View Full Version : osCommerce Customization

01-18-2005, 02:07 PM
To anyone who has customized osCommerce:

I have installed osCommerce. The install directory (default) is www.brandnamebarsupplies.com/catalog. I have seen other osCommerce sites and their catalog appears on the dfault page of the site showing the store immediately. Is this done my manipulation of the index pages or do they have their domain mapped to the /catalog directory?

Besides that, how would I go about customizing osCommerce. Forum software has lots of costomization tools, but I can't get to any in osCommerce. Is it done by simply screwing around with the html manually? Sites like www.smartmarine.co.nz have a ton of customization and I am trying to get a start on customizing my osCommerce installation in a syatematic way. Any ideas?


01-18-2005, 02:17 PM
I have installed osCommerce. The install directory (default) is www.brandnamebarsupplies.com/catalog. I have seen other osCommerce sites and their catalog appears on the dfault page of the site showing the store immediately. Is this done my manipulation of the index pages or do they have their domain mapped to the /catalog directory?

No, they simply installed it in the main directory, instead of in a folder called catalog.

01-18-2005, 03:04 PM
Aha...didn't know it could be done. I'll uninstall and reinstall as such, but do you have any info about how these other osCommerce sites make customization look so easy?

Also, osCommerce has been notorious for being not toog good on the SEO level. I noticed that the links use Apache's "directory scaling" look-up/php explode() thingie that Chris mentions in one of his articles for SEO. Is this a new development, and what other methods of SEO should I take to jack up the PR of my site?


01-18-2005, 04:33 PM
Customization is blood and sweat :) Take a look at:


By itself, it saw poor performace with google for a very long time using OSC. In July of this year, we averaged 4-500 uniques per day through mostly forum and word of mouth traffic. Several things changed that. I installed:

1) categories description MS2_1.9 (do a search in contributions) I changed the description field to be read as the description field (or abstract, I forget) so that each category had more information and custom titles.

2) Install a mod_rewrite modification. There are a number, and some new ones since the one I installed. I used this one:


3) And, the header tags controller. Header Tags Controller v2.2 by Linda McGrath. This one is a jewel! It allows you to create custom keywords and descriptions for EACH product as well as page titles. You can see how dramatic this is on corvettegarage.com. For each product, I've manually added the page title, keywords and description.

Result? It made a HUGE difference. I've had to buy additional bandwidth three times now. We went from 5gm per month with 4-500 uniques per day, to 30 gig per month at 1000-1400 uniques per day. And that traffic is search engine traffic. We used to have minimal search engine traffic. Most visits were from forum links, etc. Now the majority of our traffic is search engine. And the result is dramatically increased orders.

Google unleashed on this site, and we have excellent results for individual products.

Hope this helps!


01-18-2005, 06:21 PM
That absolutely helps...any idea what files from the base install I should be screwing with as far as graphical customization goes and what ones to just leave alone? osCommerce does a lot of including and I don't wanna be screwing with scripts...is there a specific locatin for .css that can be worked with?

The SEO tips are great...I'll fo sho look into them...


01-18-2005, 06:30 PM
I think there is a hack called "STS template" that you can add to an OSCommerce store and it apparently makes it alot easier to edit the templates.

EDIT: here is a link to it http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions,1524

01-18-2005, 06:40 PM
Also you need the session killer contribution to kill sessions in the URL for SE spiders.

although, you may want to consider Zen Cart. It is based off OSC and has all of these contributions, including some other good ones, built in (except the SE friendly urls).

01-18-2005, 08:03 PM
Would you use Zen Cart if you had to start another site from scratch?


01-18-2005, 08:49 PM
Sessions can be controlled with:

Configuration -> Sessions -> Prevent Spider Sessions = True

I believe they integrated this quite some time back.

As for the images and what to edit, many (but not all) are in: includes\boxes

What I found helpful was using Dreamweaver and having a test site in the url. If I wanted to know where a certain graphic was, I would right click the image in a browser to see the name, then in Dreamweaver, do a search for that filename in the source code. This would tell me where all the image was being used in the source code.

I learned the hardway not to develop on a production site. I keep a development site that is password protect to make any edits, then transfer over things.

OSC is not the easies to work with in terms of editing the look/feel. I've heard of the STS templates, but not looked into them. I get very reluctant to change anything on OSC sites as there is so much code.

01-18-2005, 08:51 PM
To add to the Zen Cart, has anyone used xCart? I have two more ecommerce sites in my web design cue and am looking for info on other *hot* cart products to consider. The money is not an issue. It just needs to be editable and easy to work with.

01-18-2005, 08:57 PM
Not to consume all the conversation here, but I remembered something else you might find useful. In the root \includes folder you will see a spiders.txt file. This is supposed to include a list of known spiders. The last version I downloaded had a sparse number of spiders in it. On the osc forums, I came across this list:

ncsa beta

Might compare/check against it. This list is check against regarding the "prevent spider sessions" setting.

01-18-2005, 09:39 PM
I'd be sorely tempted to use Zen Cart (its also supposed to be much easier to edit). The only thing keeping me with OSC is their promise for 3.0

01-18-2005, 10:26 PM
Does Zen Cart have decent support and compatibility? Like, is the difference between osCommerce and Zen Cart like the difference between Redhat and "John Doe's Linux" in the open source world? Will it have as wide a range of modules (I think I read that it supported like 50 different payment modules)...

I have installed osCommerce and Zen Cart both. I'm not sure how Zen Cart is gonna work with my add-on domain structure. I received a lot of 404 errors with ZC. I am uninstalling and reinstalling clean to see if I made any mistakes. OsCommerce does look a bit convoluted. Thanks for the tips on where to make the changes though...that'll be really helpful with the little things. If I can get ZC up and running in a decent amount of time, then I'll stick with that...otherwise I'll have to fumble around with osCommerce. Speed is of the essence.

I'd also like to know what other good solutions are out there. What features is osCommerce 3 supposet to be sporting?


01-19-2005, 04:40 AM
How important are the SSL features? I think I am having problems with SSL with my hosting company. I e-mailed them for the SSL information, and they replied with the following:

"The Shuttle plan does not come with a shared certificated included.

You can do this one of two ways, either by upgrading your account to the
Voyager plan which includes a shared SSL certificate, or enable a personal SSL
certificate on your account.

If you upgrade your account to the Voyager package which includes a shared SSL
certificate, you would pay the difference between the two hosting packages for
the remainder of the hosting contract.

The url for the shared cert would be
https://secure.server.lunarpages.com/~user/ (replace server with the name of
your server and user with your username)

Please Note, Shared SSL will not function with ASP, JSP or PHP pages. It will
function only with html, and cgi/perl based documents/scripts/carts. This is
due to security restrictions on the servers. If you require SSL for PHP, ASP
or JSP you will need to purchase a personal certificate and dedicated IP.

In the latter case, we can either install a certificate you purchased or we
can provide you with a cert for $69.00 or $49.00, paid yearly.

There is a one time setup fee of $24.95.

The $69.00 cert covers transactions up to $2,500.00 and includes the trust
logo. The $49.00 cert covers transactions up to $50.00.

Having a cert installed on your account requires that you have a dedicated IP.
A dedicated IP is an additional $2.50 a month, charged in a lump sum.

The path to your personal cert would be: https://www.yourdomain.com

Please specify how you would like to proceed.

Please reply to this message with your username, authorization to charge your
credit card and the last 4 digits of your credit card.

For a personal cert we need the following information:

Domain/subdomain name to make the cert for:
(the subdomain or domain must already have been setup)

State / Province:
Company Name:
Email address you wish to have associated to the certificate:
Password for the cert: (must be alpha numeric only - Aa-Zz / 0-9)

Street Address.
Zip/postal code.
(Please note we cannot accept PO Boxes for addresses)

Please also note that a certificate can only be set up for either
https://www.domain.com or https://domain.com (I have http://www.ineedcoaching.com and http://www.brandnamebarsupplies.com as an add-on mapped through http://bnbs.ineedcoaching.com/bnbs). If a certificate for
https://domain.com is accessed through https://www.domain.com, it will give a
security warning saying the name does not match the name on the certificate.
The certificate will still secure the data however."

I'm not sure exactly what all this means...and I'm not sure I like the looks of it. Please advise as to the steps I should take to enable everything to go smoothly here. What role does SSL pay in this whole deal and what would be my most cost-effective options?


01-19-2005, 08:56 AM
Do you know what a shared SSL cert is? It means your path to your secure server would be something like yoursite.theirsecuredomain.com

01-19-2005, 09:04 AM
I just gave what I was given for a response to my asking for SSL info. Basically I don't have any SSl capabilities. The tech at Lunarpages gave me a bunch of options, but I'm not sure what would be most efficient and cost effective. I don't know what the SSL requirements are for Zen Cart...are they REQUIREMENTS...or just best practices? Just looking for a little insight as to what direction I should go in obtaining a cert.


01-19-2005, 10:09 AM
I ended up purchasing a personal certificate sot hat part is done and overwith. I installed Zen Cart, but I noticed that all the links have the /index.php?var=1&var2=2 form. osCommerce has the index.php/1/2 form that Chris mentioned in his SEO article for all its links. This isn't right is it? If ZC is better when it comes to SEO, shouldn't the links be a bit more conducive to spidering? Maybe there's a way to switch this stuff on and off...I'll look...


01-19-2005, 10:55 AM
I think zen cart does have that option. Or at least an easy add-on.

01-19-2005, 02:08 PM
Do you know what the add-on is called?

01-20-2005, 04:50 AM
No sorry. I don't even know if one exists. I always thought that Zen Cart was search engine friendly out of the box. Are you sure you have the most up to date version?

Try on their message board, they'll be much more help to you there :)

01-20-2005, 09:02 AM
Yeah...they have alot of folks working on SEFU's, but nothing in the form of a module yet. The Zen Cart install is really convoluted. I decided to once again to uninstall ZC and reinstall osC. It's just structurally better, cleaner, manual editing is more straight forward, and it's just faster. Thee is no extra fluffy stuff...just the essentials for a good cart. If anyone wants to check up on the site, it's www.brandnamebarsupplies.com. There are a few intricicies here and there that I am having trouble with like EDITING THE INDEX.PHP file! FOr some reason if I change even one letter in the defined('MAIN_TEXT', 'text of the script,'), I get a page not found error...that's just a LITTLE annoying. That and changing the width of the left and right columns, and bringing the page to an 800px width rather than the 100% width is also getting to me. Oh well...if no suggestions here I'll start hitting the osC forums which are MUCH more thorough.