The newest upgrade to Associate-O-Matic, v5.5.0, should be available for download shortly after this is posted. While not as laden with new features as some other upgrades in the past, it still contains some exciting changes. It allows the opening of a new locale, includes some important bug fixes, and may require a little tinkering under the hood for some users. We’ll discuss all of these in turn.
First and foremost, v5.5 ushers in a new Amazon locale – India. Namaste, or welcome to all the new users from the subcontinent. As is often the case when Amazon opens a new geographic locale, the initial list of available categories in the API is relatively small. But as we’ve seen, this will grow over time. As new categories are introduced, subsequent upgrades to AOM will include them.
One very important point for anyone interested in opening a site in this locale is that Amazon.in will only accept associate applications with an Indian (physical) mailing address, unlike other areas where you do not have to actually be a resident in the country you’re interested in. The assumption is that this is being done to give local residents the chance to create and benefit from the associates program. It’s also believed that Amazon will only be mailing printed checks instead of doing direct deposits; so that could be another reason for a ‘locals only’ policy. At present, there’s no way to know if this will eventually change. So it may be disappointing to anyone who was hoping to expand into a new territory, but should be good news for the local population.
As v5.5 is considered a ‘patch’ upgrade, it contains some bug fixes, but not much in the way of new features. Some of the bugs that should be eliminated include a nagging problem with the category display when set to three columns, and category or subcategory descriptions not appearing when set to blended mode. Also, the built-in shopping cart has been enhanced, so that if an alternate currency is used, it will show alongside the price for each product, as shown in this example:
In addition, a bug with the display of the foreign currency subtotal has been corrected so it shows the actual subtotal, not just the item price (if more than one item). And for users of the WordPress plugin, the category display now defaults to the same layout as the AOM site itself. This was done to give both sites a more uniform look, and to provide a standard platform if any further modifications wish to be made.
As well as all of these fixes, the login security has been beefed up, since it was discovered that passwords may not be checked after the eighth character. So doghouse and doghouses were treated as the same. This leads to an important point for all users who are upgrading from a previous version of Associate-O-Matic:
After upgrading to v5.5.0, your login details are erased. You must reenter them to proceed.
So when you go to your site’s control panel login screen (admin.php) after applying the upgrade, you will see this:
Once you reenter your username and password, the regular login screen will appear, and you’re good to go as always. But now your login details will be more secure under the new protocol. If you do not remember your login details, just create a new username/password combination. You’re not required to use the old details. And remember that the login to your AOM store is independent of the login to the Associate-O-Matic main site. You can use the same details for both, but you don’t have to.
The only other thing that some upgrading users may have to contend with is ioncube. V5.5.0 has been designed to work with the latest version of the ioncube loader files (currently v4.4.4 for most installs). If you are using ioncube files that were installed by your webhost, they may need to upgrade their Zend loader. Testing has shown that AOM v5.5.0 works with cPanel upgraded to v4.4.3 of ioncube.
What this means is that if you were using a previous version of AOM that stops working after you upgrade, it may be because ioncube needs to also be upgraded. If you do receive an error message and are unsure about what to do next, please feel free to open a support ticket from the Associate-O-Matic site. The support staff may determine that you need to contact your host and request that ioncube be upgraded to the most recent version. Or they can guide you through the steps required for a local install/reinstall, if possible.
If your site is already using the most current version of the loader files, you may not experience any problems after upgrading.
There are a few other minor fixes included in v5.5.0, such as a slight change to the design of the CSS button set, but most of these would address very obscure errors that most users may not even be aware of. As such, they will not be covered here.