Another boxed CMS or a decent alternative?

    Greetings, habroyuzery!

    Ehhh, a long time ago I did not appear here and did not write ... And, meanwhile, life goes on, everything changes, including my favorite eCommerce, for which new tools are constantly appearing.
    For all the time I worked in this niche (and this is more than 5 years), I tried a lot of engines, both opensource and commercial: Magento, Bitrix, Insales, OpenCart, Shop-Cart, Simpla, Zen Cart, etc. And now, what have I come to ...

    First of all, finished products (CMS are our favorite) when it comes to launching a standard store on a tight schedule without special customer requirements and misunderstandings about what TK is and why it is good.

    I will not talk about all 50 shades of sensations (sometimes there were even more) that righteous developers experience when they see the code of some PHP CMS (as the most common today) when they need to be customized. This is a separate topic for discussion ...

    If you do not delve into the technical details, CMS is an excellent tool that allows you to save time during development and satisfy 90% of the desires of average customers, while remaining in positive territory both in time and in finance and nerves.

    Secondly, I do not like opensource.

    What newcomers do: download a distribution kit, dig deeper, add add-ons with the same opensource, or write it yourself - the site seems to be ready, but it blows a mile from that.

    This choice is due to apparent simplicity - a couple of modules and a template, if the solutions are really suitable, and the deadlines are on.

    And thirdly, the more I came across the stories of my colleagues, the more I became disappointed in this lesson. And in most developers working with opensource. Moreover, sometimes this disappointment concerns not only the products themselves, but also opensource CMS in general, and sometimes life. I think many are familiar with this feeling.

    As a result, if at the beginning of my career I was openly contemptuous of commercial engines, then, after gaining the above experience, I began to sometimes think about their use and even apply to individual projects, hoping to find the very “silver bullet” among them for a painless implementation perversions of customers and struggle with defects of opensource.

    Therefore, in this article, I would like to share with you my experience with one of these products called CS-Cart , which I happened to encounter recently.

    Oddly enough, Bitrix forced to get acquainted with this engine. Just because the client really wanted a scalable engine, and I do not like Bitrix from past experience. Went to see what are the alternatives at the moment. Then he attracted my attention, because occupied a stable second place after Bitrix.

    Since it cost even less than the necessary distribution of the brainchild of 1C (24,500 Russian rubles for CS-Cart versus 35,900 for Bitrix), the go-ahead was received, because, as it turned out, my client as a result didn’t care about the platform, like this usually it happens.
    The main thing is that CMS made it possible to bring all of his “Wishlist” to life as quickly as possible and without unnecessary gestures on my part.

    What attracted me to CS-Cart?

    It's all mine, dear

    Firstly, as it turned out, this is a domestic product with a rich history (on the market since 2005) and excellent Russian-language documentation , backed up by a ton of video tutorials. Moreover, many videos are built right into the CS-Cart admin panel on pages where viewing them will benefit the end user:

    Low entry threshold

    A section of the documentation for developers deserves a separate word (of course, in Russian), which describes in detail the file and code structure of the CMS itself, modules and topics, add-on development standards, REST API organization principles and much more.
    Under such conditions, it was not difficult for my developers to deal with CS-Cart. Moreover, this applies to both the admin interface and the code.

    This moment also delightfully pleased the customer who, like everyone else, wanted to do everything himself after the start of the store and not spend money on consultations and improvements.

    Customize me completely

    Since the client came across, as I said, standard, then another of his mandatory requirements was the possibility of independent changes to the appearance of the display case.
    It was necessary to correct both the structure of the pages and the text of individual text blocks and inscriptions on the controls.

    And here CS-Cart helped me out again, because out of the box he had all the necessary tools available.

    First, the familiar visual editor of the main elements of the theme, which worked with WordPress, in which when changing the styles of the showcase, the results are instantly displayed on the screen, without actually applying them without saving the changes:

    The Content Editor implements the click-to-edit principle, which is also popular in many CMSs, and it looks like this:

    To change the structure of page elements, there is also a tool very similar to WP Visual Composer, which allows you to design page layouts yourself, adding new elements and moving existing ones:

    Well, finally, the engine has a mode of isiner, which allows you to change the source code of engine templates that are responsible for certain structural elements of the interface. It works like this:

    In addition to the above, in CS-Cart there are also visual editors of templates for email newsletters and documents, which can be used both in letters and on information pages.

    Do not let marketers dry

    Another wishlist of my client was a whole set of marketing tools. In addition to the mentioned email newsletters, SEO-settings of the site as a whole, as well as individual pages, promotions, bonuses, banners, displaying of incomplete purchases, one-click order were also required. In general, full stuffing.

    And at this moment, CMS also made me extremely happy, because he has all this available. Moreover, out of the box, and not due to the installation of modules of dubious quality, as is the case on opensource platforms.

    As for the extension of functionality, this CMS has everything standard: for functionality there are modules that work on the hook system, and not the crutch vQmod / ocMod, cursed by OpenCart developers, and graphic themes.

    The extensions, however, are not as many as the opensource engines, because few CS-Cart partners create them, and not just anyone :-) But, you can be sure of their quality of the code due to strict moderation, and they will be needed only in emergency cases, as Most of the required features are available by default.

    In addition to all of the above, this engine out of the box has a lot of interesting things like logging in through social networks with the help of everyone familiar with oAuth, blogging, mass loading of goods, synchronization with Yandex.Market, etc., which I did not spend too much time on lack of demand in the framework of the described order, so I did not go deep into their settings.

    What didn’t you like?

    CS-Cart turned out to be good. It’s so good that it often slowed down on my local computer, which does not differ much in performance. Moreover, I'm talking now about navigating the storefront and performing typical user actions in the online store.
    Those. in the same way, it will slow down for the majority, if you do not disconnect unnecessary modules and do not rent a server (better, of course, a dedicated one) is more powerful.

    This is, in fact, a private minus of most modern CMS, which have to pay for the abundance of functionality out of the box. Well, and commercial engines especially, because by default, they have an order of magnitude more features than open source counterparts.

    The second drawback for me personally was the rather high price of the license (fortunately, that it is at least lifelong) - 24,500 Russian rubles for the base version and 36,000 for a distribution kit with a more pumped-up UniTheme storefront theme (separately costs $ 200) and additional modules.

    Add-ons are also quite expensive (from $ 20 to $ 600 for individual modules and topics), but, again, I repeat, you will not need them often.
    Well, the last thing I did not like was some technical and moral backwardness of the engine itself.

    While the ideas of SPA and isomorphic web applications are being promoted in the modern IT world, CS-Cart still has a banal non-adaptive admin panel (even Bootstrap and other front-end frameworks do not smell like an adaptive storefront). No js frameworks and client rendering for you, just jQuery, only hardcore.

    However, CSS styles are written using the LESS-processor, which is already good.
    There is also nothing to profit from the backend: the standard PHP stack (it works stably on both 5.6 and 7.2) + MySQL.

    The engine is self-written, but the code is well structured due to MVC and the use of Smarty template engine for compiling views, so it’s not difficult to figure out and maintain it.

    Thus, on the one hand, working with CS-Cart in terms of professional growth does not smell like a serious profit. But, on the other hand, this is a great option for beginning developers due to the detailed documentation and low entry threshold due to the used technology stack, which, moreover, will allow you to quickly deal with orders, leaving time for self-education.

    And for experienced - a good opportunity to launch large-scale eCommerce projects in a fairly short time.

    As a result, it took us 4 days to launch a rather serious functional store based on CS-Cart, while on OpenCart a similar creation killed me from 2 weeks, I don’t even stutter about Bitrix.

    Also popular now: