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Community Platform for Shoppers to Showcase and Buy Products

Categories : All, Retail / E-commerce, Social Networks

Client Requirement

The application has the following features:
  • Log in through Facebook connect
  • Applied Ajax to drag and drop products to their folio
  • Added interactivity through review and recommendations of products by friends
  • Allows to Replicate friend’s folio
  • Helps see the latest price and product detail on clicking on the product
  • Allows sharing the details on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and almost all
    top social networking sites
  • Helps buy from Amazon.com and Shopping.com portals
  • Provides access from iPad

The client demanded to create a common platform for shoppers who desire to research, rate, review and recommend the products. The application is for all the category shoppers. It is not exactly a shopping cart.However, it allows the users to create their Folios, add products they own or they wish. Users can also rate, like,review or recommend the products.

The application has integration with top shopping portals such as amazon.com and shopping.com. Users can search the products for any category with the help of the application which fetches the search results from these websites. Besides sharing the product information,reviews etc. users can also buy products. While buying,the application redirects users to the top shopping
sites and helps buy products through product comparison.The site also allows comparing the product with multiple other sites and other products thus ensuring the user buys the product at a best price.

The application has following requirement like community platform for shoppers to showcase and buy products with integrated the social networking features as it allows users to comment and share the reviews and recommendations. It also enables users to like or dislike the product.

Users can access the website by signing up to the application itself or through Facebook Connect. Once a user logs in with his Facebook id, there details are automatically recorded in the application’s database.They can then directly connect to their Facebook friends.The application is iPad compatible for access through a mobile device.

Project Challenges

Team faced the following challenge:
  • Managing products being fetched from multiple sites. Creating own database of fetched products also came as a challenge.
  • Integrating AJAX to provide a drag and drop facility while adding things or products in the folio.
  • Making the site iPad compatible without compromising with the look and feel of the website.

Technologies Used

Operating System & Server ManagementLinux OS, Multi-Server Architecture with Staging & Production Environment through Version Controlling releases,Server Optimization, Security & SSL Implementation, Scheduler for Back-ups,Alert Monitoring System Integration, Server Performance Tuning at regular intervals, Software Firewall Configuration & Maintenance
Development Tools & EnvironmentsPHP5+,Symfony Framework, AJAX, XHTML, Java Script, HTML5, CSS3, SOAP, REST etc.
DatabaseMYSQL Database Server,DB Clustering,DB Optimization, Master Slave Replication, Query Optimization, Scheduler for Backup

Manpower

Project Leader1
Developers2
Designers1
Quality Assurance Testers1

Planning

Keeping in mind the enormous structure of the website and the challenges involved, a four-tier development approach was adopted, consisting of:
  • The Database layer containing MySQL Server Database, Tables, stored procedures and so on.
  • The User Interface Layer which forms the Graphical Use r Interface of the website.
  • The Interface layer and Database Abstraction layer for converting data between incompatible type systems in databases and accessing data from the database respectively.
  • The Business Logic layer consisting of all business logic procedures for modules like User Profiles, Invitations, Forums and Blogs etc.

Architecture

The online networking characteristic of the website called for the design approach to be built around PHP and MySQL Server. The PHP files consisted of all Business logics used for respective modules like Save (Add/Update), Delete, Get single object, get multiple objects for listing and were designed to be capable of handling many more logics which were not related to the database. In order to most effectively access the database in an object -oriented context, an interface translating the object logic to the relational logic was used to communicate with the relational databases in an object-oriented manner.

An intermediary abstraction layer was created for accessing data from the database. Stored procedures were used only for complex retrieval of data from multiple tables and were entirely avoided with conditional syntax to ensure smooth performance of the website. The UI layer was kept free of any business logic. Sub – domains were used for the different areas of the website to guarantee scalability. Third party websites and prominent APIs were integrated to increase the functionality of the application.

Development Highlights

The site was equipped with a robust architecture to offer centralized access to multiple users for creating and editing folios. Customizable viewing options were designed to enhance user experience and allow personalization. Extensive pre-development research was carried out in order to integrate the third-party websites for product search and adding products automatically into the application’s native database. The application was built according to the latest standards. The website was developed keeping the SEO-promoted architecture in mind.

For timely delivery of this solution, we specifically used Symphony framework with RAD (Rapid Application Development) methodology. System makes extensive use of the APIs such as Facebook, REST, SOAP, LinkedIn, etc. to add interactivity to the website without the need of adding too much of code. The application was made compatible to run on iPAD. Web usability guidelines were strictly followed during development and the interface was made easily navigable through judicious use of AJAX, CSS and HTML controls. The site was developed and fully functional within a span of 2 months.

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