Zen Cart 1.5.5 Features

 v1.5.5, zen-cart  Comments Off on Zen Cart 1.5.5 Features
Dec 202015

Zen Cart 1.5.5’s imminent release on December 29th has been announced.  I’ve had a chance to do some basic comparisons to see what’s changed and new; here’s a short list (I’ll update as I find more):

  1. Now includes a built-in responsive template!
  2. Ability for an admin to reset a customer’s password.
  3. Includes myDEBUG Backtrace.
  4. Includes Common Email Styling.
  5. PayPal Express Checkout payment method updated to use API NVP 124.0.  This enables additional PayPal interfaces to be added more easily and removes the need to install PayPal Express Checkout Using NVP 84.0.
  6. PHP 7.0 compliance.  This is mostly ensuring that all class-based elements use a class-constructor named __construct.
  7. Removes the phpBB processing from the base code, leaving only notifiers.  Luckily, there are plugins that use those notifiers to fill the gap!

Upgrading Your Zen Cart

 hints, plugins, v1.5.4, zen-cart  Comments Off on Upgrading Your Zen Cart
Feb 282015

Now that Zen Cart v1.5.4 has been out for a couple of months, more shop-owners are looking to upgrade their Zen Cart software to that version.  As such, I thought that I’d provide a couple of suggestions and hints to help in that transition.

  1. If your current store’s Zen Cart version is pre-v1.5.0, I suggest that you re-build your site rather than upgrade.
    • The admin-level interface changed significantly in the Zen Cart v1.3.9-to-v1.5.0 transition, so most of your admin-level plugins will require update to properly run under Zen Cart v1.5.4.
    • The admin-level configure.php file’s contents were updated for v1.5.0, making it “adapt” to your changing of your admin folder’s name.
  2. You’ll need to review each of the plugins you’ve included in your store, since the PHP language has evolved over the past  years.  Many of the older plugins have been updated to remove the use of deprecated PHP features and functions (like short-codes and the ereg_* functions) and some use direct mysql_* PHP calls instead of using the Zen Cart $db object.
  3. The longer you wait, the more changes (both improvements and bugfixes) are introduced into the core code — increasing the number of files to be compared during your upgrade.
  4. Make sure that you have subscribed to the Known Bugs (and fixes) with v1.5.4 thread on the Zen Cart forums.
  5. Watch out for the template-file changes introduced (especially in Zen Cart v1.5.3 and v1.5.4).  If your store uses the Product URL feature, you’ll need to update your product-details’ pages since the Zen Cart interface to display that URL was changed in v1.5.3.

May your upgrade be successful!

Zen Cart Upgrade “Opportunities”

 php, zen-cart  Comments Off on Zen Cart Upgrade “Opportunities”
Jan 232013

When you upgrade your Zen Cart, it’s not enough to upgrade the core Zen Cart files and your database … you should also take the time to make sure than any add-on/plugin code will continue to operate in a PHP 5.3 or PHP 5.4 environment.  The hosting company that I use, 1and1, sent out an email late last year indicating “From April 1, 2013, the PHP versions 4 and 5.2 will not be supported anymore. As of now, we will use the version PHP 5.4 instead.”  They seem to be jumping the gun a bit … why not just go to PHP 5.3 … but what the heck.

I upgraded a couple of the websites that I maintain to Zen Cart v1.5.1 last year and they’re running fine on PHP 5.2.17, but what about the change to PHP 5.4? In addition to the core changes in PHP 5.3 where parameter defaults changed for the htmlentities and htmlspecialchars functions, the default value for the php.ini setting short_open_tags is now off.  What this means is that coding constructs like <? (shorthand for <?php ) and <?= (shorthand for <?php echo), which worked under PHP 5.2.17, will fail miserably under PHP 5.3 and later … simply dumping PHP code to the screen.

It turned out that I had a couple of plugins that used the short-tag constructs; those have been updated so that my sites will continue to operate under PHP 5.4.  I also reviewed all the htmlentities and htmlspecialchars calls in the non-core Zen Cart code to ensure that the proper default values are being passed for the website’s character-set.

I’ve got my local XAMPP installation now using PHP 5.4 so that I can stage my changes before updating my live sites.  Come April, I should be good-to-go!