2018 07 Web Stores and Shopping Carts

Location: Room 1301 — Conrad Grebel University College,140 Westmount Rd. N. · Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6
Date: Monday, July 16, 2018
Time: 7:00-9:00PM

Does your NonProfit organization sell things? Does it provide paid services? Do you need a web presence for your sales? Will you need a separate server for your web store? Or can you add a shopping cart to your existing web site? Or is it better to outsource all online commerce?

Meet our guest speaker Sam Nabi, developer of Shopkit (https://shopkit.samnabi.com/) and let’s discuss what a System Administrator needs to join a NonProfit organization to the world of web commerce.

–Marc Paré & Bob Jonkman


Meeting Notes

  • Where is everyone coming from? Sam Nabi will tailor his tour to our needs.
    • Nonprofit org wants online registrations with payment
    • Bookseller
    • Online donations
    • Goods and Services
    • Media Production (rental of cameras, lights, &c)
  • People want to make things easier for sellers and buyers
  • Sam started as a city planner, moved to a startup doing web development
    • Then, Sam bought a retail store, Full Circle Foods
    • …the inherited system is a series of linked spreadsheets :/
    • Full Circle Foods has 90 suppliers. Seems a lot, but many are small, local businesses
    • Lots to be done digitizing the order system of Full Circle Foods
  • Self-hosted PHP-based solution
    • Sold as a subscription service
    • Sam would hold the code and provides the online webhosting
  • Sam provides the code, and can work it into the design of an existing web page
  • Had an idea to pool resources for pooled shipping, delivery, advertising
    • (not sure if this is a feature of ShopKit –Bob.)
  • Sam is part of the Kirby CMS community
    • Didn’t have an ecommerce plugin, but there was an appetite for it
    • Working over three years to develop Shopkit with the Kirby developers
    • Kirby is a file-based PHP CMS (we like that)
      • Files are written in Markdown, still accessible if Web connection goes down
      • But there is a good GUI as well (good for marketers)
      • UI is decoupled from the data
  • Sam gives a quick tour of a sample installation on GitHub
    • https://github.com/samnabi/shopkit-sample-content/
    • Kirby has multi-language support, i18n, l10n
    • Also has categories, which Shopkit links to
    • It’s a system of API hooks, launched from the plugin to Kirby
    • but Shopkit has all the templates for, eg. slideshows, created by Sam
  • Purchasing flow:
    • Select product, increase/decrease quantity, totals are updated
    • Uses AJAX, but the site is not Javascript dependent
      • Jeremy Keith is Sam’s inspiration, he knows about good design.
    • There can be different shipping rules, different tax rates for different localities
    • Add personal details (name, e-mail)
  • Tour of the back end
    • Resetting passwords 🙂
    • Sam has tried to make it easy for front-end users
    • Adding products, adding categories
      • Products have variants with different prices, options that don’t affect price
        • Small oversight: Options don’t have different SKUs, no separate inventory
      • Changing the use of SKUs is not dependent on the purchasing process
    • A “Featured Product” is displayed in the sidebar
    • Feature request by developers: “Items Remaining In Stock”
    • Another request: Individual e-mails for restocking
    • Shipping Rules:
      • Can be different for all countries, one country,
      • Shipping rules UI created by Sam, but as part of the plugin (even though it shows in the Kirby UI)
      • Tax and shipping rules can be defined by the developer, but not through the WebUI
      • Sam take us for a deep dive into the shipping selection code
  • Reporting in Shopkit
    • Done from the Shopkit backend
    • Invoices are created by PHP into PDF files using “dompdf” https://github.com/dompdf/dompdf
    • Report invoices are generated dynamically every time, but from a static “transactions” file
    • Added some widgets on the dashboard, eg. “Abandoned, Pending, Paid/Shipped”
    • There are also site stats based on another Kirby plugin
  • Payment Processing
    • Implemented at “gateways” in Shopkit
      • Each gateway has a “process” and a “callback”
    • Some processors (Square) expect money values to be in cents
      • Performing only integer operations on cents seems to be best practice
    • There are thousands of processors, so Sam has created an open system for processor gateways
      • This separates the payment processing from Shopkit itself, absolving Sam of dealing with payment issues
    • Payment processors provide an SDK for the gateway code
      • Each payment processor has its own API, unique for each installation.
  • Testing
    • No formal testing methodology
    • Tries new code on a test site, Sam’s own site
    • Most bugs are caught by end-users (developers)
  • Shopkit and Kirby aren’t quite Free Software: Code is available for inspection, modification, but not necessarily for redistribution. But payment is on the honour system.
  • There have been 200 issues logged in the Shopkit issue tracker; most are from Sam himself.
    • Top question: Can I add Shopkit to an existing (Kirby) site?
      • Not really, Shopkit is a standalone application,
      • Shopkit is a good intermediate between a simple button, and a full-fledged e-commerce system.
  • Shopkit’s changes to Kirby are mostly in the “snippets”, which might conflict with another Kirby installation’s snippets
  • Shopkit is a full point version behind the Kirby, always on the stable version.
  • A look at the data: Order file
    • A YAML file that builds up as order information is entereed
    • Based on server’s session ID (uniqueness?)
    • File locking? Kirby has some file locking built in
    • Sessions are now the same across tabs, but that may break with new Chrome tab isolation

Shopkit is a kit, a standalone, turnkey application

  • Kirby developer, Bastian Allgeier, is known for Zootool, and is making a living off Kirby

General Business

  • SysAdminDay Dinner – 6:00pm on Friday, 27 July 2018 at Abe Erb Restaurant in Kitchener
    • All System Administrators, Non-Profit, For-Profit, and their friends and relations are invited!

Future Topics

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