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The e-commerce.

First Day with OSC - A Pro's Perspective


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Howdy all. First things first, I want to say thanks to the devs for the great job- OSC is a great piece of software. In case anyone's interested, the following chronicles some of my first impressions with OSC.


My background: I'm a professional web developer with over 5 years PHP experience, and have worked on numerous medium-huge sites with all sorts of slick gizmos. I primarily write OO PHP these days.



I've been given yet another mission-impossible style task, a full corporate ecommerce site in about 30 days, with a pretty staggering feature set, so the choice was "pre-built" or "late nights", and osCommerce was the choice.


After a few days of reading up on OSC and locating useful contribs, I got busy on installing, configuring, and customizing the app.


1. Install:

Very slick little installer. Easy as pie.

Question: why is the catalog and admin distributed in separate folders, even thouhg the default install has the admin in /catalog/admin?


2. The First Big Mod:

As has been noted, OSC lacks a templating system. This is a complete dealbreaker for me as I whole-heartedly plan to re-skin and re-use my OSC again and again. So I checked out each of the templating systems out there. The only one which really made sense was :

TEMPLATE STRUCTURE Ver 0.9 by Brenden Vickery ([email protected]).


This one works because it doesn't break the page names, which lets the SE-Friendly URLS work.


3. My first challenge: "The Categories Box"

I almost laughed out loud when I saw the code used to write the Categories box: 100% spaghetti. THERE IS AN IMPORTANT VARIABLE NAMED $FOO!! Now, not to poke fingers, but at my job, that kinda stuff can get you *fired*


I'll be honest that I was BLOWN AWAY by the fact that OSC uses so much "page-embedded" procedural PHP. The app is coded in what I call "1995 Style". As I go through the process of removing unecessary graphical elements, Im still surprised to see how unreadable some of the code is. This app could really use a dose of OOP.


I've had a look at the workboard, and I realize that these issues are not of primary concern to the devs, who are moving towards a stable product.


But for anyone out there who is looking at OSC as a "go-to" ecomm package for commercial Web Dev: If you are using OOP practices, and are looking for something embeddable and extendable- OSC may not be the best choice.

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Agreed, then you would find that with any open source project with any history. We are in a sense damned if we do and damned if we don't.


The roadmap/workboard shows where we are going, even with the evolutionary(rather than revolutionary) stlye we have chosen there are those that will complain about broken compatibilty with contributions.


Like any open source project you can contibute code yourself. If the categories code offends you, send us something better. For those cynics who say we don't accept external code, then all I can say is CRAP. Of late ocommerce has accepted/integrated/ more exteral code than ever before.


Don't moan, contribute. Don't whine, assist. We are not perfect. The code is not perfect. The coders are not perfect. Are you?

Trust me, I'm an Accountant.

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Please don't construe my post as whining- I go into this fully understanding that I'm going to need to hack the code severely. But I stand behind my post: I wanted to let anyone expecting a modular app to know what to watch for.


And realistically, wouldnt' any of my "Contributions" be fully dependant on another contribution? One which heavily alters nearly every file in the app so as to work around a single major issue (templating).


But I'll say it again: Oscommerce is a great product- and I'm using it. (and no, I'm not perfect)

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I don't think the kind of structural changes that Matt (and others including me) would like to see can be done from the outside as contributions. Switching to modern object oriented modular coding would be best done starting from the core of the code. Basically it would be nice to see a C++/Java style of coding instead of the older C style.


It would take a while to get done, but then mods, contributions, etc could be done much more easily by deriving classes from the base osCommerce classes instead of hacking the code directly.


Things like having the total price calculated from the items, quantities, attributes, etc in only one place instead of the 3 or 4 places I have found should be an easy enough change to the core code, but I don't think it makes sense to do it as a contribution, especially if it's not a contribution that's going to be merged into the core code eventually.


It's my impression that internal structural changes don't get much attention here, probably because you can't see these differences visually so they don't have an immediate satisfaction factor.

In olden times the men were made of iron and the ships were made of wood; now it's the other way around. :wink:

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The don''t moan, contribute, don't whine assist, comment was not aimed at you personally. I hope you did not take it that way.


Even though I am a Team Member, I also write contibutions. I get pissed off as much as anyone else because I have to spend more and more time updating those contibutions to current code.


We are not going to get there overnight, but I truly blelieve, that with help from everyone in the community, we can make oscommece the first choice for anyone considering an e-commerce site.


there are problems, not only with the code, but also with attitudes in the forums. The most imporant thing is to be positive. Post your problems with the code, post your probelms with the forums, but do not be negative. Be positive, offer solutions, offer help.


And remember, a year ago three members of the dev team were just like you , ordinary forum members. osCommerce is not an exclusive club, we really do try and listen to what you want.

Trust me, I'm an Accountant.

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Ian, everyone, thanks for the kind words!


Alas, I am abandoning osCommerce. My needs have become too specific and the level of hacking is leading to some very weird and un-diagnosable bugs.



Thanks for all your hard work and good luck to the project!

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