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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast bilbo--baggins's Avatar
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    Custom CF site vs Zen Cart

    My plan has been to convert our static HTML site (which uses buttons that link to PayPal's free shopping cart) into a ColdFusion site using a mySQL database. I've read a fair amount of the CFWACK books and it all seems reasonably straightforward, but then I felt I needed to learn about database design and got a bit bogged down with that (I realised the importance of getting the database design right from the beginning, which has stopped me from just proceeding through trial and error).

    I recently wondered about Zen Cart - would this be a simple short/medium term solution? However, it seems that while it's supposed to be straightforward, customising it to match what we already have with our static site seems like it would be a lot of work (I've been unable to find any information about writing custom templates - it's unclear whether I can just take my existing xhtml/css pages and convert them into a template using simple tags to tie in with the shopping cart).

    My gut feeling is I would be better to design something from scratch, and I'm reluctant to spend a lot of time learning about Zen Cart if it's not going to ultimately do what I want, or be as much work as using CF to design something specifically to suit our requirements.

    It's very important that the site retains it's current look and feel (rather than looking and behaving like every other shop), so using a ready made template simply isn't an option. The most important features we need to implement asap are a search engine and to get away from the PayPal checkout system (ie. use PayPal payments pro behind the scenes instead of customers going to the PayPal site).

    Any tips as to which way I should go?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Building your own fully featured shopping cart system from scratch is no mean feat, with lots of potential risk areas such as making it secure. An off the shelf shopping cart system on the other hand would allow you to deploy a whole site relatively quckly and easily.

    Check out the List of shopping carts here on Sitepoint because there should be something there that will suit your needs.

    The ability to customise the look and feel of premade shopping carts will vary a lot from cart to cart - from the downright complexity of OSCommerce to the simplicity of Cubecart.

    My best advice is to research several cart systems and test them out, if templating is an important factor for you then you need to look at the methods involved to see if you can understand them. For the most part all modern carts run on XHTML/CSS templates which make them as straightforward as possible to integrate any design or presentational style.


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