MS Web Development Project – Dissertation
Online Shopping Cart Development
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1: Introduction and Overview
Searching for a shopping cart software to buy, is a hard mission for the tiny businesses because they are looking for a low cost, reliable, and easy to install one which at least will permit them to produce catalogue pages and take online orders. Customers’ privacy is another issue that panic online users especially the tiny businesses’ customers, this issue can be met by finding an alternative technique to what is already being used in managing the shopping carts (such as Cookies). This will add a new search criterion to the tiny business to look for.
Tiny businesses are not interested in offering online payment on their websites, simply because their customers are more worried about their security to the limit that they will not give their account or payment cards details.
There are many shopping cart software that can be bought and downloaded online, but a tiny business, where the headcount less than three people(Dodson, 2005)may not find buying a shopping cart software a cost effective thing. Although there are free shopping cart software that can be downloaded online, these software may suffer from the reliability and/or the security problems.
The idea of developing an open source tinycart web toolkit for the tiny businesses was proposed by Dodson (2006a). The tinycart is supposed to meet all the shopping cart software criteria required by the tiny business. The tinycart was chosen to be an open source because this will provide it with the free and, most likely, the reliable criteria. A new technique will be selected and used to manage the shopping cart’s contents without threatening the privacy of its user and to offer a new feature for this shopping cart, which is the persistency.
Because of the limited time of the project, developing a full shopping cart web toolkit for the tiny business is very difficult to achieve, so it was decided to divide the development of this web tool kit into two modes:
• Customer mode tinycart web toolkit: (the topic of the project). This mode’s main focus will be on satisfying the requirements of the tiny businesses’ customers and giving the tiny cart administrator a control in producing the catalogue, the shopping cart, and the order pages in a simple way.
• Administrator mode tinycart web toolkit: Which another MSc student is currently developing as an MSc project. This mode’s main focus is to help the tiny business administrator in creating catalogue sites and removing mistakes from the catalogue pages before being used by the customers. (Dodson, 2006b).
The first project was chosen because of the following reasons:
• The author’s interest in developing online websites and solutions.
• By working on the project, the author would have more experience in developing electronic commerce websites.
• The new ideas of the project, such as producing an open source web tool kit, and creating the persistent shopping cart by means of a new technique in solving the statelessness of the HTTP which will be discussed in chapter 5.
The Project beneficiaries are:
• Tiny business, which need to add a free, reliable, secure and user friendly shopping cart software to its e-commerce website, or those tiny businesses that prefer not be concerned about the software’s legal issues.
• Programmers/developers who are part of, or would like to join the virtual community, to fix and improve this open source software. Programmers are interested in working in such projects for many reasons; including the possibility of being offered new paid jobs because of their well known names, or just because they are doing well.
• Customers who are going to use this customer- mode tinycart while shopping online from the tiny businesses websites which had already installed it.
1.2: Project Aim and Objectives
The aim of the project is to develop web-based resources of open source information and software using PHP and MySQL for the customer interface of a ‘tinycart’, preferably with support for persistent shopping carts indexed in URLs. The objectives and how they are going to be tested are:
1. Analyse and select a technical approach in PHP to support persistent shopping carts indexed in URLs of the form: <domain name>/<pathname>&cart=”<cartID>”, with explanatory and comparative analysis. This objective is going to be tested by expert review.
2. Design, implement and test a complete prototype of the customer mode of a tinycart web toolkit using this approach. This objective is going to be tested by using an extensive set of test cases.
3. Package the tinycart as a GNU General Public Licence (GNU GPL) and make it available in a website with all appropriate supporting documentation. This objective is going to be tested by attracting interest from potential installers.
1.3: Scope of the Project
The scope of the project is to design and build an open source shopping cart web toolkit for the tiny businesses (using PHP and MySQL) mainly to meet the requirements of the business customers. One of the special criteria of the web toolkit will be the persistency of the produced shopping cart. The literature will be reviewed to analyse to select the best PHP technical approach in order to achieve the persistent cart by attaching its identification to the URLs. By the end of this stage, the first objective will be met.
To validate the proposed approach, a provisional prototype will be produced. After that, the development of the web toolkit will enter the sequential stages of the Waterfall model starting from the requirement gathering and analysis till testing. By the end of this stage, the second objective will be met.
Finally, the web toolkit will be made as an open source, where it will be licensed using GNU GPL licence, and launched on the web together with all the supporting documents, to make it available for installation. By the end of this stage, the final objective will be met.
There were no major changes on the project aim, objectives, or development methods compared to what was stated in the project definition document, which can be seen in appendix A. The only change was, in the administrator capabilities needed to configure the toolkit, as it seems that the administrator will need to know how to upload files to the web sever and populate the database in addition to a simple knowledge of HTML.
It was decided to design the project report in a way that reflects the nature and stages of the “Design and Build” projects. The following is the description of the report structure simulates the design of a previous dissertation (Uddin, 2003).