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    Help! Two new projects!


    Hi all, I was hoping to get a few questions answered about the two projects some friends approached me about recently. Some quick background about myself: I am a senior computer-science major in my last semester of school before graduating with my bachelors (well in a few weeks anyway). My school focuses mostly on Java and I haven't done a ton of side projects. Though this past semester I messed around a bit with PHP, python, C, and ruby though it was by no means enough to truly learn the ins and the outs of the language. I have very little SQL experience, though I've at least seen what it looks like and I have an outstanding PHP / SQL book as a reference / guide to work with.

    Project 1: A friend approached me recently asking if I could help her set up a website for her business. She's in the process of getting me an inventory (it's a toy store with probably 100 + different items, all containing pictures, descriptions, etc.), I guess via spreadsheet, and is asking me to develop a functional site where people can log on, purchase items, and then I guess alert her to mail them. In thinking about this, there are a few things I can think of that I'll need to develop.
    Shopping Cart (probably linked to paypal)
    Main page, as well as dynamic item page
    Inventory database

    Now in thinking about this, I'm not exactly sure how most sites handle this kind of business. Is there a different 'portal' website that the store owner could log on to and check to see if there are any orders, see shipping, payment, and any other additional information in most cases? Or would I have paypal / my shopping cart email the seller? Are there any other things you can think of that I would want to add to the site? I'm getting paid a couple hundred bucks for this, which I know is way less than I should be charging. Though I'm definitely a novice at web development, and I'm trying to help a friend out. Also, is PHP going to be the go to language here? Should I consider anything else?

    Edit: I spoke with a friend briefly yesterday in passing about this and he recommended using Drupal for this, and he also recommended not building my own shopping cart and instead finding a free one on e-commerce's website. Would anyone like to offer some additional insight here?

    Project 2: Another friend asked me to help him write an app. Essentially, several people could be set up in a household for certain chores. When someone does a chore, it marks it on their phone and pushes a notification to all others in that the database recognizes under that household (that have the app obviously) that the chore is complete. All he wanted me to do is set up the push notification system, and he mentioned he was developing the app for iOS, android, and windows mobile I guess in PHP. Is there anything special I need to know?

    Thanks for your help!
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    Definitely do not use Drupal. It's not an absolutely terrible framework, although I personally dislike it, but it has an absolutely massive learning curve far above and beyond the PHP language itself. If you were familiar with PHP and Drupal already then it wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea, but since you're not familiar with either I can almost guarantee that it wouldn't work out.

    I think you're probably underestimating the amount of work involved here. If I were preparing an estimate for a fully custom e-commerce site it would be near 6 figures. Even a partially customized e-commerce site based on an existing platform will generally run 5 figures.

    You should definitely look at using a using a pre-packaged e-commerce solution for the site. Something like Magento or Prestocart may work well.

    Magento is pretty much as complex as Drupal; the difference is that it's specifically intended for e-commerce, while Drupal is not. This means that ideally you will not have to actually write any custom code for it. Drupal does have shopping cart modules that you can download and install, but they pale in comparison to the capabilities of a dedicated e-commerce system like Magento.


    For your second project, there's not enough information to really say much about that. You can't write a mobile app in just PHP unless by mobile app he just means a web page designed to be visited on a device, and you can't do native push notifications in an app like that unless the browser is always open to that page. PHP might just be used on the back-end of the system, but that still doesn't help you with a push notification system at all because you wouldn't be able to write the client-side part of a push notification system in PHP.
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    Welcome to DevShed Forums, Jarmo.

    I would strongly advise against making an e-commerce site with so little experience, unless maybe you were just going to setup something like osCommerce for her. Good e-commerce sites are very complex and require a good knowledge of how to secure them (e.g. from malicious attacks).

    I'm getting paid a couple hundred bucks for this, which I know is way less than I should be charging.
    Yes, such sites usually cost a lot more, however, experience affects rates. You should probably warn her about the risks of hiring someone who is very inexperienced in this area.

    Also, is PHP going to be the go to language here?
    PHP is a good choice and is probably the easiest to find hosting for. Since you've been studying Java, you could also use JSP (Java Server Pages), but hosts for that are harder to find and probably more expensive too.
    Last edited by Kravvitz; January 11th, 2013 at 02:02 PM.
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