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Version 1.6.0 of our Amazon Shopping Cart extension for Joomla has introduced a new feature which makes it possible to display similar Amazon products to the ones being viewed, as a way of increasing options for the customer to buy.

We think that this is a better way to increase buying options than trying to display a long list of products on a single page - which can lead to problems with Amazon throttling. The similar products are fetched using a similarity lookup (described here: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSECommerceService/latest/DG/SimilarityLookup.html), and are loaded after the page has loaded through an AJAX request, so this will not interfere with page loading or the primary requests to Amazon.

Like most Amazon results, these are cached using the plugin caching system, so that repeated loads of a page will lead to the same similar results. However when the cache time expires, a new similarity lookup may result in a different set up products being returned, due to Amazon's random selection.

A similarity lookup may return up to 10 results, but this number is not guaranteed, and sometimes fewer will be returned, or occasionally none, if Amazon do not consider any products to be similar.

Plugin or Module?

To display the similar products we have introduced the Amazon Similar content plugin, and the Amazon Similar module. They both work in much the same way, and have similar options: which one you prefer to use simply depends on what sort of page layout you want. The module can (obviously) be assigned to your choice of Joomla module position, while the plugin output is displayed as part of the main page content, either above or below the main content: on Joomla article pages, and Amazon product and search pages.

If you use the plugin, you must make sure that it is listed after the AmazonWS content plugin in the Joomla extensions manager, so that it will be executed after, so that the ids of the products being displayed will be picked up.

The basic options for the plugin are shown below (the available options for the module are simply Layout and Carousel).

plg similar options

Layout Options

In addition to options controlling which pages the plugin content is displayed on, there are some options for the layout.

Display Position: allows you to choose whether to display the similar products above or below the page content.

Layout: There is a choice of horizontal or vertical layouts. With the vertical layout, products are listed in a column one after the other: this is most suitable for a module in a right or left hand column position. With a horizontal layout, the products are arranged side by side in a row, as long as there is space, then in a new row (illustrated below).

Carousel: By default the products are simply listed, if you prefer you can display them in a carousel to save space, using the Slick carousel (see http://kenwheeler.github.io/slick/ ). It is a good basic carousel and has a choice of options. We may be adding further carousels in future.

 The default horizontal layout

horizontal layout

The same layout displayed in a carousel

carousel

Slick Options

Both the module and the plugin include the same options for the carousel, and are shown below.

 module slick parameters

The Slick settings are described here: http://kenwheeler.github.io/slick/ . Note that you can add any settings that you want using the Additional Settings option, these must be supplied as a comma-separated list as illustrated above.

Customising the Layout

As with any of our Amazon layouts, you can customise the layouts by putting an override for the layout in your site template. You can put the overrides in the following file path:

templates/your-template-name/html/amazonWS/sublayouts/file-name

You must replace your-template-name and file-name with the appropriate values. In this case the appropriate values for file-name are either similar-horizontal.php or similar-vertical.php.