Get it right, lazy blogger

Over at “Raw SEO” I stumbled across an article about osCommerce, telling us why osCommerce is a nightmare.

osCommerce does have problems and some of them are big ones, but let’s keep perspective on this – here’s my response to this lazy blogger;

1) no separation of logic and presentation

True. osCommerce was first conceived in the late 90’s, hence this problem. There have been attempts to correct this using “template systems” such as BTS and STS, both of which haven’t really grasped the idea. The latest osCommerce goes some way to separating logic and presentation however.

2) difficult to integrate into an existing design

False. It is -very- simple to integrate any design into osCommerce. Remember that osCommerce usually becomes your website, not the other way around.

3) security a) Although it is updated, #1 makes it very difficult to make updates without having to manually open up each .php file and make the changes yourself.

There are a number of good contributions that deal with all sorts of security issues.

b) By default, there is no password protection in the admin section

There has been since RC release of osCommerce, which I believe was released over two years ago.

c) When oscommerce was first built, the latest version of PHP was 3.0. Because of this, old and insecure practices were used to build the core of the system. An example is register_globals.

Explained this one away yourself!

4) cannot have multiple sizes of image previews

False. There are any number of contributions that are multiple image sizes – I’ve even released 2 or 3 of them!

5) admin navigation issues a) hard to do shipping cost per item per country

This is what “zones” postage module is for. There is also a few more contributions that can cover this. In addition, shipping modules are the absolute easiest thing in osCommerce to create!

b) editing product descriptions seems a little awkward.

Clicking a text box, writing some stuff, press update. Awkward? Perhaps you need FCK Editor? A contribution exists for this…

overall, it looks like it was developed for a programmer, rather than a store owner.

Yes, this is true.

Conclusion

Raw SEO’s article is either copied from an older source or the owner of Raw SEO doesn’t know much about osCommerce. It’s lazy reporting at it’s best, either way.

10 Replies to “Get it right, lazy blogger”

  1. Great article. Yes OSCommerce can be a pig sometimes but once you understand how it fits together it’s not much different to most other systems of comparable functionality. I even tried Avactis (a licensed cart) as it promised to be ‘easier’ but came back to OSC very quickly! Maybe the article author over at Raw SEO tried it, once, and gave up!?
    Regards, Edward

  2. The thing is, the simplicity of osC along with the vast number of add-ons and contributors are two key points of the osC package.

    Many think that having an object oriented framework (and there are many) simplifies things. This is far from the truth. The more structure in place in a framework the more time and effort required to learn about it. Plus is hard for a community to grow because it’s hard to learn the framework.

    With osC lots of contributors are merchants themselves which implies they don’t need a BSc in CS to write some basic php code. Also is one of the very few ecommerce packages out there that can work with shared ssl, support active scripting on/off, cookies off and therefore maximize the ROI for merchants.

    In contrast lots of other carts require dedicated IPs and/or scripts/cookies enabled on browsers for clients which I believe are major disadvantages and I wouldn’t even recommend them for ecommerce.

  3. Enigma1 – that’s a very good point. We all know that osCommece has it’s fair share of problems, but all of these are solvable in one way or another.

    I’m of the opinion that osCommerce should not be disregarded just because it is “old”.

  4. I wrote the article listed here. Here is my response:

    “True. osCommerce was first conceived in the late 90’s, hence this problem. There have been attempts to correct this using “template systems” such as BTS and STS, both of which haven’t really grasped the idea. The latest osCommerce goes some way to separating logic and presentation however.”

    Yes, it is better with a template system (there are a few available). However, it is still an issue. I’m not sure which version you are using, but I have been using it in projects for the last 5 years (including the latest).

    “False. It is -very- simple to integrate any design into osCommerce. Remember that osCommerce usually becomes your website, not the other way around.”

    Take at look at any website tryng to sell oscommerce themes(example: monstertemplates.com). They include the entire installation, rather than the template in a separate directory.

    “Explained this one away yourself!”

    The only thing I explained is how insecure it is to use register_globals…and the fact that oscommerce still relies on it. You are the only one that tried to “explain it away” with you comments.

    “Raw SEO’s article is either copied from an older source or the owner of Raw SEO doesn’t know much about osCommerce. It’s lazy reporting at it’s best, either way.”

    Lazy reporting? I explained exactly why it’s a nightmare to use and you agreed on most of the points.

  5. “I’m of the opinion that osCommerce should not be disregarded just because it is “old”.”

    I’m not disregarding it because it’s old. I’m warning people about some of the issues you may run into if you try to base your e-commerce site on it.

    If you are going to go the oscommerce route, Zen cart or oscmax are much better choices.

  6. “Great article. Yes OSCommerce can be a pig sometimes but once you understand how it fits together it’s not much different to most other systems of comparable functionality. I even tried Avactis (a licensed cart) as it promised to be ‘easier’ but came back to OSC very quickly! Maybe the article author over at Raw SEO tried it, once, and gave up!?
    Regards, Edward”

    No, I never “gave up”. I have been using oscommerce for at least 5 years, including the latest version. I am a developer, so the fact that it works is just as important as how well the code fits together, because I need to write customized mods for it.

  7. One more point I want to make.

    Have you ever looked at the mysql query log for an oscommerce site?

    On the category and product pages, at least 5 different calls are made to the exact same data. The worst part about it is the fact that you have to hunt around to 5 or 6 different files to find out where they are being called.

    On my own customized sites, I was able to reduce almost all of them down to 1, which helps if you have tons of traffic coming to your site.

  8. Roy – “Take at look at any website tryng to sell oscommerce themes(example: monstertemplates.com). They include the entire installation, rather than the template in a separate directory.”

    That’s because these sellers use designers who have zero idea about osCommerce. Professional Template sellers who know osCommerce inside out will sell you only the modified files and give proper support if things go wrong.

    “The only thing I explained is how insecure it is to use register_globals…and the fact that oscommerce still relies on it.”

    osCommerce does not rely on register globals being on.

  9. From my experience point-1 can be an advantage in this market. You need to get out of a company closed-source product thinking. It is faster to change the code of one page than 2 or 3 pages where the template and logic are set separately. It is easier for people from different backgrounds to change things when there is no OOP or a structured framework in place that requires certain expertise to do coding. If you are a s/w engineer it is true the framework looks bad. But as a merchant it’s not PHP structures or innovative classes you are trying to sell. And in terms of performance you can optimize the db queries or deploy custom code to save server b/w.

    For point 3b, now that I think was a mistake what they did with the RC versions. Having a form that supposedly protects the admin part at the application level? all it does is to give the false impression to the merchant. The way it should be done was to display a message that the admin part must be protected from the host’s cpanel, all the time till the merchant switches it off. Lots of osC sites go through problems everyday because of the false impression their admin is secure.

    Also I want to comment for some people who argue about the tables used in the osCommerce vs divs (CSS) that is getting popular. If you do not know how to use the divs the advantages are insignificant while the effort to support the various browsers is significant. How many times I see some of these “modern” templates to look like mickey mouse on one browser or another.

    Try a 3 column layout each column with different background color and then align them vertically so they all have the same height (eg: If Gary wanted to change the width of one if the side columns in his blog he would had to create another background image – a bad approach if you ask me). See how “simple” it is and compare it using a table 1 row, 3 cells. Add at the top the SEO requirements and what takes you couple of minutes to do with tables it takes x100 with divs. It is true you can use the divs to save space decrease load times and improve SEO but how many stores out there do that correctly? Not just using some divs.

    Talking about SEO, why is it so may sites having hundreds and hundreds of jscript code and css inside the pages before reaching the first link or sentence of the page content. And a search engine never knows what the meaning of the page is. It’s all down to implementation rather than the age of a framework.

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