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Looking to fund Affiliate / Rewards Points Module
 
PeterC
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As I said in the beginning, that’s certainly an option.  It would be nice to have something open source, though, and if enough people want it then we can make it happen.

 
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piotrn
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I sure can help with the project (as a coder).
Open source is the way to go, it’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s releasing the break.

 
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Christian_Norway
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I know the work of PiotrN, and he has a great understanding of the Magento platform and is definitely the right person to take on this job.

What do you need PiotrN to start this module?

 
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PeterC
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This is great, over the last few days I’ve been worried that there wasn’t enough interest for this to go ahead.  There are now three people interested in coding, which should be plenty.  In view of that, let me pose some questions about the design, so we can try and agree on a direction that meets everyone’s requirements.

1.  Magento module or stand-alone affiliate script?

We could either implement a Magento module, or we could write a stand-alone affiliate script together with a Magento integration.  I rather favour the latter because it makes our code available to a wider audience.  Three coders are enough to get this project started, but once we have a usable release, it would be nice to have a large number of people contributing improvements.  To get a large number of contributors, we need a large number of potential users, and I believe that means we should make our code available to people using other carts than Magento.

I would hate to have the situation in a year’s time where people are saying, “Oh yes, Magento has simple support for affiliates.  But if you want to do anything sophisticated, you need JAM.” I want this project to be better than commercial rivals, but getting there will need a lot of code and so a lot of coders.

2.  Underlying technology

I think it makes sense to follow Magento’s lead here.  Given that we want to use the software with Magento, it keeps things simple if we also use the Zend framework and MySQL.  (I say that even though I personally think MySQL is a toy database.  grin )

The idea is that we design in as much flexibility as possible.  We don’t have to tie our code rigidly to Magento, so I believe it makes sense not to.  On the other hand, we are forced to choose a web technology.  Whatever choice we make, some people will be happy and others won’t be.  Given that we ourselves want to use the code with Magento, it makes sense to use the same technology as Magento.  Then we ourselves can be happy, even if some other people are not!

3.  Hosting

If we decide to develop a Magento module, it would probably make most sense to host it on the Magento site, if that is acceptable to the Magento developers.  If we develop something independent, it will need hosting somewhere else.  I suggest we go with one of the SourceForge-type places, so we don’t have to waste time putting our own website together.  Launchpad looks good though I’ve no strong preference.

Assuming we don’t do revision control using Magento’s Subversion, we need to decide what we are going to use.  The distributed model seems to work well for a lot of open source projects, which would suggest using Bazaar or Mercurial.  I have no strong preference between them, though I slightly prefer the way Bazaar handles directory renames.  Subversion is also a perfectly respectable revision control system, though it would require a bit more central maintenance for creating branches and so on.  To my mind those are the main options, I feel CVS is essentially obsolete.

Please let me know what you think of these suggestions.  We need to come up with a design that is acceptable to everyone, so if you feel that my suggestions wouldn’t meet your needs, please say so.  In the process of finding common ground, we will also probably design a more flexible project that will be useful to more people in the long run!

I’m going away for the weekend in a few hours, but I’ll catch up with the discussion on Monday.

Oh and last but not least…
4.  Project Name

I’m really struggling to think of a good name for the project, any ideas?

 
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Christian_Norway
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I feel that this project is moving outside my scripting skills, however I would support this as much as possible (I’m not a professional coder).

Regarding features I suggest we create a features list that people want, so that we can start getting an overview of what the module / stand alone module needs to be able to do.

Is there a part of Magento, where we can set up a page where we can collect information about the project? What features people want?

I don’t know to much about what these affiliate programs have of features, but I guess these are the most essential.

Short list of features:
- Affiliate log-in (User and admin level)
- Analytical statistics of affiliate banners (User level)
- Analytical statistic of affiliates
- Code snippet for users to add to their site (javascript?)

 
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gadgetplay
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I’m looking for this module too for my store.

I’m willing to pay also, so I don’t see why the developer of this should not charge a fee for the module if they make it. Alternatively I’m willing to donate towards the cost of making it.

 
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RPGShop
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I have a running store and I’ve done many custom solutions for affiliate/referal support in the past based mainly in OSCOmmerse. But this codebase they use here is just way beyond me (I’m too old I guess) to help out… that said, I do know specific needs of actual stores (that is from my prospective).  That said, I don’t really have any great desire to see a huge project made of this that could just burnout before anything is shippable. :(

The above seems to mostly cover technical needs… but the goals of this project are to serve the customers needs (maybe a forum would help that).

REQUIRED IN INITIAL RELEASE:
- admin/setup: Type = Earned Credit, Earned Points, or Earned Cash, and Rate = x % earned
- create or associate a customer account as an affilate & supply link examples
- A parameter to pass into the system to set the referral/affiliate id for the whole session
- at checkout apply the earnings to the affiliates account based on current/cookie sessioned affilate info
- simple report for affilate earnings/balance
- admin: simple report for ALL affiliate earnings/balance
- ability for earned credit/points/cash to be spent at the store it was earned in lue of cash (this really keeps the money in your pocket)

NICE FEATURES:
- cashout (if allowed) to paypal account (requires some validity/security safegaurds against bugs and too much payments)
- Store affilate/referal Id in cookie for X days option
- detailed analytics reporting
- Rate: applied to just specific products or ability to exclude some products
- random image thumb puller and/or an RSS feed for new products and that sort of stuff to allow posting products on affiliate’s site with their affilaite id/code already set (restrictable to categories to display/pull).
- theme settings for this affiliate? Allowing you to brand a store front as another site’s design/graphics/logo on it.

(got to run, I’m sure there is lots more...)

NAME?
Magentofiliate, MageAffilate, SimpleAffilate, OSAffilate, eAffiliate, ecomAffilate

James
http://www.RPGShop.com

 
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Christian_Norway
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I agree with RPGShop:

Let’s make it simple, then we can add to it later.

So how are we going to kick start this?

 
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One Step Checkout
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Good to see some interest in a affiliate system for Magento as it is vital in ecommerce these days.

I have a webshop that needs affiliate system and for that I have developed my own small affiliate system. I chose to do it as a standalone and create a module for Magento integration. The reasoning for this is that learning Magento takes a lot of time, and developing the same functionality in Magento would take me far more time than developing it in my favorite web-environment (which happens to be the Django web-framework).

The standalone affiliate-system is somewhat developed (I have affiliate registration, login and very simple stats) and I am currently working on the Magento module. I am currently not interested in making this project open source, as this is for a Norwegian shop where affiliate isn’t that established yet (it’s established but its not big). We want to be the first and only (for a while) webshop in our niche that offer affiliate, and this is why we won’t release it as open source. I am interested in selling/licensing the system, but only for shops not competing in our niche.

My system is far from complete, I hope to have beta running by 1st of September. I have several shops that will use this system so hopefully I will be able to test it thoroughly.

I think it’s great that you have an effort for an open source affiliate system though!

 
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Gui
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I think RPG has a good list to start with. For my personal flavor I would like customers to be able to aquire “points” by actions ie. adding a review to the site. And they should be able to save points for a selection of products or a discount..

We would have two branches in the project or am I still missing the point? One for external Affiliates and One for customers of the shop?

I am willing to pledge but only if it will be made available as open source. Standalone is off course very nice and much more versatile but will this not take much longer?

How about? “OpenAffiliation”

 
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PeterC
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GadgetPlay,

Thanks for the offer of support!  Personally I wouldn’t be interested in writing a closed source affiliate module.  There are so many people selling this type of thing that I think it would be hard to compete.  I appreciate the offer of a donation, though.

James,

I don’t want to see this become a huge project either.  Because things like revision control tools exist, I feel we might as well use them, even though our project will be much smaller than the ones the tools were originally designed to support.  I even use Bazaar or Mercurial on personal projects.  If I’m the only developer, obviously I don’t have any use for the collaborative features, but it’s still useful to know what I’ve changed and to be able to revert if I mess things up.

I agree with your list of must-have features.  Once we have those, people will be able to implement a working affiliate programme using our code.  Of course there are lots more things that could be added, as you point out, but let’s work on the basis that we get a minimal solution working and released first.  For one thing, a “1.0” release will probably attract more coders.

Jone,

First of September, eh?  Is this a race? grin

Gui,

This is an interesting point.  If you’re implementing a loyalty scheme, you need to make all customers “affiliates”.  On the other hand, most stores that operate conventional affiliate programmes keep customers and affiliates separate.  I guess we have to implement both models, and let people choose.  In one case, the affiliate software detects that someone has signed up with the shop and adds them as an affiliate.  In the other case, there is a conventional sign-up screen for the affiliate programme.

I don’t see why a standalone project needs to be more work.  Most of the work is probably reporting, and that’s exactly the same whether we’re integrated with Magento or not.

I should have some time tomorrow, how about I flesh out the list of must-have features and put them on the web somewhere?  People can then have a look and make sure all their requirements are met.  Once we know we have a workable design, we can get started.

Turning to the name: I just realised that virtually all domains containing “affiliate” are taken. :-( It would be nice to have the option of creating a website later, with a domain name that isn’t too different from the name of our project.  Unfortunately, if we want the domain name to be available, it makes it even harder thinking of a suitable name!

 
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RPGShop
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Gui brings up a good point, though about affiliates versus customers. I have in the past NOT seperated them. Make an affilate signup as a cusotmer, then apply as an affiliate and then any customer can become an affilaite and earn money/points. I also donno how well points versus $ earned would mix or sales based or action based earnings would work. Obivously you want all to make everyone happy, but that’s a headache too…

That said, it’s obivously then very helpful if people who want this feature detail what features they want. More importantly anyone willing to put $ where their mouths are should have a required feature list behind that $ pledge.

Anyway, as I said, I know how to use SVN and program PHP and MySql, I just pre-date most OO programming techneques and this framework we use for Magento just confuses me… so it is actually possible I could contribute in a significant way with DBA and Design elements, I doubt I can code modules from scratch for this.

I think you don’t call it OpenAffiliate unless it’s not bound to Magento. Personally I don’t care if the result of version 1.0 is Magento only - in fact would prefer it to speed things up.

James

 
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Gui
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I thought that was the idea of Peter in the first place, not to be bound by Magento, hence “Open” in the name (the domain is also taken). I would concentrate on getting it compatible with Magento first though. That is why I thought a standalone project would take longer, but I am no expert on that matter.

I will concentrate on the Loyalty part since i have more experience with that than an affiliate model. I will make a list tomorrow. to late now to get my head straight.

Oh and by the way I can help with the testing/ideas etc. unfortunately not so much with coding. I still write html with tables wink

 
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PeterC
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As promised, I have collected the requirements and put them on the web.  You can download this draft spec from http://www.metathinking.com/affiliates/trunk/doc/spec.html .  It is also a Bazaar repository, which you can branch using ‘bzr branch http://www.metathinking.com/affiliates/trunk’.  As the spec is the only file in there at the moment, though, there isn’t much point. grin

Please let me know if I’ve missed out something essential, or you disagree with any of my suggestions.  Also, if you think the system can be simplified while still remaining useful, I would be interested to hear your idea.  I completely agree with RPGShop and Christian, we should keep this as simple as possible for the first release.  (In particular, you’ll see that I’ve dropped my original idea for supporting multiple shopping carts.  Although I’m suggesting a design which would accommodate multiple carts in the future, I think we should only support Magento for the first release.)

 
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Gui
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I think you have put down a very basic but solid underground for starting the project.

Perhaps additionally
- Admin can set per Affiliate group what value to use. Money, Points etc
- Affiliate groups could be made using the Magento Customer Groups
- Admin can set pay-out in cash or payout as Coupon Code to use at the store

and with this in mind:

For example, if a site carries forward balances under $50, the administrator can edit the file to remove affiliates who do not qualify for payment.

- Admin can set minimum and maximum Pay-out without the need to manually edit files

Name. I’m not to fond of the name, though I really like the idea behind it. It sounds a bit harsh to me, but that could be because I’m not native English. I could come up with “Affiliates for All” also still available in .com and .org

 
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