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Magento Hosting… And My Journey with the New E-Commerce Platform!

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Right, this week I have been getting stuck right in Magento – the new soon-to-be standard platform of E-Commerce. It was officially launched on March 31st, however its only recently I’ve had time to work with it – and, well, it isn’t easy! In terms of the stuff you can do with the back-end, it is phenomenal, however if you’re looking to customise a site, you might have a few headaches!

I’m going to be tredding down the rocky paths of Customisation Street almost 24/7 over the next month, so I hope by constant blog posts will help to help you understand Magento, and maybe you can come up with some corking sites like I intend to!The first glance of the architecture of the platform reveals delights such as hierarchical menus, templates within templates, and hidden XML files determining what is displayed on the site and what isn’t… indeed, there’s isn’t any let up on its complicated design. However it is obvious that, despite the incredibly steep learning curve people will have to go through in order to get accustomed to it, Magento’s design does actually make perfect sense, leaving developers with a good foundation for building their own plugins and modules.

If you’re looking to host your Magento site, the best place to do is Simple Helix – it’s extremely good value, quick, good support, and it is specifically made for Magento – you don’t even need to install it, it is done already for you via their handy Installatron feature.

The initial goal of mucking about with Magento was to see how easy it was to get it multiple websites working across different domains. We considered this the way forward as it makes sense not to have separate installations of Magento on separate websites – it is simply installed once on one domain, and then the other sites simply hook up to the “primary” domain. This setup is tremendous, as it makes it ideal for keeping the same successful web template running across several brands, whilst also allowing each site to maintain its unique colours, images and logos etc.

Thankfully it wasn’t too tricky to carry out. In Admin, you can go to System > Manage Store, and create a website at the drop of a hat. Once this have been done, the configuration of the domain can be set in System > Configuration > Choose website > Web tab. So long as you have the URL of your “child” web-site in the Base URL and Base Link URL fields, you are almost set to get it linked up to the parent master site where everything is installed.

You merely copy index.php and .htaccess from the installation locations’ root folder into the root of your “child” domain, and subsequently you configure the index.php file so that it can communicate with the parent site. The code is as follows….

$mageFilename = ‘/usr/local/www/vhosts/parent-domain.com/httpdocs/app/Mage.php’;

if (!file_exists($mageFilename)) {
if (is_dir(‘downloader’)) {
header(“Location: downloader”);
} else {
echo “app/Mage.php not found”;
}
exit;
}

require_once $mageFilename;

umask(0);
Mage::run(‘your-website-name’,’website’);

In the above example you should replace the path to Mage.php with the appropriate path for your server, and similarly you should replace “your-website-name” with the name of the website which you specified in System > Manage Stores > Code field of Store.

So, currently I’ve got two websites across separate domains running from the same admin system, and I can add more websites ad-hoc if I wish. The next stage is for me to customise the template so each site can maintain its own originality… and when the time comes to implement yet another store, I’ll be able to roll one out in seconds. Will keep you updated!

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about the author

    This article was written by Sam Davis on June 10, 2008.
    Computing over a glass of Grenache Shiraz... again!
    Sam is the Editor of Blasted Thing. Contact Us

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