Recently, Devellion released CubeCart V5 beta 4. This built on the third beta, which introduced a new template system – something that we have long been lobbying for. Whilst CC5 is still in the early phase of its development, we have already begun crafting our next skin. In fact, planning and drafting commenced in early January 2010. The main part of the design has been finalized. We now need your suggestions…

What’s so great about CubeCart V5

In previous releases, skins were mostly comprised of static assets. That is to say that the template files were pure XHTML & CSS. Any dynamics were achieved using JavaScript. Interactions (through extensions) with the CubeCart core was achieved using a complicated system of JavaScript and PHP files, where the output of a PHP file was loaded in through AJAX. In some cases, such as with the AJAX shopping cart, this was a logical development path. It made perfect sense. However, this is not a viable option for implementing small additions such as table zebra-striping, conditional content and general enhancements. Such additions were implemented through modifications to CubeCart’s core PHP files. This made updating CubeCart a long, tedious and rather complex process. CubeCart V5 tackles this problem on two fronts:
  • Code Hooks (that’s plug-ins to me and you)
  • PHP template files
These two “features” allow us to implement enhancements in a way that was just not possible previously.

Have your say…

As always, we will be forging a number of nifty enhancements into our skins. We hope to include some of the old favorites (AJAX Add To Cart, Speed Optimization etc.), along with a number of additional tools/features:
  • Dynamic Search Suggestion
  • Color Theme Builder (more on this later)
  • AJAX Pagination & Sorting
  • Flexible Product Grids (more on this later)
  • Super Category Navigation
  • Content Slideshows
We are also considering dropping IE6 support. Do you think that this is a bad idea? Do you have any feedback, suggestions or recommendations for us? Please do let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below or opening a support ticket through our Help Desk.


Comments

  1. Sounds good to me. I’m new to CubeCart and only have a test shop with CubeCart5 installed. Petty i did not realize the use of CubeCart before. Your CubeCart4 templates looks very good and have reasonable prizes too.

    I’m looking forward for your CubeCart5 templates and will definitely buy one when you release them!

    By Charles on Reply
  2. Nice to see the html markup has finally been addressed as it’s always been very poorly written so this is an improvement.

    The “Nota” theme is awful though, that really shouldn’t see the light of day!

    J.

    By James on Reply
  3. Thanks for the input guys. The theme we are developing is 100% custom code. All the template files have/will be completely rewritten.

    Just an update:

    The Color Theme Builder (named Color Wheel) is essentially finished and has worked out much better than expected. It allows the user to customize the color theme through the administration interface.

    Methods, such as darken, lighten and overlay allow for generation of suitable borders and related elements. Helper methods, such as text_color and text_shadow automatically generate suitable text colors and shadows (as their names suggest) from background colors.

    This is best demonstrated through a preview:

    – BEFORE: http://twitpic.com/1wuivw/full
    – CHANGE: http://twitpic.com/1wujbz/full
    – AFTER: http://twitpic.com/1wujfa/full

    You can see that the borders, text colors, shadows and drop-down elements etc. are all handled through a single change in Color Wheel. The only image used, which is visible in the preview images, is the small magnifying glass icon.

    We’ve also made it possible for designers to easily define new colors through the skin’s configuration file. The color can then be set through the Color Wheel interface and is accessible through all of the stylesheets.

    What do you think?

    By Homar on Reply
  4. Wonderful!!! Well done Homar. You’ve got us all at CC very excited. :D

    By Al on Reply
  5. Thanks Al. It has really worked out well.

    For those interested, here is a full list of the color methods that we have implemented thus far:

    - hex_to_rgb
    - luminosity_contrast (calculates contrast between two colors)
    - highest_contrast (finds which of two colors has the highest contrast)
    - lowest_contrast
    - brightness (evaluates the brightness of a color)
    - lighter (determines which of two colors is the lightest)
    - darker
    - text_shadow (intelligently creates bevel or emboss effect)
    - text_color (intelligently selects a suitable text color through contrast)
    - lighten (lightens a color)
    - darken
    - overlay (nice blending mode which overlays one color with another)

    Most of these methods take optional arguments such as factor. As an example:

    – overlay($color, $overlay, $factor) – where:
    ~ $color is the color to perform the operation on
    ~ $overlay is the color to overlay
    ~ $factor is the percentage by which to apply the overlay

    This is clearly going to be a powerful tool for any designer/developer working with CubeCart. We welcome any suggestions for further methods.

    In the preview images, you can also see our “Super Menu”. This takes the standard category tree markup and cleverly arranges the sibling links. The end result is a brilliant, dynamically generated, “Mega Menu”. No customized HTML markup through PHP or other means. Just pure JS & CSS goodness.

    The Grid and AJAX Cart plugins are also nearing completion.

    By Homar on Reply
  6. Hi there,

    One suggestion for your new templates- please, please make it easy for non-English language stores to change the language easily. If any titles or text are hard- texted it’s much more difficult to adapt skins.

    By Louisa on Reply
    • Hello Louisa,

      I’m waiting for the next beta release (beta 6) to see how languages will be handled by the software. The problem is that some of the default text is not exactly suitable for our themes. Ideally, there would be a simple way to extend/overwrite certain language elements through the skin’s configuration file.

      By Homar on Reply
  7. Hi Homar

    The new features sound great – love the colour wheel!

    I am desperate to drop support for IE6 myself but find I still come across too many people using it (including clients). I do still support it but take the approach that it will look fine on IE6 and work but won’t have bells & whistles. I’m not breaking my back to get sites to look exactly the same on IE6 and on new browsers.

    Looking forward to the new templates!

    By Helen on Reply
  8. Hi Homar, not being a techi person and having just muddled my way through with cc4 and the sandbox skin I won’t really get what this all means until I start using it. I am a bit concerned about dropping IE6 support though, from my point of view my target market is older women who tend to use whatever browser that came with there computer and it mostly would not occur to them to update.
    I was also wondering will you be developing just one skin or will you have some options. I would love to see a three column skin.
    Alice

    By Alice on Reply
  9. Hello All,

    We appear to be approaching the next beta release (beta 6). Extensive architectural changes are expected, which will hopefully allow for increased flexibility and a world of new possibilities.

    The development of our first CubeCart V5 skin has been placed on hold (until after the release of beta 6). However, during this time, we have begun redeveloping the Color Wheel concept into something far more powerful. The plan is to release this as a stand-alone plug-in that may be used with any skin.

    More details will follow in the coming weeks.

    @Helen We have not rendered a decision yet on dropping IE6 support. I should note that it is highly likely that the stock CubeCart skins will not support IE6.

    By Homar on Reply
  10. CubeCart V5 beta 6 has now been released. I haven’t had time to take a thorough look at all the new code, but I thought now would be a good time to post an update on what has become of “Color Wheel”…

    Color Wheel was originally limited to changing the colors of predefined elements. This idea is now being redeveloped into a complete theme editing package. You won’t be limited to just colors. In fact, you can change just about every CSS property (yep – CSS3 too). You can think of it as a Visual CSS Editor.

    For a while, I have also wanted to implement A/B split testing into CubeCart. The difficulty arises when considering a simple method for generating the two variants (A and B). Since the above could serve at this method, I’m looking into also implementing a versioning feature. Essentially, the Visual Editor could be used to create two variants (versions) of a theme. Such versions could then be used for split testing.

    The Visual Editor frontend is around 75% complete (and works really well). Development of the backend (i.e. versioning & integration with CubeCart) has not yet begun, but shouldn’t take too long.

    This is a very large project and I can’t predict an accurate release date. However, I expect a release some time in May of this year. More news, screen-shots and possibly videos will follow over the next few weeks.

    By Homar on Reply
  11. In my opinion are the default skins in cubecart 5, way too poor to be even considered to use for a store. The design looks very old school. Compared to other shopping cart softwares cubecart really needs to improve its design.

    By Tim on Reply
  12. hi homar,

    any idea when you will be launching Sandbox, or similar for CC v5 (assuming release from CC in next month or so).. Will it be something like a month after,or lot more than that?)

    sounds like beta 6 will be v close to final release code..

    i have your current sandbox skin, which is great, and want to plan for future amendments to our site .. we are considering whether to do on v4, or wait for v5.

    cheers

    david

    By david on Reply
    • Hello David,

      I anticipate releasing a V5 skin around June. The plan is to finish the Visual Editor and then begin coding the first skin. The design work has already been completed for this, but I want to create a solid framework that we can base all our skins on.

      By Homar on Reply
  13. Any news on skin updates? The editor looks fantastic!

    By Fred Cassman on Reply
  14. Hello Fred,

    We’re working on our first CubeCart V5 theme. It will be minimalistic with a semi-liquid layout for multi-device support (i.e. desktops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones).

    The idea is that it should provide the ideal starting point for any store. The code will be simple to edit and extremely search engine friendly.

    I can’t provide a solid release date yet, but it’s our number one priority.

    By Homar on Reply
  15. Sounds excellent mate, can’t wait to see what you come up with. Any rough dates you can throw me? Or maybe a cheeky screenshot for inpatient people :D

    By Fred Cassman on Reply
  16. looking forward to new skin, sounds awesome.

    By Mik on Reply
  17. Hi,

    Do you have any timeframe for V5 skin as i’m looking to install CC as soon as possible.

    Best Regards

    By Baz on Reply
  18. Hello All,

    I don’t have an exact date. I’d say that I’m about 60% complete. It will form the basis for any themes I later develop, so I want it to be perfect.

    By Homar on Reply
  19. Got CC5 installed now just need a skin. Any news? Loved the CC4 skins, bought all of them can’t wait to see this one!

    By Vapman on Reply
  20. A demo of our first CubeCart V5 theme is now available. Please note that development is still ongoing. There are still a few minor issues to remedy and we’ll be doing some thorough cross-browser testing.

    http://www.shopdev.co.uk/demos/blueprint/

    By Homar on Reply
  21. Looks amazing! I have been waiting a long time for a mobile compatible skin and this ticks all the boxes. So when can we expect it to be released?

    By Mark Docherty on Reply

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