Category Archives: osCommerce / oscMax

osCommerce and its derivatives. I am working mostly with osCMax these days.

eCommerce Platforms, On-line Shops, Web store, Cloud Trading

Call it what you will, the on-line sales process kicked-off barely 20 years ago, and I opened my first store in 1999, and swapped into osCommerce in 2000 / 2001 and stuck with it until last year.

I have worked with a large number of eCommerce solutions and other open source platforms over the years for myself and clients.

With a lot of other pressures I stopped searching and became complacent with my store leaving it run for too many years without an update. I worked with clients modifying platforms to suit their needs but in following the osCommerce method of hard-coding so much of the system any chance of a simple upgrade path was killed in a forked path that ultimately leads to a dead-end.

So, what to do next?  The open source store market is flourishing with more offerings than you can ‘poke-a-stick-at’.

There are pure open-source solutions, open-source commercial products, 2-tier open / commercial offerings, pure commercial tools, as well as a lot of noise from service providers.

Bricks and mortar stores have been changing, large shopping malls are being up-sized, or stagnating, with empty floor space. What-ever cannot be sold by mail-order is still viable in-store, but there are only so many coffee-shops, hair-dressers, nail salons, etc. that can survive in a centre, but I digress.

So for the mail-order products, i.e. anything that can be posted, parceled, or containerised, is eligible for an ecommerce site. Is anyone not selling on-line ?  While it may seem that everything is on-line it is simply not the case.

Some studies show that consumers still want a physical shopping experience.

There is also an older but more in-depth commentary from the Harvard Business Review on physical vs ecommerce.

In Australia, government studies from only 18 months ago, showed that small and medium enterprises a lagging in this country with their on-line presence and capability. There are obviously still great opportunities in all markets for any business to commence their on-line presence and include on-line trading in one form or another.

So, #1 there is a large percentage of businesses not online who could be, and #2 consumers will make use of both bricks and mortar and virtual stores without exclusion of one over the other.

So the questions that I am trying to answer include: What is the answer (and is that answer singular?) to on-line trading for Australian businesses? What platforms will provide a good solution now and potentially the future? What are the strategies that will work to marry both a shop of bricks and one of ether ?

Particularly I am interested in retail and small end retail, the Mum & Dad store that many years ago was in a strip-centre of a dozen stores or less.

I don’t have answers but I am working on them.

osCommerce 3 the Un – roadmap

Hmm,  what you will not find here is a roadmap.

To paraphrase a StarTrek statement “She’s dead Jim!”.

Well, probably not dead to the handful of folks that are intimately engaged with it,2015-03-31 20_08_36-Pulse · osCommerce_oscommerce · GitHub but to the outsiders like myself, a long-term, like I have been a since-it-started user, I only need to look at the GitHub repository and note that it does not have a pulse.


Reviewing the commits shows that even Harald 2015-03-31 20_08_19-osCommerce_oscommerce · GitHubhas been silent on the V3.0.x version with nothing for over 3 years, and even then the ‘latest’ stuff includes items from 4 years ago, and a solitary update to a ‘ReadMe’ file 2 years ago.

2015-03-31 20_09_09-Contributors to osCommerce_oscommerce · GitHub This GitHub activity graph highlights the few peaks and mostly troughs of in-activity and only two players involved.

This was all a snap-shot from GitHub at 31/3/2015. It might have changed since and you can check the latest at


Why am I publishing this?  I need to be sure that the platform I am using and recommending to clients is contemporary and of value. I have long campaigned as a pro open-source user and developer (albeit part-time as most OS people are). Seriously, version 2 of osC and all the forks, including osCmax, which has been a favourite for a number of years, have all fallen behind in terms of ability to deliver. The causes include developer needs being satisfied, end-users engaging with developers and then not wanting to invest any more time or cash, GFC’s or similar global phenomena, general apathy, and the fact that for an OS developer, you invest a stack of time for the joy of making it work, and that rush stops working.

Responsive templates, Google Mobile testing, image management, are all critical these days, and a platform that is struggling to remain relevant is not a path I think we should persist with.

Granted, version 2 of osCommerce has been kind of active and still has a strong community, but is it relevant, even if the plan is to, perhaps one day, reach an automated migration from 2.x to 3.x, if v3.x is already 9 years out-of-date. (osC 3 was first actively promoted in September 2006)

Technology moves too damn fast, time to move on.

Responsive Frameworks: Bootstrap, Foundation, and others

Search for ‘compare responsive frameworks’ and you are lead to an array of blog posts and commentaries on the topic.

I do not propose to reiterate stuff already said by others, but simply to consider what the frameworks might mean for me and the environment that I intend to apply a framework to.

My references are currently:

Regardless, of which framework, apparently consideration of which stylesheet language is used by the framework is another consideration. Is one ‘better’ than another or just ‘different’ ?

…and I have a lot of reading to do. My goal is to better understand options beyond the non-responsive Blueprint CSS framework that I have been using with osCmax.




osCmax and Templates, Responsive, CSS, and frameworks

A few years back I was working up a site in osCmax (osCommerce fork) and while the templating system was good it left a lot of issues with cross browser compatibility. I blogged several posts and some lengthy commentary on how I set it up with Blueprint, a CSS framework.

Revisiting osCmax recently I am now looking again at templates or themes and I have noted that Blueprint has not been updated since 2011 only a short while after my last efforts into my Blueprint for osCmax efforts.

As a result, I am doing more reading, and particularly on the more recent Responsive frameworks. Blueprint may well have atrophied simply due to the rapid increase in mobility issues for web design.

I’d observe that in some cases I expect that I do not need a responsive website and unless I know that I am working to a market that has a prevalence of mobile visits, then what is the point ? I have a particular site that I manage and I know from its’ stats over 10 years or more of views, that even today 80% of users are PC based and the 20% tend to be more unknowns than emphatically mobile. Further, even if the 20% were all mobile users, they may well be ok with the existing CSS styles that still present the site in a usable fashion on a tablet. Phone and small screen users may also be ok, and even if I ‘ask the audience’ do I get a response that I can use?

At this stage I am thinking that if I do deploy a responsive framework, then I will do so as a backend ‘good idea’ to maybe future-proof the site for an advent of a mobile tipping point. And to achieve that I should review the possible frameworks, just not from a ‘mobile-first’ perspective.