As mentioned a few times on this blog and on various forums I have been frequenting, I have hinted that I might be working on a plugin that will provide automated product links based on merchant feeds. If you have seen the Easy Content Units site or Amazon widgets then you will know the kind of thing I am talking about. However the point of creating something myself is to allow increased customisation and ultimately a superior way to display products.
Not so Easy Content Units
So here we are, introducing my not so easy content units which I will ultimately release as part of the Affiliate101 WordPress Affiliate Plugin.
Here is the first Prototype:
(note I haven’t set up mod rewrite on this server so the links aren’t working – I will fix asap!)
What is Working so far?
So far this plugin has a simple shortcode/bbcode that can be dropped in to any WP or e107 post. It looks a bit like:
This is then translated by the plugin into the product block you see above. There is also a back end admin page that can be used to design a unit, for the first revision I have just kept it as simple as possible, but in time this will be reorganised and prettified!
This allows you to chose which attributes you wish to display and control some standard formatting options. I have also chosen to layout each “product” via an HTML template, this will eventually be a drop down box of all the available templates. So if you want to reorder or add custom content and text or anything at all it will be easy! Create a template, put in the standard place holders (ie product name, price, picture, etc) and enjoy your new layout! I am also toying with the idea of passing parameters directly into the shortcode which can overwrite the unit’s default settings.
The plugin is currently only setup to import feeds from Affiliate Window, this is largely because they are the only network that seems to generate any revenue for me! I may, or may not, expand this in time. The feed import is entirely data driven so I can simple enter feeds as and when I require them. It is highly likely that the second feed source I will include will be Amazon.
e107 vs WordPress
With some forethought I have tried to ensure the code runs on either CMS. There are some subtle differences as to how the two systems access databases, and the shortcode implementation is different in both, but ultimately this can all be abstracted from the core unit code. After the initial development and creation of the bbcode/shortcode on both sides, the rest is now in a shared function that can be dropped into either CMS!
Due to an overwhelming lack of interest in the e107 affiliate plugin, I have decided to hold off releasing anything until 0.8 comes along. Having to support an upgrade for the one or two people who might be interested just doesn’t seem worth my time. I’d rather press on with the WP version – but remember I am trying to make the code as portable as possible for future release to e107 0.8!
Why Use the Not so Easy Content Units?
What is the point behind all this when there is already a solution out there?
- Complete control over how the units work
- Ownership of the data collected
- Ability to innovate my own ideas
- It doesn’t have to cost me anything
- And the most important one, I simply enjoy the challenge!