The best photos management PrestaShop module : version 1.4 of Merlin

Published : 04/25/2019 15:19:18
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The best photos management PrestaShop module : version 1.4 of Merlin

The purpose of this article is not to present once more all features of Sitolog Merlin Backoffice about photos, but only to present 10 new essential features around photography introduced with the version 1.4, which really deserve to be known as they will save you time.

Foreword: If Merlin Backoffice is new to you, or have not used it yet to download the images, we advise you to see or review the tutorial in this page.

1: Sitolog Merlin Backoffice gives photographic memory to PrestaShop

You've probably already made the experiment, without necessarily understanding the reason, it is not possible with PrestaShop to replace one image by another, without having to delete the first one, redo the legend, re-associate to variants, shops etc. And it is even less possible to mass update of all your photos with newer versions.

Why? : because PrestaShop has no memory, he can not remember the photo files he used to create the images. He renames the files and loses track of what he did. So if you ask it to associate a photo to a product, it is unable to know if this product has ever received this image.

Sitolog has developped a solution to this major problem. The file name of every image sent through the Merlin Backoffice module is stored in a new table in the database of PrestaShop.

What is it used for? Some examples ...

Avoid photo duplicates:

As Merlin knows if this or that image has ever been linked to this or that article, it is able to avoid re-uploading and duplicating images.

Duplicate management settings are therefore more numerous and will allow you to avoid the famous problems of the images displayed several times in the product pages. And it works regardless of the method of sending images, uploading ocal images or executing a server to server file transfer:

Duplicate handling

Mass replacement of images:

The name of the so-called "historical" file is displayed in the image tables of products and categories. And we can use the filters on this column to find all the photos build from a single file, for several products at the same time.

With a simple drag and drop of an imagea file onto a selection of rows, you can in one operation replace the same photo on thousands of articles.

Start by an auto search and selection of all image based on the same file :

Sélection automatique des images basées sur le même nom de fichier

Then drag and drop a new image over one of the lines

Drag and drop one image over a selection

All selected images are updated :

Bulk replacement of the same photo into multiple products

Faster file transfers:

As Merlin keeps a copy, in a special folder of PrestaShop, of files already used (new: including those retrieved on an FTP or HTTP server from your provider), it no longer needs to upload them again when he has to associate them with to another product. A real time saver.

Finally, you have a real solution to make the association of similar images to hundreds or thousands of products very quick , with a single transfer.

Merlin goes a little further, he proposes to compare the size and date of the two files (the one provided and the "historical" file). So if you or your supplier have changed the image, but saved it under the same name, Merlin will understand it and know how to update the images on your shop only when required:

Faster file transfer of images

Images sent only to products that do not have any yet

Thanks to its memory and new options to provide different treatments between products that have already a photo and those who do not have one yet, without having to use filter.

Image send to product witout image only

2: better than an SEO module: image legends that fill up by themselves

Since always, Merlin knew already how to fill in the ALT tags of the photos with the name of the product or file. Not bad but not sufficient.

Some people wanted to be able to add the name of the category or even the products reference. The "craziest" (:-)) of people also ask for a coffee maker which would add the color of the photo into its legend.

Well, we did it, and even more. Sitolog has included in Merlin a free SEO module, capable of automatically and intelligently filling the product image legends using a system of parameterization like the one included in the many SEO modules. Judge for yourself:

Legends build automatically / best PrestaShop SEO module

The most bluffing is the {attributes} parameter which is replaced at the time of generation by the list of common attributes of all product variants associated to the photo, in such format: "Color: blue Size: XL":

Fill in ALT tag with variants attributes

Great bonus, this tool is also functional for added images via the Excel or CSV file import tool. You do not need any longer to include a column called "Legends" in your files.

Even better (see below number 7), it also works for images added using the advanced combinations generator.

And no worries if you've already patiently filled in the captions of your images manually. These can be protected, thanks to this a new option in the settings:

Keep legends of replaced images

3: Full management of main images and thumbs of categories

Since PrestaShop 1.6.x, the categories can have two different photos, the main photo that appears in the category page and a second smaller one, the thumb, which is mainly used in lists.

These two types of images can either use the same photo file or two different photos.

Merlin Backoffice 1.4 g now fully supports these two types of images.

For example in the images table, to see which categories have or not have thumbs, to replace them, to add some etc.

See which categories have thumbnails

To understand: the image of "large" size is always constructed from the main photo. The other sizes "medium" and "small" are build from the thumb photo if the category possesses one, otherwise from the main photo.

In the form tab, both types are displayed.

The drag and drop is of course active on both pictures to add or replace photos very quickly:

Drag and drop to replace category thumb

In the photo bulk upload tool, where you can choose the desired format to be created :

Choice the right format when uploading images

Load images and thumbnails by Excel or CSV import:

Yes Merlin 1.4 is now capable to import category pictures and thumbnails as he already did for products:

You can upload images of categories with the import tool

Additional importation settings:

Categories images transfer parameters

4: what if the module could locate by itself all the photos to associate to its variants?

Merlin was already doing it for products. The principle is to ask him to search the files in the folder of your choice and to compare the names of the files (or subfolders) therein with the names of the products, or their reference, Id, barcode ...

But doing it for the combinations is another complexity, not possibl...

Sorry?  you do insist?  ok, we did it too :-):

Bulk research and association between combinations and photos

As you can see, we took this big change opportunity to review the filtering possibilities, so that the module knows how to make complex comparisons, such as to associate for instance a "123_toto_bleu.jpg" image with the product references "123_toto_beta" and "123_toto_final" and specifically to their variants containing the blue color attribute.

Frankly, this feature combined with the automatic filling of the legends with the values ​​of attibuts, it is pure happiness. And it's free for you.

5: Associate photos to the combinations, when they are created with the generator?

For example, tell Merlin what are the blue photos, what are the red photos, what are the photos of the big model, those of the little one... at the same time you tell him what attibutes to be used to create the variants, by selecting the blue, red, big size and small size and let it do the one work...

All you have to do is drag and drop the new images into the attribute lines, in step 3 of the generator / modifier, or to enter the Id of  images already associated to the product:

Create combination with photos automatically assigned based on attrbutes like colors

Merlin will then produce the combinations as before, and then in background, will download the images, associate them with the products, and then specifcly associate them to the combinations depending on their attributes. If, for example, a photo has been associated to the "blue" attribute, all blue color declinations will be associated with it.

All this is done in one operation, with no waiting time. You have never created your product's variants as quickly.

Take note that this mechanism also works on declensions already created (use of the Generator in "Modifier" mode). It is also a very interesting alternative method for quickly adding images to your products and associating them in a totally automatic way with the combinations. This is the end of the long process of filtering the variants by attributes and manually associate to them the corresponding photos. So many working days saved.

And again, this feature is compatible with the intelligent filling of legends. It can be disabled and you can ask it to remove existing associations to current photos:

Combination generator settings on images


6: no more need for FTP connection to transfer images from your workstation to PrestaShop



A large part of the support requests concerns the configuration of the FTP parameters required to upload photos to PrestaShop. And despite our efforts to simplify this task, it's still too technical for many.

In addition some have told us that the transfer by HTTP, made from the backoffice, was faster than the FTP protocol.

Using FTP, however, has some advantages, such as not being limited on file size as is the case with HTTP (Apache upload_max_file_size parameter often set to 2mb).

We decided not to choose for you, but to leave you the choice in an intelligent way. By default, Merlin now uses a new method of transferring local images, using an HTTP connection, requiring no setting at all (new users will be pleased), what is often faster than FTP, and if the transfer fails, Merlin uses as backup solution a transfer via FTP if you have configured it:

Upload image without FTP, by direct HTTP transfer

7: delete current photos before updating products via csv or Excel importation


Before sending new photos to existing products, after importing csv or Excel lists, a new option allows you to delete the photos they already have:

Delete current image before updating product through CSV importation



This will be especially useful for old photos sent with other tools, because for photos sent with Merlin 1.4 and later, you can also choose to let Merlin decide which photos should be re-send, thanks to its history of previous uploads, as explained in the 1st paragraph of this article and thanks to new duplicates protection features.

In addition, when deleting products (from all shops if you are in multi-shops), Merln Backoffice now launches in the background (so without slowing down your work), the deletion of photos of these products, in the database as well as their physical files. This improvement was one of the most frequent requests.



8: zoomable photos and improved ergonomics


A simple click on any photo, in tables or in the "Form" tabs, allows to display it in its original size in a new and movable window:

Simple click to zoom any pictures



This makes it possible to compare photos, to better choose them, to check them or simply to help you in the choice of products or categories to modify or delete.

Due to the presence of this photo zoom feature, we can now afford to decrease the size of the photos in the tables, so we can display more lines at a time.

That's what we did, we reviewed and optimized the size of all the photos in tables. The heights of the lines is set automatically when choosing one size or another. We have also implemented an automatic enlargement of the photos in the "Form" tabs to adapt them to various screen size and resolution.

A detail,  but which is important, in the table of images, the column displaying the photos has been moved back to the first position. So the images are always kept visible when scrolling to see the far right columns:

The photos columns moved to the first place



In short, a whole set of ergonomic changes made to better see the images, or to gain space depending on the context and the type of work to be done.

9: photos are replaced in the front office according to the customer's language

In PrestaShop, legends are multi-language, but not photos. Whether your customer is French or English or any other language, he will see the same pictures of the products. For shops selling clothes, this is not an issue, but for more technical sites, it is often interesting to include texts in the images. But it is impossible to translate them with PrestaShop.

Sitolog offers you a solution to this problem into  Merlin Backoffice. And to convince yourself of the interest of the thing, what better than a concrete example. Click the link above to go to Merlin's page. Look at the photos, most include text bubbles, in French. Now, change the language of Merlin's page to show it in English and look at the photos again. They are not the same, embedded texts (or marketing depending on the case) are in English. Cool isn'it?

How to achieve this? it is very simple, produce images for each language separately and upload them into the product as usual. In the table of the photos of the products, you have a new column titled "Page". It contains the list of languages ​​of your shop. For each picture you can leave the default value "All" or choose a particular language so that the picture appears only in the page of the same language. And of course the functionality of copy paste into multi-lines works on this column to do bulk localization.

Merlin Backoffice allows you to localized photos

Well, let's be honest, that's not sufficient to have it to work, because PrestaShop, natively, does not contain a field in its database to store this kind of info, either any piece of code to handle it. So you'll have to modify the database a bit, to add this section and modify the display code of the pages so that according to the choice of the language by the customer, PrestaShop decides what images to show or hide. Nothing too complicated and we will soon be writing a tutorial for this mod. Keep in touch...

10: ability to reload and restart failed transfer of images

In addition to the color code already used in previous versions (green = real, orange = waiting, red = missing, blue = useless, ...), we added a column "Status" in the two transfer tables indicating more clearly the send status of each line.

The interest is not just to be clearer, it allows you to filter the lines according to their status, for example to quickly select only the lines in failure and re-send them.

In addition, if you export the contents of these tables to an xls file, to reload it later, you will reptrieve the status of each line:

Reload list of send images with transfer status

Conclusion:

There are many other new features in this setting not covered into this article, especially around the securing of data connections and transfer. But there are also many others concerning the treatment of photos that we have not talked about. We leave you the pleasure of discovering all these other ergonomic improvements by yourself.

The completion of this release was for us a great moment, because it allowed us to put in place many nice ideas, concepts and suggestions that had been waiting for a long time.

We hope it will give you as much satisfaction as we have had fun to design, code and test it.

Have good sales.

Franck

SITOLOG

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