Product Update – January 2018

It’s been a busy six months since I last wrote a product update post and development on AutomateWoo has certainly not been idle. Last week we released AutomateWoo 3.5 and now seemed like a good time to let everyone know what’s been happening. Many of the recent changes in AutomateWoo were focussed around performance, stability and scaling. Additionally, many small features have been added based on your requests, such as new rules and variables.

Adding a background processor

In version 3.2, we added the WP Background Processing library from Delicious Brains and over the next few versions we rolled this out for all parts of AutomateWoo which processed large datasets. Previously, AutomateWoo would separate large datasets into chunks and schedule WP Cron tasks every few minutes. This was a slow process which was limited by the number of items which could be processed at once. For example, if you had hundreds of items waiting in the queue they could take hours to process but now they can be completed in a few minutes.

This was an important step forward as it allows for the development of more powerful features in the future!

New features

I won’t mention every new feature here (see the changelog for the full list), instead here are my top picks from the last six months:

  • Ability to include pending, cancelled and failed orders with abandoned cart emails. Simply enable this in Settings.

  • Added support for email preheaders

AutomateWoo email preheader field

  • Improved the Customer Win Back trigger with support for guests and a new maximum days since last purchase option
  • Added shipping, cart fees and product variation data to abandoned carts
  • Added support for MailChimp groups with the new actions Add Contact To Group and Remove Contact From Group

AutomateWoo add contact to MailChimp group screenshot

  • New action: Add Order Note
  • Ability to filter admin views by guest customers (previously you could only filter by registered users)
  • New trigger: Subscription Before End

AutomateWoo subscription before end trigger screenshot

  • New rule: Customer Is Subscribed To MailChimp List?
  • Ability to re-run a workflow from the log

  • Option to completely disable session tracking
  • Added detailed guest data pages in the admin area

AutomateWoo detailed guest info screenshot

  • New review rules: Review Rating and Customer Review Count
  • Added sorting options to the shop.products variable

Object caching and database query optimizations

AutomateWoo has been storing data in custom tables, rather than the wp_posts table, since version 2.0. Custom tables have many benefits to scaling and performance, but there is a slight drawback in that you have to build your own object caching. Over the last six months we have been developing and refining object caching for all our database tables to increase scalability. We have also reviewed and optimized almost every database query in AutomateWoo core and add-ons.

Asynchronous triggers

In version 3.3, we made the decision to process some order and subscription triggers asynchronously. This means that these triggers are now separated from the main event and slightly delayed. The main reason for this change was to speed up events such as the checkout process. Multiple triggers often fire during a single checkout request which slows it down. By delaying these triggers we have noticed a significant performance improvement.

This asynchronous delay will be less than a minute, but it could vary depending on your server’s WP Cron configuration.

Translations

If you are running a German WooCommerce store you might have noticed that translations were gradually added last year. Both AutomateWoo and Refer A Friend now have complete formal and informal German translations. Schön, oder? Many thanks to the talented designer and developer Christoph Rado for creating and maintaining these translations!

If you would to contribute a translation get in touch or submit a pull request on Github with your .PO file.

Finally

With these technical challenges and the WooCommerce 3.0 update behind us we’re looking forward to focusing on new features for both AutomateWoo and Refer A Friend in 2018. Let us know what features you’d like to see this year in the comments!

About the author

After developing custom WordPress themes and plugins for several years, Daniel Bitzer wrote the first line of code for AutomateWoo in 2015. He hails from Australia but loves to travel and work abroad.

27 thoughts on “Product Update – January 2018

  1. Valerie Robinson says:

    How about a “Membership Before End” trigger to go with the same one for Subscriptions?

    Great work btw!

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Great idea, I’ve added it to the roadmap!

  2. Miguel G says:

    Still the best Plugin we have ever purchased. Congrats on such an amazing job and thank you for the constant updates.

    We would love to see a Birthday feature. The plugin could add a Birthday field to the Account Page and Signup/Signin Form, then we can set a Birthday email trigger with an offer, etc.

    Thanks again.

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Thanks Miguel! A birthday trigger is definitely still on the list (I actually made a start on this already) but right now all our attention is on the new ‘campaigns’ feature that upgrades customer optin/optout capabilities, this is going to take a couple of months to finalize

  3. Jason Warren says:

    @disqus_2kHAuB2fQy:disqus we have used WordPress for years. Your plugin is outstanding and the layout, installation, and support is what all plugins should strive to be. Great job and please keep it up!

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Many thanks for the kind feedback Jason! Always appreciated 🙂

  4. Wes Humpage says:

    Great Job Dan, its an awesome plugin

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Thanks for your support Wes!

  5. Daath Boucher says:

    Awesome

  6. An absolute lifesaver of a plugin, new updates sounds great. Thanks for your work, Dan

  7. Guys you’ve been doing an incredible job with this plugin. It’s worked like a charm from the start, all issues have been quickly addressed over support, and new features keep on coming up. I’m certainly gonna keep on renewing this.

    One question I wanted to ask if whether you’ll keep on supporting WC 2.x or if it’s on the roadmap to drop support. We are still on 2.x because of custom-made plugins that need to be upgraded. When/if you do drop support, could you make it very explicit to avoid incompatibility issues?

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Thanks Pablo! Good question, it seems WC core development has really sped up after 3.x and AW will benefit from a lot of the changes they are making. It’s not on the roadmap now but it’s something that could happen in the future. We will first look at how many AW users are using old WC versions before we remove support and we will make it very clear in which version support is dropped.

  8. chadw says:

    I have been extremely pleased with the attention to detail you’ve put into the development of AutomateWoo. It’s refreshing to see a company who is not only keeping up with the constant changes in the WooCommerce ecosphere, but also innovating. Your product is top notch and goes into all of our WooCommerce builds. Keep up the great work!

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback!

    2. I agree wholeheartedly!

  9. Thomas Leliveld says:

    It would be useful if the editor in Automate Woo improve or at least seamlessly incorporates html dump from Mailchimp templates. The editor is basic and the use of templates cumbersome. Lastly, our site’s speed was significantly impacted after switching on Automate Woo. And the conflicting situation between WPML and Automate Woo forced us to deactivate the costly plug in for months. Though I like a lot of the defined functionality, there are tons of issues and still half baked implementations to be fixed. So success, we are keen to see the progress!

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Thanks for the feedback Thomas! I agree the email editor is basic, it’s something we hope to improve. I’m waiting to see if WordPress’s new Gutenburg editor can be adapted to emails. If you want to use raw HTML for emails we could create a separate email action that doesn’t use a template or visual editor. Would that work for you? Regarding WPML, I’m still unclear about what exactly the problem you were experiencing was, waiting on a response from your team.

      1. Thomas Leliveld says:

        Hi Dan, thank you for your feedback! Much appreciated. Your suggested “plain email” format could be useful indeed. You may know that the way Mandril accepts HTMl code made in Mailchimp is flawless. But -as I wrote- if I use the HTML code and paste it in the editor, it simply creates a mess, so to speak. At the moment, I need to create 3 php files that my dev guys merge and then upload – which is cumbersome. Best is that we can simply copy the HTML from Mailchimp onto a clean and “empty” page. Of some sort.

        This leads also to another point: the current solution does not allow me to include any dynamic content, such as User name, abandoned product, and so forth… So essentially making the abandoned cart function very limited or very work-intensive.

        Could you create such “plan” option.?

        wrt WPML, the matter is very complex, and probably beyond my skills… but essentially, we could not activate automate woo, with WPML and the coupon plug in. We changed server provider and now actually this is solved… but it appeared that since WC 3.2.x many of these plug-ins were no longer compatible. Thomas

        1. Dan Bitzer says:

          Ok I’ve added this send raw HTML email feature to our roadmap, I’ll let you know when it is developed

          1. Thomas Leliveld says:

            Cool thank you – generally, what does that mean? 1 week, 1 month or 6 months? … 🙂

          2. Dan Bitzer says:

            I’m going to aim for 2-4 weeks 🙂

          3. Thomas Leliveld says:

            That sounds reasonable. Super. Thank you!

  10. kmanasis says:

    Any plans for Push Notifications support?

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      It’s not on the current roadmap

  11. I’d love to see:
    1. Better anaylitics for the workflows to know what is working and has best conversions.
    2. A/B testing of workflow emails
    3. Ability to duplicate a workflow (as a copy)
    4. Display products by custom taxonomies in shop.products variable to pair with taxonmy term trigger

  12. Victor S. Tronko says:

    this Plugin looks as if it could solve lots of issues for us- is there anyone who you would recommend to perform a setup and help us develop initial campaigns?

    1. Dan Bitzer says:

      Hi Victor, your best option would be to find a digital agency or freelancer with experience in WooCommerce and marketing.

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