In the process of updating several client’s Zen Cart websites we’ve learned that the responsive Zen Cart v1.5.4 is designed for PHP 5.5 and PHP 5.6 (and is compatible with PHP 5.3.7 and PHP 5.4 if really necessary, with some bugfix patches applied).
If your server is still using PHP version 5.2.x (which is VERY OLD and now officially obsolete since 2011) and you try to use Zen Cart v1.5.4 you may encounter an error akin to the following when trying to access the Admin area: Blank Page
Remember: PHP 5.2.x is obsolete and officially no longer supported by anybody. You should be upgrading your server’s PHP version ASAP to stay up-to-date for your best website performance.
If your Zen Cart website has a ‘contact form’, which collects visitor information, be aware that spammer’s software commonly uses this feature to send unwanted emails. The solution to stopping these emails is straightforward and effective: Have your webmaster install a CAPTCHA on your ‘form’.
What is a CAPTCHA? A CAPTCHA is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”. CAPTCHA’s are used to prevent automated software from using your form to send spam emails. A CAPTCHA generally uses a graphic image of random letters and numerals in lower and upper case.
Example 1: Example 2:
The viewer needs to type in the random password correctly to submit the form. The test ensures that a computer cannot generate the correct response, as computers cannot ‘read’ the graphic image password. Because other computers are unable to solve the CAPTCHA, any user entering a correct solution is presumed to be human.
A commonly targeted weakness of zen-cart websites is spam emails being sent through the websites using the “Tell a Friend” form. If the spam emails get too frequent your site may be suspended by the hosting service and need to be reinstated. If you feel like you’ve been having the same issue, here is a way to solve the problem by allowing only “logged-in” customers to use the Tell a Friend form.
What we need to do is change one setting in the shopping cart admin panel to disallow “guest” shoppers from using the “tell a friend” form. However, registered and logged in customers will still get to use it.
This is how to make the change:
- Login to the shopping cart Admin panel
- Go to: Configuration –> Email Options
- Look for “Allow Guest To Tell A Friend” and click on that row once.
- To the right your choices will appear. Choose “False” and click update.
This setting change should eliminate or at least drastically reduce these spam emails from being sent.
I often get asked, “Where is the homepage in Zen-Cart?” All my client’s want to do is add or change something simple to their homepage but they just can’t find the file. Is it hidden? Well, the answer is technically no but it might as well be. I hope this article will help newbies to Zen-Cart find their way.
Zen-Cart is a dynamically generated, PHP shopping cart software. This to say that each segment or “module” of the home page is separated into individual files. The Header, Body, and Footer are all separate files that get assembled at the time the page gets called by the browser. And it doesn’t stop there. Just about every element on the homepage is a separate file such as the Shopping Cart, Categories and Manufacturers boxes. Why would they do that? Doesn’t that just totally complicate everything? Yes, this does increase the difficulty factor of editing individual elements in your Zen-Cart template, but does offer many advantages and flexibility for the store manager.
Zen-Cart allows the store manager to not only select what infomation boxes that will appear on the homepage but also choose their sort order. This call be done by changing simple settings in the Admin Control Panel. If the store manager decides he wants to run a special, he can activate the “Specials” box to apper on the homepage. Then, deactivate it when the specail is over. You can even create Custom User Pages with whatever content you want using the “EZ-Page” function. This type of versatility and fluidity would not be possible with traditionally coded HTML pages. So, there is a reason behind the madness. Zen-Cart is fragmented into small pieces intentionally so it can have more freedom to dynamically assemble it’s pages based on parameters set by the store manager. These settings will alter the carts apperance and content all from completely within the Admin Panel.
Zen Cart is an open source online store management system. It is PHP-based, using a MySQL database and HTML components. Support is provided for several languages and currencies, and is free available under the GNU General Public License.
Zen Cart branched from osCommerce as a separate project. Beyond some aesthetic changes, the major differences between the two systems come from Zen Cart’s architectural changes(e.g. a template system) and additional included features in the core. Among the modules already included are a Gift Certificate/Voucher module which allows to create, send and manage the digital coupons. A module to sell downloads(pdf or other media files) is included as well.