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Unreasonable To Code Own Shopping Cart?
Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:10 AM
I see everyone talking about different packages and services, but I actually don't like the idea of using another service's ugly code, having to pay monthly for the use of the shopping cart, or sending my users off to a third party site for transactions.
I've already got some basics down on my end. I've just purchased and setup a SSL site, and I'm in the process of being able to accept credit cards.
Now, I'm down to the sticky issues. The shopping cart. Do I have to buy or lease somebody else's, or would it be possible/reasonable to build my own?
I have only a few items, but the items are dynamic and customizable. That's fine, because I have a developing working knowledge of PHP and MySQL, and I'm fine on those issues.
I just don't know if I'm going to be going way over my head attempting to build my own shopping cart. Is that reasonable?
And a finial question, which may make me seem like I have no clue, but...
Short of ugly URLs with session ids, how do shopping carts keep track of items people want to purchase? I can see how I can get it to work using cookies, but then that would present a problem with people who don't like cookies. Would forcing users to accept my cookies be reasonable in order to shop on my site--or is this completely inaccessible and therefore unacceptable?
Thanks so much for any feedback.
Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:35 AM
Keeping track is simple.
If the user accepts cookies and sessions you use them, if not put some identifier in the URL but only when something is in the cart it doesn't have to be the session id it can be the ID from the database.
Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:46 AM
It takes more time obviously, but will save in the long run if something 'out of the box' doesnt work for you.
Regarding tracking, I use Sessions in php, and its perfectly resonable to expect that on an e-commerce site IMO. Otherwise you'd be posting hidden form fields everywhere :S.
Posted 22 June 2006 - 08:09 AM
Building a cart can be a great learning experience and you can of course customize everything to exactly meet your needs and expectations. The beauty of the cart being dynamic is that it doesn't really matter if you're going to be selling 3 items or 3,000. The underlying code doesn't change all that much.
Of course, building an application that is specific to your needs takes time. Your time. So you have to first figure out how much your time is worth.
Then compare that figure against a few commercially available carts (or even free ones) and decide if the experience you'll gain and having the ability to have a cart that does exactly what you need it to do is worth the additional cost in time. Building your own application will almost always cost you more in time and money than purchasing an off-the-shelf application. But by the same token, the experience of developing something is certainly worth a lot.
Not to mention having something that does exactly what you need it to do. Nothing more, nothing less. You'll never find that in an application written by someone else.
Posted 22 June 2006 - 10:02 AM
That's why I always build custom, bespoke solutions for everything I do. I've never found an application written by someone else that does *everything* that I want it to do - And often, hacking someone else's code to make those changes can take as long as building your own.
Posted 26 June 2006 - 11:05 PM
Be prepared though, sometimes getting all the great features that you are used to seeing out there in the commerce world may get alittle overwhelming and what starts off as an easy task, turns into a huge application.
If you have the desire, time and knowledge (in that order), by all means give it a go, if it works out for you super!! you have accomplished a great thing, if it doesn't work out, then you will appreciate all the pre-built carts and the time that has gone into them.
Posted 27 June 2006 - 08:10 PM
A lot of work ahead of me, but a worthwhile challenge that will result with a thorough understanding of my cart, the ability to change it as desired, the benefit of having everything and only the things I want, and knowing that I can do it.
I'll do it!
Thanks for the feedback!
Posted 28 June 2006 - 10:25 PM
I would recommend that you spend a few days going through a number of your favorite online stores and stores that match your product selection. Write down their features and how you want things to work on your site.
Then spend the time diagraming it out and figuring out when you will be activating your features and how they will interact with your shopping cart. Plan it out well and it will be much easier in the long run.
Good luck .. I know you will have fun (thats how I started).
Posted 25 July 2006 - 10:15 AM
Posted 25 July 2006 - 10:43 AM
I've paused work on our project until I can get adequate 'for-now' systems in place that do much of what I want to do, and will just live with the delay in implementing the rest of my plans. This will mean a rebuild of anything I do between now and then IF I choose to migrate them to my new system, but life forced me to get real about my available time and how much I can accomplish without a big chunk of time to dedicate.
Good luck in your efforts. I think it's the smart way to go, if you have the time to dedicate.
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