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What I'm thinking about X-cart

Today I was discussing some of the features of the different softwares and making the “right” choose for the client. As an additional result I've decided to write a few articles “what I'm thinking about …” and hope it will be interesting to any person who are making a choose. It won't be an comparison, but “developer” opinion.

I will start with X-cart as a well known e-commerce software. Firstly, you should definitely go to the www.x-cart.com and look at the present site and the demo.

Let's look deeper and start from the software structure. It seems like the modules are supported, but actually it is not so. Every module is hardly related with the core, and if some default module is installed easily - be sure that a part of it is already placed at the core. It is not a problem, it is just a fact. You should remember about it because if you are making some modification, you will have a lot of problems with upgrade. But any case I agree with the person who say that the X-cart has got very easy and understandable structure fir the customization and support.

The software is divided on the “php part” and the templates. The smarty template engine is used, it is very powerful engine and I think that it is suitable here. However you will notice that the design integration of the x-cart is based on the tables. It is not good. I can say that the same pages can be twice as litter if it is based on the “div”. It means that the page will be loaded twice as faster (of course there are page generation time also, but we will return to it later). If we are talking about the default design, I may say that it is suitable and standard one. However I will underline one thing, which is showing that nobody thinking about target of such design. Look at the language switcher. For example I'm speaking on the “Spanish” language. I have to open the select box to check if the language is available. For me it is not good, I will close the site because I simply don't understand the content. Also you will be right if you think that the “Google” and any other search engine won't be able to switch the language and grab the “Spanish” pages. The flags (with links) are more suitable here, however how much versions are released with this language switcher? Design should be friendly, there are it is ok, but not perfect.

Let's return to the speed. lot of people are talking that it is fine in comparison with that or that software. But I'm not compare it, so I have to say that it is middle. I was working a lot with the code and can say that it is simple to make it faster. There are a lot of the repeated things. For example the profile is checking at the start, than it is selected again on the cart calculation or for the tax calculation on the product page (taxes are related with “zone, so it is related with the profile shipping address) if the taxes are included. And it is just an example, I can talking about it for hours, but summary - the speed is 3 from 5.

When you are choosing a basic software, usually you are looking for the extensions. If you are find a suitable one - it is better, because you reduce the cost of the overall solution. No custom work - no problem. So there are no problem for x-cart, you can always find a 3d-party module. The only one thing which I don't understand - why there modules are not included to the standard pack or not selling by x-cart company itself. For example - different SEO things which is allow to have a SEO-friendly URLs. On my mind - it is pretty easy to collect the modules and release the same ones, of course a lot customers will prefer the “original” solution.

Generally, I think that you have already understood, X-cart is very old software. Of course there are some updates and versions are released, but there are no important changes and modern (and required!) things. The x-cart is still a good, but not a perfect, choose. It is easy to customize, but how much money do you spend?

PS: One funny thing, the x-cart representative site is build on the “divs”. So they understand the importance, but don't do the same in the software.

PPS: The new version is released (X-cart 4.2.x). But actually I don't see any good changes, so I don't see any sense to rewrite this article. Only one fact should be added, the styles in the new design don't used right, as the result the pages are still heavy.

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