Saturday, 1 October 2011 How you can build a taxonomy based catalog 30/02/2011
Hullo everybody, this is Ryan Szrama with Commerce Guys. I wanted to show you today how you can build a taxonomy-based product catalog in drupal commerce as I have done on my demo website:

If you look over here in my sidbar you will see that I have a catalog Block that lists out ["coffee holders", "conference swag", and "wearables"]
catalog catagories that are actually  
taxonomy terms linking them to their 
taxonomy term Pages:
[this shows differently on the video because it shows the site when logged-on as admin. For admin, the term page shows a coffee holder with two tabs, "view" "edit", a paragraph describing the coffee mug and an add-to-cart form with a drop-down list, that moves your page from the one about black mugs to white mugs]
Term Pages in Drupal 7 have been enhanced a little bit, allowing you to
  • specify custom urls, [eg coffee-holders] allowing you to 
  • display a discription on a page, and giving you 
  • both a view and a quick edit link here to edit the Taxonomy Term settings.
This particular one - Coffee Holders - has the description and it shows all of my -er different coffee holder products on the demo website.
This ["read more" link under the mug picture] is just a Node Teaser List of product display nodes. The product display node being a special node type that I've made that has both a
♦ Product Reference Field on it, that turns into this handy dynamic Add To Cart Form, and then it also has a
♦ Taxonomy Term Reference Field on it,
which you can see here lets me to tag this node with a particular taxonomy term and links it back to its term page.

1 Create a taxonomy vocabulary

Now if you wanted to build something like this yourself, the first thing you would need to do, is to create a taxonomy vocabulary for your catalog:
admin>structure>taxonomy>edit vocabulary [pictures at about 1'24" on the video]
So you can see here my catalog vocabulary, and if we look at the terms I've listed, my three terms are each present, and each one of them has
  • a name, 
  • a description, and 
  • a custom url alias that just provides a nice search engine friendly url for this term page on the front.

2 Go build a menu; enable a bloc

Once you've listed out each of your taxonomy terms, the next step is to go build a menu for this.
So I'm going to go to stucture>menus, and you can see here that I have a catalog menu, where I have manually added links to each of the term pages.
[screen shows remembered "search engine friendly url" typed into the box. This can be found by going back to >structure>taxonomy>edit vocabulary to cut-and-paste]
Er - Whenever you create these links you can actually use the search engine friendly path that you have defined, and whenever you save this menu link, it will be converted to the actual Drupal path that has been assigned to that taxonomy term.
Whenever you create a menu you automatically get a block, that you can then enable, to show that menu in any of your sidebars. Here ...
structure>blocks [first option on the structure tab] can see my catalog menu block has been placed into the first sidebar. This is a region in the Corolla theme which now has to be installed after Adaptive Themes Core. Once installed it has a tab on the blocks menu. From that tab you see the options shown in the video, where shopping cart, catalog, user menu and user login are all selected for the first sidebar, and I've configured this bloc...
[from the "configure" link on the "catalog" line] not appear on checkout pages - notice I've used checkout asterisk so it will block all of the checkout pages, so that whenever you go to checkout and are in any step of the checkout process, er you do not have a sidebar. I did this to reduce distraction and noise on the checkout form so that the customer doesn't have distraction and when they're trying to complete the checkout process and give you their nolas.
Once you have
♦ built the taxonomy vocabulary,
♦ the menu item,
♦ put your bloc in place...

3 Create a Product node type

the next step is to actually have nodes showing-up in your teaser lists. Drupal Commerce will install a default product type whenever you first enable everything.
store>products second tab is "product type"
On this demo site I also have a T shirt product type, um, for my T-shirt products, er: I'll discuss that in a different screencast [about sized products].
Once you have product types though, the next step is to create a product display node type. So I'm going to go to my Content Types menu.
structure>content type second option on the structure list
You see here I have a product display node type, and the reason being: even though I have product types in the back end, I can list out all the products on my website on the back end, there is no automatic point of display for them on the front end. We've separated-out the front end from the back end in Drupal Commerce, er so that you have a lot more freedom to detirmine how you want to display products to your customers. Whether it's through product display nodes as I am , or some other method involving Views, or Pagemanager and Panels, or something else entirely!
If we look at the fields that I have put on this product display node type, you can see both my product reference field, and my [Taxonomy] Term reference field.
I like the autocomplete textfield wiget...
...because it lets me enter products on this node, using the product SKU with the product title with an autocomplete. And I can have as many as I want to, without having to bother with the multi-select select list, or perhaps just an overwhelming checkboxes list if you have many products on the website.
I also have a catalog catagory term reference select list.
So what you do is:
whenever you add a term reference field, you have to choose which vocabulary this is for, and then of course the widget select list autocomplete radios [radio buttons] so that on the product page - which I'll go to this right now - um so that on its edit form, you get to specify how exactly... - I'm denoting which catalog catagory this belongs to. So you can see here my Product Reference Field with the autocomplete, my catalog term reference field with the select list, and again how this is presented on the front end, with an add to cart form, and a link going back to the term page.
Well those are all the things that you need to know, to build your taxonomy based drupal commerce product catalog. Let me pull-up a .pdf here that shows you the different steps: [the order is slightly different on the .pdf]
♦ Create a "Catalog" taxonomy vocabulary, with terms for each of your categories.
♦ Create a "Product display" node type using a product reference field and a term reference field, and create nodes for your products.
♦ Create a "Cataolog" menu and display its block.
forum thread

Mid 2011: First look at Drupal Commerce. Where are the instructions?

I downloaded and installed Drupal Commerce when it was still in Beta: that's how cool I am when it comes to bragging but not when it comes to results. The gap between me and results is an instruction book, and I see on Amazon that nobody has dared write one yet.


Products and Views are different in Commerce. Or something more accurately stated along the same lines. OK I get the general idea but anyone on a video or writing an explanation of Drupal Commerce seems to get stuck on this point and not state how to cope with it. A bit as though Sea France staff stood at the harbour and said "the thing you have to realise is that there is a water-filled channel to cross between the UK and France and that is what makes a ferry company so good compared to other forms of transport". Sea France are a bit like that in real life. Book a ticket. No ship. When you get a ship it is really good if you bring your own loo paper but they are a nationalised industry, not a staff owned company, and solving problems is not their job. If you want cheap tickets on ferries, why not open an account at a cashback site first? For effect, I will pretend not to be biassed by the chance of a tiny referral payment. Once on the cashback site the deal is from Ferrycheap, although there might be better offers on other parts of the net. The salads on Sea France ships are good.

A difference between nationalised ferry companies and open source software companies is that people like the software companies.Which is odd because buying a ship and doing the human resources and payroll and acounts would take a lot of paperwork I think, while software should be a bit easier, but people like software companies so much they go to events in London (Croyden) and clap. A few hundred quid to go to Drupal London, then more to see Drupal Commerce. Surely nobody who pays for their own ticket would go to such a thing. Stranger still, in video-speeches that are online, people clap when something good is said about Commerce. All the people who front the show look intelligent, industrious, self-critical, and even nice to meet but I don't usually clap when such a person gives a lecture about something you hoped-for like a ship that is not quie available. Maybe there are Apple users in the crowd who think the whole world works like Apple with wierd gushing enthusiasm and not a lot of criticism. Maybe it's because the USA never had the First World War to such a big extent that there are so many non-cynical people there. Good luck to them.

Another way of looking at it is that not enough people say "thank you" to producers in other industries; we are too used to getting it all from China. Maybe people really do clap when a Sea France ferry arrives on time, but people don't appreciate local producers who are offering a fair price but can't pay for advertising as the china import corporations can, even though they pay their taxes employ our offspring and in good years might respond to local demand. I hope to release a thing called a Blackspot T Shirt onto the market soon via - watch this space.

Note to self: "The Source is invalid. Cannot connect to the database. The Source is invalid. Cannot connect to the database. Unable to connect to any of the sepcified MySQL hosts".

the world in three parts

More on this subject at

Julius Caeser write that Gall is divided into three parts, and Royal Mail has done the same for world postal zones (or four if you are fussy), so come the new year 20010/11 I thought I had found a way to do the same for Drupal and Ubercart. Take three of the existing hundred or more countries. My home country is the UK. That's already known to Ubercart. Europe and Airmail are the others.

Now, if I over-ran two obscure countries in the code of Ubercart and renamed them "Europe" and "Airmail" and deleted all the others I would be happy. I chose Andorra and American Samoa, because I thought the invasions would go un-noticed, and had a test site more or less working. There was no need to understand the code to be hacked - just a bit of patience finding it and some trial and error. According to the code, these countries were still Andora and American Samoa, but they were printed on screen as Europe and Airmail.

By 2011, Drupal 7 was finished but Drupal Commerce - ubercart's successor - was only starting so it seemed worth a little bit of a wait to see how the new program tidied-up the problem.

uk unemployment 1980s

This post might become a transcript of a 1980s UK economics textbook chapter, done in order to see whether the book deliberately lied or deliberately mis-led about the government's effect on the recession at that time or whether it just failed to win my confidence. I think it just failed to win confidence. The chapter is headed "26 Unemployment", which is an odd place in a textbook to put the chapter on unemployment when the total was three or four milllion in 1984 when the book was published. There was no chapter called "why all the factories are closing", but there was a rather technical reference, even later in the book, which described the closure process caused by government's policy on interest rates that tweaked the exchange rate.

Related: Bad Economics Teaching for the twenty-teens from data on Unistats, 2015 Better Economics Teaching: some off-the-cuff suggestions based on being a 1980s student The British Economic Crisis - a similar book to Robert Peston written in the 80s - Star Courses: the least satisfied, most bored and lowest paid UK graduates, written 2015 Boring Economics Teaching is interesting: how someone managed to teach economics from memories of an old textbook at the peak of the worst recession since the 1930s, and tried to cover-up for government causing the recession. Journal Articles by Professor Les Fishman - unbelievable beliefs - 1980s recession explanations I wrote - UK unemployment 1980s from the Begg 1984 textbook

In the early 1930s, more than one quarter of the UK labour force was unemployed. In particular regions and occupations the unemployment rate was very much higher. [employment of economics teachers was hardly effected at all]. High unemployment means that the economy is throwing away output by failing to put its people to work. It also means misery, social unrest, and hopelessness for the unemployed. Over the following 40 years, macroeconomic policy was geared to avoiding a rerun of the 1930s. Figure 26-1 shows that it succeeded.

In the 1970s views about unemployment bagan to change. People began to reject the Keynsian pessimism about the capacity of the economy to respond to shocks by quickly restoring full employment. The classical model began to be more widely accepted as a description of the way the economy works even in the relatively short run. Since in the classical model unemployment is voluntary there is less presumption that unemployment means extreme human suffering. Moreover, research by labour economists has shown that in the 1950s and 1960s most of the unemployed quickly found jobs. Unemployment might therefore be considered a stepping stone to a better job.

By the 1970s, not only was it felt that the cost of unemployment might have been overstated; in addition, governments in many countries began to percieve an even greater danger to economic and social stability, the danger of high and rising inflation. Thus by the end of the 1970s many governments had embarked on tight monetary and fiscal policies into try to keep inflation under control. The combination of restrictive demand policies and the adverse supply shock of hte second major OPEC oil price increase in 1979-80 has led to a dramatic increase in unemployment in most of the industrial countries in the early 1980s. Figure 26-1 shows data for the UK. Data for other countries are shown later in the chapter.

High unemployment is one of the major problems of the 1980s. Will it contine? Is it a drain on society or a signal that iat lst people are getting out of dead end jobs into something better? What can and should the government be doing? These are the questions we set out to answer in this chapter. We begin by looking at the facts.


The problem with Ubercart

As I got to know Drupal and Ubercart better, I realised what an extraordinary thing a rambling open source project is. Anyone could suggest a module - whether they're a trained developer who writes a manual to go with it or a DIY hack like myself who finds something that works for them and releases it as a favour. It is possible to spend quite a lot of time learning the ins and outs of the system.

After a month or two experimenting with Ubercart, I realised I was not alone. I was not the only person who couldn't make the shipping modules work. All I needed was three zones and a weight option, but apparently this involved things called Conditional Actions and a large amount of work, so better to wait until the new version of the cart came out that did away with them altogether. Or the favoured option seemed to be to move to emmigrate to the USA where there is a USPS and a Fedex module written in great detail with every combination of speed and state sales tax and tracking. Maybe someone would write something - even a simple thing - that covered three zones and a dozen or so weights, but the developers who worked on Ubercart seemed to be looking forward to something new. They'd noticed that ramshackle nature of Drupal  6 and Ubercart for those who have a problem to solve and are searching the forums. There was a new Drupal coming out any moment. I just had to wait a little while. Everything would be fine.

Last year: installing Drupal

Company history

2010 was a special year for Oyster Bay Systems, celebrating 25 years in the commercial and consumer finance industries.

Oyster Bay has helped finance companies gain profitability and efficiency for over 25 years with an expanding portfolio of products and services that is used throughout the UK, offshore financial communities and in Europe.

Since winning their first contract a quarter of a century ago, Oyster Bay has grown consistently and steadily with its clients, empowering them to exploit opportunities and to achieve success. Oyster Bay's experience and range of products means it can provide the most appropriate system at each stage of a client company’s growth.

Michael Breach, Managing Director explains "We are committed to adding business value, providing guaranteed support and services throughout project development, implementation and beyond".

Oyster Bay prides itself in taking a true partnership approach in the way in which it works with its current and future customers. It is this approach that has forged successful long term relationships and placed Oyster Bay as the preferred choice for many companies over the years.

As a software company that came into being during the 1980s, Oyster Bay has a distinct advantage in that it has evolved expertise and experience in response to many changes in the marketplace and to the legislative and regulatory demands of the times.

Michael Breach said "I formed the company as a consultancy in 1983 writing software on Apple II computers.

It soon became apparent that asset lenders were a niche badly in need of the benefits of computerisation. He explained: “it was pure chance that our initial clients were asset finance companies. They were using legacy systems usually comprising mainframe computers or even Kalamazoo-style ledger card mechanical tabulator, and it is sobering to think that there were hardly any spreadsheets or word processors to be seen anywhere.”

An early client for Oyster Bay was Lloyds Bowmaker, which in 1983 commissioned Oyster Bay to develop a system for its joint venture with Caterpillar in Saudi Arabia. Michael recalled “We developed the software, which was an Apple II based CP/M networked system, and shipped it out to Saudi Arabia, all suitably conformed to Sharia Law.”

A series of other new customers included Weston Acceptances, Larch Finance, Lancashire Leasing and the DC Cook Group. Michael recalled that “Client demand was mainly for administration systems including a route right through to collection procedures. At the same time, since we were obtaining consumer credit information for an increasing range of lending organisations, and since demand for payment profile information was on the increase, we fought to introduce the first consortium for consumer credit data submissions to UAPT which later became Equifax. This bureau facility is going strong today under the Profile Data Services label, and sends data to all three major UK credit bureau from a wide range of subscribers, big and small.”

Oyster Bay’s offices were located at Swansea University’s Innovation Centre. In the early days this provided excellent shared reception and conference facilities, more importantly unlimited access to the University’s academic and computing departments proved very valuable. Michael said “When we eventually moved to larger premises we stayed close to the university since the advantages were still so obvious.”

A significant breakthrough for the company came about following senior staff changes at NatWest’s Centrefile bureau which had been running asset-finance portfolios for several years. The result was that Oyster Bay came to inherit some 90 per cent of the Centrefile’s client base. Michael said: “one such was Lombard, which today is still using our software in its Marine, Channel Isle and Manx divisions.”

A further event that propelled the company forward was winning the contract to supply Volvo Financial Services with the first installation of the pioneering Vienna system. "Looking back," says Michael, "this was the turn of the century, the internet was still basically an unknown force, and yet despite the difficulties surrounding the nascent techhnology, the project was completed very quickly and successfully. In my mind, it was a perfect example of the true meaning of 'the partnership approach', with both parties playing an active, positive and collaborative part in achieving the common goals."

Although Oyster Bay has a number of products and services, Vienna remains the flagship system, and has been adopted by a number of significant lenders within the UK and in Europe as the 100% web based enterprise level system that is both fully functional and proven. Vienna provides straight-through processing with in-built workflow management features that control the movement of a proposal from point of sale, through to underwriting, payout and into ‘go-live’, all in real-time.

Michael explains that “Vienna came about as a result of the need to progress from systems in Microsoft DOS. The way forward seemed unclear at first and as we had determined that it would not be sensible to go the route of early Windows based systems, we spent some time in evaluating current platforms and attempting to forecast the future.

It seemed probable, even at this early stage in the internet’s development, that the adoption of web-based systems would benefit clients. The end result was the development of a new front office underwriting system.”

Vienna has recently been introduced into Volvo Financial Services’ Service Centre, North West Europe region, with one of the main goals being to have a single back office system capable of managing all of the North West region operations. This expansion means that Vienna is now being used to manage the UK, Southern Ireland and Netherlands (which includes a Russian division) portfolios. Michael said “I am pleased to say that the team, again by working in close collaboration with VFS’s staff, migrated the Southern Ireland and Netherlands portfolios onto Vienna in a very short space of time. ”.

In the financial services marketplace, which has become acutely cost conscious, systems efficiency is a core business requirement, and Oyster Bay Systems has an established pedigree in serving the client, with a strong reputation for “getting it right”. The company delivers a compelling business proposition with high-quality off the shelf and tailored software solutions in a timely, cost-effective and efficient way.

Oyster Bay has a range of solutions to manage portfolios of any size and all product types with end to end processing. It provides powerful, robust, scalable and secure solutions to support business requirements. These solutions can be used in-house or as hosted services, where shared cost access to on-line credit and asset search facilities is available.

Oyster Bay never lose sight of the fact that “less can be more” for clients and end users. They believe that systems should be simple to use, transparent, flexible and proven. They should have the functionality to improve manual processes whilst delivering answers to issues raised by the challenging and constantly changing regulatory framework.

New technologies that focus on how information and its surrounding processes are managed rather than simply on data capture and reporting are now central to Oyster Bay's proposition for the rest of the decade.

change of subject
This page used to be about installing Drupal but there are auto installers now...
I don't remember why, I just remember a lot of FTP installs of Drupal 6.

Drupal is no ordinary program to install. It talks to you on little notes attached in "readme.txt" files next to other files that have to be uploaded. It plays tricks on you, asking you to install new modules into a folder called


rather than a more appealing folder called


which is just put there like a mermaid to distract seafairers.

Even when you have your modules in the right place, there file called default.settings.php which has to be renamed .settings.php and there are various read/write permissions which have to be changed temporarilly.

There's another thing. Drupal comes with its own installer that you look at through a browser on your web site. It asks the route to your database and one or two other things I've now forgotten for Drupal 6. I have never had to press the onscreen buttons that my server provides to set-up a database before, nor given it a username and pass, nor thought how to describe a route to it. Localhost did in in the end, but the permutations of things that can go wrong took over a month to work-through.

Blog on a single page from the vegan shoe shop

Last year: choosing a shopping cart

It all seems a long time ago now, but at some point I must have chosen to install a shopping cart on Drupal.
  • Speed of loading
  • Flexibility
  • Price
Were all sensible grown-up reasons to do such a thing. Speed was meant to be good for search engine placement. I don't know if the current shopping cart is still fast but I am past caring - it was just a good idea at the time, that's all.

Price was important at the time because I wasn't selling anything. The price of a Drupal web designer looked proposterous. Even if I'd be slower and more amateur, a DIY job was the only way to save money. Again, I'm just saying this seemed a good idea at the time.

Lastly, Drupal-based carts are flexible. If you have different sales points to tag different products with, Drupal can work around this. A similar cart, Joomla with Virtuemart, allowed "manufacturer" and "brand" or some such hard-wired tags and everything else had to go in the text. This was no way to carry-on, so that's how bits of life began to revolve around this droplet-like group of programs, sometimes one at a time, and never all working together at once in a way that sold things like a shop.

Similar post from 2015:
Free Fast and Pretty: choosing a shopping cart