Know anything about online event planning or shopping carts?
September 20, 2005 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Does anybody have any experience with online even management systems and or e-commerce shopping carts?

I'm in the early stages of planning the web systems for a company I'm planning to start. I'm more of a front-end guy than a database guy, so I will be hiring somebody to put those systems together for me. I'd rather not reinvent the wheel though, so as I develop a functional spec to take to somebody, I'd like to build it with current open source modules in mind that can be glued together to get me roughly where I'd like to be. If anybody knows of systems that are close to what I describe, I would really appreciate hearing about them.

Broadly speaking, users will be able to browse events, which can be in multiple categories (i.e. Location, date, attendee profile, etc.). Users will be able to browse based on any of those criteria or even a combination of those criteria.

There are two types of users, subscribers and non-subscribers. There are also two types of events, standard and premium. Subscribers can attend an infinite number of standard events, and they get credits for a few premium events each month that will expire at month's end. Subscribers can purchase additional premium credits as they need them.

Non-subscribers would purchase premium credits or standard credits as they need them. Standard credits would be significantly cheaper than premium credits.

Users will RSVP to events. Events must have at least X RSVP/attendees before the event is confirmed via e-mail and credits are applied towards the event. Events will close down once a maximum number of attendees is reached.

There will be an area for users to create profiles. Profiles will only be visible to other users that the profiled user has flagged or accepted.

There will be a forum area for users to discuss whatever. This area is visible to everyone.

There will need to be a robust web admin section that makes it easy to add events each month -- possibly set up recurring event, event categories and credit people with credits for events and the like.

I'm assuming the site will be built for a LAMP environment.

I found a hosted (I think) solution, Sporg for online event planning. The hosted part alone probably makes it a bad solution for me, but does anybody know of an open source project that is similar?

I don't know if an event system would have shopping cart elements built into it or not. If I need a shopping cart as well, I get the impression that Zen Cart is a good solution. I understand it is a branch of OS Commerce, but I don't understand what the difference is. Does anybody know?

I also get the impression that these shopping carts have a lot of 3rd party modules that can be added in. Is there a clearing house for these somewhere that describes what they are, what they do and how you would use/integrate them into the main package?

Once I have the functional spec created, I will be going to Craig's List to look for a developer. Is there any place else that I should also look? Are there any particular questions that I should ask to ensure the person I will be hiring is capable of building a robust system that will do what I want it to do?

posted by willnot to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Zen Cart was a fork of OSCommerce. When I looked into it a year or so ago, I found that the OSCommerce community was much more robust, but Zen Cart seemed a bit more polished. My conclusion was that if you wanted the stock product with little customization, Zen Cart might be worth pursuing, otherwise OSC was prefereable. I went with OSC.
posted by Manjusri at 2:54 PM on September 20, 2005

I've used oscommerce in the past and it works well. The one thing I recommend is making sure you get someone that can configure it alot! I see so many small stores online with the default template and it really turns me off.

As for finding a good developer, I'd just make sure they can show you sites they have created that use whichever script you choose, or at least something similiar. Don't just go with the cheap guy, your end product will suffer greatly.
posted by meta87 at 7:36 PM on September 20, 2005

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