Posts in: web-to-print software
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.

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

14/11/2008

We are rolling out a new file management system. It started with deleting approximately 50,000 files it should never have deleted. Your files. Oooops ….

The good news, they are not lost. We just don’t know where they belong and it may take a few days to untangle. Any additional information will help. So, if you notice that any of your templates lost fonts, previews, thumbs or just stopped working – tell us straight away.

Most likely it’s a false alarm. Internal consistency checks show everything is OK, but better be sure than sorry. Full file matching takes ~ 72 hours so many of them there are. Pointing us at missing files will help understand the pattern and restore them quickly.

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.

20/10/2009

We made changes to how the top banners are handled on your web-to-print site.

  • Banners can now be of any size, any file type.
  • Banner cannot be uploaded to ZetaPrints web-to-print system any more. You need to upload them to your own web server and enter the banner URL into ZetaPrints.
  • There is one default banner per web-to-print portal that is displayed on all pages, unless otherwise is specified.
  • Any catalog can have its own banner that is displayed when the catalog is active.
  • Catalog banner should sit on your own web sever as well.

All existing banners were moved to a new location on one of our web servers and will remain there while in use. No action is required for current web-to-print portal owners.

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

14/04/2009

Here is a new layout, here it’s gone …

Several customers got very unhappy about the new layout. It didn’t work with their skinks and was too much a change for the type of users they have.

We’ll need few more days to enable the new layout with all the new features as an option that you turn on or off.

25/04/2009

The Help link at the top of any page is different for web-to-print user and printers/designers. We provide a generic web-to-print help site for users under your own domain name. Log out and click on Help to view.

JavaScript disabled

We added a new web-to-print system message if JavaScript is disabled. It appears at the top-left corner of the screen. You need to disable JavaScript for your domain to see it. The message contains 3 links on how to enable JavaScript for different types of browsers.

You need to create matching entries if you provide custom web-to-print help. Read more about the new structure.

Custom Help URL problem

If you entered a base help URL with a file name the links will not work. E.g. if your base HELP URL is

  • http://www.example.com/help/ordering.html

then the JavaScript link will look like this: 

  • http://www.example.com/help/ordering.html/enable-javascript-in-mozilla-firefox/

See, it’s now an invalid URL?

In this case you would need to:

  1. Change your base Help URL to http://www.example.com/help/
  2. Make ordering.html the default page for that location (change it to index.html on Apache or default.html on IIS)
  3. Create a matching page for /enable-javascript-in-mozilla-firefox/

Then the help link will be http://www.example.com/help/enable-javascript-in-mozilla-firefox/ and should work just fine. Copy our help contents if you want or write your own.

19/11/2009

We will start switching portals from the current data center to AWS (Amazon Web Services) some time next week.

Accounts with domain names configured using a CNAME record should switch over automatically with minimal disruption.

Accounts using A-record pointing at our IP address will get an error message screen urging them that the website has moved. Please, switch your web-to-print portal to CNAME now.

We can probably help if you have problems switching to CNAME, but you may want to call technical support of the DNS host first. They are better equipped to help you.

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.

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.

29/07/2010

Our default web-to-print interface is a bit boring. More like a skeleton. This is why we have web-to-print skins. Have you tried them on?

Now we are testing a new release of java scripts to add some interactivity to your web-to-print too.

Go to Branding / Page layout and paste these URLs into JavaScript URLs text box (don’t forget to insert your domain name):

http://[YOUR DOMAIN NAME]/java/dev/20100707/imageEditor.js
http://[YOUR DOMAIN NAME]/java/dev/20100707/multiFileUpload.js
http://[YOUR DOMAIN NAME]/java/dev/20100707/fileUpload.js

Replace [YOUR DOMAIN NAME] with your real portal’s domain. E.g if  my web-to-print portal sits under http://demo.zetaprints.com/ the URL will look like this:

  • http://demo.zetaprints.com/java/dev/20100707/imageEditor.js

Web-to-print scripts explained

  • imageEditor.js – click on the image in the image library and it will bring up an interactive image editor
  • multiFileUpload.js – works on My Images page to upload multiple files
  • fileUpload.js – works on preview page to upload multiple images

It’s unlikely that old browsers like AOL will work with them. The scrips are configured to use the default ZP functionality if the browser is unsupported, so those users shouldn’t be any worse off than they are now.

We released them as open source under MIT license:

Still testing

Although we did extensive testing internally there may be some issues with some browsers some time, which is called “bugs” all the same. Let us know if you spot any.

20/01/2010

We released a beta version of an access control extension for Magento.

Magento Community edition (the free one) has no access control. It’s a feature of their Enterprise edition, which costs money. We created a simple extension that allows access control at a basic level, but it should do the job for small portals. Please, give it a try.

Web-to-print extension update

We also released a stable update for our web-to-print extension for Magento. It went through a dozen of betas and has many bugs fixed, plus many new features. It’s really shaping up now. Image uploading and basic editing features are in the works. We planned to release them couple of weeks ago, but the festive season got on the way.

You need to update the XML in data import and product creation profiles for the latest upgrade to work correctly. See the latest help for web-to-print extension.

Problems with emails

We are having problems with many emails not being delivered. It is a complex issue with some of it beyond our control. We are trying to find altenatives, but it may take another 24 hrs.

Would you like notifications about new web-to-print orders to arrive as text messages to your cellphone via Twitter? Flick us an email and we’ll set you up.

18/10/2009

A web-to-print update rolled out some time on Friday night (GMT) affected old templates with different files for printing/preview templates.

The printing templates were ignored and the preview templates used instead. All sorts of consequences for affected customer. We have just fixed the bug.

Our apologies. The developer who made the oversight was told to follow the proper development/testing procedure and the senior management was sent outside to sweep the pavement as a punishment. Everyone says “sorry.

:(

Please, check your files and click on Generate file again to correct the output.

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.

06/09/2009

We’ve been quiet on new features front in the last few weeks. The reason is the migration we will undertake some time this month from a physical data center where we kept our own servers to a virtual hosting environment in the US.

Today we are starting to clean up data so we don’t need to move all the terabytes of stale web-to-print files. The first lot to go are old orders and order files.

Every web-to-print catalog has a setting for data retention. The default for deleted web-to-print orders is 6 months. All other orders are retained for 13 months. They were never deleted. Not since some time in 2007.

Unfortunately your web-to-print site may need to be taken down for brief periods in the next 24 hrs. We picked the lowest activity time for this.

Let us know if the data we removed needs to be restored. We’ll put it into an archive for some time. It will be deleted permanently as we decommission our current servers.

10/09/2009

The web-to-print order deletion processes is more or less stable now. It was running most of the day today moving few hundred thousand files to a separate web-to-print storage. They will stay there for some time in case we moved what we shouldn’t have.

You may notice the order counts in some folders went down.

We couldn’t do without a few hiccups. They are being ironed out. Mainly it was about calculating the total printer balance and user shopping cart total. Stopped a handful of orders coming through properly. Sorry about that :(

Please, do not be shy to nag us if the site or some of the pages are slow. It may be some time before we notice. Same if any of the files you need are missing. E.g. it’s possible that some product previews got moved accidentally.

Email all problems to support@zetaprints.com or call if it’s urgent.

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.

20/05/2008

Sorry, we had a break. All web-to-print development was stopped due to loss of direction in the team. Now we are back on track with renewed energy and clear goals. Web-to-print rocks!

User registration improved

Users registered by printers are expected to click on the link and enter their details themselves.

Printers can enter new user profiles and type in their details, including passwords. Despite that, new users were still required to click on the link to log in. It was an unnecessary step, now removed.

Transparent images

Transparent images were handled inconsistently by our web-to-print software resulting in loss of transparency in most cases. It has been fixed in the latest update. Some minor issues still remain:

  • TIFF and GIF files may appear on the screen differently as thumbnails. There is a colour shift in the palette for indexed colour.
  • TIFF files with ZIP compression are rejected. However, ZIP layer compression is OK.

There are many flavours of PNG, GIF and TIFF files when it comes to transparency handling. Check before using them in your image libraries and let us know if something does work as expected.

WMF files are not allowed

Sorry, not any more. There were too many security issues with them and they are not used that widely to be of a concern.

More changes to come

You will see more changes to our web-to-print user interface in the coming days. They will be deployed one by one and your feedback sought before moving further.

1. Changes to the page layout – cleaner, more space

2. Changes to uploaded files handling – cropping, rotating, resizing, deleting, etc.

3. More interactivity – scripting and asynchronous processing will be added here and there

29/11/2009

We are migrating all web-to-print portals to the new location right now.

Anything you upload will be queued up for synchronization and may take many hrs if not day to re-sync.

Please, wait until end of Monday or contact us directly if your upload is urgent.

31/05/2009

Do you number your field names like this:

  • 1.1. Name A
  • 1.2. Name B
  • etc.

We are releasing a new web-to-print feature to link artistic text frames. It will be released in a stealth mode to flush out bugs using production data.

You won’t be affected unless you upload or re-process a template with numbered field names. Please, let us know if you do.

By the way, did you see the latest of the our wonderfully awesome Flash widget? You can embed it with a single template only, just like the one here.

12/05/2009

We fixed an old bug that prevented printers completing saved web-to-print orders on behalf of customers.

As a bonus, there is a choice of checking out or updating the preview from a a saved web-to-print order. Users don’t need to update a preview to check out a saved order. There is a risk the preview and output files can be out of sync if the template files have changed since the order was saved. Keep an eye out for a day or two. We are fixing up this one as well.

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.

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. :-(

01/09/2010

Setting up Magento can be a bit of a hassle. Doing it on AWS (Amazon Web Services) for the first time is even more so. Good guys from GreenGeko made it a bit easier for all of us and released a free AWS image full of goodies with Magento already installed.

Anyone thinking of decent hosting for your Magento web-to-print site can give it a try. This is the page you get after launching the instance.

magento-for-web-to-print

How to find it

Assuming you already have your AWS account, a ZetaPrints account and ElasticFox addon it’s relatively simple.

  1. Open ElasticFox and log in to your AWS account
  2. Click on Images tab
  3. Wait for the list to appear
  4. Type in Magento into the text box as in the screenshot below. You should see a much reduced list.
  5. Choose an image with a title resembling the one in the screenshot.
  6. Right-click on the selected image and launch an instance.
  7. Go to Instances tab and grab the public address / DNS name from the properties once the instance is running.
  8. Paste the address into your web browser.

You should see a page similar to the screen-shot above with all the details about the instance, Magento and support options.

web-to-print image

Other Magento images

There are some other Magento images, mainly by JumpBox. You can try them as well, but you are in for a bit of expense. Check them out. Could be value for money for you. We’ll stick with the free option for now.

Magento support

As much as we want to switch you to Magento we cannot assist with the installation or support of your Magento site. Our partners will be happy to help you.

Magento web-to-print

This Magento image has no pre-installed web-to-print. Follow our instructions to set up and configure your web-to-print site.

12/10/2009

We are offering free CSS development to anyone with a good design idea for your web-to-print site layout.

You can send us PSD or JPG or CDR files with web-to-print page mock-ups and we will create a CSS to match that. There will be no cost for you, but the skin will released as a free CSS with Creative Commons BY license. It means that others may use it too.

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

13/07/2008

Cost centers are of no interest to casual customers, but regular business customers, specially corporate ones love them. Their accountants do, perhaps.

We always had an option of giving a list of cost centers per catalog, but it may be hard to maintain, so we added a new feature – free text cost centers.

Simply enter * as the only text in the cost center text box in catalog details and the user will get an additional field for entering a free text cost center in the order form.

More details here.

13/06/2010

We released a new web-to-print skin. It is blue, it is simple and it is good looking. We called it G-skin because we took G-mail as an inspiration, but then it all veered off-course in terms of the looks while the name stuck. A web-to-print G-skin that is.

The CSS is located here: http://www.zetaprints.com/skins/G-skin/styles.css

Paste this URL into CSS file text box on Branding/Layout options page in your web-to-print admin.

web-to-print skin

web-to-print skin

You can always copy the CSS locally and modify it to suite your looks. Changing colors is easy. Just change the color values in the CSS. There are no b/g images to modify for this. Try ColorLovers if you need some inspiration.

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.

25/02/2009

Image mangement has just become wee bit easier – we upgraded the image library and template images sections.

Images can be organised into folders, copied and edited right on the site. Check it out.

Detailed explanations posted on web-to-print help site.

27/01/2010

Magento web-to-print update

We are actively working on image uploading and image editing for our Magento web-to-print extension. It has not been finished yet, but we are looking for early adopters to help with polishing the feature.

Please, download the latest beta and give it a try. Send your questions to web-to-print support at support@zetaprints.com.

Performance problems

The site is running much slower than it used to. We are adding more capacity over the weekend. There is a problem with auto-scaling and we don’t want to cause any disruption while the ordering is in full swing.

03/05/2009

We had a major-major bug introduced on Friday.  It resulted in hundreds of web-to-print orders generated incorrectly.

Affected orders: Saved web-to-print orders where users made changes after saving.

Fault: the previews are correct, but the output files contain the data from the saved order before it was changed.

Action required: check all orders paced between Friday 1/05 and Monday 4/05 and email us links to any faulty ones.

The only way to fix the orders is to manually re-enter the texts. It is our fault and we will re-key faulty orders for you as soon as you give us a list. Please, mark any urgent web-to-print orders as such and we will process them first.

We fixed the bug with a temporary solution. It is still possible for users to place an order where the preview is different from the output if the order comes from Saved.  We are working on a permanent solution. Something should be out early on Monday. Please, keep checking all orders until then.

Faulty orders will not be billed and we will provide an equal number of free orders to compensate for the inconvenience.

14/07/2010

Many web-to-print templates have a problem with retaining bullet styles. This is because the default style is used with custom formatting on top of it.

We wrote a new web-to-print help post to explain how to make them show consistently.

Basically, use document styles, if you know what they are. Read the post if you don’t.

Highly recommended for anyone using bullets in web-to-print templates.

12/06/2010

We introduced interactive design personalization features in our latest stable release of Magento web-to-print extension. More changes coming this weekend.

The way dynamic imaging shape coordinates were set up turned out to be a dead end approach and quite inconsistent. We had to change the coordinates from bottom-left corner to top-left corner, as it is in browsers and most image rendering. The units used for the coordinates are also changing.

This change should affect only those few customers who implemented their own interactive editing scripts. If you are the one and we have not contacted you, please, get in touch ASAP.

Magento implementation changes

Existing templates will continue to function with the current Magento release.

New templates processed after the change will require a new beta release, which will be published on the same day as the API change.

Still experimental

Interactive personalization will be an experimental web-to-print feature for about a month more until we finish implementation of advanced text/image editing, such as font size change, image resizing, cropping, shifting, all in context of a web-to-print template preview.

interactive web-to-print

interactive web-to-print

in-preview dynamic imaging

in-preview dynamic imaging

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.

25/09/2008

Some of our printers had difficulties mathcing jobs in production because they use paper based workflow, not a fully automated one. We added a new feature to help with the job sheets.

Every order details page has a new link Show fields

web-to-print order details

Clicking on it shows a table with all the texts the user entered into the template. The texts show as a single line truncated to 50 characters. Click on the texts to show full and formatted input.

web-to-print job sheet screen with details

When you print the page it hides all unnecessary element and shows the table with user input. Your production staff can match what is being printed with what was entered by the user.

printed web-to-print job sheet screen

You can also use the texts from the table for any re-ordering or corrections you need to do on behalf of the user.Make sure you get formatted values, though.

28/06/2010

jQuery 1.4.2 is included in every page on your web-to-print site now.

The files are located in:  /java/jquery.min.js

You can make use of it in your own custom web-to-print scripts. See http://www.zetaprints.com/help/custom-javascript/ for more info.

The web-to-print color picker script was also fixed to stop the picker window jump all over the screen in some browsers.

13/04/2009

ZetaPrints web-to-print has no limit on order file size. We noticed that some templates produce unnecessarily large files. For example an invitation card comes as a 110MB download.

Please, keep an eye on the file size while downloading and fix any templates producing excessively large files. We will introduce a filter to temporarily block such orders, but would prefer you to take action first.

Email support@zetaprints.com to get help with reducing file sizes.

Once the filter is in place it will block downloading any files larger than a certain size (probably 20MB per A4 page). You will be able to fix the template, regenerate the output files and then download what comes out of it.

Some designs cannot be reduced in size because of all sorts of reasons. We’d like to see them and understand your requirements.  If you need it that large then no problem. It’s the post-card size designs 50MB each that worry us.

02/12/2009

We are switching over from one host to the other right now. Your web-to-print portal is on the move.

The old web-to-print site displays a temporary page informing visitors why the site is down.

Once the new web-to-print site is up and the DNS has been updated you should continue using it as nothing happened.

Anyone accessing the old web-to-print site will be redirected to a page explaining how to update their DNS settings.

Check if any web-to-print files are missing after the switch-over.

Update: the site is up and running at the new location.

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.

21/09/2009

We had problems with keeping our web-to-print extension for Magento in sync with internal Magento updates. Looks like we’ve caught up, for now.

If you tried the web-to-print extension on your Magento site and it didn’t work, please, install an update.

If you haven’t tried it yet, it may be worth giving it a go. The extension targets printers selling simple designs to the general public. It’s quite limited yet, but you can make it look as nice as you wish!

New features:

  • preview updates directly in Magento, no IFRAMEs
  • choice of IFRAME or internal preview updates

Limitations:

  • users cannot upload their images

We do want to know if you have any problems with the update or a clean install.

18/03/2010

We released a stable version of web–to-print extension for Magento 1.4. Lots of new web-to-print features.

New web-to-print features

It is fully compatible with the new Magento release and has a log of new features. Image editing is one of them. Images cannot be moved yet, but they can be cropped and rotated right on the previews page.

Web-to-print in your language

Magento itself can be run in many languages. All popular ones have already been translated to. Our web-to-print extension can be translated as well. You can run it in German, French, you name. There are lots of translation packages ready to be downloaded and installed. Translate the web-to-print part and it will be all in your language.

Web-to-print extension is ahead of ZP

In some respect, our Magento extension is more advanced than the standard ZetaPrints web-to-print interface. It is definitely better suited for applications where the visual part of the interface is more important than its simplicity.

Do you want to migrate?

Anyone looking at customization of your web-to-print portal should seriously look into our Magento web-to-print extension. We can definitely help you with setting up a Magento web-to-print site and migrating your ZP data there. Let us know if you are interested.

26/11/2009

We are close to releasing a new version of our web-to-print extension for Magento.

It doesn’t really have anything changed on the surface, but it’s been re-written from ground up.

Theme integration

We used to have a lot of code included in the theme files. Every time we made an update the theme would need to be changed. Now the theme files have only a handful of function calls with all the other extension code sitting on extension files. It is much easier to integrate and doesn’t need a developer every time we release an update.

Simple product creation

Products used to be created during the data import. It worked OK only if you needed simple products. Many product types need to be configurable products. Now we added an additional function to create simple products from unallocated templates.

Data import

Templates are imported into a new table in Magento. Then can be converted into simple products at this stage and we are working on adding links to configurable products.

Order placement

A new product was created every time an order was placed. Now it is just a normal Magento order with additional attributes holding ZP info such as file locations, etc.

Order parameters

If you choose to do a 2-step process where the user has to pick all the order parameters (stock type, envelopes, packaging, quantity, etc.)  on page 1 and then go to the personalisation page the parameters would be lost, unless you write the code to handle them on the personalisation page as well.

We added an additional feature to capture them and transfer to the cart. This is now part of the extension.

Work in progress

This iteration is still in a pre-release stage. We have a few issues to iron out before it is ready. The latest code has been committed to the SVN.

21/07/2009

If you are using ZetaPrints web-to-print within a Magento site it’s likely you are running an old user interface. Please, switch to the new.

  • Log in to your web-to-print system as a printer
  • Go to BRANDING / Page layout
  • Choose New from Page layout dropdown.

This new interface has no additional links to take a user astray from the IFRAME. Besides, we do not support the old interface. It is there for those who doesn’t like change, a wish which we respect fully.

The new web-to-print interface hides everything from the page if shown in an iframe, except for the elements needed to update and save the preview. If you sill want to hide even more or re-arrange the screen you need to invest in a bit of CSS and JavaScript work.

12/10/2009

We are re-designing our web-to-print extension for Magento from ground up.

The current web-to-print extension architecture is unsustainable if you use your own theme.  Every time we make a new release someone has to manually add changes to your custom theme. It is time and cost for the site owner, which should not be incurred in the first place.

The new architecture will be much more modular and will rely on several function calls as opposed to blocks of code.

We are happy to help active customers change their Magento themes free of charge to the new version, once it’s released.

12/02/2010

We toyed for a while with image uploading in our Magento web-to-print extension. It was working so-so for some weeks, but now it progressed to a stable build.

There was a number of improvements in the admin area and web-to-print data import as well.

Add our Magento access control extension and it comes together into a neat corporate web-to-print portal with you in control of the presentation and workflow.

We are working on image editing and approval process at the moment.

Help with setting up

Unfortunately we can help only so much with setting up and configuring a Magento web-to-print store. There was a number of successful installations and the freelance developers that did it will be happy to help you too. The cost is likely to be much lower than hiring a web development company. Send us an email and we’ll put you in touch with someone.

21/11/2011

We released version 1.9.2.0beta16 of our Magento web-to-print extension few hours ago.
It has a reasonably stable image editor, additional page info and numerous bug fixes.

Please, give it a try on a test site. The image editor will make your web-to-print site a more flexible proposition to customers as they can now fit their images into the frame the way the want with shift, crop and resize as in this web-to-print demo.

dynamic image editor

 

web to print page size

 

 

 

Waiting for your feedback to support@zetaprints.com.

27/07/2010

We noticed a few customers running our Magento web-to-print extension didn’t configure their payment rules correctly and are open for a bit of a rip off.

Namely, if you set your billing rules in Magento to credit card only for certain countries and not the others, then those others have an option of paying by money order. It means they have a free run if you allow file downloading.

By the way, did you look at our latest stable release?

Several improvements in there and more in the works. Order approval is one of them. Let us know about your desired approval process. We try to make the process as generic as possible, but yours may have some interesting twists we need to know about.

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.

05/03/2009

Printing templates uploaded between 25 Feb and now need to be re-processed.

You do not need to re-upload them as they are already on the site.

This does not affect templates without printing templates.

Re-processing instructions

  1. Go to the template and click on fonts.
  2. Add any font from the list
  3. Remove the font
  4. Click Reprocess button

Sorry. It’s a real blunder. We are happy to re-process your templates if you have too many.

The change in the code was made to enable version control of uploaded template files. You will be able to roll back a few steps without re-uploading files. Another long awaited feature needed this change – ordering a saved order. An update with these features is on its way.

16/10/2008

No, we are not finished with the web-to-print infrastructure upgrade, but there is a breather and a light at the end of the tunnel.

A critical piece of file replication s/w went live last night and seems to be holding on OK. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, it came to our attention that we missed a few very embarrassing bugs in order lists. First, Next, Last, Previous links didn’t always work. More like they worked only occasionally. They should be fine now. Sorry about it. :(

By popular demand, we removed Feedback text box for unregistered users. They can always click on Contact Us link and send you an email. Too many users were sending important information without leaving any contact details.

Logged in users get Feedback text box in the same place as before.

26/05/2009

A small change to your web-to-print portal interface – the pagination bar above and below the list of templates was simplified.

Users can choose 10, 20, 50 or 100 web-to-print templates per page with or without thumbs using only a single dropdown control. Users with JavaScript disabled will be stuck with 50 web-to-print templates per page.

Public catalogs can have embedding links showing in the pagination bar, if you want. The switch to turn it on is in catalog details. More on this tomorrow. We have a few bugs in the flash widget, so it’s kind of unofficial yet.

02/07/2009

We have a “small” problem with parsing new templates.

If a template has a layer with a variable image field in a power clip and no other fields at all the image will be ignored.

A fix is on the way and will be deployed in the next few hours. We’ll let you know.

Sorry :(

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.

01/04/2009

We spent quite a bit of time adding more API features in the last few weeks. Several customers are building their custom web-to-print portals using ZetaPrints only in updating templates and generating output parts of their workflow. They manage their own users, orders and payments, but on the upside they get a total freedom of website design and workflow.

We are looking at integrating with an open source Magneto e-Commerce application. It’s a relatively new player in e-commerce field, but gaining popularity rapidly. Integration with other e-commerce software like Joomla or os-Commerce is on the cards, but won’t proceed unless someone requests it.  Our all-time favorite WordPress is not a good fit at this level. WordPress  is  a Content Management System, not an e-Commerce one.

If you think our interface sucks, but still would like to use the power of our back end it’s time to email support@zetaprints.com and start working on a Magneto implementation. We will provide all necessary extensions and integration, but you have to make the portal work for you using your own resources.
What you get in the end will be a highly specialized web-to-print portal doing exactly what you need the way you need.

More about API

What you can do with our web-to-print API falls into several categories.

  • View list of orders as XML
  • View order details as XML
  • Generate output files from saved orders
  • View list of templates per catalog as XML
  • View template details as XML
  • Dynamically generate previews by submitting data directly into ZetaPrints API
  • Show ZetaPrints in an IFRAME (with or without top and left menus or the order form)
  • Register new users
  • Grant / deny user access to catalogs
  • Resize preview and photo-thumbnails images on the fly
  • Log users in on referral (for IFRAME implementation )

Altogether, these interfaces allow full control needed to run a custom web-to-print portal using some other platform and tap into our powerful web-to-print engine.

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.

03/10/2009

An update was rolled our a few hrs ago to all web-to-print sites.

We changed the way web-to-print users register for public catalogs where registration is required.

They now see a small registration form as part of the order form where they are asked to enter their email address or log in. The ORDER button is disabled until they either register or log in.

There are a couple of known issues with the update and we’ll be working through them in the coming hours.

At the same time we launched a “garbage collector” to delete old order files. You may notice that web-to-print orders older than 3 months don’t have the files any more. You can regenerate the files, if you need to. No charges apply.

Users will see a message saying that files were archived, if the files were actually available to users. In most cases they are not.

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.

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

05/01/2009

We’ve been stuck with an infrastructure upgrade to our web-to-print system for months now, but there is a bit of light at the end of this long dark tunnel.

Bug fixes and minor updates

A few old (and new) bugs were fixed in the last few days. Error pages were all messed up, permalinks didn’t always show correctly, non-Latin letters were getting into user-friendly URLs, etc. About 20 bugs were fixed today alone.

Several areas got minor improvements that you may or may not notice.

The most notable update is the change to how optional web-to-print template features are handled.

They used to be all optional and users kept missing them. Now users have to make a choice from the list, unless the list contains a blank option (nothing). The value is not cached in the DB, meaning that they have to make a choice for every order.

Infrastructure preview

Our architecture is based on a small cluster of computers. We had a reasonably reliable application cluster for all the image and vector processing, but the DB and web servers were not flexible enough to grow beyond a certain size. We reached that size back in September 2008. Now the main problems are behind and new web and file servers can be added as needed. It is as easy as slipping a new box in the rack. Still quite a few things to iron out before checking this off as “done”.

Performance and missing files

We keep “loosing” files from time to time. They may disappear for a few seconds, a few minutes or a few hours. Approximately 10 files were affected today, which is a fraction of a fraction of a percent of daily volumes, but still, it is not acceptable. We are working on this elusive problem and your help will be greatly appreciated – just tell us that something’s missing as soon as possible.

Peak hour performance can be slightly degraded. We run on 1/2 the power of the database. It was OK for low traffic over holidays, but it started picking up today. We need few more days before the DB servers are back into full swing.

Thanx everyone for your patience with us!

08/09/2009

We released a WordPress plugin for PayPal’s PayFlow Pro some time ago, but it was lacking some important features. The plugin has recently been updated and is in a much more usable shape.

Read a help post, look at a demo page or download the plugin.

PayFlow Pro allows you take credit card details right on your website without sending the user to PayPal. One of the benefits is less paranoid processing security. The hosted PayPal payments page is too restrictive and will decline many legitimate card holders. PayFlow lets you adjust the level of risk you are willing to take.

Advantages:

  • more payments accepted
  • users are not spooked by being sent to PayPal
  • more control over payments

Disadvantages:

  • SSL certificate, WP site, other technology hassles
  • increased hacking risk

The plugin does not store any card details, but if someone hacks into your WP they may still intercept all the card details by hacking the plugin’s code.

14/08/2008

Some users complained they could not get through to PayPal to pay for orders.

The problem appears to be with PayPal taking ever to respond. It comes and goes and is geo-specific. Complaints came from NZ, AU and EU. Haven’t heard anything from US customers.

Please, check how it performs and keep an eye on the problem.

You may be loosing business simply because customers can’t pay!

Do you know a good alternative to PayPal?

Would you like to accept credit cards directly being a registered merchant with your bank?

Email support@zetaprints.com with suggestions.

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.

12/01/2009

Our web-to-print back-end got a bit of a re-vamp to make it run faster. Thousands of lines of code went through a complete review and optimisation. Hope you notice the difference.

There is a small downside to that …

A lot of code has been changed. It is possible we missed a bug or two. Although, we tested it extensively, there is always room for errors. The most likely one is stale data. It is possible that you make a change to something (template, user, catalog, etc) and the change isn’t applied straight away. Please, let us know if you come accross something like this. Won’t take long to fix.

26/01/2009

We are being visited by aliens. This is the only explanation we can give to mysterious pink outlines on images and text. They appear randomly on newly uploaded templates. Existing templates don’t seem to be affected.

We need to trace this fault to its origins. So, if you get a preview with an extra outline, please, right click on the preview image and grab the URL of the preview JPEG file. Email the URL to support@zetaprints.com.

18/05/2009

We had a problem with mismatches between web-to-print previews and the output files. It was happening when a user clicked back in the browser and ordered from an outdated page. We made changes and a warning if a user tries to do that.

Users may get a message saying “Please, check the latest previews again” when their page is outdated.

Another known problem is with saved orders. If a user saves a web-to-print order and then edits any of the images used in it then the final order will contain the new images and the preview has old ones. We’ll be adding a patch to fix this problem later today.

We also added a host of new features. More on them later.

Please, keep an eye on your order files today and let us know if we missed anything.  Call emergency support line if you don’t get a quick reply via email.

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.

10/07/2008

Fresh off the web2print development mill – changes to the printer interface.

New menu format

The main menu moved into a horizontal line at the top of the screen.

The side bar on the left shows catalogs and templates only.

Web-to-print order list

You need to click on Orders link in the menu to see order folders with order counts.

Web-to-print orders report

Orders report now includes most of payment information, if there was a payment made.

It has only the last transaction details. E.g. if you refunded the order it will have the refund transaction, not the original payment.

PDF settings for Web-to-print

PDF settings are now managed from a separate page.

Empty Deleted folder

Every catalog has a setting for order retention. The default is 6 months. You can reduce it down to 1 month per catalog.

Clicking on Empty next to Deleted on Orders page will permanently delete any order that are older than the set retention period in the catalog as well as all deleted test orders.

Orders can be deleted only after you paid for them.

Demo

Watch a quick demo of the new interface

24/11/2008

Choosing public access + user registration for a web to print catalog will force users to register before placing an order, but browsing catalogs and updating previews will still be open to anyone. More on this in a help article.

Remember, that registration is an unnecessary step from the user point of view. Giving them a form with a dozen of fields is bad enough. Asking them to confirm their email can be the straw that burns the fuse and they leave.

30/11/2009

We are still testing the new location and synchronizing new files. The switchover is planned for approximately 6am GMT on Tue.

The site is likely to go down for about an hour or two. This is how long it takes to re-sync the database. Having less downtime will increase risk of data going missing.

Please, do not upload new templates, fonts or stock images until we are running off the new location, unless they can’t wait.

12/03/2009

We’ll be rolling out some security packages in the nezt hour or so. The system will be taken offline for a few minutes.

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.

10/01/2009

Please, go to your details page and choose a time zone for your web-to-print portal.

All orders used to be in UTC +12. Now they are in UTC time, unless you set your time zone.

Navigate to DETAILS page. The drop down list of zones is in the second group of controls. Check if you need daytime saving. Press SAVE button. Check if the time was set corectly when it displays your details summary. Go back and adjust, if needed.

We set time zones for some web to print portals where we knew the time zone for sure. Please, double-check anyway.

05/10/2009

Does your ZetaPrints web-to-print account sit under your own domain name?

Please, make sure it is done using CNAME, not an A-record.

We will be changing our data center some time this year, but sooner rather than later. Having your domain name with a CNAME will ensure that the switch-over happens seamlessly. Any domains relying on an A-record will need to be manually pointed to the new IP at the time of switchover.

So, please, change from A-record to CNAME during the next 2 weeks. We are happy to lend you a hand if this is all too technical for you. Contact support@zetaprints.com for assistance.

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.

06/07/2008

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.

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.

02/11/2009

We introduced some changes to help search engines discover visual contents of your web-to-print portal.  It only applies to public catalogs. Password-protected web-to-print catalogs are not visible to search engines.

Go to Edit template details page or use bulk edit page to make changes. Share tab displays your current copyright regime.

Creative Commons

It is all about being found. Search engines love content. They love liberally copyrighted content even more. Now you can specify a Creative Commons license for your web-to0-print templates. The default is All rights reserved, so you don’t need to worry about your content being re-licensed by us on your behalf.

Image search

Without giving away too much, try this simple demonstration.

Go to Google image search and search for … business cards or invitations. Note how many results Google says it found. Millions? Hundreds of millions?

Go to Advanced search and filter by “usage rights”. E.g. labeled for re-use. How many images did it find? Hundreds. A few thousands, perhaps.

You can be there, on that image search page filtered by license type if you specify a Creative Commons license for your web-to-print template. Use Bulk template editing page to change licensing to your existing templates. It will take time for search engines to discover the change, but the sooner you do it the more ahead you are from the competition.

Collect new incoming links

Attribution” is at the core of Creative Commons licensing. Anyone re-using your artwork or showing it on their pages must link to the original or at least attribute it to you in some other explicit way. Hopefully, it will give you more incoming links and new sources of traffic.

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.

08/09/2008

This new web-to-print feature comes handy if you have corporate customers with large number of branches / franchises. It may be convenient for them to upload all their branch details to the site and let users pick them from the list instead of typing it separately. The downside here is the maintenance of these web-to-print datasets – it will be your responsibility and you may be the one to blame if the customer forgets to tell you about a changed phone number.

Web to print datasets are uploaded on Fields page of any template and once uploaded can be re-used with any number of templates. Watch a demo.

Files are uploaded in MS Excel 2003 format saved as XML.

web to print dataset

web to print datasets

web to print dataset upload

08/09/2010

Did you notice changes in the way Google search works? You’d better check it out if you depend on Google to send you search traffic. There are implications. Bad for you, good for Google and good for established leaders.

Business card search

  1. There is less space for search results. In fact I see only one for Vistaprint.
  2. There are a lot of ads
  3. It is easier to type another letter than to scroll the page

web-to-print search

More detailed search

web-to-print search

web-to-print search

Implications

  • Google gets to show more ad impressions. The more ads it shows you the more the chance you will see the one that appeals to you and you click on it. Google gets paid.
  • Users see more ads and less organic search because there is now less room for it in the browser window. Start paying Google Tax to fit into the screen.
  • Users are prompted to narrow / modify the search rather then scroll the page. You got to be #1 or you don’t exist.
  • Users are led down a narrow path of small number of top-searched queries elevating them even further. Trying to rank for some specific obscure keywords becomes less rewarding.
  • Google Images are not showing within the visible part of the screen any more. Usage of Google Image search will decrease compared to textual search. Good for Google – there are no ads on image search pages.
  • Those ranking for broader terms will get more traffic. Their links show well before links for more specific searches. E.g. searching for “business cards plumber” brings up Vistaprint (“business cards”) well before any other website that does have a good collection of plumber-specific designs.

How your web-to-print site will be affected

The nature of your organic traffic will change significantly. We’ll know in a few days as analytics data comes through. Stay tuned.

What to do about it

  1. Diversify your traffic sources. Less emphasis on search, more on links from other sites.
  2. Re-profile your content to see how relevant it is to the trending search queries. E.g. if you rank well for “business cards plumber” you may now get only a portion of the traffic because users are led astray by the search suggestions. You need to see what is being offered in the suggestions and how you can capture that traffic as well.
  3. Improve your conversion.
  4. Offer more free content and try to rank for searches with word “free”. We all love “free”.
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.

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.
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.

23/07/2011

We keep getting questions about Magento Go and web-to-print software and if they can work together.

The problem is that nothing works with Magento Go. They simply don’t support themes or extensions.

Read their FAQ for details.

20/10/2009

We updated most of our free web-to-print skins.

Changes:

  • Fixed some bugs and inconsistencies in the UI.
  • Changed the emphasis of controls to make it easier for users to navigate.

The old skins that some of you are using remain unchanged. There will be no update to those files. All the updated skins are sitting in a new location. You have 3 options:

  • Keep using your current skin as is. No action required.
  • Switch to the new skin and get automatic updates. Go to http://www.zetaprints.com/help/category/skins/, choose a skin and grab the new files location.
  • Grab skin files, place them on your own web server and make changes as you wish. Download ZIP files or check out of SVN.

The new skins will be constantly updated at their new location. We are looking forward to your feedback on what should be changed to make them better.

02/09/2010

Unfortunately, our promise to release X5 support hasn’t come true yet. We are working on it, but few more days of delay look likely.

It wasn’t a good idea to bundle some web-to-print performance improvements together with X5 support. Now one part holds the other.

Please, do not try uploading any X5 web-to-print templates or PDF files in place of images until we officially complete the upgrade. The files may be accepted by some servers and not the others causing all sorts of grief later on.

14/03/2011

Did you get some ridiculous quotation emails recently?

This one arrived to an email address for one of our demo web-to-print sites:

My name is donnie Thomas. I would like to know if you have
banners   Available and im looking for less expensive ones you have.  Could you please let me know the prices  that are
banners
I would be happy to make my payment by credit card if you accept them.

I await your reply,
Sincerely,
donnie Thomas.,

It’s a “phishing email”. The purpose is to get a response as a validation there is someone at the other end. Then the floodgate opens up – they know you are there and listening. Could be worse.

Our customer made an interesting observation today that when a similar email arrived to his web-to-print site contact email it was marked as spam, but the same sales rep replied to a similar email when it arrived to the general contact email. Of course there was no order following – only more spam from all directions.

Think of it, the text does look strange, but would you want to miss on a potential order? Getting such a request through a web-to-print site where they could just place an order looks totally loony. Web-to-print does act as a filter for your sales and customer service.

16/04/2008

How much would it cost to build a web-to-print website where customers can design products online?

$5!

This type of interactive websites is usually built using Adobe Flash. Users can interact with the design as it was a desktop application. It’s nothing like using Photoshop, CorelDRAW or Illustrator, but the basic design manipulation features are there.

How to install it

Download the script and read the installation instructions.

You need a website where to place it.

Ask a web designer or a site admin to help you with the installation if this is all too technical for you.

More than a fancy toy

This script can be more than a fancy toy if you install a PDF generation add-on and provide a good library or background images.
The major problem with “design it online” sites is that users who can produce a design already have all the tools they need on their computer. Your site needs to provide sufficient value through catchy images to offset the hassle for those who don’t have the designer streak.

07/09/2010

You can start uploading web-to-print templates in X5 format from now. It is not an official release as we expect some more problems may crop up in the coming days.

Color management and color profiles seem to be a weak point at the moment. Please, contact us immediately in case of any problems in that or any other area of X5 support. The development team is on standby.

05/04/2010

We made some structural changes to our web-to-print system and it seems to run faster with less errors.  We’d like to know if the improvement is noticeable.