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New Users FAQ

Most popular FAQ's:

How do I install Associate Engine?

See the Download & Installation page. If you have a problem installing the script, see the Troubleshooting FAQ.

» Why aren't product images showing for apparel products? Web Services (AWS) does not provide images of most apparel products. Associate Engine (and all other AWS-based scripts) can only display those product images that's AWS provides. It is a shortcoming of's AWS. If you're main objective is to display apparel products, no AWS-based script will do that well. Contact and ask them to provide product images for more apparel products.

» I installed the demo and the links don't show my associate ID. Why?

The demo version does not insert your associate ID in the links. When you purchase a license for Associate Engine, your associate ID will appear in the links. To purchase, click here.

» Does Associate Engine support Amazon's international website such as and

For, search results are based on For a live example, see For full details, see Using Associate Engine with

For Amazon's other international websites (,,,, Associate Engine provides partial support Note: Search results are based on the U.S.-based website -- results are not based on the international websites. See example showing "Buy from: Canada, United Kingdom" links -- the main product links go to

What is an Associate Engine key and where do I get one?

The Associate Engine key is a small text file called ae-key.txt that contains a software key that enables the Associate Engine to work with your amazon associate ID. Without the key file, Associate Engine runs in demo mode and all links point to the home page (without your associate ID). To obtain a key file for your amazon associate ID, use the Key Request form. Once you obtain your ae-key.txt key file, upload it to the same directory on your webserver where you installed the Associate Engine script file.

Do all links have my amazon associate ID?

Yes, if you are a registered user of Associate Engine then all links to amazon generated by the Associate Engine will have only your amazon associate ID. You must install your Associate Engine key file to ensure that your amazon associate ID appears in links.

Will you install the Associate Engine script for me?

No. We do not do installations. You will have to install the Associate Engine script yourself or have your hosting company install it for you. See the Download & Installation page.

» I read that Associate Engine is a cgi-bin perl script. What is a cgi-bin perl script?

A cgi-bin perl script is not a Windows program such as Microsoft Word or Excel that you run on your desktop computer using a mouse. A cgi-bin perl script is a program that you upload to your webserver. Perl is a programming language. A typical perl script has a filename that ends with ".pl" and is uploaded by you to the "cgi-bin" directory on your webserver. If you look in the cgi-bin directory on your webserver, you may notice that it may already contain other perl scripts for your website that your hosting company may have pre-installed on your webserver such as a guestbook or hit counter.

You do not run the Associate Engine perl script like you would run a Windows program. Instead, your webserver automatically runs the Associate Engine perl script whenever a user accesses one of your webpages that contains an HTML statement that references Associate Engine. For more information, see the New Users: Start Here page.

Do I need to get an "ECS Access Key" from

No. You only need to have an amazon associate ID.

I only know HTML. Can I still use Associate Engine?

Yes, you can still use Associate Engine. You only need to know how to create an HTML webpage and add a standard HTML link to your webpage. For more information and a step-by-step tutorial, see the New Users: Start Here page. We also provide many ready to use sample HTML examples that you can copy and paste into your webpage.

However, you will need to have someone install Associate Engine. This requires some knowledge of how to install a cgi-bin perl script, and how to use FTP and CHMOD.

» By using Associate Engine, will the commission rate increase?

No, the commission rate is determined and set by See the Associates' Operating Agreement, in particular the "Referral Fees" and "Referral Fee Schedule" sections.

» Can I run Associate Engine on several websites?

Yes, you can run Associate Engine on several websites provided that you own the websites, you own the domain names, and the associate ID belongs to you. No additional licenses are required (for up to 10 different associate/tracking ID's).

For each associate ID (or tracking ID) that you want to use with Associate Engine, you request an ae-key.txt file from us. Each ae-key.txt file is for a particular associate ID (or tracking ID). You can use that same ae-key.txt file on all or as many of your websites that you want (provided that you own those domain names). Some webmasters have more than one associate ID (or tracking ID) -- in that case, another ae-key.txt file is required for each additional associate ID (or tracking ID). Up to 10 ae-key.txt files can be requested per Associate Engine license. You do not have to buy a new license for each associate ID (or tracking) that belongs to you. If more than 10 ae-key.txt files are required, then another Associate Engine license must be purchased (it permits another 10 ae-key.txt files). For example, if you have one associate ID (one ae-key.txt file) and 25 websites (or 100 websites!) (and you own all those domains), then you could install Associate Engine on all of those websites. And you could still request 9 more keys in the future! To obtain an ae-key.txt file, fill in the key request form. When we receive a key request, we manually verify that it is from someone who has purchased a license. When a license is purchased (via, sends a receipt by email to us that details what was purchased and who purchased it (name and email address) -- NOTE: the receipt does not include credit card information and does not include address information. If we cannot match the name/email with a receipt, then we ask the person to forward their receipt to us. All the ae-key.txt files for a particular license have the expiry date of the license. In summary, you can use a particular ae-key.txt file on more than one website. And you can request up to 10 keys per license.

» Will I receive the 2.5% premium?'s 2.5% premium is for all items (other than wireless products) sold through direct links. It is that decides what is a direct or indirect link. See the webpage on the website that describes Compensation. That webpage contains the following statement:

Note about Direct vs. Indirect Links: If a customer follows a direct link to an item and then adds it to their Shopping Cart, it is considered a direct purchase. The direct-link premium is applied when customers add direct-linked products to their carts, even if they visit other product pages first. The following link types also qualify for the direct-link premium: Served Individual Item, Individual Item, Marketplace Item, Quick-Click Buying, and those created via Amazon Web Services (Remote Add-to-Cart, Remote Shopping Cart, and Individual Item). Non-title-specific links (Home Page, Search Box, Redirect, and Keyword Search) and Amazon Recommends links (Browse, Keyword, Bestseller, Easy, etc.) are considered indirect.

According to's definition, the product links in Associate Engine output are direct links.

The default templates also contain links to the home page (e.g.: "Associated with" link) and considers these as indirect links.

See also's Operating Agreement.

» Can I show Google AdSense ads on Associate Engine pages?

It is technically possible, and some of our Associate Engine users are doing that. We recommend that you check the Google AdSense Program Policies and Google AdSense Online Standard Terms and Conditions to make sure that you are in compliance with Google's requirements.

Insert your Google AdSense HTML into your Associate Engine template file. If you're using the Store template files, you may want to use the store.include.* configuration variables to include a text file that contains your Google AdSense HTML. uses Google to advertise. So ads may (and probably will) show up on your website via Google AdSense. You may want to exclude ads from showing up on your website. To exclude ads, login to Google AdSense, click on "Ad Settings" tag, click on "URL filter", click "Add / Edit sites", add "" to the list, and click "Save changes".

What are the terms of use for Associate Engine?

See the License Agreement.

Can I use Associate Engine on a free web host?

We do not recommend running Associate Engine on a free web host.

» Can I use Associate Engine on a Windows NT IIS server?

Associate Engine was designed and tested to be run on a linux/unix webserver. It also works on a Windows NT IIS webserver provided that the server can run perl scripts (see Associate Engine may run slower on a Windows webserver compared to a linux/unix webserver. Also, to enable the cache mechanism, you will have to add write permissions to the domain users accounts. We recommend that you download & install the free demo version and try it out.

» Are Associate Engine results indexed by

We do not make any guarantee that or any other search engines will index results that appear on your website via Associate Engine. However, we have observed that has in fact indexed results on many of our users websites. Search for "Powered by".

In addition, Associate Engine supports Virtual Directory so that Associate Engine can look like a directory with static HTML files, such as:

» Does Associate Engine use an "on site" shopping cart?

We do not have any current plans to adding a shopping cart directly to Associate Engine because Associate Engine supports's Quick-Click buttons.'s Quick-Click buttons put's shopping cart into a pop-up window so the user doesn't have to leave your website. For an example, go to and click on any "Buy from Amazon" button that appears in any results. See the addto.* configuration variables.

Will you create the webpages for me?

No. We provide many ready to use sample HTML examples that you can copy and paste into your webpage. We also provide some basic page templates and a set of store page templates. You can create and modify page template using your HTML editor.

Basic page template (orange)


Store page template

Where is the Associate Engine script run from?

You install the Associate Engine script to your own webserver and it is run from there. See the Download & Installation page and the New Users: Start Here page.

Can I customize the results to match the look and feel of my website?

Yes, the results can be customized through Page Templates.

How do I specify what results I want to display?

The products selected and output format used are determined by parameters that you as the webmaster include as part of the link to the Associate Engine script (or as part of the <script> tag or Server-Side-Include statements) as shown in the following:

See the New Users: Start Here page, the Quick Tutorial, and the Script Parameters complete reference guide

I don't want to recreate on my website. Can I display a narrow selection of products?

Yes. Associate Engine can be used to display a narrow selection of products (e.g.: Palm devices), or a wider selection of products (e.g.: all electronics products), or a very wide selection (e.g.: all products).

See the Harry Potter examples on the New Users: Start Here page.

Why does my web server error log show entries for files like "/..%5c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe" ?

Those errors are not related to Associate Engine.

Those errors are from viruses (and possibly hackers) trying to exploit Windows NT server vulnerabilities to break into your web server (if it is an NT server). That's what the cmd.exe of "..%5c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe" is indicating. It is common to see various cmd.exe (and other .exe's and _vti...) in web server error logs. If you have a linux/unix server then ignore them since those particular exploits only exist in Windows NT servers. If your web server is a Windows NT server, then you should verify with your hosting company that the latest security updates have been installed on your web server.

» What optimizations can I do to speed up Associate Engine?

To speed up Associate Engine, you can do the following optimizations:

If you are seeing "The server is too busy" messages, then do the above optimizations. And you can also edit ae-ini.txt and set the maxLoad configuration variable to a higher number (e.g.: 50) instead of the default of 20 or change it to 0 (the number zero) to turn off load checking. The error message is shown when the load on your server is greater than the value specified by maxLoad (setting maxLoad to 0 turns off load checking).

» When I click on a "Buy from" button my ID does not show up in the Address bar of my web browser. Why?

The "Buy from" button is a form submit button that uses a POST method (rather than a GET method). With the POST method, parameters (such as your associate ID) do not show up in the URL. This is how POST works. If you view the HTML source of the webpage that contains the button, you will see your associate ID as a <INPUT TYPE=HIDDEN> hidden form field.

» How do I get Associate Engine to display product details locally?

To make Associate Engine display product details locally, set the asinsearch.format configuration variable in ae-ini.txt. For example:

asinsearch.format "details6"

The above setting would cause the ae-format/details6.html formatting file to be used to show product details locally when the user clicks on the product link in the search results.

See also:

» Why is user-agent " ae v..." showing up in my server log?

Log entries showing " ae v..." as the user-agent are okay and expected in Associate Engine (v4.04.04 or higher). In the past, those " ae v..." entries would have appeared as web browser user-agents (such as "IE6", at least for those web browsers that run <script> tags).

To turn those off, set configuration variable ssi.script to no. But that will turn off the feature introduced in Associate Engine v4.04.04 that makes Associate Engine convert to HTML any <script> tags that refer to Associate Engine. For example, in the store templates, the "top sellers" sidebar column is generated using a <script> tag that refers back to Associate Engine. In previous versions, that <script> tag would be processed by the web browser and you would see two lines in your log file (both caused by the web browser). As of Associate Engine v4.04.04, Associate Engine fetches the HTML generated by the <script> tag itself (thus causing an entry in the log from Associate Engine) and then puts that HTML into the total HTML sent to the web browser. Advantage: search engines now see the total HTML (search engines don't run <script> tags). "Top sellers" grids on browse index pages are also <script> generated; so you'll see those in your log too. If you are using local details pages, you'll also see entries for "accessories" and "similar products" that appear on details pages.

» I've been using Associate Engine for several years now. How does the annual license fee affect me?

Bought on or after 1-Jun-2003:
If the Associate Engine license was bought from 1-Jun-2003 onward, the license renewals are already being enforced (first renewal will happen when we reach 1-Jun-2004). A renewal notice email will be sent to you about one month before your key's expiry date. See your ae-key.txt file for its expiry date.

Bought before 1-Jun-2003:
If the license was bought before 1-Jun-2003, license renewals are not required to use the current version of -- but the version of as of 1-Jan-2005 (i.e.: v5.01.01) will require a valid renewed license. Note: If, on or after 1-Jan-2005, you want a new key for another amazon ID (or a replacement key file), then a valid renewed license is required.

So, if you bought before 1-Jun-2003, you can keep using your current keys with a version of less than v5.01.01 but some features may break by then.

So, long time users have until 1-Jan-2005 to renew if they want to use v5.01.01 or higher. We feel that this is a fair thank you to those users who adopted the Associate Engine script early on. We do appreciate your long time commitment with us; if you do decide to voluntarily renew on or after 1-Jan-2005, then that would be appreciated.

The annual renewal license fee is $9.95 (renew here), compared to the initial license fee which is $24.95 (U.S. currency).

Where can I see some live websites using Associate Engine?

Click here.

Is there support? And is it free?

Support is free and it is provided by e-mail (our offices are closed on Saturday & Sunday). If you have a support issue, contact us for support.

Is it easy to install?

Yes, Associate Engine is easy to install. To install Associate Engine, follow the detailed installation instructions. Please note that a minimum understanding is required, such as: how to use an FTP program to upload, how to upload in ASCII mode, and how to use CHMOD to enable a script to run.

Is it easy to use?

Yes, Associate Engine is easy to use. Plenty of online documentation is provided, such as:

Are other webmasters using this?

Yes, many webmasters are using Associate Engine. See some live samples.

Does recommend this?

Yes, Associate Engine is recommend by the company, Inc. and their review of it is:, Inc. review:

"...[Associate Engine] script is a truly professional product, and it is just one of a number of tools that [Cusimano.Com Corporation] promotes to Associates on [its] Web site. If you want to use an application offered by a real business with a specific mission to help Associates, the [Associate Engine] script is the way to go." --, Inc.

Is there sample HTML that I can copy/paste?

Yes, sample HTML is provided that you can copy/paste into your own HTML files. See Sample HTML.

Can I customize it?

You can customize the overall page layout (the macro view) as well as change the format of the results themselves (the micro view). See Changing the Format.

Is there a free demo?

Yes, a free demo is available. Links in the demo do not contain any associate ID. You can also request a free temporary 1-month key to unlock the demo into the full version. Thus, not only is a free demo available, a 1-month full version is also available.

Do I make 100% of the commission?

Yes, you make 100% of the commission. Once you have your key file to unlock Associate Engine, your links will only have your associate ID (without the key file, links contain no associate ID). We will never put another associate ID in your links like what scripts from other companies do.

» Why are there "zombie" processes?

Zombie processes are a normal part of unix servers (whether the processes are Associate Engine or some other program) and are not a problem. A process (such as Associate Engine) enters the zombie state when it has finished (and released all its program/data memory) but the parent process that started it (e.g.: Apache web server) has not yet gotten around to seeing that the child process finished. So the presence of zombie processes just means that the parent process is busy. When the parent process eventually gets around to seeing that the child process has finished, the parent will cause the child process to disappear from the ps process table.

If you redisplay ps after a few moments, you should see that those zombie processes will have been cleaned up by the unix operating system (other zombie processes might have appeared in the mean time; see the processes's PID). In unix, a zombie process means that the process (which is a child process) has exited and the unix OS is waiting for the parent process to ask if the child has finished yet. When the parent process eventually asks about the status of the child process, the unix OS will tell the parent process about the exit status and then will remove the child process's entry from the process table (Note: when the child process exited, resources used by it were immediately made free; only an entry in the OS's process table remains so that the child's exit status can be told to the parent process -- no other memory is used). If your web server is busy handling numerous requests (Associate Engine or regular requests), you might see one or more zombie processes. These will clear up when the web server httpd process eventually gets around to checking the exit status of the finished

You cannot kill a zombie process, because it's already dead. It is merely taking up an entry in the process table until the parent process asks about the status of the child process.

Further reading:

More FAQ's for Associate Engine:

Do you have any other webmaster tools that I can use?

Yes. Click here.

How do I contact you for support?

E.&O.E.; © Cusimano.Com Corporation;