Friday, February 21, 2014

Yahoo Store Tags Not Working - The Fix

In my spare time I am building an e-commerce website for a friend. As it is my first e-commerce site (I've built many a static site before) I steered him towards a Yahoo! Merchant Starter account. I am already familiar with their small business webhosting tools and I figured the store and cart tools would be similarly easy to use.

Not quite. At first I was looking at their store editor tool. This is barbaric to say the least. Luckily I am a web designer so I decided to build the site myself. I had planned to do so from the outset but I wanted to see if the store builder could give me a starting point. Not really. The merchant started account is acutally two accounts in one, one side is if you are using the store editor. You don't have access to things like HTML files, you are forced to use the aforementioned barbaric store editor tool that was probably written in 1996 and never updated. The other side is the web hosting side, which I am familiar with and where you can make your own pages from scratch.

Going with the later you then have to get information from the catalog manager into your own page. This is done with Yahoo's own Store Tags. The look like an HTML comment or a server side include if you're familiar with those. Something like <!--#iamatag--> or some such magic.

At first I designed a static page without the store tags just to make sure everything would look correct once the data populated. Then I replaced things like product images and descriptions with the store tags, uploaded to the server and... ...nothing. I made sure the catalog was published. Yup. Searching the help area tells me nothing I don't already know. Time to email customer support.

Customer support is good but not great. They respond quickly but not accurately. For each question I have it takes 3 or 4 emails back and forth, usually escalating to different people, before I get information that is useful and should have been in something known in most circles as documentation.

At any rate, it turns out that either my OS or Dreamweaver were setting my file permissions to be too strict! It doesn't matter which because this was easily fixed by telling my FTP application to change the permissions on upload. The owner, at least needs to be able to execute the file, not just read and write. Even if I couldn't do this automatically, I could change files one by one on the server after upload (not ideal). I had to post this because it drove be crazy. For a while I thought it was the file encoding and I tried every encoding combo under the sun. Permissions! Got it? Good.



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