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03-04-2012, 22:36   #1
daigo75
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Which ecommerce framework is the easiest to maintain and extend?

I'm working on a project where I have to put online an ecommerce system which will require some good amount of custom features. I'm therefore looking for a framework which makes customization easy enough (from an experienced developer's perspective, I mean). Language shoul be PHP and time is a constraint, I don't have months to learn.

Additionally, the ecommerce will have to handle around 200.000 products from day one, which will increase over time, hence performance is also important.

So far I examined the following:
- Magento: complicated and, as far as I could read, slow when database contains many products. It's also resource intensive, and we can't afford a dedicated VPS from the beginning.
- OpenCart: rough at best, documentation is extremely poor. It's "free" to start, but each feature is implemented via 3rd party commercial modules. It also contains several vulnerabilities.
- OSCommerce: buggy, inefficient, outdated.
- ZenCart: Derived from OSCommerce, doesn't seem much better.
- Prestashop: it looks like it has many incompatibilities and its documentation is scarce. Also, most of its modules are commercial, which increases the cost.
- Drupal, Wordpress: they are not born as ecommerce platforms and, in my experience, they should stick to being uniquely CMS.
- VirtueMart: based on Joomla, which is bloated and full of vulnerabilities.

In short, I'm still quite undecided, as none of the above seems to satisfy the requirements. I'm open to evaluate closed source and commercial frameworks too, if they are any better. Any suggestion is welcome, thanks.
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05-04-2012, 16:36   #2
willows
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All OS products will have their drawbacks. Some are good for one thing bad for another.
I have installed all the products you mention so I can compare and contrast.

you have 200,000 products so....

Ditch magento from the equation. Needs monster hosting , bad to upgrade , expensive in time to extend, very poor database structure that will creak after about 2 months.

Ditch the CMS/Ecommerce products as they are reliant on a content management system and are not easily extendable. so no joomla-vm wordpress-ecom drupal.

Consider the bottom 4.

Presta shop has a nice user interface but is light on extensions.

Opencart has a nice client interface and is good to extend. Has a addon install system thats good for upgrading and maintenance. Code is well laid out. Not man ready made extensions.

Zencart. not as nicely coded as Opencart but 1000's of addons available. Has a design templating system but its admin is ugly. However your customers never see this.

Oscommerce. the mother of all OS ecommerce. 10.000's of add ons. Design is all througnh the code, but you can get an addon that will do a templating system.

Now what you choose all depends on how your product is laid out. Is it a parts system ? does it need to integrate with accounts ? will you need to add extra fields to products to list by make model and year ( such as car parts ) How do the stock files come from. You'll need to make some sort of data feed intot he system as you will not be entering 200,000 items manually

So with this in mind i'd lean towards zencart for this number of products.

No 2 ecommerces are the same all have some unique aspect to them, so resign yourself to coding, but by the sounds of it you are well capable.

I hope this helps.
Hope that helps.
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05-04-2012, 17:25   #3
daigo75
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Thanks Willows. I'm afraid that none of the frameworks in the list will be suitable for purpose, though, for the reasons I listed in my original post. I was leaning towards ZenCart, but the Admin interface has to be as easy and clean to use as the frontend (it's a requirement).

Codng is not a big deal, but I have time constraints that I must respect and don't allow me to spend too much time on fixing a framework. I need something that "just works", so that I can focus, as you wrote, on various import interfaces and additional features.

I'm now reviewing other options, which would mean ditching OS solutions altogether, as I believe it will be better in the long run.

Last edited by daigo75; 06-04-2012 at 22:17. Reason: Corrected typo
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06-04-2012, 06:27   #4
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IMO, I don't believe that ecommerce is really a standalone aspect of a business so the best solution to me is one that addresses the business rather than just the web selling.

It's not php so I didn't mention it but the application with an ecommerce module that always stood out for me, in terms of technical design and functionality, was the Apache Open for Business (OfBiz) project. It is a Java application - and a very big & potentiall complex one at that. Also, it was always aimed at implementors with lots of technical know how - but it was a very well designed and it's underlying model was very flexible.

Recently, a company called Salmon LLC has taken OfBiz and built a number of out of the box solutions based on it. It's still open source, but the target audience is those without the technical skills or indepth knowledge of OfBiz - which is admitted very big, complex and scary (but all this adds the flexibility for it to do anything!)

They call the software BigFish and they have some demo's here
http://bigfish.salmonllc.com/bfDemo.html

Which you will see is a polished implementation compared to the standard ofbiz template there are some demos of the standard at
http://ofbiz.apache.org/

You'll see, especially, that the backend of BigFish is hugely simplified of that of standard OfBiz.

Like I said it's still open source - I think but I'm not 100% because I'm not sure what the busines model of Salmon LLC is ... will they host or offer training or manuals or ???. I would like to know that before I implented this version of OfBiz. Still to my knowledge it is still OfBiz under this simplified skin. And this is really what they offer - especially in the back end.

Now being a java enterprise system it does mean that cheap hosting if not readily available - a VPS is probably the most likely option.
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25-04-2012, 07:54   #5
What? Oh Rly!
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Your clients are not prepared to spend money on quality hosting for this business? This baffles me to be honest. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish here, it is extremely important to get reliable hosting and for a site of this size, it sounds like you are running on shared hosting?

Get a VPS at minimum and look into CS Cart or JShop server, both excellent products (JShop isn't free though).
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25-04-2012, 09:40   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What? Oh Rly! View Post
Your clients are not prepared to spend money on quality hosting for this business? This baffles me to be honest. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish here, it is extremely important to get reliable hosting and for a site of this size, it sounds like you are running on shared hosting?

Get a VPS at minimum and look into CS Cart or JShop server, both excellent products (JShop isn't free though).

On the VPS front make sure it is a fully managed, unless you want to develop webserver management skills under pressure.

Most shared hosting will do starting out, unless you find the site slow to render on shared. I would not be in a hurry to get BIG hosting in the hopes you will need it. Chances are if you need it, you'll be able to afford it, and if the site is built correctly, moving will not be a big issue at all.

I come from the school of buy what you need now, and if you are successful then you will be able to afford a bigger setup. Just make sure the ecommerce platform is fully extendable to start with.
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25-04-2012, 10:26   #7
daigo75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willows View Post
On the VPS front make sure it is a fully managed, unless you want to develop webserver management skills under pressure.
That's for sure. I have Webserver management skills already, but I simply don't like doing it. Fully managed is the way to go, once the site will reach a certain volume of traffic.

Quote:
I come from the school of buy what you need now, and if you are successful then you will be able to afford a bigger setup. Just make sure the ecommerce platform is fully extendable to start with.
Thanks Willow, that's precisely what I think. Start small and grow one step at a time. It's called "just in time" approach.
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