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major business catalyst feature updates

Rob Miles - Thursday, August 25, 2011

Business Catalyst has released 3 major feature updates since June. Below are my highlights for business owners:

Free additional mailbox storage

As part of BC's ongoing efforts to provide customers with the best email platform possible, they have upgraded the standard mailbox size to 5GB of storage, up from 2GB. There's no additional cost and there's nothing you need to do to implement these changes. The upgrade has already been completed, allowing both new and existing sites to take advantage of the additional storage.

Blog improvements

Similar to other blogging platforms, BC now allows customers to change a blog post author by selecting it from a list of site admin users. Additionally, site users can now enter a short biography and profile image that can be included in the blog post layouts using the: {tag_blogpostauthorbiography}, /CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg and . The user can change both user biography and avatar from My Account interface, while site administrators can update them from the user management interface.

Site settings

BC are starting to consolidate some of the site-wide settings in a new section called Site Settings. With this release, they're enabling you to define Facebook, form security (Captcha) and shop settings. In future releases BC plans to allow customers use this interface to update site timezone, country and other global settings.

  • Shop settings: you now have the ability to set the shopping cart lifetime (lets you define how many hours a cart content is kept in the system for returning customers) and the ability to enable/disable the productfeed.xml which you can use to publish your products on product directories like Google Product Search.
  • Captcha settings: this is used to enforce server side check on Catpcha for the Refer to a Friend, Campaign Subscription and Comments forms. The forms built with our web forms engine have this setting incorporated and they check for Captcha only if you've added the field when you've created the form
  • Facebook settings: this is where you can enable Facebook login for your site and enter your Facebook application details (URL, App ID and App Secret Key)

Customisable SEO Friendly URLs for Web Apps

Continuing the work on this feature, BC has now added support for customisable URLs to the Web Apps module. To take advantage of this feature for your web apps, you will need to enable it from Admin > Search Engine Optimization settings page. The new URL will look like:http://www.yoursite.com/webapp-name/webapp-item-name. The web app item URL part is automatically generated from the web app item title and can be modified when editing an web app item. Similarly, you can edit the web app url, which can be edited from the manage web app screen.

 

Customisable workflow notifications

One of the most requested features on BC's wish list was to give site administrators a way to customise workflow notification emails to include relevant information or to have it translated in the site user's language. BC has now provided a solution that offers the ability to customise those workflow notification emails from the "Customize System Emails" area.

This notification template will work for all workflow notifications and can be customised by adding different tags, changing From: address or email Subject: fields. Configuration window will be similar to other system emails. 

Further enhancements to the customisable workflow & order notifications:

  • Made the new layouts available through FTP. Starting next week, you can use Dreamweaver or any other FTP tool to grab the files and edit them, as well as doing bulk transfers between sites.
  • Added new tags to Packing Slip and Package Label layouts: {tag_shippingattention} has been added in the Packing slip template while {tag_invoicenumber}, {tag_shippingattention}, {tag_shippingdescription} and {tag_shippinginstructions} have been added to the Package Label layout.
Read the Knowledgebase article

Order status change notifications

This is an essential e-commerce feature for keeping paying customers up to date with the status of their online order. We want to make sure that when an order status is changed, the customer will be notified of the new order status. For example, when an order is shipped, an automated email is sent to that customer with a proper notification.

 

The e-mail message template used for customer notifications will be available in the System Emails section. The system will generate an email template for every order status and will allow partners and site administrators to pick which order statuses will require a notification. By default, no status types will have any associated notifications set.

Read the Knowledgebase article

AWB tracking number and tracking URL support in orders

One piece of information missing from the Business Catalyst order system was the ability to save a tracking number (AWB) and an URL to the shipping provider web page so that customers can access information about their shipment status in the My Account section or through an order notification email. The June release will enable the following workflows:

  • Site owners can assign a tracking number (AWB) and tracking URL to the order once the shipping providers picks up the package. The Update Order user interface now includes these two fields allowing site owners to manually include this information; Automation integration with shipping providers is planned for a future release.
  • Administrator/Partner can use this information in Order notification emails layouts and site front-end layouts to make it available to site customers.
  • Once the changes are made on the site, customers will be able to track their orders effortlessly. 
Read the Knowledgebase article

Recursive modules (modules inside modules)

You now have the ability to display modules inside modules, including the ability to insert modules inside content holders. Other examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Being able to put products or catalogs inside blog posts
  • Being able to insert any module inside a web-app list or detailed view (webform module, catalogs/products, literature items)

Other updates

  • Social integration updates: BC has improved the social integration support by adding two new modules: Facebook Activity Feed and Facebook Send. Additionally, all social modules are now available in the Insert Module menu from Admin and in the Dreamweaver extension as well.
  • Alternate email address: BC has added an additional email field for every user, that will be used to send forgot password emails. This is particularly useful for those users hosting their business email with BC and had to go back to their partner or BC's support team to recover their password. Starting with this release, you will be able to receive the email on a secondary email address at your choice.
  • Remove related DNS records: when you remove a domain name or its "www" counterpart, the system will automatically delete all related records (redirects, mail records, etc.) after requesting and receiving a confirmation.
  • Added subscribe & unsubscribe to newsletter confirmation pages: this will prevent automatic mailing list subscription or unsubscription to mailing caused by search bots indexing web mail; as a consequence, instead of automatically subscribing or unsubscribing users to mailing lists, BC has added a page requiring users to press a button to confirm their action. You can modify the page content and appearance by updating two additional System Messages layouts: Subscribe Confirmation Form and Unsubscribe Confirmation Form.
  • Payment gateways infrastructure updates: payment infrastructure updates for enhanced security and reliability.
  • Updated the WYSIWYG editor to the latest version which includes better support for iPad and lots of bug fixes.
  • Forum subscriptions: users can subscribe to forums and receive notifications every time a new topic is opened. The email notification template allows you to use topic subject and forum name in the email notification subject, making it more easy to filter and read.
  • Updated social integration: added support for Facebook activity feed and Facebook Send as well as updating the Like module to add support for Facebook send.
  • Packing slip and package labels: site administrators or drop shipping suppliers now have a way to print packaging list and package label for each order received. Also the templates for both the packaging list and package label can now be customised. Read KB article
  • Email marketing: campaigns with 20 or less subscribers are now automatically approved by the system
  • Extended FTP support: With the June release BC has extended FTP support by making email campaigns and content holders available through FTP.
  • Device specific site wide templates: BC's multi-screen support has just got better by allowing you to define device specific site wide templates. Each template now has a default version for desktop screens and two additional ones (tablets and smartphones). When displaying a page, the system will automatically use the template corresponding to te detected device, if that template has been defined. If no content is defined in a template, the system will fallback to the immediately higher resolution templates (phone falls back to tablet which falls back to desktop).