An Important Web Site Element Was Missing

April 21, 2016

One of the most important elements of our Vehicle Templates Unleashed Web site went missing last week and quite a few customers let us know about it. This sent me searching for a solution to bring it back.

Let’s first go over what was missing and how it is implemented. When someone visits the site, they have the ability to search the entire library of thousands of vehicle templates. In order to do that, they need a search form (see below). It was gone! Except the form isn’t actually stored on our site.

vehicle-template-search-form

The product manufacturer is in Germany and they maintain the database of all of the templates on their server. So that our customers can search the database and download templates, they provide us with a snippet of code in what is called an iframe that will load the form from their site. This type of integration has been common practice on Web sites for many years.

My initial thought was there was a glitch on the manufacturer’s site. Often these glitches are random, last a very short time and just magically fix themselves with any intervention. When I tested the page with the form a few minutes after I initial saw the form was missing, the form was back. I thought the problem was solved. But it wasn’t. It worked intermittently on my machine in every browser tested. It failed on other machines I tested, even on the same network.

I did contact the manufacturer to see if they were aware of any issues. They weren’t, though they had made a few changes that same day (many hours earlier due to the time difference) so they worried it was connected.

Several hours went by without an obvious solution and I remembered that all of our sites had been upgraded to WordPress 4.5 a few days earlier and I wondered if that was the problem. A quick search mentioned some issues with iframes and WordPress. First up was to install a WordPress plugin named iframe that allowed them to be added to pages in a more integral way. Still no solution, but adding some CSS to the site brought back the form!

free-subscription-formNow that the problem is solved, we are working with the manufacturer to see if we can implement a different solution in the future. We already did this with the form where you can sign up for a free subscription. You have signed up for a free subscription, right? By using a form on our site, the form is now fully responsive and we are able to include the text about the free subscriptions directly on our site and not in an iframe.

We would love to do something similar with the search form, but it is more complicated as it needs to interact with the database on their site and deliver the files for download from their site. It it something that will happen in the future, we just aren’t sure when we will be able to implement it as it requires a lot of custom programming from the manufacturer.

Another question we are often asked is about the templates that are constantly being added to the database. We have started creating blog posts on the Vehicle Templates Unleashed site to list some of the new templates added. Below are a list of recent posts listing templates added.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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