Web Store Woes

The web store went live today. It is by no means what I would like to present to the world, but it is at least functional for the various jarred items that we currently have for sale.

Getting the Mack Hill Farm web store up and running has not been a pleasant experience. For several years we used the Thesis theme from DIYThemes for this site. We liked it very much, and especially with the OpenHook plugin, it was a dream to customize. Then I tried to use the WP-ECommerce plugin to peddle stuff over the web. Kablooie.

It was mostly WPEC’s fault, they assumed they were the most important thing around, and everyone else better get out of their way. But DIYThemes wasn’t guilt free. In particular, their CSS classes really appeared to be named to maximize namespace clashes.

The biggest issue with WPEC, and apparently every other shopping cart, is that they fundamentally assume that your site is a web store, so that is the landing page, and well, there might be a link to your WordPress blog. Uh, no. This is a journal site that has a webstore.

Anyway, after serious hacking, I, three times, got the site working they way I wanted. And every time, it broke as soon as I upgraded WordPress, or the theme or WPEC. Needless to say, WPEC and DIYThemes merely pointed fingers at each other. But WPEC finally mentioned that they did support the WordPress native themes. Lightbulb moment.

WordPress is Matt Mullenweg’s baby. His company is Automattic. If you use a theme from Automattic, and some plugin doesn’t work, it is, by definition, the plugin’s fault and the plugin’s problem.

Automattic pubs a theme named Thematic, which is their tutorial on how to customize a theme. We are using it. Compared to Thesis, it is a clunky pain. I am writing both PHP and CSS which I haven’t had to do for years. But, the shopping cart is coexisting.

When I did the redesign, I also switched from WPEC to WooCommerce. That was a bad idea. Don’t. WC actually has a good rep among professional WordPress implementors. I can almost see why. The basic thingy is free. It is very easy to configure, actually easier than WPEC. Like WPEC you get PayPal for free and then get nickel and dimed for additional payment gateways. When I started, it was about $50 per additional gateway. But in August they raised it to 80.

But the real killer is shipping. WPEC gives you your government mail for free (all 5 countries) and charges for connections to private services. WooCommerce charges the same for mail as a private service. OK, I was willing to cough up the $50 (now $80). And then I discover that their brain dead plug in insisted on quoting all possible shipping methods for any package.

Uh, no. We sell food in jars, hatching eggs, and day old chicks. The rates are:

Jarred goods, medium flat rate box for one half pint up to any combination of pints, half pints and quarter pints totaling 8 pints. If you order more than a medium box will hold, I am comping you the extra cost of a large box. If anyone cares, that means I eat the tenth half pint and then make money again. If you want more than 8 pints, or maple syrup to Australia, ping me and we’ll work it out.

Hatching eggs: 1 to 50, large box, plus $6.00 plus $1.00 per egg. Similar, large box plus one 25 egg foam cushion. If you order enough eggs, I’ll comp the second cushion.

I can handle these two by setting a postage rate of zero and a handling fee of the actual postage. Can WooThemes piece of junk actually handle explicitly fetching the specific flat rate amounts I actually need? Uh, no. For $280, why yes that would be no.

So, I set postage to zero and plug in the real postage as a “handling fee”. I paid good money because I foolishly thought that WooTheme’s piece of garbage could actually fetch the one datum I wanted from the USPS and calculate shipping from there. I was wrong. I just type in the number and when it changes I must type in the new number.

Chicks: actual Express Mail postage on a tare weight of one pound plus 2 oz/chick, min 15, max 25. This is the one that matters. They must go Express Mail. They have three days and then they die. And WooCommerce, even after I spend $200 on their bleeping “tiered shipping” piece of crap and $80 for their USPS rate calculator, cannot seem to handle it. Do Not Fucking Tell Me About Parcel Post. I have animals that will die because you have your head up your ass. I have till next spring to write the code. Trust me, it will be out there on an Apache license long before ice-out next spring. Pigs always lose.

And teapartiers go fuck yourselves. I live in Bumfuck, Vermont, and because of the federal government that our, or at least my, Rafael Cuban Canuck Cruze I’m calling you out, ancestors built 150 years ago, I can send my chicks on single engine planes into the Alaskan bush, on mailboats to islands on lakes you’ve never heard of on the Canadian border, and on muleback to pueblos in New Mexico that you’ve never heard of either. Governor Perry, if you’ll agree to take Alabama and Mississippi along, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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