Jump to content
  • Checkout
  • Login
  • Get in touch


The e-commerce.

Advice for newbie


Recommended Posts

I have ambitiously agreed to set up a ecommerce website. However, I currently only know how to create static html pages and don't know PHP or mysql. :shock: I do want to learn though.


I would like to use osCommerce to for the site. What is the best way to learn how to get this accomplished?


Could I hire someone to do the install for me, then proceed from their on my own? Or would I still be over my head?


All advice is welcome.


Oh yeah, I have a merchant account set up with Cardservice International (LinkPoint Basic).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That depends largely upon how much time you have to deliver. The first place to start would be to become familiar with PHP and to some extent MySQL.


Look through the code and see what it does. Refer to the PHP manual if you do not understand what a particular function does or why it is being used.


Hiring someone will get the job done but you will not learn much from it.


Again, it all depends upon how much time you have to deliver and what modifications you need made in order to complete.

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence." - A. Einstein

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

If you are willing to live with the standard layout provided by OSC (i.e. columns as shown on left and right, content in center, same arrangement for boxes), you can just delete all the sample content and key in your own products using the admin facility, without any PHP or MySQL knowledge at all. That will give you a functional site, but it will suffer a certain lack of individuality.


On the other hand, you can learn a little about stylesheets and play around with stylesheet.css. That will give you control over fonts, margins, colors, borders and all the "pretties" that constitute style for the site. You will wind up with the same layout, but it will look different --- somewhat. You will need to be able to read a little of the code to do this efficiently, but you can accomplish this to some degree by trial and error.


Then you could do a little rearranging of boxes, eliminate a few, modify the configuration of some of their properties. That will require you to learn some - not much, but a little - of PHP. You will have to understand how includes/column_left.php, includes/column_right.php, includes/boxes/* and default.php relate. That means you will have to dig into the code and at least follow the flow of the overall logic. Not easy, but worth the time.


You can add some contributions from experienced OSC users - the OSC contributions section has a raft of these - http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions

Most of those have README files that are very explicit with regard to what step-by-step procedures are required to install the contribution. But here one point is important. OSC code is continually changing. You really cannot assume that a contribution will work properly on a release that is later (or much earlier than) the snapshot or milestone for which the contribution was tailored. It often will work fine, but sometimes it won't. If you know PHP and mySQL, perhaps you can adapt the contribution code, once you figure out if and how it must be changed, but that is a sophisticated effort, requiring considerable knowledge of how OSC is programmatically structured. --- And that leads to my next point.


If you really want to master control over OSC, you will absolutely have to understand PHP, mySQL and something about your webserver, which is Apache in my case. That level of understanding requires you to really like and understand the concepts of programming - not just PHP. If you are most interested in the business aspects of your site, the coding of OSC may be best left in the hands of a professional programmer.


There are really two fundamental things going on in the OSC code.

1. The guts of the code are the functions, classes and the SQL code that is dispersed throughout the .php files. These are best left intact, because they provide the low-level interaction between PHP functions, the database and the webserver. Tampering with these runs the risk of completely disrupting the basic functionality of the site. However, the product of these code elements is a set of pseudo-PHP functions that are specifically used to determine the presentation and logic flow of the site. These functions universally start with "tep_".

2. The high-level manipulation of "tep_" functions and the classes of which they are often a part constitute the most coder-friendly tools available to a person interested in providing maximum versatility in the layout and logic of an OSC site, with the least programming hassle. If you learn enough PHP and mySQL to master the use of these functions and classes, you will be able to go a long way in adapting OSC to virtually any problem that comes your way,


This is really a neat and well-thought-out system. If you choose to learn PHP using OSC as your exemplary starting point, you will have chosen well.


Hope this helps.

Tim B.

Artisans of the Ironwork Guild

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Read read read everything you can on the subject, then setup a test server to try thing out. Here is a book I suggest:



PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson from Sams publishing. It goes over all the basics of PHP and mysql and apache.


Amazon reference:





Also, here is the amazon search for "PHP and MySQL"






Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...