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Revision as of 11:56, 22 July 2005 by Woozle (talk | contribs) (cat_ioptns)
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Technology: VbzCart

Having evaluated osCommerce and found that, although it had many features I would like to have on vbz.net, it also lacked some crucial features currently needed (many of which are provided by the existing shopping cart system, and some of which would be needed in order to effectively manage porting the data from the existing system).

So I'm writing a new system, in PHP, based on the data design of the existing VBZ cart system and adding new pieces as needed.

I will be taking notes on this page and gradually refining them into something resembling documentation, with the ultimate goal of producing a system which could be released under an open source license.


  • "#" indicates Primary Key fields
  • "@" indicates autonumbered fields


Main data tables

  • admin_users -- users with access to the admin system
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Name - varchar(32)
    • Email - varchar(128)
  • admin_groups -- each group has a role to play, and each role requires a particular set of privileges
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Name - varchar(32)
    • Descr - text -- text describing the purpose of this group
  • admin_privs -- particular privileges; meaning is defined in code
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Name - varchar(32)
    • Descr - text -- text describing this permission

Collection/link tables

  • admin_user_groups -- users in each group / groups to which each user belongs
    • ID_User# - int(4)
    • ID_Group# - int(4)
  • admin_group_privs -- privileges each group has / groups having a particular privilege
    • ID_Group# - int(4)
    • ID_Priv# - int(4)


These tables describe the items available for sale and correctly describe and price items added to the shopping cart.

A "Title" is a group of items with a common description, e.g. different sizes or styles of a shirt, different media (CD, cassette) for an audio recording.

In the previous version of the cart software, we had to have items of somewhat different appearance (e.g. longsleeve and shortsleeve shirts) sharing a single title, so as to remove the necessity to always have pictures for each. In this version, a title can point to another title for its picture, thus keeping it clear whether the picture is truly representative or just an approximation.

  • cat_suppliers -- catalog suppliers (i.e. manufacturers, wholesalers)
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Name - text(64) -- supplier's name
    • CatKey - text(8) -- supplier's identifying characters in catalog numbers
    • MinCostPerOrd - currency -- supplier's minimum order, dollar amount
    • MinQtyPerDesign - int(4) -- supplier's default minimum order per design (can be overridden for specific Titles)
Note: other contact data should probably be wiki-based. We'll have a namespace for vbz catalog data, probably "vbzcat:", and supplier information will be stored in pages named something like "vbzcat:lb.page", "vbzcat:lb.address", "vbzcat:lb.phone", and so on. (MediaWiki 1.5 will, if I understand right, allow regular non-template pages to be used as templates -- so we can have one page showing all the contact info together without having to enter it twice.)
  • cat_titles -- catalog titles
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • ID_Supplier - int(4) -- cat_suppliers.ID
    • ID_Similar - int(4) -- cat_titles.ID of a similar title whose image can be used, if this title lacks one
    • Name - varchar(128) -- name of title, usually according to supplier (not strict)
    • CatKey - varchar(32) -- must be unique within supplier
Note: I was also going to include a "Descr" (descriptive text) field, but I'm inclined to think that should be wiki-based too (like "vbzcat:lb-00000.descr").
  • cat_items -- catalog items
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • CatNum - varchar(32) -- catalog number: must be unique, but may change
    • ID_Title - int(4) -- cat_titles.ID
    • ID_IType - int(4) -- type of item
    • ID_IOpt - int(4) -- item option (usually size)
    • ID_ShipCost - int(4) -- applicable shipping cost calculation data
    • Price - currency -- price to customer
  • cat_itypes -- catalog item types
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • ID_Parent - int(4) -- cat_itemtypes.ID of parent, if any
    • NameSng - varchar(32) -- word for single item of this type (e.g. "shirt","box")
    • NamePlr - varchar(32) -- word for multiple items of this type (e.g. "shirts","boxes")
  • cat_ioptns -- catalog options
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • CatKey - varchar(8) -- appended to catalog number (with dash prefix)
    • Descr - varchar(64) -- appended to item description (with separator of some kind)
    • Sort - varchar(8) -- sorting order when options for a title appear together in a list


The items a customer wants to order are saved in a cart. The cart also saves session information, e.g. customer's IP/domain, but not the customer's shipping or payment data. Later on, we'll allow customers to make changes to carts after the cart has already been assigned to an order, so will need session info stored separately, which is why it's in a separate table.

Main data tables

  • shop_carts -- shopping carts
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • WhenCreated - timestamp -- when this cart was created
    • WhenLocked - timestamp -- when this cart was locked (can't add/remove items)
  • shop_session -- shopping session
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Remote_Client - text -- browser user_agent string
    • Remote_IPAddr - int(4) -- remote host IP address
    • Remote_Domain - text -- remote host domain info (reverse lookup), if any
    • WhenStarted - timestamp -- when session was started
    • WhenLastAct - timestamp -- timestamp of last activity on this session

Collection/link tables

  • shop_cart_sessions -- a given cart might be accessed from different sessions, when that functionality is available
    • ID_Cart# - int(4)
    • ID_Sess# - int(4)
  • shop_cart_items -- items in a cart
    • ID_Cart# - int(4)
    • ID_Item# - int(4)
    • Qty - int(4)
    • CatNum - varchar(32) -- catalog number as sold
    • Descr - text -- description as sold
    • Price - currency -- price as sold
    • ShipMin - currency -- quoted minimum standard shipping cost (e.g. if sent with a lot of other items)
    • ShipMax - currency -- quoted maximum standard shipping cost (e.g. if sent by itself)

Future Changes

Shipping code should be tied to the item Option (i.e. no ID_ShipCode field in cat_items), which would include size and other variants (i.e. cat_itypes and cat_iopts will be combined). Each Supplier should have its own list of item types, to allow for different variation (e.g. LB tie-dye shirts of a given size weigh more than ZR shirts of the same size because they use thicker cloth). I'm using the schema as it is because converting the existing data will be a complicated task and we need to get this thing working ASAP, but I picture something like this in the near future:

  • cat_itypes - catalog item types
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Name - text
    • ID_Parent - int(4) -- cat_itypes.ID of parent type, if any
  • cat_ioptns - catalog item options
    • ID#@ - int(4)
    • Key - string(8) -- Supplier.CatKey-Title.CatKey[-Key] = complete catalog number (Key can be blank)
    • Descr - string(64) -- description of this option (e.g. "eXtra Large")
  • cat_itype_ioptns - options available for each item type, per supplier
    • ID - int(4) -- unique identifier
    • ID_Supplier# - int(4)
    • ID_IType# - int(4)
    • ID_IOptn# - int(4)
    • ID_ShipCode - int(4) -- shipping cost type for this combination
    • Descr - string(128) -- description of this option/type combination (e.g. "eXtra Large shortsleeve t-shirt")

We would then remove the ID_IType and ID_ShipType fields from cat_items; ID_IOpt would point to cat_itype_ioptns instead of cat_ioptns... or we could rename it ID_ITypeOptn, but that's... a bit ugly. I'll have to talk myself into it. Also, I think I used a scheme something like this in an earlier revision of the MS Access version of VbzCart and ended up changing it to what it is now; that may have been for a good reason, or it may have been because it seemed too unwieldy... I think I was generating a cat_itype_ioptns entry for every possible combination of IType and IOptn, and that doesn't make sense. You just need a tool to help manage them, and to copy existing sets for tweaking. It also didn't have an ID_Supplier key.