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If you are having problems with it these are the things to check.

Firstly, make sure you have enabled the plugin in the Joomla plugin manager.

If you have, are you getting any error message at all? You should make sure that you have the 'Show Error Messages' plugin parameter set to 'yes' as this will help.

Error contacting Amazon Server

If you get an error message saying 'Error contacting Amazon Server' then you are not getting any response from the Amazon Server. In that case:-

  • You should check that you have correctly set up your Amazon Web Services Access Key and your Amazon Web Services Private (also know as Secret) Key, you get these by signing up for an account at http://aws.amazon.com/ . Without these it will not work. See this related article for further information on how to obtain an Amazon Access Key Id and Secret (Private) Key. Also Amazon now require a valid Associates Id. So, to be clear, you require three keys in total, the Access Key, the Secret (Private) Key, and your Amazon associates (also known as affiliates) tag. The access key and secret key must be the master keys for your AWS account, you cannot use IAM credentials.
  • check it is not being blocked by a firewall. We suggest seeing if you can get a response from any of the other Amazon country sites. Sometimes web hosts block Amazon.com, because they are trying to block spammers/hackers who use Amazon cloud services, but they will normally not block amazon.co.uk or amazon.de for example. Also if you are using a firewall extension such as Admin Tools Pro, check that it is not blocking the response from Amazon.

 

Any Other Error Message

Any other error message will be a response from the Amazon server. If you are getting any sort of response from the Amazon server then the problem is most likely with the keywords that you are trying to use, they are probably too specific. The Amazon server will return results only if it can find a product that matches ALL keywords that you use. If you use too many then it probably will not find a matching product, so use fewer.

A good strategy is to start off with some very general search terms that you know should return results for example 'silk', 'scarf'. If you don't get any response then you know that there is something wrong with your setup. If you do get a result you know that the plugin is working and you can start refining your search terms.

The plugin makes things a bit easier by only using the first two metatags that you supply (you can change this in the plugin parameters), so that additional ones can be anything that you like. If you want the results to return a specific product a good trick can be to use the product ASIN or ISBN as one of the first two tags - you can find this on the Amazon product page.

How to debug

You can try going to the Amazon website, picking out a product at random. On the product details section of the page you will see something like:-

ASIN: B005SNSNH6

If it is a book you will see somethng like:-

ISBN-10: 144490602X

Either way this code is that Amazon item id. You can use it to set up the simplest possible code for the plugin, for example:-

{spic}{amazonWS:itemId=B005SNSNH6}{/spic}

or use a very general search, one that is guaranteed to get results:-

{spic}{amazonWS:keywords=Harry,Potter}{/spic}

Put the code in your article text, not anywhere else. View the article, not in a module, but displayed by the Joomla content component, or whatever extension you are using as your content creator.

Depending one what you see will tell you where the problem lies.

  1. If you see the code, you have not enabled the plugin, or you are making an error with the code, eg spelling amaznWS instead of amazonWS. Also if you are using an article extension other than the Joomla content component it is possible that it is not set up to support Joomla content plugins. With some extensions you need to enable this in the configuration.
  2. If you see nothing or 'error contacting server' then the problem is with your basic setup, eg you have made a mistake with the Access Key or a similar error, or the response if being blocked by a firewall. In this case the plugin is activating but Amazon is not responding to the request. Or you have not put the shortcode in your article text, but somewhere else, eg the article metatags, so it is not visible.
  3. If you see a product then the problem was with your search or other parameters. The plugin was working, it was simply that Amazon could not find any products that matched your original request. So you need to modify your search or other parameters.

Some modules can display Joomla articles, but do not always support content plugins, or make this an option that you need to enable. If you can view the product when displayed as a plain article, but not when it is displayed in the module, then this is what the problem is. If you want to display a product in a module, the Joomla custom html module can do this, you just need to enable the support for content plugins in the module options.

 Article Metatags

A mistake that some people make is trying to use the plugin with the article metatags, but getting this wrong. You have to make sure that this is enabled in the plugin options for the category that your article is in, then make sure that you put your keywords in the meta keywords for the article, do not confuse this with the article tags, these are different things. Do not use shortcodes if you are using this method, just the product keywords.

For debugging purpose though it is better to use the plugin shortcode as described above

Debug Output

The plugin has a 'show debug output' option (on the debuggin options tab). This can be very useful, because it displays the exact xml feed being returned by Amazon, so it gives a very good idea of what is happening. If you have problems interpreting it, the you are welcome to copy and paste this to a post in our forum, we will look at it and tell you what is going on.

If you do not get any XML output then you are not contacting Amazon - please review the possibilities described above.