Laravel Envoyer Notifications in Zoho Cliq

I recently switched a project from a home-grown deployment script to Laravel Envoyer. While the homegrown script could maybe have been adapted it would have taken time, and had to be maintained, and Envoyer offers some useful extras like Slack, Discord, and Microsoft Teams integration, and heartbeat monitoring.

Except we don’t use Slack, Discord, or Teams, we use Zoho‘s Slack competitor, Cliq.

Comparing Slack’s web hooks with Cliq we see that a bot is needed in Cliq, but making one is super-easy, on the order of four or five clicks.

Once there is a bot it can receive web hooks. Figuring out the right way to provide an authentication token was weird, there is not clear documentation, but the reply from Eric Hirst in in the Zoho forum thread announcing Cliq bots has a solution that works.

Now we can receive web hooks, I tried putting the bot’s web hook URL in for both Slack notifications and Discord notifications in Envoyer, and I got notifications. Both systems expect a POSTed JSON object, so that’s what they get. The Discord one is simpler one of the properties is simply markdown text, which Cliq understands, so the Cliq incoming web hook handler needs to grab that markdown text and return it so the bot will post the message in Cliq.

// Configure the bot's incoming webhook URL in any third-party service to trigger this handler.
response = Map();
message = body.toMap();
if(message.containKey('content'))
{
	response.put("text",message.get('content'));

	// If you want the bot to post to one of your channels, and want it to appear
	// as the bot posting, add the bot info like this. Otherwise it the message 
	// will be "from" the person who owns the auth token, with a small "bot" flag next to it.
	response.put('bot',{"name":"Envoyer","image":"https://envoyer.io/img/favicons/apple-touch-icon-120x120.png"});

	// If you want to post to a channel this is how. If you don't do this the bot
	// will simply post the message to any chats it has open.
	zoho.cliq.postToChannel('general',response);
}
return response;

The beauty of simply dumping the markdown into the chat is that this simple code handles all notifications from Envoyer, including successful & failed deployments and heartbeat notifications. You can look for specific text and alter your notification if you want, (I have a big headline for successful deployments), but it’s not needed.

It would be easier to test this if there was a way to trigger a test notification in Envoyer, but Envoyer isn’t really something to tinker with, it’s supposed to just work. It would also be great if Envoyer could support Zoho Cliq directly, but I’m not sure many people in the Laravel community are using Zoho.

So now we have Envoyer notifications in Zoho Cliq in our organization. If you’re one of the few Laravel / Zoho unicorns out there like me you can have them too.

Gallery Captions for WooCommerce

Gallery Captions for WooCommerce is a WooCommerce Extension that adds captions to the product images on WooCommerce’s Single-Product page. It is my first commercial WooCommerce extension, and I’m happy to say it’s available for purchase on WooCommerce.com.

Why Captions?

On the surface this seems like a question with an obvious answer: To tell potential customers what they’re seeing in an image.

But when researching I found even more compelling reasons: Captions may be the most-read text on a page, (even more than the page title!). If a caption isn’t the most-read text it’s still very well-read, and the combination of an image and caption can help customers understand what they’re looking at and make a well-informed buying decision.

Super Simple

Gallery Captions is super simple to use. There is documentation, (of course), but it’s barely needed. There are no settings, just install & activate the plugin and it will pull the information set as the Title and Caption in your Media Library. I may add options in the future to choose to show the title, caption, or description, but for now it’s super-simple.

Add Captions to Your Store

If you want to add captions to your WooCommerce product galleries, (and you should want to), then go ahead and use Gallery Captions for WooCommerce.

DeadTrees 1.1: More Cover Sources

An update to DeadTrees, my WordPress plugin for sharing the books I read, is now live in the WordPress Plugin Repository. This update does one major thing: diversifies the sources of cover images.

What happened was Amazon introduced a quota on the API that the original DeadTrees was using to fetch cover art. The API quota is based on how many sales a user has, and I’m famous enough to have many sales, so my API access was eventually cut off. When I started posting my backlog of books I really wanted cover art, so I polished off the (very) dusty code and got to work.

Version 1.1 of DeadTrees maintains support for Amazon cover art and adds support for fetching cover art from OpenLibrary.org and LibraryThing. There’s a setting to try Amazon first or last, and the plugin tries to be smart about when to try OpenLibrary.org or LibraryThing, (it prefers OpenLibrary.org, as they seem to provide larger images, and don’t require an API key).

If you want to see DeadTrees in action take a look at the list of books I have read, which is powered by DeadTrees. For support post in the WordPress.org forum, and for bugs & feature requests post in the same forum or create a Github issue.

Happy Reading!

WP e-Commerce to WooCommerce

There’s a pair of websites that I have looked after for a long time. They belong to a company that sells a few products, and have had quite a few sales over the years. This fall we’re doing some major renovations, and one of the things being changed is the underlying E-Commerce plugin for WordPress; we are changing from WP e-Commerce to WooCommerce. I expected that after installing WooCommerce it would offer to convert my WPeC store into a WooCommerce store. I was wrong. There was an official converter plugin but it was abandoned long ago.

Options to change a site from WP e-Commerce to WooCommerce

It looks like there are three ways to change a site from WP e-Commerce to WooCommerce:

  1. Use a commercial service like Cart2Cart. Cart2Cart looks great, but is made to move a store from one site to another, and I need an in-place conversion. They also charge per-migration, so if I want to migrate my localhost, modify the theme for WooCommerce, then migrate the live site, I’ll have to pay 1.5 times, (they give a 50% discount for re-migrating a site). With two sites my bill would have been around US$450, high enough for me to look at other, more complicated options.
  2. Create or update something like the old WooCommerce migration plugin.
  3. Manual Migration: This would involve a lot of SQL.

Cart2Cart looks ill-suited for my use-case, and expensive. Manual migration looks difficult, highly prone to errors, and not easily repeatable. This leaves creating or updating a migration utility. This migration script by Carl Hughes is bit newer than the WooCommerce one, promises to do more out of the box, and quick read-through doesn’t show anything too mysterious. It was my starting point.

Updating and Testing

It took three times as long as expected to update & test the migration plugin. Here’s what I learned, for anyone else that might be considering the same type of process:

  • This should go without saying, but this migration is destructive. If it fails the database will be in a strange state between WPeC and WooCommerce. Have a backup.
  • Since migrating from WPeC to WooCommerce changes the database, but only the database, (no media files are touched), a backup of the WordPress database is required. A lot of time will be spent reloading from the backup, so put it somewhere easy to get. Mine was on my desktop. Bonus points: a short bash script to reload the DB from the backup will save development time.
  • Make the backup be the exact state that the migration should run from. It is not efficient to disable a plugin in the WP Admin every time the database is reloaded.
  • Some plugins really slow down the migration. The most obvious ones are WP e-Commerce itself, and any Varnish caching plugin. If they are disabled the migration will run faster.
  • Each payment gateway, (plugin for a payment processor, in WPeC terminology), stores transaction data a little differently. I added the ability to port data from Authorize.Net credit card transactions, but separate routines need to be written for other processors.

Updated Migration Plugin

My fork of the migration plugin is up on Github, and a I sent a pull request to the original author so he can include my work if he wants. If you need to migrate from WP e-Commerce to WooCommerce hopefully this can help a bit. Read the readme. Migrating is harder than it should be, but it is possible.

Automating the Fracturing of a Git Repository

I have a git repo that’s become a monster. It’s got at least two WordPress themes, a handful of custom WordPress plugins, some .htaccess files, an artwork directory, and more. Back in the dark times, when it was a Subversion repository this sort of made sense, in that I didn’t have to set up a new repo on the server for each component in the project. But I haven’t touched SVN in a long time, and making new repositories in Git is easy. We’re doing some major work on this client’s sites this fall, so it’s time to break up the giant repository into several smaller ones.

The monolith repository is being split into seventeen smaller components. One of these components is an “artwork” directory, the ~600MB history of which will bloat the git history of all sixteen other repositories if we don’t purge it properly. The goals of this script are:

  1. Avoid typing the same set of commands seventeen times.
  2. Keep the appropriate git history for each of the seventeen components.
  3. Purge any unrelated git history so each component only has its own history in its .git directory.

Github has a help page on splitting a subfolder into its own repository, and another on removing files from a repository’s history, (it’s meant for sensitive data, but works for all data). In theory we only really need the first link, but in testing the entire history of the monolith remained when only following the instructions in the first link, but with the purge and garbage collection commands from the second link the git history is down to an appropriate size.

The script is relatively simple, but relies a bit on directory structure. It should be in the same directory as the monolith repo, (the script doesn’t go into the monolith, it goes in the same containing folder). There are two places to change the script:

  1. Put the directories for extraction into the repos array, (starting on line 5). These paths are relative to the root of the repository.
  2. Put the path of a copy of the monolith repo for use as a source in the master variable, (line 16).

Once that’s done, running ./export-directory-repos.sh should export the repositories.

Here’s the gist:

#!/bin/bash
# Enter the paths in the main repo to the subdirectories you want to extract
# Separate paths with spaces or newlines
repos=(
artwork
checklists
code/comingsoon
code/utility
)
echo "Total repos to export : ${#repos[*]}"
# Put the directory of the main repo here.
master=monolith-repo-master
for repo in "${repos[@]}"
do
subdir=$(basename $repo)
echo "${repo} => ${subdir}"
cp -R $master $subdir
cd $subdir
git filter-branch –prune-empty –subdirectory-filter $repo master
git for-each-ref –format='delete %(refname)' refs/original | git update-ref –stdin
git reflog expire –expire=now –all
git gc –prune=now
cd ../
done