I was reading an article entitled, “The Cutting Edge of Trade Secrets–How Far Should the Law Go To Prevent Misappropriation by Memory and Inevitable Disclosure” and what I found relevant to most small business computer networks are that employees often can setup email accounts and store emails on their personal home computer should the telecommuter – work at home.
But is it? There seems plenty of reason to doubt whether the approach is either new or open source. My original concept when proposing CRE Loaded commercialization was to charge a standard fee per copy distributed with a 30 to 90 day support window, following which support could be obtained on a contract basis. Revenues would be further augmented by internally developed documentation and education offerings made available both directly to the public on Chain Reaction’s own site, and via a distribution network of existing community vendors. The value of the software would be increased by ongoing addition of new features designed and built in house, and refactoring of the core code to bring it into alignment with the current PHP and MySQL feature sets and changes in the security environment.
What has emerged appears to be little more than SaaS without the second S. Here is why.
The “manual” posted on the latest incarnation of their website is a thinly disguised knock off of Kerry Watson’s 6.2 Users Manual. They may argue that there are few other ways to state the programs use, and that just may be. But why can’t the ‘designers’ of the software do any better? They should for example, have access to and include information on input formats and boundaries, and systemic capabilities and limitations which are not readily available to the non-programmer. Such information is not, as of the date of this writing, available in their “users guide”. Their “educational program” consists of a page buried 3-5 levels deep in their site which asks the users to inform Chain Reaction of their educational needs so that content can be developed. So much for educational and documentation support.
Their new releases are “subscription” based. But there is some room for question as to just what users would be subscribing. What does Chain Reaction deliver in return for its charges?
In other developments, a complete redesign of the coupon system is underway. The first of a series aimed at replacing the venerable but dated Credit Class and Gift Voucher system, this project seeks to build a system which offers more flexible and powerful marketing tools to users of osCommerce based shopping carts.
While the design is still preliminary, the table set already offers significant improvements over the previous system. A clear separation is established between coupons and cash instruments such as Gift Certificates, Store Credits and Gift Vouchers. The extended table set will allow setting coupon application criteria in either allow OR deny formats, and provisions for coupon application management will extend to categories, products, customers and customer groups in ranges restricted only by server capabilities. The use of plugins will allow coupon types to be easily extended without core code modification – a major plus for add on developers.
Working design notes can be found in our development wiki, titled discount manager in the EOS Designs chapter. osCommerce developers interested in participating can comment in the forum topic “Re: CCGV Refactoring”
We are finally resuming the development of educational materials here at our nascent Open Source eCommerce University. A new Flash tutorial on updating prices and quantity with Easy Populate is in rough draft, along with a written guide. Its not before time. Its been months since we released anything new in the Moodle installation – but it is getting a face lift, with a new theme to match the rest of the site and new content to match. We will be trying some new arrangements for our classes, and bringing live chat to the table in the near future for those who wish to meet vendors versed in CRE Loaded, osCommerce and other packages serving the Open Source ecommerce marketplace.
Look for a first release of this tutorial in 2 to 3 weeks max.
Once more the Evil Over Lords Imperial Storm Troopers (AKA Chain Reaction Ecommerce) strikes a blow for Open Source excellence at their customers expense. How you might ask? As well you should. The answer does yeild a certain amount of amusement, if one’s sense of humer partakes of a certain twisted bent.
This morning, CRE Loaded store users began drawing to my attention the sudden onset of error messages from Internet Explorer whenever an Admin page was rendered. The error noted that some of the page content was subject to a security certificate flaw. On examination of the pages, we found the expected suspect. Once more Chain Reaction has used its 175,000 users as alarm clocks to remind them to renew a security certificate. This is, I believe, at 3 years running. Is this now company tradition? Rumors abound of a pool for next years renewal date..
In the meantime, if you have better things to do with your time than call CRE support to remind them of a job they should already have done (and who doesn’t), or you’re one of those clued in people who know better than to simply click “accept this content” whenever you encounter this error (and we sincerely hope you are – bad habit!), you might want to join us in the Open Source University Forums to find out how to remove the offending links from YOUR CRE Loaded cart.