osCommerce Then and Now

osCommerce, once the light of open source eCommerce, has been dogged with rumors of its demise which started with the initial release of Magento. A clever marketing campaign, perhaps on the part of Varien to steal market share, it has re-emerged from time to time. Not having release every couple of months is actually a good thing. It means there are no defects. However, with the announcement of the development of 2.4 and the passing of the original release date of August 2017, the question arises again albeit this time legitimately. Is there a future in osCommerce?
While osCommerce market share has decreased over the years as new competitors join the market, it still has a loyal following and ranks in the list of open source eCommerce vendors including:

  • Magento (*)
  • WooCommerce / Woothemes (*)
  • Pretashop
  • OpenCart
  • VirtueMart.

Of all the above, osCommerce was the first of its kind and still leads in terms of its ability to support highly custom solutions with a low cost of ownership and lean footprint.  In contrast to its competition, it is an eCommerce “engine” meant to be taken and modified at core level to create a unique solution.  In contrast, Magento (the first rival which was based on osCommerce and developed Varien who previously specialized in osCommerce) tries to be all things to all people with many features already installed out of the box. And like WooCommerce, you cannot modify the core.
(*) Of the three solutions we work with, in our opinion, Magento has the highest cost of ownership in terms of development, support and hosting with the least friendly administration panel  WooCommerce and osCommerce are on a par for the friendliness of its admin panel but WooCommerce now leads in terms of development for mainstream retail eCommerce.  However osCommerce still leads for the creation of sites with extremely complex business rules given the ability to modify the core without issue given there is no forced upgrade path. Unfortunately this will change if/when osCommerce 2.4 is released.
osCommerce 2.4 will bring the platform in line with other open source solutions whereby any modifications are done by “plugins” that do not modify the core.  There will be no direct upgrade path from 2.2/2.3 to 2.4.  A complete rebuild will be required with customizations or prior installed Add Ons having to be rebuild as new 2.4 Add Ons.  This might be good in terms of competing out of the box with other open source but bad for anyone wanting an eCommerce “engine”.  Of course you don’t have to follow their rules!
Given the delayed release of 2.4 and the impact it will have on existing osCommerce sites, planning for the future becomes a decision of “should we stay or should we go?”
NOTE:  ozEworks have been official osCommerce Partners for 4 years.  We intend to continue to work with osCommerce and remain partners for the foreseeable future.  If you want advice in regard to using osCommerce for your site, please contact us for a free consultation.