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Backend Software
for Ecommerce Web Sites

When building an ecommerce system from end-to-end, we generally prefer to use open source software, for several simple reasons:

  1. Avoiding vendor lock-in. This is not just a matter of dodging licensing fees (though that can be a substantial savings). It's a question of scalability. With open source, if the software doesn't suit you, you can call in a programmer and modify it. Proprietary software has rightly been compared to "a car with the hood welded shut." With proprietary software, modifications are not allowed.
  2. We can pick up the phone and call the best technical minds available, including the creators of these software packages.
  3. Our clients don't get left in the lurch. We can build you a site in Cold Fusion (CFM). It's actually a pretty clean little markup language. But it's not all that easy to find your own CFM wizard later. HTML talent is ubitquitous.
  4. Open source software is generally more robust. (Exceptions: Oracle and Informix are still as good as any open source relational database program. And SAP has added features, though SAP is a mighty big commitment in software cost.)

Our preferences:

HTML, XML. HTML has a ways to go. XML is just coming into maturity. But they are the standards of the Internet.

Apache server software. Sixty-eight percent of the world's Internet servers use it. It is the standard.

Zope (a very well-designed interface/toolset for managing web sites)

Unix variants such as Linux, FreeBSD, or Solaris. Yes, Unix is now 30 years old. And it remains the world's dominant industrial-duty operating system.

C, Perl, Python, Java.. C remains the lean mean machine of programming languages; robust, and blazing fast. Perl is an excellent tool (Practical Reporting and Extraction Language) when used for reports and extraction – though many inexperienced programmers try to build whole software systems with it. Python is a fast-growing high-level language, excellent for rapid prototyping, which can also integrate C subroutines for greater speed and robustness. We also use C++, Visual Basic, etc.

MySQL (for read/write applications) or PostreSQL (if transactions are needed)

Combinations of these packages are often described as the LAMP set, loosely meaning Linux-Apache-MySQL-Perl/Python.

All that said, we are willing to work with proprietary products when it makes sense. Oracle and Sybase are well-tested and robust systems, and we can work with those too.

Likewise Microsoft NT servers can be fairly reliable – if one knows exactly how to set them up – and if you have a small business with some semi-tech talent inhouse, this might make a lot more sense than a Unix platform. E.g., our client SeaEagle (http://www.hastingsresearch.com/samples/seaeagle.shtml) runs on NT. Properly set up, it is perfectly stable, with perhaps one crash every six months, and the company doesn't even need an IT professional to run it.

Contact us at info@hastingsresearch.com

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