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KonaKart: Free Java-based online shopping cart

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KonaKart, a free Java-based online shopping cart, just released version InfoQ spoke with KonaKart founder Paolo Sidoli to learn more about this release, and how KonaKart fits into the online shopping cart space.

Sidoli told InfoQ that KonaKart originates from a perceived void in the Java eCommerce solution space - although there are many PHP-based free solutions, the only two Java solutions of which he was aware, ElasticPath and SoftSlate, were not free. KonaKart is separated into two parts - an open source API, and a closed-source but free engine. Sidoli described KonaKart's business model:

Our business model is to gain revenue on consulting and support so our product is free. If you buy a product like Softslate, they will also include the source code and teach you how to customize it to meet your requirements. This approach is fine until they come out with a new major release since at that point you have to almost start from scratch again as well as pay again. Our approach is to make KonaKart partly open source with the GNU LGPL license and partly closed source. Everything that we feel may need to be customized is Open Source. However the core of KonaKart which is accessible through an API, is not open source. The advantage of this approach is that we make an effort to retain backwards compatibility every time we come out with a new release. Therefore if you completely change the UI in today’s version, it will still work with the next version we release because *all* functionality uses our API.

KonaKart has several major features:

  • Standard shopping cart features - Order status, order history, customer accounts, product reviews, best-seller lists and product search are supported
  • Easy migration from osCommerce - KonaKart's datamodel and database are compatible with osCommerce 2.2 for easy migration
  • Modular design - Shipping, payment, order total and promotiom modules can be added, and BIRT reports are also supported
  • Multiple database support - KonaKart supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server
  • Fully skinnable - All functionality is accessible via Java APIs and SOAP web services so that the entire UI can be rewritten (in OpenLaszlo, for example) - Struts integration is also supported
  • AJAX components - one page checkout is implemented using AJAX, and the administration interface is also implemented with AJAX and JavaScript via the Google Web Toolkit (GWT)

KonaKart also has role-based security and auditing, internationalization (I18N) support, a robust promotions subsystem, and support for search engine optimization (SEO).

InfoQ asked Sidoli about future development plans:

We are very customer driven and so if we have a customer that is keen on using KonaKart but is missing some functionality that we consider to be of general use and not specific to that customer, then we tend to give it a high priority.

Our current roadmap involves:
  • Developing an OpenCMS module with KonaKart to allow OpenCMS users to download and install KonaKart as a module.
  • Develop themes, to allow users to easily change the look and feel of the application UI. This is already easy to do since the JSPs contain no business logic, but we want to achieve it through a wizard.
  • More payment gateways, shipping modules
  • Some more store features such as support for bundled products and shipping to multiple addresses.

Sidoli also mentioned that future integration points for business events (e.g. stock of a product going below a certain threshold) will depend upon customer feedback.

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