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
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!
Continue reading Accessing the Xero API for Public Applications in Java
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!
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.
Continue reading Using Google Docs for User Guides and Documentation in Build Scripts
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.
Continue reading Running Magento on Digital Ocean – A Review and Benchmarks
Today I’d like to publicly introduce my first ever premium extension, MageSend – simple, reliable email sending for Magento, tightly integrated with Amazon’s SES email service. I have applied my experiences supporting the popular SMTP Pro extension to remove as many pain points, and streamline the setup as much as possible. I have also taken advantage of the API functionality provided by Amazon SES to give store owners excellent insight into their email sending performance.
Background and Motivation
Over four years ago I released my first ever email extension for Magento, the purpose was super-simple transactional email sending via Google Apps and (later) SMTP for Magento stores.
In that time I have been supporting SMTP based email sending, and Google Apps as an email service (or other ESP’s) I have become increasingly frustrated with how brittle it is as a solution. There are several weaknesses with that approach that cause issues.
Continue reading Introducing MageSend – Simple, reliable email for Magento with Amazon SES.
This past weekend I entered the Auckland Startup Weekend. It was an excellent experience and I wanted to share it here, because if you have an opportunity to do a start-up weekend, in Auckland or anywhere else, you should – you will not regret it.
The whole event would make an interesting social experiment, as complete strangers are thrust together around a half-baked idea and given 50-something hours to turn it into a pitch-able, feasible business. I’m going to share my experience of the weekend here, so if you’re interested in what a Startup Weekend is like, and what happens, read on…
Continue reading Thoughts on Auckland Startup Weekend 2013