Knowledgebase: Miva Merchant FAQ
8 Tips, Tricks and Tools for Building Miva Merchant Stores
Posted by Wayne Smith, Last modified by Wayne Smith on 03 November 2014 07:08 AM
Miva Merchant Blog by Brennan Heyde
Posted on March 25, 2010

During years of working with the Miva Merchant software to build beautiful and powerful online stores, the web design and development team at Miva Merchant have accumulated a set of tools, tricks and tips we use daily to make development quicker and life easier. Here are 8 of our most helpful tips, tricks and tools for building Miva Merchant Stores.

1. Start with a Framework

Frameworks are a new feature in Miva Merchant 5.5. They allow you to save all the page templates into a single package and upload them to any store. If you are a web developer and you build multiple Miva Merchant stores for yourself or your clients, you need to start with a framework. A framework allows you to customize the checkout process, login pages and other common pages only once and gives you the ability to reuse them over and over. Having this solid foundation to build on will greatly reduce development time and get your project off to a fast start.

2. The Toolkit is your best friend

Hands down the toolkit is the most powerful module for the Miva Merchant developer. It allows you to leverage the power of the Miva Script language and use it in the Miva Page templates. The more familiar you are with the toolkit and its expanding assortment of useful functions the better features you can build into your store. In fact, once you master the toolkit your ability to add new features and functions to Miva Merchant is almost limitless. We use the toolkit to do breadcrumbs, mini baskets, preview shipping, send emails, show bestsellers and featured products, MSRP / You Save and much more.

3. Latu’s Store Helper

Store Helper is a free module from Latu.net. Once installed it allows you to display all the local and global variables available on each page of Miva Merchant. This gives you great visibility and really helps you troubleshoot complicated functionality you may be trying to create with modules like the toolkit. Not only does Store Helper give you the ability to view each of the variables available on the page but it also gives you the Miva Entity which will allow you to display it on the page.

Latu store helper module

Latu Store Helper Tip: When you are done using the module make sure you turn it off or remove it from the store. When active it places CSS above the doctype which will break your store’s layout in IE.

4. Test Order

Ever wish you could place orders on your store without having to put in a credit card? The Invoice page is the hardest page to test and make changes to because there is no way to view it without going through the checkout process and placing a real order. This relatively unknown module built by Nerd Boy Inc. gives you the ability to use a test payment method as your payment instead of using a credit card number. Just install it and activate it on your store. When you are entering your customer information use first name of “Test” and last name of “Order” (case sensitive). The module will pick this up and add a “Test Payment” method to the payment dropdown on the next screen. This is a great tool for testing live stores once the payment gateway is already set up.

Test order module from Nerd Boy Inc.

Download the test order module here: http://nbisupport.com/index.php?action=file_library&folder=2

5. .htaccess Maintenance Mode

Miva Merchant’s Maintenance mode is a great feature. It allows you to take the entire site down for a specific time period while you make changes to inventory or to the back end. The drawback, however, is that if you want to test the actual site during this time you can can’t get to the site either. Here is a simple .htaccess trick we learned that allows you to redirect all IP addresses but yours to a specific “Maintenance” page while letting you have full access to the store. We have used this when launching a new store and it works great. You’ll notice it uses a 302 redirect which tells Google that this is a temporary redirect.

########################
### Maintenance Mode ###
########################
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/maintenance.html$
RewriteCond %{REMOTE_HOST} !^12\.58\.59\.146
RewriteRule $ /maintenance.html [R=302,L]

This statement says if you’re not on maintenance.html and not coming from the IP address 12.58.59.146 (your IP address) then redirect to maintenance.html. All you need to do is put in your IP address and create a page called maintenance.html to redirect people. This page can even be a Miva Merchant page.

6. “It’s All Text” Firefox Plug-in

I have to give credit to Bruce Golub for this find. “It’s All Text” is a great Firefox plug-in that allows you to edit any text area in your own text editor and save it back without having to copy and paste. This is a great tool that allows you to quickly make changes without having to endlessly copy and paste code from Miva page templates to Dreamweaver and back.

7. Get to know the Global Header Footer

In Miva Merchant the global header footer is a very powerful feature. We use it as much as possible because it keeps all the code in a single place and makes global changes much simpler. We will put items like the navigation bar and category tree in the global header. This allows us to show them on all pages and easily restrict them from the pages we don’t want by using an if statement.

<mvt:if expr="g.Screen NE 'BASK' OR g.Screen NE 'ORDL' OR g.Screen NE 'LOGN' 
OR g.Screen NE 'OCST' OR g.Screen NE 'OSEL' OR g.Screen NE 'OPAY' OR g.Screen NE 'INVC'"> //Show Category Tree <mvt:else> // Hide Category Tree </mvt:if>

Having all this code in the global header and footer keeps the other page templates much simpler and requires less editing.

8. Build a code library

If you build multiple Miva Merchant stores it is essential that you start a code library of common functions that you can reuse on all your stores. Things like breadcrumbs, pagination, preview shipping, mini baskets and other common functions will become simple copy & paste code snippets. Better yet, you can build these functions into a master framework and you will already have them built into your base store when starting out. We use Backpack by 37signals for our code library.


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