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Author Topic: Anyone on DC do Actinic (UK)?  (Read 2352 times)
iphigenie
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« on: February 26, 2012, 01:16:43 PM »

Hello all

In a strange twist of fate I have acquired a small wine business (yay!) and inherited a website that runs on Actinic (less yay).

Now I come from much more state of the art ecommerce projects, so am banging my head on Actinic a bit, and trying to figure out what is possible in up to date Actinic (site is quite old, so has accumulated workarounds from v6,7,8,9 etc.) and what is not possible etc. is proving quite a challenge.

All I knew from Actinic was helping get the data off it for people migrating to something else, although it's actually not a bad package within its limitations and design choices. It is frustrating to me, though.

I know some of the lovely people on this forum often supplement their software income with a bit of IT services, any of you have Actinic on your product portfolio? Might be a day's worth of review/advice/sanity checking in it, and perhaps more onwards (unless I decide to replatform)
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2012, 03:52:52 PM »

I tried to get to grips with Actinic for a client and absolutely hated it. In the end it was quicker to start from scratch - and cheaper!
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iphigenie
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2012, 02:01:28 PM »

*sigh* tell me about it...

Got to move carefully on this one not lose the rankings - site might be a bit ugly and not all that good at selling as it could be (an euphemism) but it does come up in the first 3 spots in Google on a lot of its rather niche products. So I need to improve what I've got and evolve it slowly first, then replatform very carefully

Maybe I'll do a DC rebate once I have understood my margins smiley
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brucet
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2012, 02:41:54 AM »

Is there anything specific you want to do? Most things are possible once you get to grips with how the application works.
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iphigenie
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2012, 10:53:44 AM »

Hi Bruce

Just an endless list of little things.
I'm ok with the fact that it mostly generates static pages and that I will not be able to do the dynamic clever stuff I am used to, but i would still expect to be able to use a lot of tricks to get improvements.

I have figured out some but it takes me forever, I would much rather get someone who knows the tool to go through my ideas with me, tell me whats easy/not easy, and perhaps implement some of it or point me in the right direction.

Main areas:
- product highlights etc. on the home page
- move to clean css and proper page structure
- rejig structure between text and products so people see more products (it's very content rich). I've started with content categories so I can design them differently
- in page navigation, how to
- improve search (eg: misspellings etc) without necessarily polluting the pages with <noscript> all over
- custom search forms/URLs that can search in custom variables and search results (eg: create hard coded search links)
- using block to create a "dynamic-at-upload" pages based on custom variables
- creating a nice 404 page
- being able to export, clean data, then reimport since editing in tool takes forever to switch from one product to the next

I've done a bit of it already, but it takes me forever. Current state is far from what I would like it to feel like, but is a start http://www.nickdobsonwines.co.uk/
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 11:10:43 AM by iphigenie » Logged
brucet
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 05:11:39 AM »

OK, that's quite a long list! :-)  I can see from the site that you've already got to grips with the basics of design

- I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'product highlights'. There are toolbars you can use to change text colours, embolden etc. The general principle is that the toolbar in the Details panel of the Content tab changes the individual item, whereas the one in the Design tab changes the appearance of the selected element throughout the site. For things like adding a border around a product entry, you would need to create a different Product Layout and select that layout for the individual product
- Cleaning the code and css is actually a huge job. We are undertaking it ourselves for version 12.
- Hard to comment on text vs products without something more specific, and hard to be very specific in a forum. You can  interleave products with fragments, which is a good way of adding more text if you need to.
- You can add one link into any product or section description, similar to putting a link in a fragment; and a fragment can comprise a link and doesn't need to include anything else. If you want multiple links in the description field, the only way is to use HTML
- Again, we have some big improvements to the search lined up for v12. Otherwise the only alternative is to use a different search script instead of the one provided. I've used the Fluid Dynamics search in the past. It's quite sophisticated, there's a free version, and it's not to hard to install
- You can enable searching on custom variables in the Search Settings. You can create custom search forms by copying the search layout from the Search page, and replace any Input or Select field with a Hidden field with a hard-coded value. The only limitation is, the options presented are universal across the site. V12 will be a lot more flexible and will allow category-specific searches.
- You could potentially use blocks to insert page content at upload, but you would have to do that in PHP. If you create a block in the following format, everything inside it will be processed as PHP. You can include Actinic variables. If you have v10, there is a basic example in the Mega menu section of the default style sheet.
<actinic:block php="true"></actinic:block>
- A 404 page is an interesting request. I'm going to add that to our wish list - surprisingly, I don't think we've been asked for that before. I will give it some thought. IWHT it could be done using a Brochure page, if I can think of a way of excluding it from the menu.
- You can export data in csv files, they come out in a hierarchical format that can be edited and reimported. In the Actinic v11 folder there is a utility FlatFileConverter.exe that can convert standard .csv files to the same format (there are sample files in your Site 'Common' folder). Or if you have Actinic Business, you can link dynamically to an external database or spreadsheet and update the data in that.

I hope this helps a little anyway. If you need more, the Actinic design training course is very good.
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iphigenie
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2012, 03:35:14 PM »

I hope this helps a little anyway. If you need more, the Actinic design training course is very good.

Thanks - going to take me a while to process this list smiley
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Antonimo
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 06:41:15 AM »

If the e-commerce is important, I would suggest starting again with Magento.

You will not lose search engine rankings if you plan the migration and most importantly, plan the permanent redirects from the old urls to the new ones.

By all means PM me for more information.
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Surf4Wine
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 08:17:25 AM »

Welcome to the wine trade  Cool

If I can help in anyway - with ecommerce (I was an early pioneer in industry and currently work in this aspect of wine trade) or in wider wine trade support please let me know. I project managed the building of an ecommerce wine web site from scratch before such platforms as Actinic and Magneto were really wide spread and since then am an active user of Magneto. I'm also very much into wine related SEO as a freelancer - happy to discuss/help if required.

I have a friend who runs a very successful Actinic online retail business side by side with a Bricks and Mortar stoe and I'm sure can help unravel Actinic or at least while you transition from it. Plus I currently manage a Magento based wine retail site. I'd recommend Magneto for when you transition.
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iphigenie
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2012, 03:19:21 AM »

Thanks Surf4wine - we sure must have a lot in common so we ought to connect - pm me your details

Been doing ecommerce sine 1996 and hope i never have to write one from scratch, i bet you feel the same.
Magento would be my choice too, have been involved in many projects with it across Europe, including part of building Magento Go... 

But with this experience I know how much time, attention and energy is needed when replatforming. Getting all the details done right. Dealing with the PSP changes. Emails, prices, reports, PCI... Will do it, but right now many other things need my time and attention more.
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