Building Your Online Shop with osCommerce

osCommerce shopping cart platform that can be installed on any PHP web server which also uses a MySQL database because it is an open source cross-platform software. It does not matter if the server runs on Mac OX X, Windows or Linux. However, it must have a couple of features such as:

  • CGI scripts compatibility, FastCGI recommended
  • Certain PHP options like: register_globals off, file_uploads on, session.auto_start off, session.use_trans_sid off, magic_quotes_gpc off.
  • Certain PHP extensions such as MySQL off, GD for image processing, cURL for network communication, OpenSSL for encryption.
  • MySQL default store engine named MyISAM

How to Install osCommerce

You can download the package and upload them to the public HTML folder or in the htdocs. The content of the download package should be extracted and should contain the following folders: catalog and extras. Additionally, it should have the upgrade.html file together with the changelog, license, standard, community_docs, and documentation.  You need to upload the file to your FTP account. Do not forget to set the file permissions for configuring.php files from both catalog/includes and from catalog/admin in the proper way that only the web server can write them and not any person. Do not forget to delete these permissions at the end of the installation.

A database must be created in order to connect to the osCommerce files from the FTP. Next, you need to use your browser to go at your shop adding the /shop URL to your website one. You should write the server address, root directory, database server address, database username, database name, database password, store name, store owner name and so on. If there are some problems, you will be notified in the left part of your installation wizard.

Also you need to put 777 as the permission for the following folders: catalog/images, catalog/cache, catalog/admin/backups/catalog/admin/images/graphs. If you do not have one or more of these folders, you should create them. You need to move he catalog/admin/backups also.

osCommerce template

osCommerce templates are hard to install, however, there are multiple developers such as Template Monster which offer you osCommerce templates to use. Usually, these templates are made for online stores. When you install them you need a PHP editor, a graphic editor, a MySQL database. Usually, templates are containing files like .PSD, .CSS, .FLA, .PHP and .JS. each file being a part of the osCommerce template.

Some of the useful software for editing templates are Adobe Photoshop, 7-zip for Windows and hosting tools.

osCommerce settings

There are available multiple osCommerce settings. Some of them are the following ones:

Customer details settings

Each client needs to fill in a registration form writing its personal data. In order to edit this registration, form you need to login to the dashboard and go to the configuration area where you select the customer details. Here you can see multiple options and you only need to edit the one you want by pressing the edit button. You should choose False if you want an option to be optional. Click the save button at the end. You can also delete or add new options if you want. In case you want to edit other fields, you should edit the login.php file.

Information module

You can easily add a page with link in the Information module by opening the osCommerce FTP account and search shipping.php file. Here you need to copy and rename the file. You can put what name you want. Open the file and change its content adding the following lines:

define('NAVBAR_TITLE', 'Shipping & Returns');
define('HEADING_TITLE', 'Shipping & Returns');
define('TEXT_INFORMATION', 'Put here your Shipping & Returns information.');

Next open the includes folder and then the filenames.php file. Here you should add the new file you just created:

define('FILENAME_EXAMPLE', ‘example.php');

Also in the catalog/example.php file you should replace FILENAME_SHIPPING with FILENAME_EXAMPLE. In the includes there is a folder modules and in it the boxes folder where the bm_information.php file needs to be edited. Open it and search for <ul class=”information”> then add the code:

'    <li>' . tep_draw_box_list_top() . '<a href="' . tep_href_link(FILENAME_EXAMPLE) . '"><i class="icon-ok"></i>' . MODULE_BOXES_INFORMATION_BOX_EXAMPLE . '</a>' . tep_draw_box_list_bottom() . '</li>'.

The last step is to open the includes/ languages/ English/ modules/ boxes/ bm_information.php file adding the code:

define('MODULE_BOXES_INFORMATION_BOX_EXAMPLE', 'Example');

In the end save the file.

How to enable maintenance mode

First you should backup your index.php from your FTP and then open it with either Notepad+++ by replacing the code with a simple HTML code where you write that the website is in maintenance such as:

<h1>Website is in maintenance. </h1>

Save the changes and check your website. You can even customize more by adding JavaScript, PHP or CSS code if you really want.

How to change product list

In order to change the product list, you just need to go to the catalog where the list of products is displayed. You can select either the Grid or the List view, but by default the Grid version is enabled.

Next, you should log into your osCommerce plugin where you go at product listing section and choose the proper settings such as product listing default view by editing it.

How to change the number of symbols

To change the number of symbols displayed in your templates you need to check the review box. You can inspect it with your browser’s inspect element function by finding the proper class. You should unzip the template file and use Notepad++ in order to open all files of your theme and to search in all of them after the class from the review box. Use the CTRL+F function to find the proper class.  Usually, the file containing that class is in includes folder, modules and then in boxes. Its name is bm_reviews.php. Search after the number 60 and change it to the wished number.

Now you can easily save the file and enter again to your website. You can see that you just change the number of symbols in the review box. To change the number of characters in the product list you need to go to your osCommerce dashboard and here at configuration check the product listing options. You can edit the proper setting and save it.

Finishing up

Now you know the basics of how to start your online shop with osCommerce. The next step is to get a reliable osCommerce hosting plan and take action. When choosing hosting provider, make sure that they offer great online support, reliable service and one-click installation tool. This tool enables you to install osCommerce to your website easily, with not necessity of creating database, upload files to your server, etc. The tool will take care of all and will install the latest version, so you can focus on building your shop and don’t waste time with setting up the system.

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