~ fields with per-char formatting
  • Add custom blocks of text to let you write your own emails and insert some user or order details.
  • Improve search, including searching by size and download file type.

A re-designed PayPal Pro plugin for WordPress is coming out soon too. It should reduce number of declined transactions as PayPal may get fussy with it’s hosted payments page.

07/07/2008

Just a reminder for users trying out our service that we are not after your wallet – send us an email that you are still on a trial and we’ll wave the bill. Really, we have no problem with that whatsoever.

By the way …

An interesting post about printing quality at one of the largest US online printer offering novelty products – Zazzle.com. Those guys are doing great in terms of traffic and popularity. They have lots of interesting social features, but it turns out the quality of the print lets them down. At least it did on this occasion.

Coming changes

The sidebar with the main menu, lists of orders, catalogs, etc. will be very much simplified and possibly removed. Don’t be shocked when you see the entire width of the screen used by the page content.

This change will be enabled for printers only. Your customers will still see the current layout. We will need your feedback before applying to your customer screens.

08/09/2008

Template details can be edited in a bulk mode (more than one at once) to save you time on changes such as prices, additional options, terms and conditions and some others.

Web to print editing

You make changes and then choose web-to-print templates from the same catalog to apply the changes to:

web to print editing

28/06/2011

Users can now change color of web-to-print and dynamic imaging text in our Magento web-to-print extension.

web-to-print color picker

You need to enable this feature in template field editor and re-sync the templates between Magento and your ZetaPrints portal.

Only RGB color is available at the moment, but you can convert it into your target color space when the PDF file is generated.

This feature is available from Version 1.9.1.0beta4 onwards.

27/04/2009

We now have two web-to-print interfaces: original and new.

The new web-to-print interface is where all new features will be added. The original one will stay as is and may be decomissioned at some later date if no one is using it seriously.

Go to Branding/Page layout and choose New if you want to use the new tabbed interface and a color picker.

We had a few complaints about the new interface at the last attempt to launch it. Some more thought was put into the redesign and hopefully we got it right.

Please, do tell us if there are still problems with the new one. You can always switch back to the original web-to-print interface if the new one doesn’t work for you.

The current state of the ordering page is temporary.  The page will morth into something like the one below with async file uploading. Click on it for full size view.

new web-to-print

new web-to-print

Update: a help post was published for use of our web-to-print color picker.  There are 2 problems with the color picker as it is now.

  • you may need to click twice on the colored box to open it
  • CMYK colors show incorrectly

We are working on fixing them.

12/06/2011

We had a very confused PDF generation module. It wasn’t taking into account the color profile of the web-to-print documents.  We made major changes to how it works and deployed the changes last night.

Default web-to-print color profile

All files with an embedded color profile will be processed according to the color profile. Older web-to-print files without a color profile will now be assigned the following default profile:

  • RGB: sRGB IEC61966-2.1
  • CMYK: US Web Coated (SWOP) v2
  • Grayscale: Dot Gain 20%

You may notice some colors to be slightly off. Either let us know and we’ll fix them for you or re-upload the template file with the right color profile embedded.

New web-to-print PDF module

Templates will be processed by the new PDF module when you update and save PDF settings. Existing templates with PDF settings you haven’t changed prior to the update will be processed by the old PDF module. We recommend you take a minute and reconfigure the settings because we added several new features:

  1. Profile embedding
  2. Acrobat 9 support
  3. Text encoding

Some features were dropped (not really useful ones):

  • number of fountain steps is determined by the PDF engine
  • embedded fonts have 100% of the glyphs included

Possible problems

We tested the update on as many different templates as we could, but there may be some more that we missed. Please, get in touch ASAP if any of your PDFs get generated incorrectly. It’s a good idea to preflight them at least ones as they start coming through.

14/04/2009

Our web-to-print interface got an update. More in web-to-print help.

Preview and ordering pages

The tabs at the top have most of additional info about the product.

The checkout form is always at the top.

Image fields have tabs for uploading new files, image library, stock photos and color picker.

Save order is a tab now with Comments and Reference fields.

Image fields page

A new section was added to manage image fields within the admin interface. You can control what tabs are enabled per field.

Order list page

Dates from / to can be selected from a pop-up calendar.

Skin problems

Not all skins look nice with the new page elements on preview pages. Send us screenshots with problematic pages.

Bugs and design flaws

Please, tell us of any problems ASAP. We are still working on a few minor mishaps, but could miss a few more. You feedback on the new layout is appreciated.

More to come

Image downloading from the Internet – currently disabled, but users will be able to enter a URL of some image, may be on Flickr or some other website instead of uploading one.

Composite orders – one more tab will be added for orders in every image field so you can use an order as an image and build complex templates from bits and pieces.

Image cropping/resizing right in My images tab.

Asynchronous image uploading and the image fields will be moved to the top of the page. Users start uploading images and move onto entering text while images are uploaded. This may be some while away. We want to see if this re-design actually works better than the old one.

28/10/2008

The generic look of deault ZetaPrints styles can now be changed into your unique skin. It may not be as easy as it sounds, but a decent web designer should be able to help here. More about custom css …

How it works

  • Create a CSS file that redefines existing styles and possibly defines new ones.
  • Upload the CSS to your main hosting (where your WWW-website sits)
  • Grab the URL of the CSS and enter into CSS URL text box on your branding page

We cannot host your custom CSS. it’s better to host it under the same top domain as your ordering website to avoid security issues with some browsers.

What can be changed

Colors, fonts, margins, bullets, backgrounds, buttons, input controls, rounded corners, fancy gradients and all the rest of it. You get a comprehensive control of the website skin.

Don’t like the default looks? Change them!

How to get it all done

  1. Find 5 websites you like
  2. Get a clear idea of what you want
  3. Find a freelance web designer (lots of them out there on Elance, oDesk and other sites)
  4. Show them your ordering website and the 5 websites you like
  5. Explain what it is you want
  6. The designer will go away, produce the CSS for you and upload it to your website when ready

This type of work is likely to cost you between $100 and $500.

Remember that they do not need to style printer pages. Only what users see matters, but feel free to redefine all styles if you want.

03/11/2008

We’ve got a few designers having a go at making custom web-to-print skins for a test site. It’s been a bumpy ride for us as we had to go back and forth making changes in the markup, adding classes and ids, but we are getting some results now.

Note: you need to log out from your site if you get a 404 error looking at the test one.

You can see the menu is dramatically different from the pain boring default style. It does look better in FF and Safary than in IE, but it’s because IE doesn’t support rollovers as other browsers.

Anyone who wants a custom skin it’s a good time to start browsing around looking for websites you like. Once you have an example it’s easy to explain to a web designer what it is you want.


07/07/2009

Access for print production

We are making a change to let web-to-print designers access orders, including changing web-to-print order status.

A designer with access to a web-to-print catalog on your web-to-print site will be able to see and manage orders for that catalog. It will be kind of a shared designer/production role.

Please, check your catalogs and remove designers if you do not want them to see your orders. You may want to create some test catalogs for them specifically and then copy them into production, if you don’t want them to see orders, but still want to work with templates.

This change will come into effect in the next few days.

Bug fixes

We had a problem with repeating images for some time, but it’s no more. You can design web-to-print templates and re-use the same image (for effects?) as many times on the same page as you need. Just watch the file size.

A whole bunch of other bugs was fixed. If you know of any bugs we missed, please, let us know.

New web-to-print features

We added a few new neat tricks you can do with text fields. Check out this overview post.

Web-to-print widget

We are updating out Flash widget. Some new features there and we removed ZETAPRINTS from the screen as it was a little bit too much self-promo. It has a neutral welcome screen now, if any.

You can see the widget and embedding code if you enable it for a catalog or enable sharing for a template. The widget can show as an embeddable plugin on a page or take the full screen. Give it a try. Make a few viral designs, spread the word and see if it brings you more traffic.

One of the key factors in YouTube success was embedding. Their rivals did not allow that. You know which strategy won in the end.

10/07/2009

From now on, administering orders in your web-to-print system can be done by designers.

Previously it could only be done by the master account. We expanded the role of designer to cover what production does.

A designer can see orders only for web-to-print catalogs he was granted access to.

Designers can browse, search web-to-print orders, view order details, change order status.

They cannot wave or manage payments. This is a grey area at the moment. We have conflicting requirements. Please, email support@zetaprints.com if you want them to manage payments as well.

Designers cannot empty deleted folder or view user details beyond what is showing in the order details. Nor can they manage users.

29/05/2011

We just rolled out a small update.

Dynamic imaging

The size for dynamic imaging templates went up to 2400 x 2400 px, which should be enough for most digital PoS signage.

PDF 1.7 support

CMYK and spot colors with transparency are not rasterized if exported into PDF 1.7  when an order is generated.  Simply choose the right version on template PDF settings page.

17/06/2012

We added a new feature to our web-to-print extension for Magento that allows order confirmation emails sent to customers to contain preview images of their orders. Read the rest of this entry »

27/04/2009

We are still adding final touches to our new open source e-cards plugin, but here it is nonetheless.

It can be embedded into any web page just as I embedded it here.
Embedding string:

Variable parameters

Width: set to width in pixels or % (in 2 places)

Height: set to height in pixels or % (in 2 places)

Data source: this is an address of RSS feed for the catalog you want to show. The catalog needs to be public.

What for?

Don’t ask. It’s one of those pet projects. Maybe there is some use for it.

The most obvious is to promote your products. Build a catalog with a few simple templates that work well in small size and are fun. Embed the plugin on your site. Ask others to embed it. The user may want to click through to your site and actually order something after playing with these small designs.

Your suggestions on what features to add are welcome.

19/01/2009

We’ve just enabled EPS support. You can upload EPS files in place of images.

The feature is running in a test mode. PostScript Level 3 files are causing a bit of grief. We’d like to see all EPS files that failed to upload. Analysing them will help us improve EPS import.

Please, try it out.

26/01/2009

We are making progress on EPS support. Our web-to-print can understand most of level 3 files, except for those created in Acrobat 7 or later.

We also fixed the bug that stopped processing of most level 2 files.

Please, try again. We log all failed EPS uploads and analyze the files.

22/07/2012

We’ve just rolled out an update to allow EPS file upload via Magento. No change is needed to the Magento end.

Possible issues with EPS files

Some EPS files cannot be processed. Please, email them to us for analysis.

You need to make sure that your server has the right MIME type set up for EPS files. Contact your system administrator or the hosting support if the MIME type is not set. It should be application/postscript.

29/03/2008

Several new features related to use of keywords were introduced in the last few days.

Search and navigation using keywords

web-to-print keywords example Users can click on a keyword and get all templates under that keyword. Choosing more than one keyword narrows down the choice to web-to-print products tagged with both of them. Read more on how to use keywords and how to manage keywords.

Menu sub-categories

List of templates shown in the menu:
web-to-print template list
List of categories for the same catalog:
web-to-print menu categories
Categories may be a better option for catalogs with large number of templates. Read how to set them up.

21/07/2009

Favicon

Don’t like the cute yellow ZetaPrints logo on every page of your web-to-print portal? No more!

Go to BRANDING / Page layout and enter a URL of your own favicon.ico.

Sorry, you need some server to put it on first, but at least you have this option now.

More in web-to-print help.

Order cancellations

You may have this problem if you are selling consumer web-to-print products – a web-to-print order was placed and paid for, then canceled, re-ordered and paid again. What a mess!

Now you can go to BRANDING / Page layout and specify a URL of your cancellation and refund policy. If a user tried to cancel a paid order the system will not cancel the order, but will redirect the user to this page instead. You can go and cancel the order any time.

You need to create this policy page on your WWW website. There is also a more advanced option to handle refunds automatically, if you want. Read this web-to-print help post for more info.

Cluster reboot

We will need to re-boot the entire cluster in a few hours. A few minutes of downtime are possible.

24/07/2008

Fresh from the web-to-print mill – field editing.

Before you proceed, click Home and then click REFRESH in your browser to get the latest style sheet, if you haven’t got one yet.

This change affects Printers and Designers only. The end users do not have access to the same screens.

Go to the preview page and click on the field name

web-to-print field editing

The form expands and opens a sub-form as in this screen grab.

You can:

  • Change the field name
  • Add a hint that shows under the input control when the user clicks on it.
  • Change single line text boxes into multiline and vice versa
  • Force case
  • Limit min/max length
  • Limit user input (characters)
  • Re-format phone numbers
  • Provide a list of values for a drop-down

Click Close to leave the fields untouched or Save to apply changes.

web-to-print field editing 2

The only user change is the hint showing under the input field where you provided one.

web to print fields 3

Roundtrip of name changes

Changing a name using this screen does not affect the template, yet. We may add the roundtrip change later on so that changes through this screen edit the template as well.

Missing bits

Oops … we had to roll back ALLOW, DISALLOW and PHONE NUMBER FORMATTING  due to a compatibility conflict. A fix is expected in a day or two. No good. :-(

14/11/2008

We’ve just released 4 free web-to-print skins to spurse up the looks of your site. You can use them as is or download the source and modify to your requirements. Read instructions on how to use them.

Green web-to-print skin

Green web-to-print skin

Grey web-to-print skin

Grey web-to-print skin

Jeans web-to-print skin

Jeans web-to-print skin

Olive web-to-print skin

Olive web-to-print skin

28/01/2010

We released a beta version of some image management and image editing functions for our web-to-print API.

There is not much at the moment:

  • get list of images
  • get image details
  • upload new
  • delete
  • crop
  • rotate
  • edit title

Some other functions are in stealth mode and will be released soon:

  • copy to different folder
  • move to different folder

We want to add a few filters to the mix, e.g. grayscale,  sepia, watercolor, etc. Need your input on what you think will be popular with your web-to-print customers. Your suggestion on what you think is a good implementation of this functionality are very welcome.

Web-to-print image editing will appear in our Magento web-to-print plugin first and then will be transferred to the core user interface. This is work in progress at the moment.

28/07/2011

We had interactive personalization for web-to-print products available for a quite a while. A brand new help post explains how to turn it on on your web-to-print site. Make sure you run 1.9.1 beta 14 or later for it to function correctly. All previous versions have significant faults in that area of code.

web-to-print personalization

web-to-print personalization

And while writing this blog post I found a small hole in the feature. Just letting you know we’ll be patching it soon, in case you encounter it.

01/05/2009

There is a small number of web-to-print users with very tight security settings in their browser. Some of them made it intentionally tight, some are using a computer configured by someone else. The first category enable/disable cookies and JavaScript as needed. The second have no idea.

We added a special notice for them and help pages on how to resolve it. Unfortunately, only so of them can do it themselves.

web-to-print cookies

Please, synchronize your custom web-to-print help pages to make sure the links to instructions are not broken. The easiest way to do it is to copy our content as is.

How to test the messages and links

Disable cookies and JavaScript for for your domain (temporarily!) and click on Home or any other link and you should see the warnings at the top – left corner.

24/07/2008

There used to be a ridiculous limit on the number of fields in a web-to-print text frame. it was a real impediment to many good web-to-print designs where shifting up and down was a requirement.

This limitation has been removed. There is still a limit, but 1024 characters should be enough for a long list of fields! Tell us if you ever need more.

22/12/2009

Sorry, we’ve been quite since moving the new hosting. The core team is still busy bringing order and stability to your hosted web-to-print portal. It’s not as reliable at the moment as it should be. We are planing to complete all the admin, backup and auto-scaling procedures in the next few days. You probably won’t notice from the user end, but we’ll feel much better with all the fail-over protection.

Magento web-to-print update

We released a new version of our web-to-print extension for Magento. It is taking some real shape with most bugs fixed. Not saying it is perfect, but it works.

Custom themes

An important change is how web-to-print integrates into a custom them. We recommend that you upgrade to the latest version and change your theme as well. The sooner you do it the easier it will be to apply further updates.

Configurable and simple web-to-print products

Previous versions could work only with simple products. Now you can link any product to an imported web-to-print template. Simple web-to-print products can be created in bulk from imported web-to-print templates, but they still need to be configured with prices and options.

04/04/2008

In case you haven’t noticed, there are 2 new features to make your web-to-print site a bit better.

Catalog icons and web-to-print homepage layout

Web-to-print catalogs used to be lists of text links. Now they can be replaced with icons or images like in this example:

Images can be made in Photoshop in any size or format.  Read more in Catalog icons post on web-to-print help website.

The web-to-print homepage layout can be changed showing one or more of the following blocks:

  • Popular templates
  • Catalogs (as images or text)
  • Latest templates

Read more on web-to-print homepage customization.

23/03/2011

ZetaPrints web-to-print software supports multiple languages in the user interface and pretty much any language in the templates.

Web to print templates

The language of the templates is limited by the glyphs used in the designs. Our web-to-print software runs on Unicode and supports any valid Unicode glyphs. The same applies to field names – they can be in any language you want.

Most Western fonts support only Latin-1 and Latin-2 characters and can only be used for Latin web-to-print templates. Upload either Unicode or localized fonts to your web-to-print account and it will work in your language.

Web to print interface

ZetaPrints default interface from our fully hosted web to print package does not support multiple languages. That is, the templates and field labels can be in any language you want, but the rest of the site is in English only. We used to support German, French, Spanish, Russian and other languages there, but had to temporarily discontinue them.

We recommend using our e-commerce web to print package if you want the entire interface to be in your language. It gives you much more flexibility over the translation.

06/11/2011

Just added a new simple web-to-print feature to control file generation for multipage templates.

The default setting always was to exclude pages users never updated. This works for some, but not other web-to-print templates.

Now you have a choice of:

  • exclude default (not updated) pages
  • include default pages as is in the template
  • require all pages to be updated before checking out

The setting is controlled on template details page.

web-to-print multipage template settings

 

 

09/11/2011

Just added bulk-edit support for web-to-print multipage options so you can change this web-to-print setting for multiple templates in one step.

Also, menu for web-to-print catalogs has changed slightly. Clone catalog and Bulk edit now show in the catalog’s menu.

Read more about multipage options in this web-to-print help post.

web-to-print multipage

23/10/2009

We added a new feature to help you manage designers for your entire web-to-print site in one place.

Web-to-print designer role can be used to manage orders and templates. You can give your graphic designers and production managers access to your web-to-print portal as designers. It will free the master account and reduce the login sharing problems.

Click on DESIGNERS link in the top menu bar for the site. It is the one right under the top banner. Enter the designer’s email and select catalogs to grant access to. Save the changes.

Your current skin may be slightly out of date. Consider switching to our new web-to-print skins for automatic updates.

Hopefully, this little new feature will make your web-to-print chores a bit easier.

17/07/2011

Phone numbers, addresses, names and other logical blocks may get broken into separate lines if user input is longer than expected.

Like this:

breaking web-to-print

Now our web-to-print system can be instructed to keep certain parts together like this

non-breaking web-to-print

Read how to achieve this in web-to-print help.

09/06/2008

Uploaded images can now be manipulated right on your web-to-print site as shown in this quick demo video.

Go to My images under Maintenance. All images except TIFFs have edit link. Your web-to-print users have the same functionality as you.

We need your feedback.

Once we are confident it works for you and your users we’ll move the editing to Template Preview page. Users will be able to edit their images at the time of ordering without leaving the page.

Web-to-print image editing functions

  1. Rotate left / right
  2. Crop
  3. Delete
  4. Undo (revert to the original image)
  5. Make a copy

Please, suggest other functions your web-to-print users may need.

07/04/2008

Released only minutes ago, some long awaited user management features to make life of web-to-print printer accounts easier.

Add user and User profile page

You can add a user to the web-to-print database and then assign the user to multiple web-to-print catalogs using a new user profile page. You can still do it per-catalog.

Full user profiles can be viewed on the new user profile page. Profiles accessible through Add user or clicking on user name in lists of users per catalog.

You can edit profiles of your customers, but only for those without a password. Once the password is set up the profile can be edited by the user only.  More …

Anonymous orders can be assigned to users

An order placed by an unregistered user can be assigned to an existing user or a new one. Click on Assign to user link on order details page and follow the instruction.  More …

24/03/2009

The ordering process may be a bit more streamlined now. We added a few features today.

Multiple categories of options

We used to have prices and options. Not any more.

Now you can have up to 5 groups of options with whatever labels you need. Simply insert a line starting with ==. E.g. ==Shipping or ==Coating

Example for Optional Features text box

==Coating

Front side lamination, add [10%]
Double-sided lamination, add [15%]
==Shipping
Post a single card, $[3]
Shipping nationwide, $[10.95]
Shipping overseas, $[15.95]

It produces 2 groups:  Coating and Shipping. Coating group is optional because it has an empty line. The user will have to choose one of the shipping options to place the order because there are no empty lines. Both groups become part of the order form.

Web-to-print order form

Web-to-print order form

New pricing and discount structure

Discount can be calculated on top of a subtotal

  • [++20%] instructs your web-to-print system to add 20% to the subtotal so far.
  • [–20%] instructs your web-to-print system to take 20% from the subtotal so far.

or on top of the base price

  • [20%] instructs your web-to-print system to add 20% to the base price.
  • [-20%] instructs your web-to-print system to take 20% from the base price.

Read more in Advanced product options.

Delivery address control

You can use [-d] and [d] indicators in price lines to control delivery address input box. E.g. you can hide it for download only options.

  • $[2] to download and print at home [-d]
  • $[10] for 10 copies [d]
  • $[20] for 50 copies [d]

Choosing option 1 hide delivery address text box, choosing any other option brings it back.

19/06/2011

Text like post codes and phone numbers looks good when the whole string stays together. Using non-breaking space and non-breaking hyphen tells our web-to-print and dynamic imaging engine to replace space and hyphens in user input with non-breaking Unicode characters. This way the string stays together.

For example our Canadian and UK customers have multi-part post codes like R3L-01A for River Hights East in Manitoba.  If the web-to-print text prior to the post code pushes it over the right boundary the postcode is broken at the hyphen. Use a non-breaking space or hyphen to make entire postcode move to the next line.

This is where to find it in CorelDRAW

non-breaking-web-to-print

 

This is what a non-breaking space looks like in the text

Make sure you have formatting characters showing to see it. The setting is part of the same Text menu.

space-web-to-print

Experimental web-to-print feature

We will enable this setting in web-to-print field editor in addition to using the non-breaking characters in the template itself.

09/07/2012

We introduced a new feature to the web-to-print text field editor that allows you to set a text field to automatically trim down any extra empty spaces from the user input. Read the rest of this entry »

24/04/2009

We have a number of open source projects on the go. They are tools built around ZetaPrints web-to-print API to help you get more than what we can offer through our standard web-to-print interface. Your feedback and ideas are highly appreciated.

E-cards

You can look at it as an Embeddable ZetaPrints.  Try it out.

The original idea was to provide a simple interface for little fun things like sending e-cards online or preparing an email signature. It turned out that this plugin can be used to embed web-to-print and image generation into any other website.

The plugin is still under development. This is early days. It cannot upload files or place orders, but it will soon.

Project location: http://code.google.com/p/e-cards-plugin/

Magento integration

The sad realisation we cannot satisfy all web-to-print and image generation customers with a single interface is depressingly demoralizing to the great SaaS promise.  :)

Don’t like the way we look ? Don’t like our workflow, content of our emails, whatever else?

No worries! Create a Magento store. Configure it the way you want. Install the extension we are developing and show ZetaPrints web-to-print in an IFRAME or using the e-cards plugin as an embeddable Flash. You will still upload and manage templates within ZetaPrints environment, but the rest will be done by Magento.

Although Magento and our extension for it are open source there will be cost involved to get a fully functional store up and running. Everything needs to be installed, configured, hosted, updated, etc. It may range between few hundred and a few thousand dollars, plus the regular maintenance costs.

Project location: http://code.google.com/p/magento-w2p/

Order manager

http://code.google.com/p/zetaclient/downloads/list

This desktop application downloads all your orders to your local machine, puts them in a local database and lets you manipulate them the way you want.

The application is written in C# and runs on Windows. It is still full of bugs and is not very user friendly. We are working on making usable.

Feel free to use it as a starting point for your own download manager. For example, your version my download orders automatically and route files directly to hot folders depending on certain criteria.

Project location: http://code.google.com/p/zetaclient/

OpenX plugin

OpenX is up and coming ad manager. It is open source and we created a simple plugin that connects OpenX banner interface with ZetaPrints image generation API.

If you happen to run a banner campaign and don’t quite have that banner file yet you can always jump to ZetaPrints make one from a template. You know, takes seconds. The plugin puts the banner into OpenX database automatically and don’t need to upload anything at all.

Watch this demo to see it in action.

Project location: http://code.google.com/p/openx-banner-creator/

18/10/2010

We had a bit of a gap in our web-to-print Magento offering for customers working with corporate or on-account users. We created a Magento access control extension long time ago, but order approval remained unresolved until now.

Magento order approval

Magento order approval extension adds an extra step between the customer’s shopping cart and the checkout process. It means that customers are able to add any number of products into their shopping cart, delete and modify them at any time without any restrictions, but they can not checkout products from the cart before they are approved.

Order approval extension is free and can be used separately without our web-to-print extension or ZetaPrints account.

/magento-web-to-print/magento-order-approval

/magento-web-to-print/magento-order-approval

19/05/2009

You can now offer users PDF proofs with saved orders.

A proof is generated when an order is saved and can be downloaded by the user.

There is a downside to this feature – these orders are billed to your account when they are saved. We expect this is only suitable for printers working with on-account customers where a lengthy reviewing processes is required. E.g. a real estate agent makes a sign using your web-to-print and wants to take a PDF proof to the seller for approval.

web-to-print PDF proof

web-to-print PDF proof

More in this help post.

24/07/2008

Previously, the preview image size was calculated proportionally to the page size and you had to have a border of the same proportions if there was no background. It was confusing and inconvenient when users typed in text that went outside the limits – previews would get distorted.

Detailed instructions were placed in a web-to-print help article.

A recent change in the processing algorithm allows to calculate the proportions using all objects in active layers for the page. The previews come out without distortion even if some text breaks the boundary.

The theory and the practice

It is possible that some web-to-print templates will not produce correct previews. Most likely they will produce HUGE preview images or fail. We will spot unusual error rate, but would like to hear from you of you notice anything unusual.

06/07/2011

We just released a tiny change to the report file layout for web-to-print orders – added customer email address.

A report can be downloaded any time you view a list of web-to-print orders.  It contains orders from all pages, not just the one you see. For example the search returned 100 web-to-print orders and you see only 20 on page 1 – the report will have all 100 in it.

Let us know if you need any more bit of data in there. We had a very rigid structure of the report and it was almost impossible to modify. We re-designed the way it is compiled and can add more info very quickly. Most of it should already be there anyway.

03/04/2012

Did you know you could easily create a menu layout with the item name on the left and the price on the right in our web-to-print system?

Check out this web-to-print help post. It explain how to add leader dots over tabulation signs like in this example:

 

29/03/2008

We hate spam and were very sad to see numerous spam messages being sent to our customers through the feedback form on their ordering pages. The messages were sent by “bots” or automated message senders. They crawl the web and send their annoying stuff using any web form they can find.

Today’s update to the system introduced a new measure to make it harder for them, but may also impede some users because the form relies on JavaScript. Only a small number of Internet users have JavaScript disabled. Let us know if any of your users fall into that category.

22/07/2013

ZetaPrints generates output files as part of the checkout process for all types of orders. It can slow down the checkout and make it appear frozen. Users don’t like to wait and give up before completing the order. We added an optional feature to speed up the checkout process for slow templates.

output-Files-options

Check on “delayed file generation” option (highlighted green) to skip the file generation step at the checkout. It will significantly reduce the time it takes to complete the order.

No files will be generated immediately, but as a printer, you will need to press “generate files” link on the order details before downloading them.

This option applies to orders placed directly in your zetaprints portal or in Magento via the API.

Delayed file generation is set per template, but you can use bulk editing to set this option per catalog.

24/06/2008

Sometimes it is required to indent second and other lines to make a hanging effect like this:

Contact: phone

contact: fax

contact: email

On the other hand, you don’t want to have 3 fields for phone, fax and email – just one “contacts” field will do.

There is a simple solution to this little challenge now: insert tabs before fax and email to align them right under phone like in the example below.  User input will be adjusted to align under phone as well.

Read more in web-to-print help post.

web-to-print tabbed indent

29/06/2009

We released several new web-to-print features last week and another update just a few hrs ago. It was all low key because we were not sure how it would affect overall site performance.

PowerClip in groups

We had a limitation on how a web-to-print template was structured – PowerClips could not be grouped. Not any more. From now on you can group PowerClips with any other objects.

Faster template uploading

The uploading speed is going to stay the same, but the processing time may be noticeably faster for web-to-print templates with a large number of objects/curves.

Repeating images

Using the same image for more than one image field on the same page was very unreliable. This issue was fixed. Users can repeat an image any number of times you need. You can construct templates with any number of repeating images, but watch the size if the file.

Linked artistic text frames

Create 3 artistic text frames.  Format them differently. E.g. put one on a path, add perspective to the third. Name them

  • Text.1
  • Text.2
  • Text.3

upload the template.

You will see that there is only one text box and the text you enter there flows from one frame, into the second and third one.  This feature is still in a stealth mode. Please, give it a try. We need your feedback.

Per-character formatting

Create an artistic text frame. Enter some placeholder text in there and format every character differently. Name the field Text~. Note ~ at the end of the name. It tells the system to match formatting for each character individually.

Upload this web-to-print template and enter some text to test it.

26/09/2011

We keep adding new web-to-print features to our system. Some of them are not backward compatible and require template re-processing. We decided against automatic re-processing of all templates because of the risk something goes wrong with the template and no one notices until an order is printed.

We added a feature to re-process templates manually if they are out of date.

At the moment almost all templates are out of date. You can re-process them manually from template overview page.

web-to-print-reprocess

 

Do not re-process templates unless you need to. Leaving them as-is won’t affect anything.

03/02/2009

We’ve just released a wee-little update to the site with a new feature to help you manage user input better.

User input can be automatically trimmed to remove:

  1. extra spaces at the beginning and end of text
  2. extra lines at the beginning and end of text
  3. lines and spaces combined

Click on a field name to bring up a filed editor. Pick a trim option. Save. Test.

Multiple templates can have trim option set via Template Fields page.

06/09/2010

We are rolling out an update to all our web-to-print portals. There is a chance some web-to-print templates may generate incorrect PDFs. In particular, there may be a mismatch in spot colors, CMYK <-> RGB conversion, missing fonts, missing image, etc.

Please, review all orders before printing even if the templates performed flawlessly before.

Do let us know immediately if you spot any issues.

06/07/2008

You might have noticed by now that the User List page has changed with an addition of a new text area for your personal message to the user.

The message comes at the top of the email followed by the link they need to click on.

The screen capture below shows an email without a message.

Web-to-print personal message

The personal message would appear immediately before  the text you see in this example.

User Profile page changes

Order List and Order Details now link to the User Profile page via user email or the ID for unregistered users.

You can use it to manage user details, including entering their email addresses.  It can be done only if there is no password set for the user. Once the password is set it is up to the user to make changes.

Order List Page

Orders are titled by user reference, if such exists and the product name appearing in brackets. Otherwise the product name shows as before.

it may be a good idea to send an email to your active users and tell them about this feature. Make sure you have “Hide Reference” checked off in template details. Reference text box shows by default, unless you checked it off.

11/02/2010

We made some changes to how users are registered in web-to-print portals. It may not appear as a big change on the outside, but we had to make some major changes in the back end to enable it. Still work in progress as we need to add some more convenience features to the process.

Email confirmation is not required

A user can register beforehand, during or after ordering. The user can leave the site, come back and log in without clicking on the confirmation link. The email will be marked as unconfirmed. The user is reminded to confirm it.

We hope it will make life a bit easier in cases where confirmation emails do not reach users or end up in junk mail.

User ownership

If a printer adds a user and the email status is unconfirmed the user can only access corporate catalogs by domain name within the web-to-print portal of the printer that created the user. Once the email is confirmed the user can access such catalogs on any other ZP web-to-print portal. This change may affect printers running several web-to-print portals as different accounts and share users between them.

Bugs

We won’t be surprised if we missed a thing or two with this registration change. Please, let us know ASAP if you spot anything unusual.

30/07/2009

We realeased a new feature to add a color picker to any shape, a vector shape in this case.

A color picker could only be used in image fields, which are bitmaps. It was somewhat limiting because transparencies didn’t work there.

With vector shapes you can add a color picker and overlay them with different transparency settings to get gradient fills, random gradient fills, change color scheme of the entiry web-to-print template, etc.

Read more on web-to-print help site and learn how to use variable gradients.

29/07/2008

The only way to apply watermarks to previews to stop freeloaders nicking your designs was to have preview and printing templates. Not the easiest way of doing it, admit it.

Watermarks are “easy as” now!

The Desktop Layer of Master Page in your web-to-print template is now showing on preview images, but is excluded from the final output (PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, CDR). It allows you to place watermarks on every preview image and forget about using printing templates.

Pity we didn’t come up with this idea earlier.

web-to-print watermarks

Desktop Layer behavior

Desktop Layer of Master page:

  • shows on top of all other layers on every page
  • shows on previews if you check the “printer” icon ON
  • never shows in the output files (CDR, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG)

Converting your existing templates

Having preview and printing files for a product slows down the processing 2 times or more. The user may have to wait many long seconds for the order to process. Removing the printing template will fix the problem. It may be just too much work to re-upload your all your templates, so we have a deal for you …

If all your watermarks are in the same font not used anywhere else in the template we can easily re-process your templates, move the watermark text to Desktop Layer and kill your printing templates. You can download the file afterwards, if you need it.

Let us know.

22/10/2008

We’ve just released our first web to print API, which is a direct connection to the back end.

web-to-print API

web-to-print API

At the moment it’s pretty basic – download list of orders and order details per order, but it’s a first step in a new direction

The aim here is to give you a way of doing things your way without too much dependence on our interface. You can build you tools, pages, add-ons, desktop and server clients that utilise the power of our back end behind your own user interfaces.

Orders API is designed to help you manage them more efficiently and integrate into your MIS. We kicked off an open source project for a desktop client that downloads new orders on a regular basis and puts them into your hot folders. It is supposed to do all sorts of things, like file renaming, connecting to multiple accounts at ones, routing PDFs, etc.

Importing order details into your MIS or accounting s/w should not be a problem as long as you can download the order details from the site. The data comes to you in a structured XML form. Any half-decent programmer should be able to hack it for in no time. We try to keep it as simple as possible.

05/04/2011

We are falling behind with help posts to document the web to print software and updates we release. Here are the recent developments.

File uploading

Our Magento file uploading extension had file deletion added in some time ago. Here is how it works:

Fixed quantities

Magento is awesome, but you can’t sell business cards through it unless you can somehow fix the quantities customers can buy. Our Fixed Quantities extension does just that. Managing it is easy if you have a few web to print products. We added import/export functionality to it to make editing web to print prices for large number of products just as easy.

Interactive editing

We had interactive editing (in-preview editing) for some months, but it had too many issues to make it a viable option for complex templates.

Our latest web to print extension release contains a long list of fixes for that part of web-to-print.

Interactive-web-to-print1 Interactive-web-to-print1

More undocumented features

  • A mapping extension for direct marketing
  • Free text product options
  • Combo box fields
  • Virtual products
  • Field and page name translations
  • Full size previews

We are working on bringing the help up to date with what is being released. What’s good in releasing it if no one knows it’s there?

 

08/06/2010

We released a stable version of our web-to-print for Magento extension a few hrs ago. Lot’s of new features. Worth a look.

Upgrading existing web-to-print installations

Do not upgrade your production site. Test it on a separate site first, make sure your custom theme is compatible. Changes are likely to be required. See Release notes for more info.

Feel free to drop us a line on support@zetaprints.com if you run into problems with the upgrade.

Lots of new web-to-print features and info

We added some more info to our website to showcase Magento web-to-print features and capabilities.

Experimental features

We are working on an update to our API to make it more consistent. It will not be fully backward compatible. The new interactive personalization will be completely replaced in the coming releases. Please, do not enable this feature in production yet.

11/07/2011

Preparing books via web-to-print has just got a wee bit simpler with addition of new Default Text feature. It pre-populates text fields from the template as either editable text or a prompt.

default text for dynamic imaging exampledefault text for dynamic imaging example

The greyed-out text is a prompt and disappears when the text field is clicked. It helps map the fields to the content of the preview.

The normal black text is populated from the template and can be edited. For example, a web-to-print book may have a large piece of text that the user may only want to modify in a few places. It makes sense to provide the text first time they look at the web-to-print template – exactly what this web-to-print feature does.

Read more detail about it and how to turn it on in our web-to-print help section.

Note, it is only available with our Magento web-to-print package for now and you are likely to need an upgrade to web-to-print v. 1.9.1 beta 12 or later.

21/05/2008

Our web-to-print Image Library page got a small re-vamp.

1. There is no difference in web-to-print Image Library page for printers or for end users any more.

2. Users can upload images directly into the web-to-print image library.

3. Images can be deleted asynchronously one by one or all in one go.

4. Long file names are truncated to the last 50 letters, which should be enough to the file name and a bit of a path. This is likely to be noticed by IE6 users only because all good browsers do not include the file path.

Watch out:

  • Go to your homepages and click REFRESH to get the latest style sheet. Frequent users have them cashed.
  • Tell us if the layout breaks (long file names, different height of boxes, etc) with your images.
20/01/2010

Our team is back in full strength (almost) and we’ll start rolling out some changes you need to know in advance.

Asynchronous image uploading

Images will be uploaded as soon as they are selected. This will eliminate the problem of the uploads being too large. Users should not notice any difference, only it will be faster.

If you think this will disadvantage your users, please, email us with your concerns. We may be able to leave your store on the old interface for some time.

Skin color changes feature will be removed

We will be removing the color changing feature for web-to-print store skins. You will need to use CSS to make appearance changes. There will be no change in the skin appearance, but if you are planning to change colors soon we suggest you find someone with CSS knowledge now to help you. Any web designer or web programmer should be able to do it.

13/04/2009

We’ve been stuck with some new features for the last 2 weeks. Things piled up and the update got much bigger than we expected. Usually, the updates are small to minimize the impact. This time it’s going to be noticeable.

The roll-out will start on Tue evening, Australia EST time zone or GMT +10. Some downtime is possible if we need to restart the cluster.

Web-to-print preview page changes

  • Tabbed interface to bring description, prices, options, checkout, links, etc into a single manageable group.
  • Image fields get tabs as well to allow image uploading, stock photos, composite orders (use previous orders as images).
  • A color picker (RGB and CMYK) for image fields.
  • Checkout form has moved to the top.

Image management page

Additional field properties to allow a combination of user images, stock photos, color picker, etc.

Order list

An interactive calendar to pick dates instead of entering in the search form.

24/08/2011

Importing templates from your web-to-print to Magento and creating products out of them is an easy process. Run the profile and you are done. What comes next is a hassle – enabling those products one by one, sorting them into categories, etc, etc.

Our latest beta release makes it even easier.

You can now create products and put them into pre-defined categories or into a single category so they are easy to find and manipulate. This feature is available starting from the latest beta release (Version 1.9.1 beta 21).

web-to-print category matching

More productivity tools for web-to-print and dynamic imaging

Check out Administration section on our Magento web-to-print help site. We made quite a few extensions, scripts and shortcuts to make it quicker and easier to manage your web-to-print store.

 

12/06/2011

We are applying a large update to your web-to-print site.

The update includes:

  • Revised PDF settings
  • Multiple CSS files
  • Default text from the template
  • Other minor changes and fixes

The site is likely to be on and off for about an hour.

11/02/2009

We are updating the system with new X4 file format over the weekend. Some templates may stop working or work incorrectly. We will need to know about any problems as soon as possible and will be fixing them immediately.

An announement will be made when the update goes live.