AWeber Jomlink – Still the best bridge

 

Aug
23

1


As, with most great inventions the first AWeber Plugin for Joomla came out of a need we had, internally: we wanted to be able to mail our forum members using our AWeber account.  Developers call writing software to do something you want done  “scratching an itch”.

Today, with the release of the AWeber Jomlink v3.1, I’m going to tell – for the first time – why it rocks.

If you aren’t familiar with email notifications, you may ask “why not just use the internal Joomla! mailing system”?

I’m glad you asked.

First, the technical. Most ISP’s where your site may be hosted will have some sort of limit as to how much mail can be sent. Google, for example, chokes messages at 500/day, while Hostgator (as of this writing) allows about 600 per hour.  With Joomla! there is no way to “throttle” the number of messages sent.

From a legal standpoint, Joomla also has no mechanism to comply with various CAN SPAM laws, or even opt-out capability.

Even if you do get past these hurtles, you still have the issue of trying to get your mail delivered past the spam cops, especially if you are running on shared server.  Add to all the negatives the cool stuff that most email services can do with auto-responders, HTML email, link tracking, etc, it just make sense to use those systems for communicating with your members.

So, now we agree we need an external mail system, right?
(if you don’t have one, try AWeber … they are pretty good).

Here was my problem: someone signed up for an account on the website, I needed to capture their name, email address and other information into the auto-responder service.  How do I do it?

I researched existing solution, of course (I’m lazy enough to buy a commercial solution if it existsed), and found many products that “claimed” do do what was necessary, but:

* One component works by replacing the entire Joomla registration system. Scratch that, no need to swat a fly with a nuke. And that could never work with other system, like Community Builder.

* The next contender actually did a hidden “POST” to the AWeber form, which is against their terms of service.

Submitting subscribers to AWeber via a server-side script (PHP, ASP, ColdFusion, etc.) is not permitted.

* And so on.

I found, and continue to find (some listed in the JED today), equally inane solutions. Scripts using Javascript to redirect, then stopping the script in the middle. Or redirecting to AWeber, but failing to actually complete the signup process.

So, I researched what could be done within the AWeber terms of service, and wrote the necessary software. Reading the F.A.Q. closely, you’ll find you have two options: redirecting, which doesn’t seem to work properly within Joomla, or using the email parser.

Rant: Of course, if I had my way, AWeber would implement a basic API for this sort of thing. Like virtually ALL of their competitors have. If they have a major downside, that’s it.

We took the high road, and went for the parser setup.

Initially, the plugin was pretty simple.  Then, of course, people started asking for more features:

– Can it work with Community Builder extended fields?
– Can it work with Jomsocial extended fields?
– Can I get additional information like the user id?
– Can  I add a signup form to my website?
– Can I capture subscriptions without people leaving the page?
– Can it work properly with “account activation” enabled? (that was a doozy!)

To keep up with those requests – and not break core functionality – we had many “forks” (differing versions) of the plugin. One for Community Builder, another that worked with Jomsocial. A Module. You see where we’re going with this …

So about a year ago, I took the code for all of our AWeber products, and put all the features into one component / plugin / module, and call it the AWeber Joomla Link … but to keep things simple, we shortened that to Jomlink.

Last weekend, we released version 3.1 that supports php 5.3, and yes, the software has ALL the features mentioned above.

In summary: while there ARE other  ways to connect AWeber to Joomla, the AWeber Jomlink is by far the most robust and friendly to your website, while making sure that your account remains in good standing. While there may be some good competing solutions out there, I have yet to find any that is as robust, flexible, cool and proven on 100’s of websites as the systems we create.

So, if you are using AWeber, and you are using Joomla!, pick up your AWeber Jomlink today, and keep in touch with your subscribers.

 

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