The main new features of version 5.5 of Apogee StoreFront and Asanti StoreFront are:
- Responsive thumbnail images – Create a better looking home page and category pages
- Customizable store fonts – Give stores their own look using a selection of web fonts
- Updated Online Editor – Save time updating the layout of customizable products
- Variable size customizable products – Shoppers can now create posters online from scratch
- New licensing – Get more value out of your StoreFront web-to-print subscription
On the store home page and category pages, rectangles containing a category or product name and matching thumbnail image are used to help the user navigate to the right product. In previous releases these thumbnail images had a fixed size and they only covered part of each category or product rectangle.
In StoreFront 5.5 these product and category thumbnail images can cover the full surface of the rectangle. The image quality is also better on high-res retina displays. To use this function, first create and upload larger thumbnail images. We recommend to make these images 720 pixels wide and 430 pixels high, so that they cover all the responsive aspect ratios of the rectangles they are placed in. Then activate the ’Automated Scaling’ option in the Category section of the Stores > Style tab.
When a shopper moves the mouse over a category or product rectangle, StoreFront can either continue showing the thumbnail image or it can show more text information about the product or category. With version 5.5 a third option is added: when the user hovers the mouse over a rectangle, its thumbnail image zooms out slightly. This visual mouseover effect can be seen in a lot of contemporary websites. It can be activated using the Hovering Behavior drop-down menu and only works when the ‘Automated Scaling’ function is activated. The zoom effect is not applied to product preview images generated by StoreFront itself.
Storefront 5.5 allows you to change the overall look and feel of stores using a predefined set of web fonts. These can be selected in the StoreCenter Stores > Style tab.
On the store level, the main font can be Arial, Georgia, PT Sans, PT Serif, Palatino Linotype, Roboto, Roboto Slab, Times New Roman, Ubuntu, Verdana and Yu Gothic UI. For buttons, the same list is available.
For category and product titles, additional display fonts are made available. The full list of available fonts consists of Arial, Bebas Neue Regular, Carter One, Georgia, Lobster, PT Serif Bold, Palatino Linotype, Roboto Condensed Bold, Squada One, Times New Roman, Ubuntu Medium and Yu Gothic UI.
Since store pages are cached it can take a few minutes before font changes become visible to shoppers.
Optimize the upload wizard for novice users
When shoppers upload one or more documents for printing, the upload wizard offers a set of tools to modify the uploaded files. Content can be rescaled, stretched, rotated, or shifted. Novice users sometimes use these functions without fully understanding the consequences when they remove bleed or use anamorphic scaling. In StoreFront 5.5 a system setting allows you to completely disable the toolbar and rescaling tools.
In the Editor Settings section of the Advanced > Production Settings > Preflight Defaults window there is an option to hide the tools. When activated this affects all products, except those for which the checkbox ‘As Specified in the Preflight Defaults (Advanced/Production Settings)’ is unchecked in the product template’s Preflight settings. This allows you to create stores that contain a mix of uploadable products with and without tools.
Cross-item pricing for bound products
Storefront 5.3 introduced cross-item pricing for unbound products: When a shopper orders six packs of 250 business cards and three packs of 500 each, StoreFront would previously always quote a total price for (6×250 + 3×500) cards. Since version 5.3 StoreFront can instead offer the discount rate for 3000 cards, which may be lower.
Cross-item pricing is now also available for bound products such as brochures, magazines and catalogs. Activating this function is done in the Product Templates > Pricing window. Once it is activated you can also configure how setup costs will be handled. These settings are applied to all the products based on this template. More information on cross-item pricing is available in the v5.3 Release Notes. As with unbound products, certain restrictions apply:
- The ordered products must be based on the same product template.
- The number of pages must match. For example: if someone orders in one go 1000 16-page brochures and 4000 other 16-page brochures, the reduced price for 5000 16-pagers will be applied.
- Cross-item pricing is only applied for compatible products: the order items involved must, for example, all use the same media or paper type.
Bypass order approval
You can create stores in which each order must be approved before it is queued for production. Sometimes stores contain products for which approval is irrelevant, such as gadgets or digital files that are offered for free. Retailers may want an approval flow except for their main catalog which can be ordered without any restrictions.
In such cases you can now bypass order approval for those products. This is done by activating the ‘No approval required’ checkbox in the first page of the product wizard. Orders containing only products with this option enabled will immediately go to the Pending tab.
Multiversion support for printed stock products
StoreFront 5.1 introduced multi-version support for on-demand and non-printed products. This function allows you to create products that are available in multiple versions, such as multiple languages, regional editions or prices. StoreFront 5.3 added multi-version support for digital products and this new release does the same for printed stock products. The function is available for MallPack Silver, Gold and Platinum users.
Add a markup to product prices
Previously you could already discount products using the Set pricing and Schedule window of the product wizard. Now markups are also supported if you want a product to be more expensive in a certain price list. As with discounts, either a fixed amount (e.g. add 4 euro to each copy or item) or a percentage (e.g. 12% price uplift) can be defined. For discounts there is an option to also show the non-discounted price. For markups the base price will obviously never be displayed
StoreFront 5.5 includes a new version of the HTML5-based Online Editor with lots of improvements and new functions. As before. we recommend to stop using the Flash-based Online Editor and migrate all customizable documents to the HTML5-based Online Editor.
The new Online Editor has a completely rewritten engine for generating print-ready PDF files. This offers two major advantages:
- Preview PDFs are now more accurate, especially when it comes to accurately displaying transparency effects.
- Users of the VDP or Variable Data Processing option can now upload Excel files that contain up to 200 lines of variable data, regardless of the way the product they order has been configured. Previously StoreFront only allowed up to 50 or 100 lines of variable data for certain product types. Regardless of the product definition, StoreFront can now process up to 200 lines of data.
The new Online Editor also has a new engine for generating barcodes. In previous releases some customers reported issues with the handling of accented characters in QR codes. Most (if not all) of these issues have been resolved.
Last but certainly not least: many StoreFront users disliked the fact that when you upload a new InDesign package in an existing customizable product, all the previously created variables and actions would disappear, forcing you to recreate them. This is no longer the case with the new Online Editor. Existing variables and actions will be maintained and all you need to do is re-associate the existing variables with the frames in the new layout.
There is a new button in the product toolbar to copy variables and actions from one product to another. If you created a business card with 15 variables, including sophisticated actions to validate the formatting of email addresses and phone numbers, you can now copy all these settings to the business card of another customer and avoid having to redo all that work.
Clicking this button launches a pop-up window in which you can select which elements must be copied from one product to another. You can preselect products in this pop-up window by selecting one or two products in the products list before clicking the Copy button.
VDP omit data
The previous section already mentioned that all VDP orders can now contain up to 200 lines of variable data, regardless of how the product is set up.
Actually VDP users can now upload Excel files that even contain far more than 200 lines of data. StoreFront can however only process up to 200 entries. Imagine you have a business customer with 500 employees who use the VDP option to bulk order new business cards. They have a master spreadsheet with the contact details of all 500 employees. Previously if this customer wanted new cards for 25 employees, they had to delete 475 rows and then upload this smaller spreadsheet to StoreFront. In version 5.5 a new field is available to specify which lines in the spreadsheet must be processed and which ones should be ignored. This allows the customer to always upload the master spreadsheet after they properly indicated in the new ASF_EXCLUDE column which people need new cards.
Allowing StoreFront to ignore data in an uploaded Excel file is optional. To add the ability, activate the ‘Add “ASF_EXCLUDE” field to excel template’ option in the Miscellaneous section of the first page of the product wizard. If the field is empty or set to ‘0’ that line of data will be processed. Any line in which the field is set to ‘1’ will be ignored.
Some customers want to use the Online Editor to create documents from scratch. This has always been possible but these documents had a fixed predefined size. In StoreFront 5.5 you can create unbound customizable documents that have a variable size. This is especially handy for shoppers who want to design their own posters from scratch. After specifying how large their poster needs to be, they can then add text and image to the blank canvas using the Online Editor.
To create a variable size unbound customizable product:
- Create an InDesign document that contains a single blank page. Ideally the page size matches the most popular size customers will order, but this is not a requirement.
- Add a text frame that uses all the fonts that you want to make available in the Online Editor and for which you have a license that allows online use. Put this text frame on a hidden layer.
- Create color swatches if you that you want to make these available in the Online Editor. Users will not be able to add their own swatches in the Online Editor.
- You can add content such as images or text frames that will be retained in the Online Editor. Keep in mind that StoreFront uses the top-left corner of the document as the point of origin when the source document is cropped or enlarged to the dimensions defined by the user.
- Export the InDesign document to a StoreFront package. Deselect the option to include hidden layers. All the fonts you added to a hidden layer will still be maintained.
- Create a product template with base type ‘Unbound – Flat – Variable Size’.
- To avoid that shoppers see a blank white rectangle when they want to order the product in the store, it is best to create a preview image that depicts what the shopper will buy.
- Create a customizable product using the above mentioned product template.
- Upload the StoreFront Package and Preview Image you previously created.
- Set the workspace to ‘Advanced’ or ‘Expert’ so that shoppers have the creative freedom to personalize the document.
- This only works for unbound products, such as posters, signage or cards.
- The maximum document size that can be created equals the maximum size of a product template: 999 by 999 meter. Please note that PDFs larger than 508 by 508 centimeter will not be displayed correctly in Acrobat. Therefore, we recommend not to exceed that size. For large posters it makes sense to instruct shoppers to design their documents scaled down, for example using a 1:4 or 1:10 scale.
- In the HTML5-based Online Editor the maximum font size is 2000 points.
- The option to preflight documents is similar to that of regular customizable products
Improvements related to PDF Preview documents
Per store you can now overwrite the PDF Preview settings defined in the Advanced > Production Settings > PDF Preview window.
For customizable products downsampling has been improved for the PDF Preview.
For printed stock and on demand products it is now possible to generate a PDF Preview based on the uploaded high resolution file. To make use of this option select the ‘Generate from High-resolution PDF’ option in the product creation wizard.
Storage space has become cheaper in recent years and these savings are passed on to StoreFront users. MallPack Bronze users get 100 GB of storage (up from 25 GB), Mallpack Silver users get 200 GB (up from 65 GB) and MallPack Gold users get 400 GB (up from 200 GB). These new quotas also apply to existing users. The prices for additional storage space have also been lowered.
For MallPack Silver users there is no separate restriction anymore on the number of products that can be added to microstores. All of the products their license allows them to create can be added to a microstore.
The number of store visitors is now handled using a Fair Use policy. Regardless of your license, no restrictions are set but if your account exceeds 25000 visits per month on a regular basis, you will be contacted with a proposal to upgrade your license.
Australian shoppers can now specify a state as part of the delivery address of an order. This resolves issues with shipping services that insisted the state must be specified to speed up the sorting of deliveries.
Add-to-cart processing is faster in this release, especially for very large orders.
For StoreFront accounts that are linked to an Apogee or Asanti workflow, digital products will become available for download a few minutes after the order has been placed. Previously downloads had to wait until the workflow had downloaded the JDF order data.
The ‘The product has been added to your shopping cart’ dialog now also contains a button to go to the shopping cart.
Some of the changes and new features in this release require action by a printer administrator:
- For all customizable products the HTML5 based Online Editor should be used instead of the Flash based version. The latter will be phased out in a future release.
- Replace all Flash based banners by HTML5-based sliders. Support for Flash will be removed in a future upgrade.