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Converting to v5

Converting to v5

Version 5 of AOM introduced templating to the system, as well as many new changes. Every day more and more stores are upgrading from v4.x, but many of them are experiencing some difficulties. When v5 was first rolled out in the Summer of 2011, it was clear that sites that had been extensively customized in previous versions would find it more difficult to adapt. Stores that had little no customization other than colors and perhaps a logo would be almost untouched. Nothing so far has been insurmountable, but a few fixes have required some serious head-scratching to sort out. We’re going to take a look at some common situations users may face and suggest some solutions.  If you have a particular dilemma that have so far resisted a solution, the items below may provide some insight to crack your own particular nut.

Some of this information has been touched upon in a previous post, The Theme Is Change.

To begin with, if you utilize custom buttons for your site, or have made modifications to your existing v4.x cfg.css.php file, it would be advisable to create a custom theme for your site. This can be done quite easily:

  • After installing the v5.x upgrade files, go to aom/themes and rename the default folder (to something like mytheme, etc.).
  • Then upload another copy of the default folder. This should give you two folders in the aom/themes area – default and mytheme.

Then in the /aom/themes/mytheme/images folder, upload or copy your custom buttons. If you have CSS changes, you can edit the /aom/themes/mytheme/css.tpl.php file. Do not attempt to edit the style.css file located in the /css subfolder. Manual changes to this file are overwritten when you save from the AOM control panel.

You can also edit the theme.php file located in your custom folder (the mytheme folder). Here you can change the thumbnail description of the template that you see under the Themes tab of your AOM control panel. If you want to edit the thumbnail image itself, that would be the theme.png graphic, located in the same folder. Changing this file and image are not required, but it does help you tell the custom theme from the default one when viewing them from the control panel. Removing the default theme will generate an error message.

At any rate, once you have created a custom template file and uploaded your custom buttons into it, select it from the Themes tab. Your custom buttons should now be restored on your site (you may need to refresh your browser to see the changes).

After you have converted your site to v5, it might be a good idea to check through your categories. Some of them will have changed nodes (depending on which Amazon locale you are using), and upgrading is a good time to check through the site and make sure it’s displaying the proper products. You can double-check the nodes by going to FindBrowseNodes.com, especially if you need to do any fine-tuning. Remember that you can use plenty of negative keywords if you need to remove stray products from categories.

You can also decide if you want to use the View All Items link to Amazon in your pagination, or limit your site to a maximum of ten pages per category (if the category contains enough product to fill at least ten pages). You can turn off the View All Items link via the Search tab of your AOM control panel.

Page Sort, showing the "View All Items" link

There is a similar link in the item marketplace, but this one cannot be turned off from the control panel. Both links open new windows to Amazon, but the Sort link opens to a category view, whereas the View All Item Offers will display the full Amazon marketplace. In both instances, your associate ID will be included in the cookie that is set in the user’s browser, so you will not lose out on any commission due if the sale is completed.

The "View All Items Offers" link from the item marketplace

A few other details to consider when converting your site(s):

  • If you use a custom header file with a META tag that references the cfg.css.php file, replace it with aom/themes/default/css/style.css instead (if you rename your default theme folder, change this link to match the folder name).
  • Some areas of your site may be affected by caching issues. One user has reported that his site width was different to the setting under the Layout tab. Re-entering the width corrected the issue for him.
  • If you see strange gaps, spaces or unusual shifting of page contents, check the View Source (depending on your browser, you may be able to right-click on the page, or check the View menu at the top of the browser). Look for missing </div> or </table> tabs in any non-AOM code, such as custom headers, custom boxes, etc.

Finally, watch out for any CSS that might reference a table code that no longer exists. This would mainly affect the sidebars. It may be difficult to convert the CSS commands to deal with non-table code (direct editing of the box_side.tpl.php file may be required as well). In extreme cases it might require a complete re-think to work the new code into a similar style as the previous version.

However, once you complete the conversion of your site(s) and leave the 4.x code behind, you should be in good shape for the foreseeable future. The v5 upgrade was the biggest change in AOM‘s history (even more so than the introduction of ioncube). Future upgrades will build upon this new foundation, and hopefully carry us all forward for many years to come.

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