Review: 68 Classifieds v4.1

Title: 68 Classifieds v4.1
Developer: 68 Classifieds, Ltd.
Author: 68 Classifieds, Ltd.
Price: Developer $249.00 | Designer $149.00 | Hosted $39.99/mth
Version Reviewed: 4.1RC5 *Unreleased
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4.5 of 5)
Pros:
Cons:

Overview:

This is a review of the upcoming new version of 68 Classifieds Software Script Version 4.1. Scheduled to be released on: Monday, February 16, 2009. The last major release, Version 4.0 was on February 19, 2008. It looks like we’re on a yearly schedule.

The 68 Classifieds Software script is commercial software that enables the purchaser to operate their own classified ads website. It utilizes php, XHTML and mySQL to give a feature rich, classified ads solution. It is my own personal belief that this classified ads software is the best value out there in this market.

The new 4.1 version builds on an already robust, feature rich solution. The new version still uses the same default template that was implemented in the 4.0 version, a design by Luka Cvrk – Solucija. Don’t let that fool you though, because the new features and enrichments are all in the back-end.

Many of the feature requests from 68 Classifieds Community of users have been addressed as well as upgrades to some of the technology behind the scenes. Let’s take a closer look at this new version.

What you get:

As with any downloadable software script, you get a zip file that when opened contains a bunch of folders and files. Essentially in this case, you will have one main folder, “Developer-v4.1″, which contains a “do_not_upload” folder, “upload” folder, changelog.txt file and a readme.html file.

The readme is an “html” file which I personally think is a good choice as it can and does contain links to other resources as well as good old eye candy to make your reading more pleasurable. I always recommend that you actually read the readme prior to taking any other action. The readme file contains the instructions on how to install or upgrade your classifieds software as well as some other information.

Installation:

If you are already familiar with installing software scripts on a web host server that are dependent on mySQL then installation is a snap.

If you are not, then I would highly recommend that you click on the link provided in the readme, Installing section for the “installation section” of the knowledge base (online).

Once, you have your database and uploaded your files to your web host server, you simply point your browser to http://yoursite.com/setup and you will be greeted with the installation window. The installer checks items on your server, etc and if it finds problems will report that to you for you to correct. The installer guides you through several steps to enter your information until you hopefully get to the final screen that tells you that everything has installed successfully and you can now log into your admin. It also warns you to delete your setup folder on your server or your site will not work correctly.

As I have gone through many, many 68 Classified installations, I didn’t have any issues and hopefully you will have the same result.

As this is a review and not a tutorial, I’m not going to go on configuring and such. Once your successfully installed, go to the administration http://yoursite.com/administration and login. If you haven’t used 68 Classifieds before, I recommend that you hit the link to the “Get Started Guide” that comes up in your new installation Dashboard.

Upgrading:

Upgrading your existing 68 Classifieds site is just as straight forward as the installation with just a couple of caveats. First of all, please make sure that you make a complete backup of your existing installation. I can’t stress this enough. A complete backup means that you need to have a complete copy of all your files and folders as well as a complete backup of your database.

When you upload all of the files and folders to your server, make sure that you don’t upload the Connections folder, because it is this folder that has your information to make the connection to your database.

As with the installation steps above, go to your website in your browser again. This time however you would want to click on the “Upgrade” button instead of install. The Upgrade process is very quick and you don’t have to go through any additional steps in this window as you do when installing other than deleting your setup folder.

Other Setup:

If you are doing a fresh install of the 68 Classifieds, then there isn’t any additional setup required.

If, however you did an upgrade…

WARNING: Caveat #1, If you have made ANY modifications to any files, you will no longer have them. You will lose all category images, photo images, installed modules and any custom template folder that you created if you simply overwrite. Some ftp clients allow you to synchronize/merge on upload which overwrites older files leaves files there that aren’t in your new folder upload.

The instructions in the readme or online don’t seem to cover this. First, your custom template is NOT going to work just by simply uploading the folder and switching to it in the admin. There are differences in the smarty calls, etc. Although it isn’t too painstaking, you will need to carefully compare your old files to the new files in the default template and make the appropriate changes. I would recommend that you do this on your local computer first and use a copy of your backup to make these modifications. That way you still have an original backup of your custom template if you mess up something.

Now all of your images. All of your user uploaded ad images are stored in two folders, the photos folder and the thumbs folder which are now empty on your server. So the good thing is, just upload both of those folders from your backups (You did make those backups, right?)

The last other setup is regarding your modules. Most of your old modules will not work with the newer version. I believe all of the 68 supplied modules have been updated. Do not upload any modules from third party developers until you have verified from them that they are indeed compatible with version 4.1. Although I didn’t do any testing of this, because I deactivated my modules before upgrading, I’m suspecting that not deactivating the modules prior to upgrading might be an issue.

What’s New:

The Dashboard
You will see a yellow highlighted box if you don’t have any listings yet. It says, “It looks like you haven’t set up your site yet. Why not visit our quickstart guide. (This message is shown until you have a listing on your site.)” A nice touch for new users. There is now also an RSS feed for the ClassifiedMods.com with the latest three module releases showing.

Template Settings
Replaces the Template Editor link in the submenu of Settings. The Template Settings link takes you to the Site Template tab which is now where you set what template you would like to use. It shows a thumbnail preview (if the template has one). The Logo Settings allows you to upload a logo if you have one. It also allows you to use text instead which is of course set by default to 68 Classifieds. The Template Editor is the third tab in this new area. This too has been upgraded as well. 68 Classifieds is now using the jquery javascript library. The Template Editor sports the markitup module for jquery.

Page Editor
Has had some improvements made. A URI, Keywords and Description fields have been added. The URI is used in conjunction with the SEO module for more memorable URLs, the Keywords and Description are used in the information when the page is displayed giving you the ability to have page independent keywords and descriptions. This helps immensely for SEO and the search engines.

Modules
First, there is no longer a “Regenerate” button as it is no longer needed. I think we can thank jquery for this too. The Captcha is now a module is active by default as well as the previously mentioned markitup. A new Debug is now also a module, but Inactive by default. This is NOT the same debug that you have used in previous versions however. This is really more for developers of modules and php code modifications. The Maintenance module is still there, but is also Inactive. For some reason, the back up database function has been removed. Also the javascript “?” help function has also been removed from the modules area.

Payment
Manage Products is where you manage and create your listing packages. A new feature is the ability to toggle a Listing Package on and off. This allows you to create a package in advance of activating it. Another advantage is that you can deactivate a package allowing any ads that are using the package to expire before deleting it. Another new feature is that you can now select a usergroup for the Listing Package. This allows you to be able to have packages only available to a certain user group, such as a Business User. It opens up some new possibilities.

Manage Users
Has an improved User Notes field. Now you can flag a user note so that it will appear at the top of the admin pages when either viewing the user or the listing page of that user. In addition, You can make the not public which makes the note viewable to that user when they login and are at their userindex page which is where a user is automatically redirected upon login.

In addition, there has also been added user flexibility when you add a user as an Administrator. When you set a user to the Administrator group a new box opens with checkboxes for Listings, Users, Payment, Orders, Categories and Settings. This gives you much more flexibility and peace of mind in adding additional administration help.

Some other improvements that might not be seen, but added are Smarty upgrade, Smarty Caching enablement, phpMailer upgrade, CSS throughout the administration, the ability to Private Message a member from his viewmember page, smarty plugins have been moved to the root directory, a new jQuery thickbox that allows for larger image displays, improved formats for strings, filters, dates, arrays and a few other things, an new Feature Listings Horizontal smarty plugin that allows more options including showing the owner, a version checker to let you know if updates are available, added paging to the userbrowselistings page, added the ability to search an extra field that is set to date, improved security on the forgotten password routine and fixed incorrect formatting with usernames that have apostrophes and such.

Documentation:

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, then you already know that documentation is a pet peeve of mine. The included readme documentation is sparse at best, but does cover the essentials. It also includes links to online documentation which has also been improved. In fact the entire 68 Classifieds online presence has been improved recently and I for one am very pleased to see these improvements. At the time of this review there were still some referred items that haven’t been updated to the latest version. I would have to assume and hope that these will be corrected when the release is made public.

I feel obligated to mention that the upgrade process is one area that really needs to be addressed much more thoroughly. As I have outlined in this review, there are many things that a site owner will need to do and be prepared to do prior to upgrading. Obviously, if you are upgrading this means that you already have a site running and is most likely live and in use. To me, that warrants much more prior planning and consideration and the documentation should reflect his appropriately. In addition to my previous comments, I think it would be a nice touch to have an upgrade planning guide including things such as warning your users for a planned upgrade date and time. A checklist of what you need to do and have. Perhaps even a temporary static web page to show during your downtime or the use of the “Take site offline” option in the main settings.

Mike-N-Tosh Buying Advice:

As has always been the case since I found 68 Classifieds, if you would like to run an online Classifieds site 68 Classifieds is hands down the best value for the buck as well as being one of the most feature rich solutions on the market. This version just keeps moving them forward. If you are already using 68 Classifieds and are wondering whether it’s worth the upgrade I would say absolutely with one exception. That one exception would be if you are running V 3.1.10 and utilizing the memberships function, because that feature has gone the way of the dinosaur in V 4.0 and 4.1. All remnants of the code are now officially gone.

DISCLAIMER:

THIS REVIEW WAS DONE WITH AN UNRELEASED VERSION PROVIDED BY 68 CLASSIFIEDS, LTD. AS A COURTESY FOR THIS REVIEW. AS SUCH, THIS VERSION OF THE SOFTWARE MAY HAVE STILL HAD SOME BUGS THAT WILL BE ADDRESSED IN THE FINAL PUBLICLY RELEASED VERSION.

ALTHOUGH I MAY KNOW MANY OF THE DEVELOPERS THAT I WRITE THESE REVIEWS FOR, I DO NOT WORK FOR THEM, I AM NOT A PARTNER WITH THEM, I AM NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF THEIR BUSINESS, I GET NO MONETARY COMPENSATION FOR THESE REVIEWS.

THIS REVIEW IS A PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF HOW I BELIEVE THEY WORKED (OR NOT) FOR MYSELF. I DO NOT MAKE ANY CLAIM AS TO HOW THEY WILL WORK FOR YOUR OWN USE. I DO NOT ENDORSE, WARRANT OR GUARANTEE ANY OF THESE PRODUCTS FOR YOUR PURPOSES.

2 Responses to “Review: 68 Classifieds v4.1”

  1. Get Your Ex Back Says:

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  2. Poembeddy Says:

    FANTASTIC!