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Dan Cole

Supporting osC

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A recent post from burt about testing v2.3.3 to identify and report bugs to help with the release of v2.4, got me thinking about what I could do to support the community...to give back for what osC has given me. I've been running on osC for a couple years now and have a heavily modified version of 2.2 so providing any meaningful feedback on 2.3.3 is out of the question but I did wonder why I hadn't become a community sponsor. That's easy to do...you can sign up using the Sponsorships tab above, so I did that. If you've been using osC for awhile like I have, you might want to do that too.

 

I also started thinking about the problems I'm going to have upgrading to versions of 2.3 and beyond because of my heavily modified store, mostly modified by the many community contributions I installed over the last couple of years. Not only did that bring to mind the long list of contributions I installed but it also brought to mind the time it took to install all of them and the problems I had when a contribution would conflict with others. That got me wondering if there was a better way to handle contributions so new users might have an easier time of it and those upgrading might get a bit of a leg up on the update process.

 

I've read posts in the past where various methods to achieve this had been suggested but nothing seems to have come of it. I also wondered why I hadn't seen add-on packages where the most popular or difficult to install contributions where packaged up as an add-on. Add-on packages that contained say the 5 most difficult and popular contributions that where packaged up as a fairly simple replace these files type add-on. You could do the same for the top 10, 15 or whatever number of contributions you wanted to put together. New users or those upgrading could then pick the package that would get them closest to where they want to be and then go from there.

 

It would take a bit of work to set this up and maintain it but perhaps it would be helpful to new users and those upgrading. Anyone know if this has been tried in the past? Is it a worthwhile idea? Please let me know what you think?

 

Dan

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Hi Dan

 

Once a boatload of changes are made to osCommerce core files it essentially becomes a fork as opposed to an "addon".

 

osCommerce is often forked .. there are loads of "loaded" versions out there on the web .. some people choose to use them .. some choose to load their own addons individually and stick to the solid core base code.

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Once a boatload of changes are made to osCommerce core files it essentially becomes a fork as opposed to an "addon".

 

osCommerce is often forked .. there are loads of "loaded" versions out there on the web .. some people choose to use them .. some choose to load their own addons individually and stick to the solid core base code.

Hi Rob...I wasn't really thinking of changing the core base code so much as packaging up some of the existing add-ons. Think of it as a larger, combined add-on. If that is a fork I guess I created a big one. It just struck me that creating combined add-ons or packaged add-ons might be a bit more efficient and maybe more trouble free then everyone installing each and every contribution they wanted on their own and creating many of the problems that seem to be addressed over and over again.

 

To me one of the greatest advantages of osC is its huge number of contributions but the process of handling them strikes me as also being one of its greatest liabilities. It is easy to feel like a programmer or hack rather than a shop owner. The flexibility is great but there has got to be a better way of handling the contributions. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm whining. That is not my intention...I like osC. :thumbsup:

 

Dan

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I don't think it would be considered a fork as long as all of the addons were similar in nature. For example, if I placed all of the SEO addons I support into one master SEO contribution, that would probably be OK (a moderator should be asked first). But when you put many different disjointed contributions in a package it may be a problem. This has been tried before, quite a few times actually. I know at least one was removed as a fork but I don't think they all were.

 

But that really isn't the main concern that I can see. Assuming you were allowed to do it, who would manage it? If you left it open for anyone to edit, it would quickly become a mess like so many of the contributions are. If you managed it yourself, it would become a full time job to keep it updated, assuming the contributions you used are popular ones.

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I recently uploaded a store with the following addons already installed:

 

simple admin session length

admin toolbar

consolidate login

enhanced contact us

easy populate

file safe

Header tags

Info pages unlimited

master password

quantity price breaks

remove images

security pro

SEO URL

KISS Thumbnailer

whos online

accordion categories

order num booster.

Web backup

 

 

Due to the size it had to be approved. It has been awhile since I uploaded it and it has not been approved. So I guess the implementation is not as easy as you and I might think.

 

Tim

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Obviously a fork, and that is unwelcome.

 

Although you might think a "loaded" version is helpful, tell us who is going to support it's users?

And where that support is likely to happen? This forum? no thanks!

 

Barely anyone supports the core osCommerce; 12 sponsors and as many again answering questions regularly.

 

 

 

.

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@@Dan Cole - well done and thank you for supporting osC by becoming a sponsor.

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Obviously a fork, and that is unwelcome.

 

 

.

Sorry. I was just trying to give back to the community in some way.

 

Tim

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I just think osc would be so much better if it came with most of the common addons already included. The core team could then update it all, with the help of this community. All the coding would work together, and there would be very little need for other adddons, which as jack has mentioned get messed up by others thinking they know what they are doing. I am sure that it would not take long to make these extra modules active via admin, If the forks of oscommerce can do it, why not oscommerce. From a novice shop owner, it would be so much better. The people it would affect are those that make money by adding these addons to the base store setup. They would of course still be able to build their own modules

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@@14steve14

 

Harald was talking of more modularity in version 2.4.

 

osCommerce was intended to be a solid working base that others could extend via add ons .. unfortunately the original design ( which was years ago remember ) was not modular and was tightly coupled which makes most addons a complex business, and those complex addons make upgrading a complex business.

 

It is possible to make addons that are far less intrusive on the core code ( like my KISS addons ) but it takes a bit of thought and planning.

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Have any of you ever worked with oscmax (which is pretty much osCommerce with a load of addons).

It is the absolute worst cart to work on, packed to gills with addons that are ill thought out and ill implemented.

 

You really want that?

 

I am not saying that a GOOD loaded version of osCommerce would be unwelcome, just that it would not be welcome in this forum.

 

If any of you want to go ahead and do it, all you need to do is fork github, add in all the crappy contributions you want, start up your own forum and so on. If you did that, just think how easy it would be to transfer shopowners from any of the osCommerce derivatives (or even osCommerce) to your own new cart system. Who's going to volunteer to do that? <looks around for anyone raising their hand>

 

.

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Have any of you ever worked with oscmax (which is pretty much osCommerce with a load of addons).

It is the absolute worst cart to work on, packed to gills with addons that are ill thought out and ill implemented.

 

You really want that?

 

 

 

 

Nope!

 

just that it would not be welcome in this forum.

 

Got it. I won't upload one again. Actually, I already got that hint when it was not approved. I posted here to let the OP know the idea would not fly.

 

transfer shopowners from any of the osCommerce derivatives (or even osCommerce) to your own new cart system

 

Don't want that either. I was just trying to give back.

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Have any of you ever worked with oscmax (which is pretty much osCommerce with a load of addons).

It is the absolute worst cart to work on, packed to gills with addons that are ill thought out and ill implemented.

 

You really want that?.

 

Oscmax may be rubbish, but a good version of oscommerce would be welcome by many, especially those store owners who do not know php, mysql, html, css, and many more things that are required to upgrade osc, and are trying to start a store with little or no funds for getting a site working. The developers of osc could ensure that all the coding was correct and everything worked. Many people within this forum who offer coding services have a loaded version of oscommerce for sale, so the idea must be a good one.

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"a good version of oscommerce would be welcome by many"

 

I agree.

 

"trying to start a store with little or no funds for getting a site working"

 

These people need to realise they are running a business, and business is commercial. Reality check, the time of "free" is over, and has been for many years.

 

Here's a question; why should the "developers of osc" have to deal with a bunch of addons written by people who are not coders?

 

99% of the addons are crappy coded and that includes some that are supposedly written by and supported by "professionals".

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Many people within this forum who offer coding services have a loaded version of oscommerce for sale, so the idea must be a good one.

The key phrase here is "for sale" - the more complex, the more likely to have bugs, to properly support a loaded version takes time and relentless effort, not something a group of volunteers and enthousiasts can do in between gigs.

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Wow...I seem to have hit a sour note here. When it comes to whether it would be a fork or a combined add-on I really don't understand the distinction nor do I understand why we should care. Maybe someone could clarify.

 

All I was thinking is that it might be helpful if we had some of the contributions packaged up for new users and those packages might also be helpful in upgrading etc, as a good starting point. I was also thinking that support for the combined contribution might be simplier then what happens now since it would involve replacing files and perhaps running an mySQL query at most. Generaly the support issues that I see seem to involve problems that people are having adding the code itself to the various files, forgetting to make some of the changes and conflicts between contributions etc.

 

As for who would do this, we would need a few volunteers and maybe some help from those who created the contributions. I would certainly be willing to help where I can. I don't really see this as being a big issue. Based on the comments so far though, the bigger issue might be whether the approach would be welcomed here.

 

Dan

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@@Dan Cole - well done and thank you for supporting osC by becoming a sponsor.

 

It is all your fault. :D

 

Dan

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It is all your fault. :D

 

Dan

 

I get blamed for a lot of things ;)

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As for who would do this, we would need a few volunteers

 

There are not enough volunteers helping with "normal" oscommerce, I think trying to find people to work on a fork (or a comobined addon) would be difficult.

 

Let's say you roll up 15 contributions. Who is then responsible for providing support? What happens when the author of one of the addons updates. Who updates the mega addon? What happens if the author does not want his addon rolled up into a "mega addon". One coder may possibly not want his/her work to be paired with another coders work. How do you get around that without offending one or both of the coders? Do you just say it's GPL so tough on you Mr Coder. You could, but you would then possibly be alienating the people you need for support.

 

The point is, and I'll quote;

 

to properly support a loaded version takes time and relentless effort, not something a group of volunteers and enthousiasts can do in between gigs.

 

This is also true for any addon, let alone a "mega addon".

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Hi,

 

what about just a new few hundred categories/sub categories with links to the addons

 

John

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Here's a question; why should the "developers of osc" have to deal with a bunch of addons written by people who are not coders?

 

99% of the addons are crappy coded and that includes some that are supposedly written by and supported by "professionals".

 

You have hit the nail on the head.

 

If someone was to take charge, the addons that are crap, but are most common, and usually need to be added to the base osc files, could be recoded to work properly and to fit with the core code of oscommerce. if the addon worked it would not need to be updated unless code changes were made to the core code.

 

"trying to start a store with little or no funds for getting a site working"

 

These people need to realise they are running a business, and business is commercial. Reality check, the time of "free" is over, and has been for many years.

 

If that is the case why are people willing to use oscommerce, which is free, rather than a paid for option. The whole point of using a free product is to keep startup costs as low as possible. Regardless of what cart people use, the most popular products are the free ones. How many people use AVG for computer virus security. Lots of people start with oscommerce and then realise that it is very basic, and that additional items have to be added just to make the cart have basic functionality..If everything was included in the base code, there would be no need for 'crappy' addons that non coders try to make, no one can get to work, and causes the shop owner even more frustration. Someone should sit down and remove all the so called crappy addons so that others do not messup their site. Take out the unsupported ones, and those that are very old and any confusion will hopefully be lowered.

 

At present since the release of version 2.3.1 and its later derivatives there have been no real new addons added to the area on this site, and those that have either do not work, or are not being updated, which again causes more confusion for anyone new to oscommerce. In most cases those addons that have been updated aparently to work with the latest version still have old files included because someone cannot or does not know how, to update the addon correctly. I have tried to add some addons that are supposed to work with the latest version to my new test site, and have been thankfull for a full site backup, as it can easily be put back to how it was.

 

All this extra work, and incorrect code means that people are put off of oscommerce, which should not happen. Oscommerce was the original code for numerous forks, and now is lagging behind even the worse of the bunch. That cannot be to the benefit of future or current users. Oscommerce is a great product, at a very cheap cost (free). It takes time to get it working as most store owners require, but when it is working it does what it should. The forums here are great, and in most cases support is readily available. I have used these forums for years both to receive help, and to give help where i can as a non coder.

 

Rant over Sorry about that.

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At present since the release of version 2.3.1 and its later derivatives there have been no real new addons added to the area on this site

 

There have been many new addons coded, most of which are waiting for the App Store to appear or are commercial in nature.

What have mainly appeared are 2.2 > 2.3 updates made by well meaning people, which are generally so broken that they cause more issues than they solve.

 

osCommerce users are I think generally out of the mindset of "free" meaning no cost. If a business cannot support the investment of a few hundred dollars then something is very badly wrong in the business plan. In fact, I'd say that most people realise that there is a cost (in terms of money), be that, a template from monster site, or some code work done by a pro, hosting, domain name, CC fee, paypal fees and all the rest.

 

Cost is part of doing business online. I shudder to think that anyone is using osCommerce solely because it is a free download.

 

Rant over Sorry about that.

 

I like a good rant, nothing wrong with letting off steam. I do also like to see other people having a rant, it shows they have a heart.

 

So, if you anyone does believe that a loaded oscommerce is the way forward why not to set up a github, fork, and add the things in that they think should be there, make their own forum and do it (like creloaded, oscmax, zencart, presta and all the rest). If openly on github, you are not in competition with osCommerce like all those others are, and are instead complementing osCommerce.

 

As for the addons area, we know this is a mess and needs cleaning up. It's been a mess for years, you know it, i know it, Harald knows it. No-one has volunteered to be a addons manager (well, 1 person has [that I know of], but nothing came of it unfortunately). What can be done about it?

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2.3.3 is actually a very nice cart but could use a few more functions built in.

 

- Admin controlled frontpage.

- Admin create/edit info pages.

- Admin input for meta title and meta description for front page, category, manufacturer and product pages.

- Automatic thumbnails generating.

- Wysiwyg html editor

 

With those i would say it would be a bit more "newbee" friendly.

 

There is ofcourse the question on how much time and energy should be put into the V2 branch of oscommerce, its maybe time to just stick to bug fixes and compatibility changes and focus on getting V3 ready.

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Any new feature that breaks compatibility with the add-ons will simply not make it into a v2.3.x release. This is why the releases are mainly bug fixes and security improvements.

 

We will have v2.4 to introduce new features as this won't be an upgrade release but a migration release (for existing users wanting to use v2.4) and it won't be compatible with the v2.3 add-ons.

 

This is our plan:

 

v2.3 - continued support for bug fixes, security improvements, new modules (target: existing users)

v2.4 - cleaned up, PHP 5.3 ready* version of v2.3; more modular implementation (target: new users)

v3.1 - new modern and modular framework (more likely with a PHP 5.4 minimum requirement) (target: existing and new users)

 

* v2.4 will not be optimized for PHP 5.3 in regards to namespaces etc, it will have the 5.3 minimum requirement so add-ons have a known base to work from

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