I have started playing with various open source e-commerce shopping cart systems available out there. I thought it would be good to document my experience as I go along. After Googling around, I ran into a page at Wikipedia which lists quite a few of them (both open source and paid). I will start working with some popular free ones in random order and compare them. It seems like osCommerce is used by a fairly large group. So I will get started with that and see how it goes.


osCommerce

  • Download & Installation: Downloaded the latest stable version (2.3.1) from osCommerce website. Installation process is pretty well documented and went smoothly. But that's about it.
     
  • Template (Theme): No problem if you want to use the default template. But if you want to use a different template, they are available at the contribute section of osCommerce but installing them is not so straight forward. I am not a savvy programmer but I have been working with various CMS like Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, etc. for quite a few years. To install a new osCommerce template, some existing system files need to be replaced, coding in other existing files need to be tweaked, etc. etc. Most definitely, it's not as simple or user friendly compared to Drupal. In Drupal, if you need to install a new theme, download the theme, drop the entire folder (named same as the theme) into a folder containing the themes, go to theme section in admin mode and activate the theme. As simple as it gets. I have been able to complete that entire process of downloading to activating a new theme in less than 5 minutes. I haven't looked into other shopping cart systems yet but it will be interesting to see how good they are at this.
     
  • Modules (Extensions): After finding out how time consuming it is to simply update a theme, I am not going to spend much time on playing with any modules. Will do so when I have some more free time to kill.
     
  • Update / Upgrade: I will have to wait until an update to the current version is released and give it a try.

OpenCart

  • Download & Installation: Downloaded the latest stable version (1.5.1.3) from OpenCart website. Installation process is pretty well documented and went smoothly.
     
  • Template (Theme): The default theme is pretty decent. I checked around for other themes. Some free themes are available in the Extensions section but I decided to stick with the default theme for now. Installing a new theme is fairly easy like some other CMS. Just drop in the files into the right folder and enable it from Admin panel which is very easy for non-programmers.
     
  • Modules (Extensions): It takes a bit to learn how to install a new module. Its not as easy as in some CMS like Drupal but not that difficult either. It took me a few days to figure it out but if you are installing OpenCart, you MUST install vQmod (aka Virtual Quick Mod) as the very first extension. Download and install the latest version available for OpenCart. Check out the detailed installation instructions. Once you have installed vQmod, it's a good idea to install latest version of vQmod Manager. This will allow you to manage all other vQmod modules you might install in future. And believe me, you will be needing a lot of them as I am experiencing.
     
  • Update / Upgrade: I will have to wait until an update to the current version is released and give it a try.

NOTE: Next in line to test is PrestaShop

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Raj Padhi
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