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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    What do you need in a server-based version of WebMerge?
    I've started testing a server-based version of WebMerge. Works pretty nifty with cron jobs. Very handy.

    I'll be providing both a web-based interface, and an optional custom client software for administering it (see my 'Beyond the Browser' article at http://www.fourthworld.com/embassy/a...s/netapps.html for a discussion on the advantages of custom desktop software for web services).

    The current versions for OS X and Windows XP should be usable on servers as they are right now. So in addition to providing builds for BSD and Linux, what features do you feel would be especially useful in a server-based version of WebMerge?
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  2. #2
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    Hi there,

    I am currently using a dedicated server for webmerge. I have about 10,000 items plus and have found the only way to get this pages online quickly is with the use of a dedicated server. I just tar the pages, transfer in a couple of minutes, and then untar them in the directory of choice.

    The problem I have is when viewing the file list using any FTP editor. It's pretty much freezes up my FTP client. ( CuteFTP Pro 7 ) If I use SSH, then there is no problem at all so I stick to SSH.

    So, to the point. Using SSH, tar, and a dedicated server works very well for me. Would a server-based version of Webmerge really make my life easier? I am not sure I understand how this will work. <forgive me> Especially with a large number of files and all.

    Are we actually talking about creating the files online? Perhaps a tiny bit more info and I could give some ideas on features.

    Thanks kindly,

    Jim

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Thumbs up
    A server based version of WebMerge would mean advantages like this:
    • No more uploading thousands of documents from your desktop.
    • Less resources tied-up on your desktop, all the hard work is being done on your server.
    • Call the data-feed file directly from the merchant to your server (datafeed doesn't have to be downloaded to your desktop).

    Server based WebMerge could have a "GUI" type interface (friendly web-based), or telnet. If one wanted to do the "minimum" amount of work, all that would be required, is uploading the HTML templates you want to use.

    Go Richard

    Fred

  4. #4
    Member MarkJH's Avatar
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    It would be good if it was compatible with Frontpage and it's notorious Extensions.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkJH
    It would be good if it was compatible with Frontpage and it's notorious Extensions.
    That's an interesting idea. I normally try to avoid company-specific initiatives in favor of universal standards, but since Micro$oft dominates the world it may indeed be worthwhile for us to comply with its iron fist.

    Do you have a URL to a summary on those extensions? Which of those extensions would be especially useful to you?
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  6. #6
    Affiliate/AM Moonlighter dflsports's Avatar
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    Just when I start to sway away from Webmerge for server based processes, you lure me back again. I can't wait for this new version

    A gui would be great for us non techie types.

  7. #7
    Member MarkJH's Avatar
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    Do you have a URL to a summary on those extensions?
    Here's a list of good links related to Frontpage Extensions - http://www.microsoft.com/serviceprov...ssue_fpext.asp

    Which of those extensions would be especially useful to you?
    Compatibility with the Frontpage Includes (something like SSI) would be paramount for me.

    Maybe a version of server-based Webmerge could be made as a Frontpage 'add-in'?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkJH
    Here's a list of good links related to Frontpage Extensions - http://www.microsoft.com/serviceprov...ssue_fpext.asp

    Compatibility with the Frontpage Includes (something like SSI) would be paramount for me.

    Maybe a version of server-based Webmerge could be made as a Frontpage 'add-in'?
    There's a lot in that API. What specific FrontPage functionality would you like to see supported first?
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  9. #9
    Member MarkJH's Avatar
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    Sorry Richard, I forgot all about this thread.

    I'm not really sure, to be honest. I'd just like it to work with Frontpage, is all!

  10. #10
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    We have a lot of customers using WebMerge with FrontPage. What's not working for you?
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  11. #11
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    What I would advice :

    Use the same structure / layout as the the software, but all on one HTML page
    Option of cron jobs
    Old created pages should be overwritten with the new ones
    Password protected admin page
    Logs of downloads and creation
    Send warning message if site is x days old ("need update")
    System for fonts. For Windows BOOK and book are the same, but not for Unix
    One extra central admin page if using Webmerge for several sites

  12. #12
    Full Member Tech Evangelist's Avatar
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    Hi Richard

    Do you have a target launch date for the server-side version? I particularly like the automated update feature, and am very interested in this new version.
    There's good, fast and cheap. Pick any two.
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  13. #13
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    Many things can affect release dates, so it's too early yet to give specifics. I can say I'm working on it as fast as I can in conjunction with other WebMerge-related development.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  14. #14
    Full Member heisje's Avatar
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    .

    a server-based WM is an *emergency*.

    I believe the majority of us do extensive work on feeds/databases before finishing the task with WM, so a simple browser-based WM interface to generate the end-result from a totally processed database (that has already been transferred to the server from the desktop) should not require so much programming and should be available in no time at all.

    this would initially cover a fair percentage of applications (the great majority I believe) and may be immediately available. Improvements may follow soon after.

    the sooner, the better - really . . .

    best,
    heisje


    .

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by heisje
    a server-based WM is an *emergency*.
    If every request is considered the most urgent how can we prioritize?


    Quote Originally Posted by heisje
    I believe the majority of us do extensive work on feeds/databases before finishing the task with WM, so a simple browser-based WM interface to generate the end-result from a totally processed database (that has already been transferred to the server from the desktop) should not require so much programming and should be available in no time at all.

    this would initially cover a fair percentage of applications (the great majority I believe) and may be immediately available. Improvements may follow soon after.
    Of course, although I can tell you from speaking with my customers over the years that a server-based version is valued by relatively few. For many it would be a minimal improvement to their workflow to transfer the feed to the server and then tie up the server's cycles rather than cycles on the local machine.

    Far more frequently requested is a feature which would keep track of records and generate only those which have changed. This would be far more efficient in terms of overal processing and upload time, and for many it would obviate the need for a second server-based product.

    Fortunately both are in development....
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  16. #16
    Full Member heisje's Avatar
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    richard,

    it is my impression since a few years now, and I may be wrong at that, that ABW active members are mostly affiliate professionals earning their main income, or at least a large chunk of it, on the web.

    as a consequence you, as a developer, have the "opportunity" of communicating here with individuals that are in the forefront in this sector, trying to get tools to expand the frontiers of this job. in this way you get a glimpse not of what has been in the past, or even *is* at present, but of things to come. what the other, "silent majority" of "affiliates", think they need is of marginal consequence in this discussion.

    transferring multiple "totally processed" feeds per day over the net (averaging 700 M each) is not a minor enterprise. transferring selected files in a feed (the renewed ones) is a solution only for existing feeds that need minor renewal, but not for new feeds or for overhauled old ones.

    for "large volume" affiliates, a server running WM would be a most valuable tool, and a top priority . . .

    respectfully,
    heisje
    Last edited by heisje; May 9th, 2005 at 09:10 AM.

  17. #17
    Full Member Tech Evangelist's Avatar
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    I trust that Richard and his team will get it done as fast as is they can. I for one do not wish to see software released that is not ready for prime time. I don't think prodding him is going to help.

    There's good, fast and cheap. Pick any two.
    There's good, fast and cheap. Pick any two.
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  18. #18
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    Of course, heisje. Indeed, I'm already working on the product. I'm not sure what more I can do, and trust you will advise.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  19. #19
    Member MarkJH's Avatar
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    We have a lot of customers using WebMerge with FrontPage. What's not working for you?
    Oh no, you misunderstand. I have absolutely no problems with using Frontpage with WebMerge. Just the usual problems that most people have with uploading thousands of pages!

    No, the reason there would be problems with using a server-based version of WebMerge with Frontpage is that when you upload pages to Frontpage, a subfolder is created containing vti files.

    From http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/websit...onsole-16.html

    "In order for the advanced features of FrontPage to run, you need to install the FrontPage Server Extensions.
    After you install FrontPage, there may be times that you will see files and directories that you do not recognize. Don't worry -- FrontPage has created these files to make things like search engines, hit counters, and mail forms work.

    The "vti" directories are the FrontPage extensions for your web site. You should not modify these directories in any way. By doing so, there is a very good possibility that you will corrupt your extensions. The corruption can result in anything from certain components no longer working to security issues with FrontPage."


    This is really opening a can of worms. It'd probably be a lot less hassle to suggest that people using Frontpage - with or without extensions - didn't use the server-based version.

    I do wish that there was somebody in here who had a much higher knowledge of FP than me, though.

  20. #20
    Full Member heisje's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FourthWorld
    Indeed, I'm already working on the product.
    so sweet of you, richard . . .

    heisje

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkJH
    I have absolutely no problems with using Frontpage with WebMerge. Just the usual problems that most people have with uploading thousands of pages!
    ...
    This is really opening a can of worms. It'd probably be a lot less hassle to suggest that people using Frontpage - with or without extensions - didn't use the server-based version.
    If they expect integration with FrontPage beyond what's needed for any normal server, I would agree.

    As for the number of pages being uploaded, what percentage of records change when you post an update? I'm looking into ways to have an "incremental generation" option in which only changes records get generated and posted. This may greatly reduce the number of pages being worked on for an update.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  22. #22
    Member MarkJH's Avatar
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    In an average update? Usually less than 1%. Though, if I'm tweaking my templates, it's 100% over 24,000+ pages!

  23. #23
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    Mark, is there a way we can reduce the number of records manually affected with an update?

    For example, if you modify feeds to add fields, maybe we can set up a way to use the WM-Include tag keyed of a unique non-changing field (like product SKU, for example) so you could write that once to a separate file and never think about it again whenever you update.

    If the changes you make to otherwise-non-changing records are on the order of search-and-replace operations, I know we can arrive at ways to automate those as well.

    The benefits of incremental generation are so great that I'm convinced it's worth looking into ways to make it work for your workflow.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Question
    Quote Originally Posted by FourthWorld
    Mark, is there a way we can reduce the number of records manually affected with an update?
    Oooo... What a fun challenge, let's see.

    I don't think it is feasible to compare the finished HTML pages at the remote server, that might be a pretty big challenge. So WM will have to compare the records in the finished datafeed file. Where then?

    The simplest might be at the remote server, where all operations could take place. Or, you could do it at the user's workstation, where WM could generate a new (smaller) datafeed file containing only the new/revised records and instructions to WM remote to only create (and/or overwrite) new/updated pages. But, that's a lot of crunching.

    To do on the entirely on the server, imagine uploading the initial database. Then, when an update needs to be done uploading an entirely new database to make comparisons. Hmmm...

    On another subject, I like the idea of a notifications via email, is pretty cool.

    Fred

  25. #25
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    Fred, I'm not sure what you mean by "notifications" -- could you elaborate on that?
    I suppose one could set it up as a cron job, and if getting the feed were also automated then indeed you'd never need to do a thing but sit back and get an email letting you know what's happening.....hmmmm....

    As for the mechanism of determining which records change, my plan is to do it in the raw feed -- I can use a common method to "fingerprint" each record so if it's different next time WebMerge will know.

    So assuming that will do what we need, the bigger question is to make sure we fully automate all of the mods pros like you do to a feed before processing. That way we turn that part of it into a set-it-up-and-never-think-about-it-again task like the rest of the program.

    My goal is to see folks boot Excel only for counting the money they're making, and leave all aspects of feed processing in the feed processor.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

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