Building a Check-Out System
February 5, 2004 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Suppose I wanted to build a web site on which a number of items was listed that were available for members of that web site to sign out. I would want the status of items (in/out) to be viewable by people looking to take out items in real time. What would I need to do this and who would I hire to do it? In addition, what would I expect to pay? What's the best way to find such a person?
posted by dobbs to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) He's very good. Get a quote.
posted by banished at 9:25 PM on February 5, 2004

Would this have anything to do with that DVD store you were talking about?
posted by me3dia at 9:38 PM on February 5, 2004

Dan Grigsby of did this with DVDs. It was called Mozo and he's since taken it down. I'm betting if you asked him he would fill you in on it.
posted by answergrape at 9:43 PM on February 5, 2004

If I'm understanding this properly, what you want is an inventory tracking system. In essence, a database that allows a member to see if the requested item is available.

The cost of something like this ranges from incredibly mind bogglingly expensive to absolutely free. It depends on how much your willing to do yourself and how aggresively you want to attack the learning curve. There are a variety of open source or inexpensive tools that will do what you want and most e-commerce packages offer real time inventory management, if you have an existing site your host may have something preinstalled.

Zen Cart (which seems to be down at the moment) is a free (GPL) one you may find worth a look. Alternatively, any competent web guy should be able to cook up a few database tables and a front end without your needing to mortgage your house.
posted by cedar at 10:09 PM on February 5, 2004

Maybe the guy who did Booklend could give you advice.

I think it's unlikely that there's an existing package (free or otherwise) that will behave exactly as you want. But I agree with cedar that it should be pretty simple to find someone with the skills to do this, probably rather affordably, seeing as how work can be pretty scarce for web developers right now. and can be good places to ask for bids. Get a slashdot account and post a help wanted in your sig. And finally, you know there are a number of savvy web developers hanging around MeFi. You might take out a text ad, or you might even simply state in this thread that you'd be open to having people contact you.
posted by weston at 11:02 PM on February 5, 2004

Just so you have some insight into what's needed here:

The real time in/out functionality is very easy, and basic. But you'd need a bunch of stuff under that which would be much more involved. A user database with authentication, registration, login, log out, etc. Admin and reporting tools. A product database with display, add/edit/delete, searching and filtering, etc. And probably some sort of shopping cart and a check out.

These things are known quanities, and most web programmers will have built something like it many times. But it can get very involved. There is the possibility that you'd be able to find a suitable shopping package and then just add in the in/out functionality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:03 AM on February 6, 2004

Check out the Distributed Library Project software. It seems to do what you want, though it's oriented toward books; also, it's designed to list items available from a variety of people (hence "distributed") rather than one central source. But it might be cheaper to pay someone to hack it a little bit (it's open-source) than to pay someone to build what you want from scratch.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:21 AM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I'll check out all the links.

In answer to some questions:

I am able to set up membership and search things without problem using pMachine. I assume if the inventory thing is done with PHP that I can just drop that code into the pMachine templates. I am also capable of designing the site myself.

It would not be connected to a non-web based system at all (like a different database that is itself tracking inventory).

m3dia... Yes and no. It's DVD related but not to a store, so to speak. It's all very fuzzy at the moment but I'm working on it.
posted by dobbs at 7:59 AM on February 6, 2004

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