Business Catalyst Blog

BC webinar: BC Best Practices

Diana Herac Thursday, November 20, 2014

This month we'll meet Wednesday, November 26, for a webinar that will present the top "BC Best Practices" out there. Our host will be Adam Cook from One Creative.

Up to this point, through the weekly BC Sandpile, Adam did a full series named "BC Best Practices" on a variety of BC topics. Now he will concentrate all that knowledge in one webinar that packs a punch.

You can register for this session here:

If you have any questions or suggestions please do not hesitate to send them over to BCPartner-Team@adobe.com.

See you there!
The Adobe Business Catalyst Team

System update - new anti-spam measures, BC.Next improvements and bug fixes

Cristinel Anastasoaie Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today, we are releasing a new system update that includes additional anti-spam measures focused to prevent spam on forums as strengthen the measures already available for comments. Additionally, the update includes incremental updates to the BC.Next beta version like custom template support for additional modules or WYSIWYG CSS styles fix.

Additional anti-spam measures

With this release we are continuing the fight against spam, with a focus on preventing forum spam and further enhance the protection for comments. With comments, we noticed that one of the basic and efficient ways to prevent spam is a captcha mechanism, we decided to add this for forums as well. Furthermore, we will be automatically enabling captcha when we detect high volumes of  forums or comments. See the below the detailed list of changes brought by this release: 

  • Enforced captcha for comments - If any BC object (blog post, product, webapp, etc) has more than 300 comments, captcha validation will be turned on; the setting is site wide and users will not be able to disable it; if captcha is enforced, you will need to update all comments form to add captcha module. For more details on how to insert captcha for comments, read this article.
  • Added captcha support for forum posts - users can now enforce captcha for forums from Site Settings > Captcha interface; BC will automatically add the captcha module into forum post form;
  • Enforced captcha for high volume forums - Automatic forum captcha will be enabled if one of the forums on the site has more than100 topics or more than 3000 posts; on these conditions, users will not be able to disable it; the captcha module will be automatically added by BC into the forum post form;
  • Limit forum post size - starting with this release, users will not be able to add forum posts that have more than 5 KB of text. Existing forum posts will not be impacted by the change and the system will continue to display them;
  • Enforced pagination on forums - starting with this release, we will only display the first 100 posts in a topic. If a site has more than 100 posts, partners will need to update the forum layout to add pagination; for that, we've enabled the tag_previouspage and tag_nextpage in the forum posts layout as well;
  • Automatically enable spam detection - additionally, when captcha is enforced due to high volumes of comments or forum posts, the system will also automatically enable the spam detection mechanism (Akismet) for the site

BC.Next improvements and fixes

As with the previous release, the release includes new additions and bug fixes to the BC.Next beta version. This time, we focused on fixing some of the enhancements and problems reported on the beta forum or through customer support. See below a list of fixes included in this release:

  • 3850821 - Fixed a bug in module_webappscount that did not worked when using a category name
  • 837226 - Fixed an issue causing the new WYSIWYG editor to ignore CSS styles referenced through the template;
  • Added custom template support for module_menu (v1), module_blogsitepost (issue #842584) and module_blogpostlist (issue #842581)
  • 821713 - Updated productfeaturelist to prevent <ul> output when using a custom template
  • 3847788 - Fixed an issue causing module_webapps to display the same random items when inserted multiple times in the same page

Additionally, we've updated the beta flags available for the BC.Next version so that customers can have more control over the functionality included in the beta version. Thus, starting with this release partners are able to individually switch on/off the BC.Next engine, the new WYSIWYG editor, the leverage browser caching mechanism and the module syntax (with or without named parameters).

We hope you will enjoy this release and look forward to your feedback.

The Business Catalyst team

Everybody loves Black Friday deals!

Diana Herac Friday, November 14, 2014

The sad thing about it though is that it's only one day and you have to wait until the end of the month. EZ-BC decided not to wait and give a Black Friday experience to all Partners throughout the whole of November!

Get 25% off any new order on Code Production services: PSD to BC, Troubleshoot My Site, Any CMS to BC, Consulting and newly launched Beyond Muse. All you need is to enter “BLACK11” code when you submit your project on Code Production site and your 25% off discount will be applied instantly!

Offer ends November 30th. For more details on this offer visit Black November on EZ-BC

With 600+ projects developed with Business Catalyst, EZ-BC is a premium BC partner that helps other BC partners in delivering high-quality websites of any complexity by the latest web development standards, in shortest terms possible.

Visit EZ-BC.com for more info.

Save 50% on BIG updates to BackupBC

Diana Herac Wednesday, November 12, 2014

For a limited time, BackupBC is offering 50% off their newly-released version 1.5, which includes some of the most highly requested features to their popular backup product:

 Cloud Backups
Now you can save your backups to your website, to your local drive, to your Dropbox and Google Drive accounts.This solves the 250MB upload limit that exists on uploading your backups to your website, so the sky's the limit on your backup size.

White Labeled
BackupBC has been white labeled so your clients will experience backups as a seamless part of your platform. Your clients will never see BackupBC, Business Catalyst or Adobe brands when backup their websites, so your brand is safe!

Setup Wizard
Now that so many great new options are available, BackupBC also added a wizard to make it easy to set up your backup preferences in three quick steps.

Don’t miss their 50% sale! Now through November 30 get BackupBC for all your sites for only $24.50 per site at the BC app store!

November is BC.Next Month at BC Sandpile

Diana Herac Wednesday, November 05, 2014

NOTE: There has been a time change since our last meeting. Please compare your local time with the times below.

Weekly Day/Time:

  • San Francisco: Tuesdays, 5pm (all times adjusted in relation to this time)
  • New York City: Tuesdays, 8pm
  • London: Wednesdays, 1am
  • Sydney: Wednesdays, Noon

BC.Next Basics with Scott B Reynolds - 4th November (5th in AUS) 2014
This may be the most exciting time ever to be a Business Catalyst Partner. The most recent releases (labeled BC.Next) are giving BC Partners a new set of tools to make powerful online businesses. This meeting kicks off an entire month (November 2014) of BC.Next discussions. We'll begin with exploring each part of BC.Next (Liquid, APIs, etc).
Details: http://thri.se/1uqeWJP

How BC Partners Are Using Liquid -11th November (12th in AUS) 2014
In the second sandpile in our month dedicated to BC.Next Partners are stepping up to show off how they are using Liquid. You will see practical applications using new techniques. This is the perfect meeting for anyone interested in how other BC Partners are using Liquid.
Details: http://thri.se/1uqf63L

Learn to use module_data and BC V3 APIs Interactively - 18th November (19th in AUS) 2014
Are you interested in learning about BC.next and module_data, a module that makes all BC data, for all modules, accessible in both list and detail views, with sorting capabilities on any field and pagination? Join us discovering module_data and how it works with the new BC V3 APIs and in website’s frontend?
Details: http://thri.se/1uqff7g

BC.Next Wrapup - For Developers and Non-Developers - 25th November (26th in AUS) 2014
There's so much excitement around BC.Next, but what does it really mean? In this session, we will talk about how this new set of tools will solve customer problems - in a way that non-techies will understand. And if you are a developer playing around with Liquid - we’d love it if you share your ‘best so far’ application of Liquid which solves a specific customer problem.
Details: http://thri.se/1uqfr6J

Full schedule: http://www.bcsandpile.com/_blog/Meeting_Chalkboard/
Sandpile Recordings: http://www.bcsandpile.com/business-catalyst/resources.htm

BCTemple special offer!

Diana Herac Saturday, November 01, 2014

BCTemple build premium templates that provide creative design, flexible development and lots of support. Packed full of BC features you have the control to make subtle changes or reinvent the designs to match your needs. Get your projects up in record time with easy to follow documentation and premium email support managed by the same team that build each template.

If design or development is not your strength you can be confident when letting the experienced team at BCTemple handle your custom features and design changes.

BCTemple also convert templates into existing sites taking the uncertainty away from live site template integrations, guaranteeing you'll keep your SEO and functionality in tact every time.

To celebrate BCTemple's new website and pricing structure - access to the entire template collection for a single membership fee - BCTemple are offering you the chance to win an additional 5 years for registering a Temple Membership during October and November.

That's 6 years for the price of one! Gain access to every template created by BCTemple for the next 6 years.

Competition ends November 30. Register your Temple Membership here.

BC.Next update - New liquid features, improved page speed and APIs in front-end

Cristinel Anastasoaie Friday, October 31, 2014

[Updated]: Added the list of API resources that have been updated with this release

We have just released an updated version of our BC.Next engine which includes several new features and enhancements as well as some bug fixes. The changes are only available for sites that have been migrated to our new BC.Next version, by enabling the new rendering engine from the Beta Features section, under Site Settings admin menu.

Liquid support enhancements

  • Liquid include - with this release, we have added support for {% include %} liquid tag with support for modules inside the included file
  • module_subscriptions has been converted to liquid. For the list of available tags, check the liquid reference guide
  • Improved module syntax - based on your feedback, we have updated the module syntax with support for render="item|collection"; this solution offers a more intuitive way of working with item lists and collections.Take a look at the Adding Liquid logic to layouts article for the documentation on how to use this feature.
  • Enhanced global variables - extended the globals.user variable by adding the globals.user.entityId and globals.user.username properties. Take a look at the Introduction to Liquid article for a detailed overview of the Liquid globals object 

Consuming back-end APIs in site's front-end

At Adobe MAX this year, we have previewed a new type of module that enables partners to consume back-end APIs in front-end and format the output with liquid templates. Initially named module_webresource, the new module opened up an array of possibilities when it comes to displaying data sets that cannot be achieved with standard BC modules.

The overwhelming positive feedback received around this module, has helped us refine it and making it ready for the public beta. With this release, we have changed the module name into module_data (while module_webresource is still supported, it will not be documented nor referenced in the future) and made it available in the public beta release of BC.Next. Additionally, we've now added support for filters and liquid templates, so that you can really unleash it's powers.

A quick example, shows how to display a list of customers and some information about them in the front-end. For simplicity, this examples doesn't use a separate template file.

{module_data resource="customers" version="v3" template="" collection="customerInfo" fields="id,firstName,middleName,lastName,email1,email2,email3,username,mobilePhone,wholesaler"}
<table><tbody>
{% for item in customerInfo.items %}
<tr>
<td>{{item.id}}</td>
<td>{%if {{item.firstName}} %}{{item.firstName}} {%endif%</td>
<td>{%if {{item.email1.value}} %}{{item.email1.value}} {%endif%}</td>
<td>{%if {{item.email2.value}} %}{{item.email2.value}} {%endif%}</td>
<td>{%if {{item.mobilePhone.value}} %}{{item.mobilePhone.value}}{%else%}Number unavailable{%endif%}</td>
</tr>
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>

The documentation for this module is available here - Consuming APIs in the front-end using module_data article. Some code snippets to get you started quicker are available here.

Adding more control over generated content

With this release, Partners will have even more control over the generated content by having the option to suppress the system scripts and styles automatically included by Business Catalyst into every page header. This comes in really handy when looking to write a page from scratch or building pages which are included in admin apps.

Telling BC to stop outputting system scripts and styles into a page is simple. You just need to create a page template that has the "No HEAD elements" setting (found under the "More Options" section) enabled and use that template for any page where you don't need system styles or scripts.

Increasing page speed rating by leveraging browser caching (beta)

Business Catalyst includes a stack of caching mechanisms that improve site performance. However, if there was one thing missing, that was the ability to leverage browser caching features, which had some implications on speed tests results. With this release, we are making the first steps into enabling BC sites to leverage the browser caching mechanisms.

All static assets (images, javascript files, css files) will automatically be appended an unique identifier, and correct HTTP Cache Headers will be generated to enable browser to cache these files. This will increase Google SEO scores and overall page loading performance.

The following HTTP Cache Headers are set on static assets:

  • Expires: 30 days
  • Cache-Control: public, max-age=30 days

This functionality is still in beta and you are able to turn it on on the sites that have been migrated to the BC.Next version by checking the "Static Assets Headers" box in the beta features page from Site Settings. Also take a look at the Enhanced caching mechanism article for more details on this feature.

Updated API fields names

With this release we have also did a few updates on the API field names. If you're using any of the following API rerources in your site or apps, you will need to update them to match the latest field names. Please find below the list resources and field names that have been updated:

  1. catalogs:
    1. catalogId renamed to id
    2. Image renamed to imageUrl
  2. anniversaries:
    1. anniversary1Date renamed to anniversary1
    2. anniversary2Date renamed to anniversary2
    3. anniversary3Date renamed to anniversary3
    4. anniversary4Date renamed to anniversary4
    5. anniversary5Date renamed to anniversary5
  3. addresses:
    1. postcode renamed to zipCode.
  4. pages:
    1. pageTitle renamed to title
    2. url renamed to pageUrl
  5. products:
    1. added field: slug
  6. customers:
    1. entityId renamed to id
  7. shippingoptions:
    1. excludedFromCatalogues renamed to excludedCatalogs
    2. Documented excludedCatalogs

Bugs fixed with this release

Besides the larger feature updates brought to the BC.Next version, the release also includes a series of smaller bug fixes. You find below the list of issues that have been fixed:

  • 3832366 - Fixed a bug in the new WYSIWYG editor that was corrupting script tags in pages by duplicating the type="text/javascript" attribute
  • 3837343 - Fixed an issue with the new WYSIWYG editor causing an incorrect focus on Internet Explorer
  • Fixed an issue that caused the new WYSIWYG editor to ignore the br / p setting in partner portal
  • 3838920 - Fixed an issue causing bracket @@@@@ escape sequences to sometimes not unescaped when rendering JavaScript
  • 3834415 - Fixed rendering for modules that contain attributes ending with "template", like NoTemplate or useBackupTemplate
  • 3838958 - Fixed an issue with sending duplicated system e-mails in some cases
  • Fix issue preventing users from deleting a Live (redeemed) sites

Moving system announcements to the BC forums

Cristinel Anastasoaie Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hello,

Based on partner feedback regarding the visibility of the planned system announcements on the BC blog, we’re transitioning these to the BC forums.

Moving forward, planned system maintenance announcements are going to be published on the Business Catalyst System Updates forums. In addition to having the announcements publicly available and allowing partners to comment, the forum allow partners to subscribe for email alerts every time a new announcement or comment is made, thus increasing the visibility of such updates among the partner community.

You can view the System Update forum by following this link: https://forums.adobe.com/community/business_catalyst/system_updates. To Subscribe to forum notifications, click on the Follow button on the upper right corner.

Thank you,

The Adobe Business Catalyst Team

Incident report - downtime on AU data center

Cristinel Anastasoaie Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hello,

We’d like to give you an update on our recent stability issues.

As you know, as BC usage is growing and we continue to serve billions of page requests per month, we are in the process of continuously upgrading the underlying infrastructure for BC – from upgrading various operating systems, database versions, moving to SSD for faster performance and updating various other subsystems. As we’re also moving to deploy BC next, we are accelerating some of these upgrades to make sure next year catches us in a ready shape for more growth with no impact.

One of the areas where we have upgraded a subsystem was our load balancers – a pair of gateways to the whole BC datacenter designed to distribute load evenly on all web servers. Unfortunately, we are facing a load balancer bugs causing the underlying machine(s) to restart randomly, and consequently to produce downtime to the affected sites.

We have installed a premium load balancer with premium support, and been working closely both on our side and with the vendor to get this fixed. The vendor has identified the cause of instability in their code and promised to issue a patch for it.

However, given the critical situation we are facing, and given that we don’t have an ETA for the load balancer fix, we have decided double down our investment in this are that caused most of the recent incidents.

  • First, we have already added additional load balancer machines, so that if anything happens with one of them, we have a failover instance up and running, ready to take over.
  • Second, we are working on a fast failover mechanism which will minimize impact when a load balancer crashes down to 1-2 minutes – we plan to deploy this by Wednesday.
  • Third, we are also investigating the possibility of returning the currently upgraded load balancer software to the vendor and switching to a different provider, after rigorous testing.

And above all, we continue to stay alert to minimize any impact caused in the meantime, and we continue to keep you updated with our progress.

Another area where we’re making significant upgrades are the BC databases, where we’re moving to SSD and upgrading to the latest SQL server version.

We did finalize the upgrades in Sidney so far, and after one month of active load testing we can now continue deploying the upgrades in the EU and US datacenters.

For the EU datacenter, we are performing a database maintenance this Sunday, and this will be scheduled at an hour that will ensure minimal customer impact. The US datacenter will be upgraded late November.

Finally, we are working to make the BC Status Page monitors more accurate.

Today, these monitors do indeed show up as “green” if the majority of customers in a data center are up, even when some of the customers might have issues accessing their sites. This is caused by our “cell architecture”, where we split a datacenter in relatively independent cells in order to insure uptime in case one cell have problems for the rest of the sites.

We are changing the monitors to be more aggressive and show up as “yellow” or “red”, even when just a subset of the sites are down.

We really thank you for the patience you have shown with these incidents and we assure you we are doing our best to keep them under control. They are transient in nature as we’re finalizing this massive wave of upgrades needed for BC.next, and we are changing our processes to make sure we do test things more rigorously before deploying to minimize impact.

Thank You,
The Business Catalyst Team.

Thank you for joining us for Adobe MAX 2014!

Cristinel Anastasoaie Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We’d like to thank everyone who was able to join us in Los Angeles for Adobe MAX 2014! We had a great time seeing Partners at MAX as we could really feel the passion in the air at our Unconference and official sessions.

This time around we wanted to have a more informal setup that gathered the BC team and Partners together to shape the future of Business Catalyst. Therefore, we want to give a big thank you for taking the time to talk to us and share your thoughts on our latest releases and future plans. It has been great listening to you and we’re looking forward to bring your ideas to life.

While we have hundreds of comments and ideas, there are a few areas that will capture our attention next:

  • Sorting out the data centers stability issues – while most of the instability root problems (as described in our latest incident report) have been fixed, we’re still encountering some issues with our load balancers which we are working to fix as soon as possible;
  • Locking down the BC.next syntax so that everyone can take advantage of these updates; this includes items like unifying naming conventions between APIs and liquid variables and liquid syntax for module’s name parameters (see Lucian’s post on the developer forum)
  • Launch the final versions of BC.next and Open Platform, incorporating your top concerns/requests and focusing on training materials; the list includes items like: finishing the json output for modules, removing BC scripts and CSS from HTML output, updating the redactor editor to include support for image and link settings, finalise conversion to liquid for important modules (ex: module_subscriptions)
  • Start improving core modules once the priorities are validated with the larger Partner community and specific details are locked down; we’ll be having dedicated BC Townhall sessions for this subject in the upcoming weeks

Thanks again to everyone who was able to make it and share their ideas! If you weren't able to make it this year, we've got you covered as well. Below you'll find video recordings of all our sessions, we hope you enjoy them:

Looking forward for our Next event,

The Adobe Business Catalyst Team