Monday, 26 November 2012

New Home::1 order form

Well, OSPF is still on hold waiting for Paul to put together a test system, but he is a tad rushed at present. So I am progressing the new tariff Home::1.

We have the initial pricing and usage model all pinned down. It does not mean it cannot change in the future, but we have the starting point, and even a bonus on Christmas day (extra 3GB allowance added).

So, we need a new ordering page for it - a simple one, as it is targeted at single line home customers.

But we are sort of trying to do a completely new ordering system. Catch is, we can't really wait for that. So I spent this afternoon coding an order page for Home::1, in C.

We have some pretty good libraries and wrappers for sql and xml, and using curl lib and a few other bits I was able to put together some reasonably maintainable C code to handle the whole order page.

The idea is a "single form". This is not a new idea - we started with this 16 years ago with one form for mobile phone orders, and then later one form for broadband orders. I think people like it.

With the range of services we normally offer, that has not been the way to go, but this Home::1 tariff can be just one form. So it asks about the line, your name and address, what tariff you want, sortcode and account number, and bingo - ordered.

Of course I expect loads of people get errors, so the form comes back. It sanitises some fields (postcode, phone numbers) and consistently highlights fields with errors, clearly stating the problem and putting the cursor in the right place. Making sure all fields are maintained after posting the form is critical, obviously, but so many web sites get that wrong. The most common issue seems to be the "untick this to avoid junk mail" always comes back ticked after an error. We don't even have one of those boxes :-)

I think I can even do it with no cookies!

I will call it a night now I think - I have all the validation and just need the final checks on some of the response codes from the BT availability check before I can make it actually place an order. That last stage is not too complicated. I already have functions from the existing ordering system for allocation of login names, and IPv6 addresses, and so on.

With any luck, by end of tomorrow, I can have a new Home::1 order form up and running.

Then we just need it on the web site and TBB and ispreview and so on. But lets wait for some test customers first :-)

Update: I think I have it ready - just need a new customer wanting Home::1 now!
Update: On the main web site - and awaiting first order!


  1. "So it asks about the line, your name and address, what tariff you want, sortcode and account number, and bingo - ordered."

    If the form is filled out from your A&A line, can't some of those fields be auto-populated?

    1. Ah, sorry, I was not clear - this is the order form for new customers.

      The switching of existing customers over to the new tariff is something we have sorted already, just need to work out if we make that a simple button, or a call to sales.