(click screenshot thumbnails for larger image)
A popular request from the first version of Price Tapestry was for example code for showing product information on the site home page. The distribution now includes a simple "Featured Products" system that can be easily extended to create a content rich homepage to your Price Tapestry site.
Price Tapestry can return product search results to your users even if they are not quite sure of the spelling, or when your database does not have a particular model. For example, if a user enters "Sony Plasma" in the search box; any products containing both words would appear at the top of the results; but the query would return other "Plasma" TVs besides Sony models. All the usual search result ordering methods are provided on product search result pages; including order by Relevance, Product Rating (if enabled) and price in ascending or descending order.
Price Tapestry has the option to generate search engine friendly URLs to make your site easily crawlable and accurately indexed against the keywords associated with every product. In addition, by including appropriate keywords in the page URL and title, contextual advertising services (e.g. "Google AdSense") are able to serve well targeted ads to new pages that have not yet been indexed.
The database has indexes created against product merchant, category and brand fields to enable both the generation of search engine friendly merchant, category and brand A-Z pages, and the facility to search within them using a query such as "category:televisions".
You can let your users generate content for you by using the product rating and review feature. This enables a rating of between 1 and 5 (taken as the average rating across all reviews) to be applied to each product; which can then be displayed along side product information on the featured products display, search results and main product page. This feature can be disabled if not required.
Price Tapestry includes the powerful Magic Parser library (written by the same author) to enable importing of products from just about any affiliate product feed file format, including all variants of CSV (comma, pipe, tab separated values etc.) and any custom XML vocabulary.
There may be situations in which you need to make changes to data during the import process. A common example is where the Buy URL in the product feed does not contain your affiliate URL and requires you to prefix the URL with a tracking link. Alternatively, you might need to perform a search and replace on the Buy URL to convert a placeholder into your affiliate ID.
Price Tapestry's "Slow Import Tool" now supports both CSV and XML format feeds. The tool is designed for use on the most basic of shared hosting accounts that often impose script timeout and resource usage management. Using this method, feeds are imported in blocks of 500 (configurable) followed by a sleep period and then a page reload by way of an HTTP meta refresh before continuing with the next block.
It is common for slightly different variations of the same product and category names to be used by different merchants. For example, one merchant may use "Televisions", whilst another uses "TVs". Category and Product mapping lets you match up alternative category and product names to a single master category or product name of your choice. Screenshot shows category mapping page. Product mapping (added since this screenshot was taken) works in exactly the same way.
With many online merchants now providing discount voucher codes you can enter voucher code information which will then be taken into account in displayed prices and price comparisons. Voucher codes can either be added manually, or with assistance from the voucher code feeds now provided by many of the bigger affiliate networks from which the script will auto-detect the majority of the offer details.
As an alternative to basic category mapping, Category Hierarchy Mapping enables you to organise feed categories into a structured hierarchy on your site. Having designed your hierarchy, feed categories can be mapped into the required position in your hierarchy either using the same method as basic Category Mapping (with exact and keyword matches against feed categories), or by using the Reverse Mapping feature where you simply select the require category hierarchy position for each feed category.
As an alternative or as well as basic Product Mapping, Product Mapping by RegExp is an extremely flexible feature that enables you to create rules (using Regular Expressions) that extract common portions of differing product names (for example a model number) and use them, together with any additional text required to construct common master product names for use on your site.
For a feed record to be valid for import, it must contain at least Product Name, Buy URL and Price values. In addition, product names must be unique (per merchant). The Parse Analysis tool lets you see how feeds are seen by the script during the import process and reports the number of invalid records and duplicate products within a feed. Where duplicates are found, the raw product record can be viewed to assist with setting up filters that would de-duplicate product names - for example by combining the value of a colour field with the product name.
The Imported Analysis tool provides full search capabilities against the imported records of any feed. Results can be filtered by keyword, and by any index field including custom fields - ideal for assisting with feed analysis for Category and Product Mapping as well as filter configuration for niche site building.