For the past 3 years, I’ve been working on a store that uses the Yahoo! Store platform. At first, the user interface for the web page design and page object models was easy to grasp (both the prefab versions and the custom ones I had access to), but going through the entire rewrite process was a pain – the biggest of which was the requirement of perfection. If a mistake was made in any field names or data-types it held, the whole object model had to be scrapped and started over. They’ve made minor improvements over the past 3 years to their Merchant Solutions side of things, but they have been extremely minor. One thing that hasn’t changed is the interface to edit pages.
There are two methods of doing the editing, depending on the Yahoo! Store platform that you have. If you’re on the Legacy version, you must go to the page itself, and click edit. This provides you with a series of fields and input boxes for each type of field. No intelligence in the design of what those fields are for or differentiation in how they interact.
If you’re on the Merchant Solutions platform, then you have the option of going directly to the page still, or you can do it in a flat-file pseudo database-like UI which is nothing more than a search-by-field interface, which presents you with a different-looking (but still the same) interface for editing the page.
Over the next few months, I’m going to embark on a web-based interface for importing the legacy store feed (objinfo.xml, which can’t be customized) and see what can be done with the data as far as modifying it, preparing it, cleaning it, and exporting it back to the store. I’m also going to attempt to code it entirely using Kodingen.com. I’ve done a highly customized version of this concept for the company I currently work for (at the time of this post), but none of the code will be reused from that project, and this project will have different, and limited features (in some areas, and expanded in other areas), but for a different data model. In some areas, this application will be more limited (since it’s working with a standardized data format, rather than a customized “catalog.xml” feed from Merchant Solutions. Once this basic version is solid, I may start working on a customized version, or even offering a customizing service to handle the catalog.xml file.
Some things I’d like to do differently with this basic version is:
- create an install process (a la phpBB)
- extensive automation, and possibly some AI concepts
- learn more about object-oriented design and how it can be extended conceptually
There are plenty of other feature sets that I’ve learned and developed in addition to these in the past and plan to use as well. So we’ll see how this goes, and I’ll post some updates here. Depending on what I plan to do with it, I may or may not open-source it. If I do, I’ll host it on Google Code.