As we have mentioned before (when we released version 2.2 of Isotope eCommerce back in 2014), one of the biggest features of Isotope is its seamless integration with Contao. This is why we keep close tabs on the development of Contao itself, and are contributing to the core there as well.
Contao 3.5 is about to be released soon and will be the new long-term support version. That's why we have decided to release version 2.3 of Isotope eCommerce with the minimum requirement of Contao 3.5. As for Contao 3.5 this means that Isotope 2.3 will also require at least PHP 5.4!
Price display settings in store configuration
Isotope gives you a lot of flexibility when entering the prices of your products in the back end. You're not forced to enter net prices or gross prices but can instead adjust to your needs—which is a great thing! However, the prices you want to display in the front end are most likely not always the same as you enter in the back end, due to different tax rates that may or may not apply for different circumstances (such as the country of the user). In older versions of Isotope, this might have caused you quite some headaches and template modifications. Now you can configure how Isotope should behave in the store configuration!
VAT validation and optional tax calculation adjustments
The VAT ID field has been part of an address in Isotope for a long time already. If you want your customers to enter it during the checkout process, just check it in your store configuration settings. In Isotope 2.3 you can now also validate it using different validators. The core ships with a VIES (VAT Information Exchange System) validator that checks for VAT ID's issued by any member state of the European Union, but it can be extended by any desired validator via a custom extension to Isotope.
This might become very handy when you use it together with the other new feature which lets you decide whether you want to have a tax rate applied only if the user did not enter a valid VAT ID. In Europe, this now provides you with the option to exclude VAT rates when a user from within another country in the European Union wants to order your products.
New payment methods
Isotope eCommerce 2.3 comes with a new payment method for Innocard AG.
We introduced new InsertTags to retrieve billing and shipping address of orders and carts. Besides they have been unified so it should feel more natural using them. Rest assured that we kept BC (Backward compatibility) so all the old InsertTags still work the same and will only get removed with version 3 of Isotope eCommerce.
You can read more about InsertTags in the (German) manual.
Improvements on the cumulative filter
The cumulative filter has been improved so it does a lot more than in previous versions:
- The cumulative filter now only lists product attributes that have at least one product matching so you no longer have navigation items for useless filter links.
- Attributable to the previous feature, you can now select the product category scope to tell the filter which products it should consider when displaying the attributes.
- The navigation it generates now includes the number of matching products per attribute. While it displayed something like "Red" and "Green" in previous versions, it now displays "Red (18)" and "Green (42)".
- In previous versions when you had single option attributes (select or radio inputs) the filter behaved not as intelligent as it does now. For example, when you checked "Alhambra" and "Taylor" for your attribute named "Guitar manufacturer" it said "No products could be found" as a guitar can only have one manufacturer. The cumulative filter links them using an OR condition automatically now so in this case you would now receive all guitars produced by either Taylor OR Alhambra. In the same breath, it has also been improved for multiple option attributes (e.g. checkboxes). Because in such a case the cumulative filter can not know whether you want to link them using an OR or an AND condition, the module now has a setting which lets you configure just that!
- You can now configure a jumpTo page for every cumulative filter so the filter and the product list module don't necessarily have to be on the same page anymore.
- The filter can optionally be hidden when a product alias is in the URL (aka you requested the reader module) so that it can be hidden when reading the product details.
Quantity restrictions for shipping and payment methods
Payment and shipping methods can now also be restricted to the quantity of unique products or total products in your cart. You can do fancy things such as limit your shipping method to a maximum of 5 items per order.
Thanks to new profilers such as blackfire.io and more database analysis we were able to find and eliminate a lot of bottlenecks once again. Some of the problems we found resided in Contao itself and have been resolved in the upcoming version 3.5 which will obviously also benefit Isotope itself. As for Isotope, we optimized a lot of database queries and are now lazy loading gallery images so that they are only generated when they are requested. We are confident that the sum of all improvements will benefit your systems!
Of course there have also been tons of smaller improvements such as
- Product version comparison in the back end edit mask
- Selecting a language when translating a product in the back end is now auto-submitted - one click less
- New variables in various templates
- New hooks for developers
What's up next?
An indicative schedule: Release Candidate by the end of April and the first stable release by the end of May, ideally together with Contao 3.5 stable.
Note: As soon as Isotope eCommerce 2.3.0 stable is released, both version 2.1 and 2.2 will be no longer supported! Moreover, when Contao 3.5 is released the very same applies for Contao 3.2 and 3.4! You should thus prepare yourselves for updating your systems and probably give the beta and RC versions a shot so you can help us get issues sorted as soon as possible!
Have fun with the new features!
The Isotope eCommerce Team