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Archive for January, 2009

Open Source eCommerce: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

January 28th, 2009
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A few days ago I read Karry Watson’s article titled Open Source E-Commerce: Twelve Promising Programs. Karry provides a good overview of the current state of open source eCommerce options for online vendors. From our experience with many different vendors and from recent trends I wanted to discuss three open source ecommerce systems from Karry’s list that power most of the shopping carts out there, now and in the near future. Ugly first:

The Ugly: osCommerce

There is no hiding for this huge collection of 3 line scripts that somehow compose a shopping cart. I think any web developer that took a few classes of computer science knows that it is a big hack not a piece of software. Any additional functionality needs to be glued somehow and made work. Oh, by the way – good luck trying to use two extensions at the same time. Anyway, you see where I am going with this. Easy to setup, easy to use, not programmed well, hell to maintain, nightmaire to develop. Ugly.

The Bad: Zen-Cart

I personally fell in love with this shopping cart back in 2004 very close to the split from osCommerce. What a great energy this project had. The sky was the limit. Someone recently pointed out that open source fatigue happens to many projects: starts great, reaches pubirty, and starts lingering. Great codgin techniques, not complete by any means but every release converts more code into clean, object oriented, design pattern oriented beauty. Unfortunately, recently development has stalled. Ok, it didn’t, the developers are saying that they are very close to the next release which got extended (and additional features got added). Bottom line, no releases in 2008 at all. Meantime, where is our improved admin interface? Web 2.0 features? quantities by attributes? Bad.

The Good: Magento Commerce

Still new and growing fast. The new kid on the block. What I like about Magento is the solid foundation which is based on the Zend Framework. In a way, forcing good development practices: MVC, templating, scalability, layering, etc. Magento is here to stay, moreover, it will quetly revolutionize the open source ecommerce space and force all the players to push the envelop. This includes all the small size commercial shopping carts ($1-$2,000 per license). Good. Great!

What are you using? What are you going to use?

eCommerce, Magento, Web Development, ZenCart , , , ,

2009, the year of Open Source Software

January 7th, 2009
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We are lucky to live in our times. No, it is not fun going through (steep) downturn economy. But it is exciting to see the changes that such a recession will bring. One of the exciting changes that I predict for 2009 is a general boost to open source projects: increased usage and adoption by corporations while communities and ecosystems grow. Perhaps even to a point of competition with commercial products (in some cases). This is another question by itself: Can an open source project compete with a commercial product?

This year, 2009, we will see how open source projects will make huge strides and erase the gap with commercial projects, if not gain an advantage over them. Here is why:

1. Unbeatable Price: free! I know, it is not entirely true, you still need services around open source products and arguably more than in commercial products. But as the market learns to adopt more and more open source products the TCO can be lower with open source than commercial products, especially if you have the right team on your side.

2. Gain from the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, instead of wisdom of one as is often the case with commercial products. We see examples of this all over, in particular in the web development industry: Umbraco is gaining huge marketing share compared with Ektron. Magento Commerce is gaining huge market share over any other open source ecommerce platform and some of the low and mid-level commercial products in the ecommerce industry. Similar thing is happening with ASP.NET: the framework is now adopting the MVC design pattern mostly due to the fact that other platforms like Zend Framework and Ruby are free and product amazing websites. Top it off by the adoption of jQuery in almost any commercial web product today including ASP.NET framework which dumped AJAX.NET in favour of jQuery.

3. This is the sad-but-true part: developers are being laid off and hence join open source projects. It is known that the IT industry lags about 6 months after the indicators have come in, in other words, hi-tech layoffs will continue to come. In any case, more developers will be out of a job and will have plenty of time to collaborate and volunteer in open source projects – a great way to polish a resume…

To summarize, in 2009 we will see a great boost in open source adoption. Now, I am not saying that commercial products will not see any upside this year, but the competition will certainly be tougher then ever before. I am excited to see how it plays out. We certainly are going to focus our energies and our client’s energies on the leaders of each industry. You?

Content Management Systems, eCommerce, Ektron, Magento, Web Development , , , , , , , , ,