Why (and when) should you contact Episerver developer support service.

Today I filed a bug, which I should have filed almost one year ago. I saw it several times, I even had solution for it, but I didn’t think/know it was a bug. It was reported here: http://world.episerver.com/forum/developer-forum/Problems-and-bugs/Thread-Container/2016/9/commerce-catalog-randomly-goes-empty-until-website-restart/  and here http://world.episerver.com/forum/developer-forum/Episerver-Commerce/Thread-Container/2016/6/addstaticattributepropertyvalues-object-reference-exception/

I’ve always wanted to say Episerver products are perfect frameworks and have no bugs at all. But that’s not true. Despite of having very talented developers and dedicated QAs, and a very high requirement for quality (“Quality is non-negotiable”), we still miss to catch some (very few) bugs.

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Episerver Commerce CustomerContact Events

This post was inspired by this question: http://world.episerver.com/forum/developer-forum/Episerver-Commerce/Thread-Container/2016/9/commerce-manager-contacts-events/

and is an excerpt from my book: https://leanpub.com/proepiservercommerce

You might notice the lacking of events in some parts of the system. We have events for catalog system, for order system, for prices and inventories changes, but that’s not enough. You might want to have events – or at least – the ability to know when something happens. For example, when a customer contact is changed, or edited, or deleted, it would be very nice to do some extra actions.
Sending emails, updating external systems, etc.

Such events are not available out-of-box, so we have to implement our own. How? We don’t have ICustomerContactService (or something similiar) interface where we can write our implementation to replace the default service (and even if there is, it would be a big task to do so). So there’s no “ordinary”, framework-way to do that. However, CustomerContact is built on Business Foundation system, and BF, at its core, is all above extensible and pluggable. We don’t have ICustomerContactService interface, but we have IPlugin
who can do the same, and even more. As we learned in previous chapter, CustomerContact is just another EntityObject and all operations are still done via BusinessManager.Execute(Request) – even we have some nice wrapper methods to make working with it easier. And when Execute(Request) is called, it also runs all registered IPlugin modules.
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The hidden danger of dot (Or why should your metafield not contain . in the name)

A dot (.) – it is harmless. What harm can it do, it looks pretty innocent.

And yet it can break your Catalog UI.

Psyduck, from Pokemon Go
A dot can look pretty harmless and innocent, just like a Psyduck. Frankly, its eyes are also two dots.

Catalog UI relies on the Shell UI from CMS to render properties and such. Shell UI, in its hands, needs to know about the metadata of the properties. When you have dot in the metafield names, the MetaDataPropertyMapper will create an Property with that name on site start up. And then when you open All properties mode, Shell UI will request your content type models, and CMS Core will happily return those properties.

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If a coupon is applied

When a customer add a coupon to his/her cart, it’s nice and best practice to show to him/her if the coupon has been applied successfully, or if it was an invalid/not applicable code.

Coupon has been applied successfully
Coupon has been applied successfully

How can you do that?

In old promotion system

When old promotion system run, each successfully applied promotion will be presented by an instance of Discount, which has a property named DiscountCode – this is the coupon used for the promotion (it can of course be null if the promotion requires no coupon).

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The beauty of new promotion system

This is going to be a relatively short post. If you are using Episerver Commerce 9, you probably know that we are working on a new promotion system. It’s still BETA, but some of our customers already use it, and from what I heard they are really happy with it.

One of the reasons we create a new promotion system is the old one is not developer-friendly. Have you ever tried to create a promotion in old system, by code?

This is an “simple” example of how to create a new campaign and a couple of promotions:
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Episerver Commerce MetaDictionary internals

This is an excerpt from my book – Pro Episerver Commerce – which is now already 2/3 complete.

Dictionary types.

Previously we discussed on how properties work with catalog content. However – if you have dictionary types in your MetaClasses, they will work differently. In this section we will examine these special data types – this applies to Order system metaclasses as well.

As we all know – there are three types of dictionary in Episerver Commerce:

  • Single value dictionary: editor can select a value from defined ones.
In Commerce Manager, you can create new metafield with type of Dictionary, but without "Multiline" option
In Commerce Manager, you can create new metafield with type of Dictionary, but without “Multiline” option

Single value dictionary type is supported in the strongly typed content types – you’ll need to define a property of type string, with backing type of typeof(PropertyDictionarySingle)

  • Multi value Dictionary: editor can select multiple values from defined ones. The only different from Single value dictionary is it has the “Multiline” option enabled.

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Quicksilver – ServiceApi: fixing issues

From what I heard, developers seem to love both QuickSilver – as a template – and ServiceApi – as a REST server – very much. Despite of being relatively new on the field, they are being used quite frequently – QuickSilver is the preferred choice for MVC template while many sites are using ServiceApi to update the catalogs. What’s about the combination of these two? Would it be the best-of-bread for Episerver Commerce. I would say yes, but after you have fixed the issue.

The installation of ServiceApi.Commerce package to Quicksilver site should be easy and painless. Update the database and build the project, you should be expecting to have a working site.

Note quite. You should be seeing this error:

It’s because

is called twice (as it’s called in ServiceApi as well). So naturally, let’s try by commenting that line in SiteInitalization.cs, and build it again.

This can also be solved by adding this into appSettings:

Which will signal ServiceAPI to skip calling

A new error would show up:

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Never send me my password

I’m not a security expert myself, not even close, but for more than once, I’ve been greatly concerned about the risks for having accounts in several websites. I wonder myself why did the developers there go with the decisions that bad.

It’s already bad enough to use HTTP on your register/login page . It’s even worse when you send me my password in plain text. Either the one I chose or the one you randomly generated for me.

Oh please, I know what my password is
Oh please, I know what my password is

And this has happened more than once. Each time, it raises my eyebrows higher and higher. I don’t want to rant here – but it takes great deal of ignorance or laziness, or both, do do such as bad practice about securities.
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What not to do with your newsletters

Newsletter is a powerful communication channel – it keeps your customer informed, and even more, keep then engaged . Truth is, most of your customers won’t visit your website often, and newsletter is a very good way to keep they coming back. I myself – am an example of those customers – most of my purchases were made from newsletters. A good deal shows up and I just buy it – even thought I don’t really need it. Yes it’s not the best habit in the world, but it’s the way marketing works. You get a good sale, I get a product that I might need some day. Everyone is happy, well, might be except my wife.

However, like other channels of marketing, mistakes can be made with newsletter and drive your customers away. Make sure to avoid these:

Sending too many newsletters:

Unless your customers explicitly say that they want to get your newsletter everyday, it’s best to avoid to do so. Even if your site is full of interesting content, keep in mind that if customers received too much emails from you, their interests might wear out. It’s bad when customers start getting a habit of “Oh another mail from <blah blah>, just ignore it”. It’s even worse if they don’t open your newsletter at all, or simply create a rule to delete it.

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The quirks of coupons

If you have been using the promotion system in Episerver Commerce (or should I call it “old promotion system” – the “new promotion system” is almost out of BETA and it will soon be the promotion system), you should know about the coupon – which is an option setting for a promotion. When it is set, the customers will be required to input that special code in order to get the reward, even if their carts fulfilled all other requirements (the subtotal, the lineitems, the shipping method etc.)

The coupon in old promotion system is quite basic – you can set only one per promotion, or nothing at all. Advanced scenarios like customer-specific coupons (there are multiple coupons and each of them is valid for only one customer) are not supported. (This is one of reasons why you should consider to move to new promotion system ASAP). You can use redemption limits in combination to specify how many times a coupon can be used. But in this post we will talk about the quirks of storing it.

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