I’m very pleased to announce the release of version 2 of SMTP Pro. It’s been a long time coming, but my most popular extension should once again be your first choice for custom email integrations. Version 2 is a full rewrite that adds support for all of the latest versions of Magento, an improved admin experience, a better self test and modern coding standards. You can find out more and subscribe for updates over on the SMTP Pro product page, magesmtppro.com.

Background

I first released SMTP Pro 5 years ago, when it was purely for connecting to Google Apps accounts to send store email. Since then I have added support for custom SMTP servers, Amazon SES, email logging, self testing and have helped thousands of merchants get their store emails working.

SMTP Pro was my first open source project and has been by far the most successful with over 30,000 downloads and dozens of contributors over the years. With nearly 150 reviews on Magento Connect and an average of 4.4/5 stars, it’s the positive, constructive feedback of the community I really enjoy.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 9.28.07 pm

This update has been long overdue, but I’m very happy to say that SMTP Pro is back, and better than ever.

Where to Download

You can download Magento SMTP Pro from any of these places:

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On 2013

December 29, 2013

It’s that time of the year, the end, when I tend to get a bit introspective and think about the big things that happened and the milestones reached, and not reached, in these past 12 months. So here it is, more for my own sake than yours, the year-end reflections of aschroder.com.

On Magento

I’ve felt a bit out-of-the-loop within the Magento ecosystem this year, missing the Imagine conference, and not keeping abreast of developments with Magento 2. My involvement has been constrained to working on my own products and services, and periodic blog posts and tweets. As an outsider looking in, I see Magento maturing as a company, the ecosystem is growing. I think the challenge will be maintaining the wonderful developer community around the product as the open source edition takes a back seat to the enterprise sales machine that is ebay/paypal.

2013 has been a year of milestone near misses. This little blog has racked up not quite 1 million pageviews since it’s inception. My new Magento extension MageSend has had nearly 100 sales.

Although it’d have been great to hit these nice round numbers, it’s still a satisfying result on both counts and I’ll elaborate more on my experiences with both below. At the same time, there’s been a lot of good things happening with business, and personal achievements this year, 2013 has been good to me.

November 2013 was the 5 year anniversary, birthday if you will, of aschroder.com. I can say categorically that starting a blog has been the best move I’ve ever made professionally. If you haven’t started one, go do it, right now.
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In this post I’ll quickly run through accessing the Xero API using Java and the super simple, elegant Scribe library. There’s a support page dedicated to Java + Xero API but I found it a bit light on help for those setting up a public application for the first time in Java, so the below steps should help others wanting to get up and running. For the actual access to Xero we’ll be using Ross Jourdain’s excellent Xero library, which handles mapping the XML into Java objects for you. I’ve made a couple of tweaks to it to support App Engine, and Scribe. I have also set up a XeroApi and XeroExample in the Srcibe format, for use with the library.

The other reason you might like these instructions rather than the default, is that we run our apps on Google App Engine for Java and so we had to make a few changes to the way we access Xero in order to meet the GAE requirements. The Scribe library supports GAE out of the box.

Why am I mucking about with the Xero API, anyway? We’re working on an app that connects Xero with Amazon for merchants to import accounting data automatically. I’m not quite ready to tell the world about it, but if you’re interested in trying it, get in touch.

Let’s get started with the Xero API, a public application, and Java!

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I spent considerable effort writing the user guide for MageSend and have been happy with the results. I think of a well written user guide as the fence-at-the-top-of-the-cliff that prevents the support email burden ambulance-at-the-bottom. It’s been a source of fairly regular positive feedback from customers, so I wanted to share how I created it, and how I ensure it’s seamlessly integrated with the packaging process by build script. In this post I will run through how I use Google Docs as a documentation tool for my premium MageSend email extension, and take advantage of the publish URLs in build scripts to ensure the latest version of the User Guide is packaged in both PDF and HTML format with each release. I will say I only have one premium extension (currently) and am relatively new to this game, so it’s entirely possible there’s much better ways to do this, in fact if someone has some better suggestions I’d love to hear them!

MageSend Documentation

Writing Software Documentation in Google Docs

In order to even go down this route you have to be comfortable using Google Docs for writing technical documentation. I’ve been using Google Docs for as long as I can remember, when weighing options like markdown, plain-html or Latex I had no hesitation with Google and understood the limitations, and advantages of Goole Docs, summarised below.

  • + Collaborative editing, e.g graphics designers can add logos and screenshots into the same document as you edit the words
  • + Always saved, revision history available for change tracking
  • + Simple UI for editing documents, provided you keep your style very simple.
  • - You have to get into bed with Google – it’s not a complete lock-in though, you can export plain (but ugly) HTML.
  • - Annoying export bug with published docs table of contents linking to the web version.

So it’s a simple, easy to use document editing tool, with a number of modern features for collaboration and exporting, but a few annoying bugs, and slight pangs of vendor lock-in.
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I’d recently seen a few people mention Digital Ocean, and their $5/month SSD-based VPS offering. I read about it, and was interested to know if Magento would run on their plans, and how well. But at the time I couldn’t be bothered actually doing any testing.

However, thanks to the wonders of Google’s re-marketing every site I visited on the internet for the next couple of weeks reminded me about them and so I finally decided to throw up a quick test site and run some benchmarks.

In this post I’ll run through a quick setup guide using Digital Ocean to run Magento, and then the results of a few simple benchmark tests using my Magento Speed Test service.

Digital Ocean
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