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Able Commerce Developer 2.6

Able Commerce Developer 2.6

True, it's possible to do just about anything with ColdFusion. But if there's already a solution on the market that's well tested, why reinvent the wheel?

Take AbleCommerce Developer 2.6. With AbleCommerce you don't have to spend thousands of hours of programming time to create a sophisticated e-commerce store. In a sense, AbleCommerce gives you the best of both worlds. If you want to customize the store, you can use ColdFusion and not have to learn another scripting language. If you don't want to do much programming, you can use over 300 wizards and templates to create a quick commerce site. You don't have to know ColdFusion at all - or even HTML.

As with any good e-commerce tool, you can build your storefront from your browser. Your store can be virtually any size - from thousands of products to just one. There are two basic parts to AbleCommerce: System Administration and Merchant Administration (see Figure 1).

System Administration
Store Groups: In each Store Group you can have one or more stores (depending on how many your license allows). By clicking on a Store Group, you can view a list of the stores and add or edit products (see Figures 2 and 3). You can also make global changes to your settings (see Figure 4). You can change things such as shipping classes (flat fee per order, flat fee plus weight rate, etc.), payment methods, such as Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, etc. and tax rates (see Figure 5).

AbleCommerce supports major payment processing systems, e.g., CyberCash, ICVerify and Authorize.Net (see Figure 6), and it even supports Secure Electronic Transactions (SET), the most secure form of e-commerce.

You can also change the log-file options. For example, you might want the server to generate daily, weekly or monthly log files that you can then analyze using WebTrends or other third-party software products. (AbleCommerce is bundled with WebTrends, which is a top-notch product for traffic analysis.)

ProtoFax Gateway (another bundled product with AbleCommerce) allows you to securely fax order confirmations to merchants. In other words, a merchant can get orders without going through the Internet.

Security Manager: This is where the user information is stored. The first category of users has no administrative access. These users either access a page of the site and are tracked by IP address, browser type and a random cookie ID, or complete a checkout that requests a user name, random password and contact information.

The second user category has administrative access. These users are either merchants who have access to the Merchant Administration page or systems administrators who have full access.

Data Source Manager: This allows you to add, edit or remove Store Groups. Each Store Group has its own content database as well as a user security database. The stores in each group can then have their own domain names and security certificates.

There's support for MS Access 7 and SQL Server 6.5, as well as for any ODBC-compliant database.

Merchant Administration
Styles: This gives you free rein to change the look and feel of your store in terms of fonts, colors and navigational images. This makes life easier, especially if your store has many products.

Web Pages: As the name implies, you can customize each Web page to your specifications, either by writing the HTML (manually or by using an editor such as FrontPage) or by using wizards.

Inventory: Inventory is based on a hierarchical structure of three levels - Category, Group and Product - all of which are flexible. For example, you can move a Group and its products to a different Category or move products to a different Group.

As is typical for most stores, each product can have a graphic. This helps to motivate the buyer.

AbleCommerce has also included Font F/X Text Renderer, which helps you create professional-looking images.

Discounts: You can set discounts, based on a percentage or dollar amount off a product, to categories, groups and/or products. You can also set minimum and maximum purchase requirements.

Orders: This is a list of unprocessed orders you can process and then either delete or archive.

Reports: The four main reports are sales by date range (shows gross sales), recent shoppers, browser types (shows a list of browser types and the percentage of use) and log files (a list of available log files).

Comments: This will allow the user to send you comments about your service - a valuable information source for any merchant who wants to improve service.

AbleCommerce Solutions was founded in February 1995 and has a well-tested product that works well with ColdFusion. Sites such as Casio, Hasbro (the company Intranet) and even Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville (the official Buffet Store) use the software.

Although the product is great, there are some shortcomings. I'd like to see a general-purpose Store Wizard that creates a simple store, and it would be nice to have several step-by-step demos in the documentation for creating a store.

All in all, AbleCommerce will help you create your online store very easily, and without sacrificing functionality.

More Stories By Tom Taulli

Tom Taulli is the CEO of Blueprint Interactive (, which develops Internet applications for the enterprise.

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