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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Okay, here is my first pass with this guide. It is designed to take beginners from ground zero to multi-tier design of data feed driven sites using WebMerge.

    It's not perfect, but a start.

    Feedback is welcome.

    http://www.web-procreate.com

    Fred

  2. #2
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    Fred;

    Congratulations! It looks great (and much better than my tutorial!)

    This will, I think, be a tremendous help to Newbie WebMergers.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    "...and much better than my tutorial!)"

    Nah, just different.

    Thank you Frank, most appreciated.

    Fred

  4. #4
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    Fred, Very nice job! Well done! I just noticed one problem. When you read this page "wm-feed-prepare.htm" and then go to the next page - it brings you back to "Requirements" - I think it should go to "wm-template-prepare.htm".
    I may be missing something here but you may want to check it out. You really put a lot of effort in this and it shows. I will direct my affiliates who use WM to your site. In fact, within the next day or so I will purchase WM. I want to use it so I can understand how my affiliates use it and maybe give them some templates or tips on how to use it better for our lingerie site. Because you did such a great job, I will make sure I purchase it from your link so you get a well deserved commission. Keep up the good work.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Thanks Howie, most appreciated.

    I am in the middle of re-checking all of the navigation, and will fix the link. Thanks for the head's up.

    I have built several lingeriƩ sites, and would be happy to look at doing some examples along those lines.

    As announced by Richard Gaskin of Fourth World, the price of WebMerge has been reduced by 14%, and is now $ 85. I believe that expires on May 17th.

    Thanks again.

    Fred

  6. #6
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by buy_online:
    Okay, here is my first pass with this guide. It is designed to take beginners from ground zero to multi-tier design of data feed driven sites using WebMerge.

    It's not perfect, but a start.

    Feedback is welcome.

    http://www.web-procreate.com
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Wow! Great work, Fred! What a wonderful present for Fourth World's 10th birthday.

    I'll add a link to that from my site this week...
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  7. #7
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    Fred, I will PM you tomorrow with an idea and a job I need done. Hopefully you can help.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Thanks Richard - just e-mail a piece of the birthday cake ;-) Seriously though, thank you.

    I'll look forward to the PM Howie, or you can use the e-mail address at the site.

    Fred

  9. #9
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Fred,

    What I'm about to say is said out of FRUSTRATION - so if it sounds mean or anything, it's NOT.

    (Been up since 4am working with this, it's now 1pm, I haven't done any of my normal work, and most importantly, don't have a functioning webmerge page to show for 9 hours of work (so i'm frustrated))

    that said...

    all the webmerge posts have asked for STEP-BY-STEP instructions, which unfortunately, this is not.

    On your wm-four-tier.htm page, after stating it looks complicated but it's really not (if I hear that one more time!!) you post what you call "STEP ONE"
    ---------------
    Step-One

    This step is identical to step-one (there's a link here) in the three-tiered design. Click here (there's a link here) to review this step.

    Briefly, step-one encompasses building the initial index page, or "Main Category Page" (see "REAL BUILD" for step one in fig. 2 above).

    No detail pages are built at this stage (See "PHANTOM BUILD" above).
    --------------

    Your Step One is actually about 30 steps. It requires referencing something above. It requires clicking an another page (wm-three-tier.htm#three_tier_first_step), which when you get there, it ALSO has a bunch of reference something above, reference something below, click on various other pages....

    So just reading what is called STEP ONE, I have 14 browser windows open, trying to remember which one is which, totally forgetting why browser window #3 is open, etc.

    I'm spending 99% of my time trying to guess which open browser window contains whatever answer to whatever question, and by the time I find it, I totally forgot what I was doing, and have to start all over)


    Step-By-Step needs to be:

    Step 1: Do this. Did it work? Yes. Then go to...
    Step 2: Do this. Did it work? Yes. Then go to...
    Step 3: Do this. Did it work? Yes. Then go to...
    etc.

    let me say it another way:

    Rather than a simple ONE PAGE line-by-line learing experience (do step one, then proceed to step two), with all these open browser windows, I'm trying to get information from a dozen different sources (use the info from the 3-teir page, use the info from the creating an index page page, use the info from the webmerge settings page, etc) and fuse them all together at the same time to get to the next step.

    I see how much work you put into this, so remember, I'm speaking out of frustration! I'll end this post and then post another question - where I specifically get stuck - and if you're still speaking to me, maybe I can get thru step one.

    Billy

  10. #10
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    If you successfuly complete Step One (of the 4-tier tutorial), is there only ONE html page created - the index page with a bunch of categories listed that don't really link to anything yet?

    For Example:
    Bathroom Supplies
    Kitchen Supplies
    Storage Supplies

    These categories HAVE links made (like href:cleaning supplies.htm) but those pages are created later.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Bill,

    Sorry for your frustration.

    I'll address your first post.

    First, I'll remove (or change) this: "it looks complicated but it's really not." I understand the frustration you are feeling, having been there myself.

    Regarding the four-tier design. I hesitated about which way I should do that one. Should I post the same instructions over again (for the three-tier design), or simply reference it? (That was my thinking anyway). I thought many would have read and understood the three-tier design first, before moving on into the four-tier design - perhaps I was wrong. I will make every effort to put all of the relevant material from the three-tier design, into the four-tier design.

    I will also try to reduce the number of references to other documents, if they can be put in the same page. Many of those links are there as a reference for additional information on a particular subject, and not part of the actual instructions. For example, someone going through the three-tier design instructions, needs to already know what an Index Page is or what the settings are on the Detail Tab prior to attempting the build.

    Regretfully, it reads more like a book, than a simple step-by-step. One of the reasons I did this, was thatFrank's Tutorial already covered that style of example.

    I will re-evaluate the style I used, and perhaps I can put it in a more step-by-step form for everyone.

    Fred

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Bill asked:

    "If you successfully complete Step One (of the 4-tier tutorial), is there only ONE html page created - the index page with a bunch of categories listed that don't really link to anything yet?"

    The short answer is yes. You should have one page (an index page), with links to yet-to-be-built Main-Category Index pages. In the four-tier design (in the second big step), you'll build Main-Category index pages that have links to yet-to-be-builtSub-Category pages. And in the final (Big) step, you'll build the Sub-Category Index pages, and the Detail (Product) pages.

    The first two (Big Steps) build only index pages, with the last step building Index and Detail pages.

    Please feel free to not only ask questions, but let me know if you find problems with understanding, or usability. I am happy to help.

    Fred

  13. #13
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Fred,

    Your still talking to me!!!

    I did read and "mastered" Frank's tutorial (If anyone needs a site built with Curious George, I'M the man to call!!)

    Of course, as soon as I try to "personalize" the results, all hec breaks loose!

    And I can do a three-tier. I'm currently making 25 three-tier sub-sites (one for each category), which I would like to do only ONCE with a 4-tier.

    Before you change your tutorial - wait for the feedback. So far, I'm the only one who tried to do it ver batim and posted my results.

    As you receive the "I don't get this part" posts, you can see where it needs to be tweaked (which you'll see in my next post)

    But again, thanks for the tutorial...

    Billy

  14. #14
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    OK, I successfully (after 9 hours) created ONE page - the index page which list Betty Mill's categories, but doesn't link to them yet, as they haven't been created yet. Check me off on completing Step One!!

    Fred, here's you instructions for Step Two:

    -------------------
    Step-Two

    This step is not identical to what we did in building the three-tier design in step-two, but is close, and very simple.

    Step-two involves building only index pages. (see "REAL BUILD" for step two in fig. 2 above).

    No detail pages are built at this stage (See "PHANTOM BUILD" above).

    Simply put, category index pages need to be built that have file names that match the links that were placed into the Main Index page made in step-one above - exactly. Naming the Index Files in this step is extremly important, if the file names do not match the links, then navigation will not work.
    -----------------------

    There's no actual instructions here!

    I looked at the bottom of the page for "Click here for Step 2 Instructions", but the only link is for "PREVIOUS SECTION - 3-tier design"

    "Step-two involves building only index pages."
    How??
    Which WM tags are involved?

    "Simply put (THERE'S THAT SIMPLE PHRASE AGAIN!), category index pages need to be built (OK, HOW?) that have file names that match the links that were placed into the Main Index page made in step-one above - exactly (HOW DO WE DO THIS?). Naming the Index Files in this step is extremly important, (BUT NOT WORTHY OF TELLING YOU HOW! - THAT'S A JOKE FRED!) if the file names do not match the links, then navigation will not work."

    For me to get past this ONE SENTENCE, I would need an example of which WM fileds are needed in my page template), and what WebMerge settings to use for what will be called betty-mills_02.4ww

    FYI: I tried using the step 2 fields from the 3-tier example, but that didn't work.

    and I tried using the step two fields from Frank's step 2 (creating a category page), and that didn't work either.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Thanks Billy,

    I'll work at making it more complete - and clear.


    Fred

  16. #16
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    I haven't had a chance to work through your tutorial yet, but I would not expect people to read it like a book, they are going to jump to what they want to do. You may want to have the first link on the 4 tier page be "You need to read the 3 tier section first" or something to that effect.

    Are there example settings files and template files in the tutorial to download? Like I said, I haven't been able to go through it yet, but those are the things I would be looking for.

    I hoped to get to this in the next few days, but may not be able to for a few weeks due to a minor (potentially major) crisis. One of the reasons we work in AM is the ability to work around real life and the curves it throws...

    Also, did you address building files in subcategories instead of a monster directory with 100,000 pages? Frank had a start on this in his tutorial.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  17. #17
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Fred (and Frank)

    One more question, and you guys can take the rest of the night off...

    On the subcategory page (the page right before going to the product detail page in 40 tiers)

    The thumbnail provided by the merchant is way too big.

    My page has a thumbnail, and right below that, the product name (both hopefully linking to the detail page)

    Using the tutorial default
    [WM-IMAGEPATH: IMAGEURL raw]

    everything works fine, but the thumbnail is too big

    using something I think i got from Frank:

    &lt;img src="[WM-Field: IMAGEURL nolink]" width="100" height="100" border="0"&gt;&lt;br&gt;
    [WM-FIELD: PRODUCTNAME]

    The image is reduced to a smaller size, but there is no link associated with it (I think most people want to click on the PICTURE of Bathroom Cleaners, rather than the text link below it)

    I've tried this...

    &lt;a href="[WM-FIELD: IMAGEURL nolink].html"&gt;&lt;img src="[WM-Field: IMAGEURL nolink]" width="100" height="100" border="0"&gt;&lt;/a&gt;

    and this


    &lt;a href="[WM-FIELD: PRODUCTNAME nolink].html"&gt;&lt;img src="[WM-Field: IMAGEURL nolink]" width="100" height="100" border="0"&gt;&lt;/a&gt;


    but since i'm posting here, you can guess that didn't do the trick!!

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Hmmmmm....

    What you had ought to work. Here's what I would use, assuming that this is an index template:

    &lt;a href="[WM-FIELD: PRODUCTNAME nolink]"&gt;&lt;img src="[WM-Field: IMAGEURL nolink]" width="100" height="100" border="0"&gt;&lt;/a&gt;

    Where the "PRODUCTNAME" is the URL of the affiliate link that sends the visitor to the product page at the merchant's site, and gives you order credit. And, IMAGEURL being the URL of the image. The code above really should give you an image that will be clickable by the visitor. You can also add an "alt=" tag in there if you want.

    You might want to leave the file extension off of the code (you have this "...IMAGEURL nolink].html"&gt; for example). Leave the .HTML out of the code.


    Here is another concern that I would have - the size of the resulting image, and it being displayed looking distorted. If you know the size of the image ahead of time, and you know what you want it to be, that is something fixable.

    You'll have to find out what the new size is, and make sure it is proportionate. For example, an image that started out as 350x400 pixels cannot be reduced to 100x100 pixels without looking weird. You can however, reduce it to 100x114 - this preserves the proper proportions. I cheat in order to find out what the smaller size should be by using my favorite graphics program and reduce it proportionally. There is a mathematical way to do it (involves ratios), but it escapes me right now.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred

  19. #19
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    Billy Kay;

    Reducing the image size is a good topic for another tutorialpage since, as Fred as pointed out, there are a number of options to consider.

    I am assuming that you are dealing with a datafeed that has several thousand images and that you need to process them using a "batch mode". If you just have a couple dozen images than you can tweak them individually.

    1) If (by good fortune) all of the original images are the same format, e.g., 400x400, then using the coding discussed above with Fred to insert 100x100 will work.

    2) If the original images vary in size AND the size of the images is embedded in the datafeed field for that image, then you can use some Excel shortcuts to break open the link, reduce each dimension proportionally, and then reconstruct the links as a thumbnail size. This may take a couple of hours, but you only have to do it once (assuming that your inventory of images does not change much over time).

    3) If the original images vary in size AND the size of the images is NOT embedded in the datafeed field for that image, then you are stuck. You can use option #1, but some of the images will be distorted. How much access to you have to the original images? If you can download all the original images you could then use an off-the-shelf program (like Advanced Batch Converter) to batch process all of the images and reduce them proportionally to (approximately) a 100x100 size.

    Good Luck.

  20. #20
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    I continue to experience the same problem time and again. That is building the second index for a 3 tier site.

    I have one larg category list (category1,category2,category3 etc...) I can build an index page for this using:
    [WM-Record]
    [WM-IndexLabel: Cat]
    &lt;a href="http://www.mysite.com/wm1/[WM-Field: Cat nolink].html"&gt;[WM-Field: Cat nolink]&lt;/a&gt;&lt;BR&gt;
    [/WM-IndexLabel]
    [/WM-Record]

    This produces the desired category list with HTML links pointing to Individual categories with this html structure
    http://www.mysite.com/wm1/Cat_name_1...html&lt;BR&gt;

    I have a second category List Cat_2 which is identical to the first and it is this I am trying to use to create my second level index which would contain links to the actual producs, but I am having no luck whatsoever getting this to build.

    This is what I have tried to build the second level index page:

    [WM-Record]
    &lt;a href="http://www.mysite.com/wm1/[WM-Field: Cat_2 nolink].htm"&gt;[WM-Field: Cat_2 nolink]&lt;/a&gt;
    [/WM-Record]


    THe detail pages, they are exactly as I want them...It is this middle step and index that I cannot tie in. Any help with this would be appreciated.

  21. #21
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    Fred,

    Your tutorial is excellent. Very well put together.

    I've encountered a problem with my index links.
    The Main_Category is being converted to an HTML file link but the hyphens or underscores are not inserted in the spaces between words.

    I'm using this:

    [WM-Record]
    [WM-IndexLabel: Main_Category]

    &lt;p&gt;&lt;a href="http://www.mysite.com/MF/[WM-Field: Main_Category nolink].htm" title="[WM-Field: Main_Category nolink]"&gt;[WM-Field: Main_Category nolink]&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
    [/WM-IndexLabel]
    [/WM-Record]

    This comes out like this:

    http://www.mysite.com/MF/Heart Rate Monitors.htm

    There should be hyphens between Heart-Rate-Monitors.

    I'm using a tab delimited text file and every thing else seem to work great.

    Any ideas?

    Bill

  22. #22
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Hi Bill,

    You have to tell webmerge to substitute a dash for the blank spaces bewteen words. Try this:

    &lt;p&gt;&lt;a href="http://www.mysite.com/MF/[WM-Field: Main_Category replace(" ","-") nolink].htm" title="[WM-Field: Main_Category nolink]"&gt;[WM-Field: Main_Category nolink]&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;

    PS: To Fred and Frank - and you thought I didn't learn anything!!

  23. #23
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    Billy Kay;

    Nice job!
    When will the Billy Kay WebMerge Tutorial be relesased?

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Thanks Bill, most appreciated.

    Theoretically, WebMerge is supposed to replace spaces with either hyphens, or underscores. Doesn't sound like it is working this time though.

    The replace option in the WM-Tag is a great solution though. I've used it many times - thanks Billy.

    Fred

  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador Mike O's Avatar
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    I believe when you're using the "nolink" attribute, WM doesn't do any processing on the field name to convert it to a file name -- so it doesn't convert spaces into anything.

    You either have to let it do its thing, or deal with it manually, as you've done.

    I started out doing what you're doing, using "nolink" and building the filenames manually. I finally decided it's better to let WM do it.

    -- Mike
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