Quickly minimize all other windows with this simple shake gesture

Windows7logoOk, so I was actually creating another video and I was trying to highlight a window by quickly dragging it around and all the other windows disappeared!

So then I did some searching around and its a feature of Windows 7! Check out the explanation here.

Check out this quick tip video to see this feature in action:

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1OCTDe4

My first reaction to the React JavaScript Library

ReactOk, I may be a little late to the game but recently I have been studying up on Facebooks/Instagrams React JavaScript library and I have to say I am fairly impressed with it. They say it is the V in MVC (model view controller). Outside of the fact that React applications can run both locally and on the server via Node (which I am sure you know I am a big fan of Node) it also comes with a React Native library!

React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React. The focus of React Native is on developer efficiency across all the platforms you care about — learn once, write anywhere. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps and will continue investing in React Native. – link

This means you can now truly “learn once and run everywhere”.  The great news is you can start coding now on BlueMix. Check out this article to see how React Native can be developed and deployed on BlueMix. If you are doing a cool project using React or React Native send me a link to your post, I would like to check it out.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1elzhsL

Every eCommerce site should have this one simple feature

I really don’t see this often and I have written here about being notified when inventory on a specific product is available for purchase. Well, today I saw an advertisement on Facebook (these guys are getting good) and decided to click on it. Unfortunately when I attempted to order the Marines Exclusive Under Armour MARINES Performance Tee it was not available. A side bar then popped up stating “Email When Available“, I clicked on it and got the dialog below. Well done MarineCorpsDirect, well done. Now let’s see how long it takes for me to get one…

EmailWhenAvailable2

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1IkmP8J

Will the “Buy It” button be the dominant shopping e-channel in the future?

I have posted about Actv8.me in the past and now with the introduction of Pinterest’s “Buy It” button we are seeing a huge movement into the this new digital shopping experience. Shoppers now have the ability to use different kinds of applications like Pinterest and Houzz to see products in a different way and then actually buy them.

Let’s look at these three different models and compare:

Actv8.me gives a shopper with an iPad or mobile device to synchronize what they are watching on TV to buy products they are currently viewing in the show. This could be anything, a shirt or sweater someone is wearing to a table or a couch in the scene. This is of course driven by the television show and opens up new advertising opportunities for the show.

Houzz is another cool site I know many women like because they get to see household products in the context of a scene or picture. It even connects you with local designers, and construction companies:

Houzz - designers

The real beauty of the site is the ideas section. Once you fill out your profile of what you are looking for you can get categories of ideas for those selections.

Houzz - Ideas

These ideas are professional designers getting “their look” out to the public, a form of crowdsourcing. Houzz has a shoppers section but it also allows shopping and pricing from the different things right within the idea pictures. I am seeing more and more people using Houzz for their next great project and how cool is it to just click and buy. Their mobile application is actually addicting and you find yourself just flipping through some amazing ideas.

Buy it on Pinterest is the latest announcement where Pinterest users will be able to buy the items they see in the boards they subscribe to. I really love Pinterest and use it a lot for various reasons from fitness, cars, motorcycles, commerce, etc. Once eCommerce platforms support the Buy It button on Pinterest it makes me wonder how many people will be going to a company’s site versus their Pinterest board. Think of it as somewhat of a “free” eCommerce site where people pin and promote your products to the masses. I really think this could be a game changer in the eCommerce space and even allow smaller mom and pop shops to get a digital shopping experience for their products in a much cheaper and convenient way.
Buy it on Pinterest

Imagine the analytics around these solutions. With access to what boards you follow and what “pins” you like, the marketing teams for these companies can get a better idea of your tastes and who you are – essentially streamlining their ability to properly cross sell and up sell to you.

If you have any other “Buy It” now types of applications comment here and let me know, I am always interested in hearing about different ways to shop, especially in different countries. It would be great to learn what applications others across the world use in this context.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1CQ1t2S

WebSphere Commerce Support Tools now on BlueMix

This looks very promising indeed. The new WebSphere Commerce Support Tools are now available on BlueMix.

WebSphere Commerce Support Tools on BlueMix

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1TQcaXi

Base JavaScript versus jQuery example – Driving a DOM selector

One of the things a good web programmer should be able to do is write code using multiple libraries. In this case I have created two snippets that show how to select an HTML on a page using both bare-bones JavaScript and its corollary in jQuery.

The basic flow is:

MouseEnter Listener -> Modify border -> Click Listener -> Call Function

MouseOut Listener -> Restore border

This gives you an interface where you can then select a DOM element right from the web page. It would look like this:

web-selection

Here are the two different implementations, you can see why I love jQuery, its brevity is breathtaking. The biggest difference is the selector API in jQuery that does the loop processing for you.

Base JavaScript

var all_1_Links = document.getElementsByTagName('div');
for (var i = 0; i < all_1_Links.length; i++) {
    var elm = all_1_Links[i];
    elm.addEventListener('mouseenter', function() {
        this.addEventListener('click', clickListener, true);
        this.style.oldborder = this.style.border;
        this.style.border = 'thin solid red';
    });
    elm.addEventListener('mouseout', function() {
        this.style.border = this.style.oldborder;
    });
}

 

jQuery Version

$("div").mouseenter(function(e) {
    e.target.oldborder = e.target.style.border;
    $(e.target).css("border", "thin solid red"); 
    $(e.target).click(clickListener); 
}); 
$("div").mouseout(function(e) { 
    $(e.target).css("border", e.target.style.oldborder); 
    $(e.target).off("click"); 
});

 

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1dz0rft

Did you know about the Adobe Experience Manager to IBM WebSphere Commerce Connector?

Have you seen this cool new connector for Adobe Experience Manager and IBM WebSphere Commerce? Click the picture below to see more.1400693369262

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1f0EVRW

Finding every possible combination of array entries from multiple lists with unknown bounds in Java

I am sure this post will resonate with pretty much any developer that reads it. Have you ever had a problem where you had to really step back and think about for a long time? A problem where the wealth of the internet helps a little but just isn’t what you were looking for? One big problem is I had recursion on my brain and I was convinced for a long time recursion would be needed. Seeing many similar problems solved with recursion I thought it was the way to go.. “Much to learn you still have…my old padawan.” – Yoda.

A long time for me is hours or even days. Usually I have some level of experience in the past that helps me quickly figure out coding tasks. Well for some reason this thing got me thinking for almost an entire day. And when I say entire day I mean I still do other things but its embedded in the back of my brain. I had my notebook with me the entire day drawing out boxes, arrows, and visualizing walking through loops. It wasn’t until later that night when I realized what I had to do. This was that kind of problem.

Head shots thoughtful, thinking, finding solution man

Continue reading

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1T70z6C

Eclipse and SWT to the rescue

For the past week or so I have been able to do some Eclipse and SWT programming. I have a tool here for technical sellers written in Java and what has been requested for a couple of years is a front end UI to that tool. One thing that really stuck out was the Window Builder and the information on the internet. You see, when I started Eclipse development it was very new. Unless you knew where to look it was often difficult to find answers or great examples. Almost 13 years later and its a very different story.

window_builderFirst off, Window Builder is amazing, it works, and the amount of functionality in it is very impressive. I remember early on with was pretty bug ridden and we ended up coding by hand. Now, you can do all kinds of really cool things right in the user interface. I was able to completely use the WindowBuilder editor for all of my windows and dialogs – piece of cake! I especially like the Menu and Table editors – makes creating these things a snap.

Next, I have to mention the internet, StackOverFlow, and all of the blogs and articles out there. It seems no matter what I search for someone has written about it or asked about it. Great job Eclipse Community!.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1FCkH6m

Learn about Smarter Loyalty for IBM Commerce

The team over at Exchange Solutions have really out done themselves this time. Their Smarter Loyalty plugins for WebSphere Commerce are clean and easy to use. They have created seven easy to use widgets that can be placed on page templates for use throughout your store. These widgets deliver a personalized experience to  your shoppers and your loyalty program.

Smarter Loyalty

Check out the video to learn more about Smarter Loyalty (or click here to see the full-page).

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1Pv9Aaq

Two cool product integrations I saw at Amplify

Hand Holding Small We Love Customer SignageWe had an amazing time at Amplify this year. The IBM Commerce Showcase was pretty busy despite the poor location of the solution center room. We captured some great analytics for the demo use; where customers could use the IBM Commerce tooling live on the big screens. But enough about showcase, today I am writing about two very slick-looking solutions that can easily integrate with your WebSphere Commerce sites.

The first one is from Exchange Solutions, I watched a really nice demonstration of their loyalty package called Smarter Loyalty that plugs into WebSphere Commerce. This is honestly one of the most feature rich loyalty systems I have seen to date. With tight integration with the purchasing process on the site you can not only gain points for doing activity on the site but use the loyalty points as “cash” to pay for products. It also comes with a very nice individualized incentive program – which once I returned home I started searching around for more information. Check out this article on loyalty360.org which describes how it works.

The second one is from Powerfront, Asia-Pacific CEO, Michael Browitt, gave me a quick demonstration of their live support/chat feature. I saw a very slick virtual store front user interface which was a 3D layout of an online e-commerce store, showing different person icons browsing different categories on the site.  Clicking on a person gives you all kinds of statistics and  you can even start an online chat request with the customer.

There will be more to follow and possibly a demonstration on these two partners, stay tuned.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1eaT0f7

Get hands-on at Amplify!

This year we will have some hands on tutorials which take anywhere from 3-6 minutes to complete at Amplify. Check out below some of the cool features you can play with live in the IBM Commerce tooling. Some key things you will be able to try:

  • Commerce Composer – adding marketing content to a page and creating new layouts
  • Search Rules – control which products rank higher in search results
  • Merchadising attributes – hidden attributes that can be used in precision marketing
  • Mixing advertisements with product results
  • Promotions and Promotion codes
  • Dynamic categories – categories based on attribute values

Make sure you schedule some time in San Diego to play with the IBM Commerce tooling!

Showcase hours are:

Monday – 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Tuesday – 9:30 am – 7:30pm
Wednesday – 9:30 am – 7:30 pm

Not registered for Amplify, register today here!

IBM Showcase

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1IsGEdN

Responsive and Adaptive Web Sites win!

blog.balfes.netIn the past, companies were faced with two primary models for a web site design:

  1. Responsive or Adaptive design with a single source
  2. A separate “m.” sub domain for the mobile version of the site

As Google promised back in February, a site with a mobile design will have priority in the Google search result index. So if you went down the m.domain.com route you may be losing search results ranking according to Google. Check out your site URL to see if your site is “mobile friendly” using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.

The WebSphere Commerce starter store “Aurora” is built on a responsive design framework similar to bootstrap. Basing your eCommerce store code on the Aurora template means you will be mobile friendly right out of the gate!

responsive

If you recall, one of my previous posts about SNOW you will also realize that just being mobile friendly with an adaptive or responsive approach is not the entire picture. SNOW gives your site the ability to send properly sized images for the devices hitting your site. This is not only a screen real estate problem being solved but a bandwidth problem. Smaller resolution images also mean faster connections when going over 3G, 4G, or LTE.

Is your site mobile friendly?

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1da6eZ4

Should out of stock be the end game for the shopper?

out of stock

With today’s order management solutions and insight into inventory and warehouse management it still surprises me that stores don’t have a way for a shopper to order out of stock items. Instead of just preventing the order from happening why not offer an email or SMS alert when the item becomes in stock?

I purchase many different kinds of consumables and some of them are very hard to come by because of demand. I can order some things online and have them shipped to me or to the store (depending on shipping rules for New York) but many times the web site doesn’t list the item when it’s out of stock. So instead, I have to wait for a newspaper or flyer from the store and show up at 8:30am on the day of the sale to buy the item – and hope the line in front of me is not too big.

Imagine if you had a way to be notified when an item becomes in stock right from the store front. Or, even better, be able to order the out of stock item with a ship date well into the future. I am not saying this would really work for all products but we all know hot items sell out fast and being able to be notified when it is in stock would go a long way in my opinion.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.04.11 PM

Lastly, eCommerce systems would have to do two things to make this work:

  1. The first thing is to show items that are not in stock. Many eCommerce systems hide items under certain inventory levels, in order for this to work you need to at least have the products in the catalog regardless of inventory.
  2. You will also need a notification mechanism that has visibility into your inventory. The system should handle (by user profile) how to notify the customer. If they signed up for email or SMS notifications, or if they are a mobile user a rich notification in the store front mobile app.

If you know an online site that allows this today comment here, I am always interested in seeing how companies carry out features like this.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1M58WhW

Image optimization delivery with Trilibis SNOW IO

multiple-devices-snow-io

Optimized image delivery has been around for a long time and one open source technology that has provided this to thousands of sites in WordPress is ImageMagick. I have been a huge fan of ImageMagick because it’s so darn simple and straightforward.

Trilibis, a certified IBM Commerce partner has a WebSphere Commerce extension (SNOW IO) that brings image optimization delivery to this extensible platform. The way it works is you install the ImageMagick software on your server and configure it to point to where your images are stored on the server. You then configure a job to run frequently (hourly, daily, weekly) to resize images stored in that directory. The default setup will create three versions of your images – Desktop, Tablet, and Phone sized images.

Check out my video below where I show how I configured SNOW IO to work with the out of the box Aurora starter store in WebSphere Commerce.

 

 

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1BmZECO