VirtueMart Control Panel
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If you selected to install the sample data, after the upload is complete you will be automatically taken to the VirtueMart Control Panel, displayed in the Joomla Administrator interface (although it is accessible through the front-end as well). In the Administrator interface, it is accessible from the VirtueMart menu item on the Components menu. The Control Panel (see Figure 11-2) provides quick access buttons to the most useful screens of the component. The Control Panel also contains virtual store statistics on the right side of the screen for an instantaneous summary of the current store activity.
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Figure 11-2. The Control Panel on the Administrator interface takes you to different parts of the virtual store setup.
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The menu bar displayed on the Control Panel provides access to all of the VirtueMart screens. Most of the setup options, since they do not need to be regularly accessed after initial store creation, are not available as quick access buttons on the Control Panel. Use the menu bar to access them.
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Due to the serious legal implications of taxation, you should begin your store formulation by creating a tax item that defines a tax rate. The default install includes a single entry for the state of California in the United States. Wherever you re doing business from, make sure that the tax rate is set properly for your region. To set up a tax rate option that is different from the one installed (or to set up several), select the Add Tax Rate option from the Tax menu. The Add Tax Information screen (see Figure 11-3) will be displayed, on which you can make the appropriate selections.
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Figure 11-3. The Add Tax Information screen allows configuration of country, state/region, and tax rate.
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VirtueMart includes an extensive list of countries and regions within those countries. If your country or region isn t included in the list, you can add it through the VirtueMart administrative interface. There is a Country submenu under the Admin menu that holds the Add Country option. This option will add an entry to the jos_vm_country table. To add a state or region, you have to make the addition manually through MySQL. Open the MySQL Administrator application, right-click the jos_vm_country table, and select the Edit Table Data option. Find the country for which you want to add a region and write down the value in the country_id column for later reference. If you ve just added a new country, you will find it in the last row in the list.
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Open the jos_vm_state table and create a new record. You can leave the state_id column empty, as the auto-increment setting will automatically assign it an ID. Enter the ID of the associated country you wrote down earlier in the country_id column. Type the name of the state, a three-character abbreviation, and a two-character abbreviation into the appropriate fields, and apply the changes. Any added entries will now appear in the appropriate drop-down list. Note that these changes will have to be re-created on any other VirtueMart installations. Therefore, be sure to back up your entire Joomla database to allow for full restoration in the event of system failure.
There are a great many settings available through the Configuration option of the Admin menu. A few options should be configured during the initial setup of your virtual store. When you display the Configuration screen, you are first presented with the Global tab and the associated options (see Figure 11-4).
Figure 11-4. The Configuration screen holds the parameters for all of the global VirtueMart settings.
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Global Tab Settings
To use VirtueMart strictly as an online catalog, you can check the Use only as catalogue option. For most users, the default tax options of the Global tab are appropriate, but be sure to check them for your needs. On the Front-end Features pane, the Enable Customer Review/Rating System setting is active by default. Since this option allows users to not only rate products but also write reviews, consider carefully whether you want to leave it enabled. Unless you are a large company like Wal-Mart, a single bad review can negate a lot of potential sales. However, deleting bad reviews or stuffing the rating ballot box are not the choices most companies should take either. If you choose to keep this enabled, your company will have to take the good with the bad. You should also review the legal information text displayed in the Legal Information Text field. Since the default text holds such information as the return policy, you are committing your virtual store to the terms found in this copy. Be sure it accurately reflects the policies of your store.