Magento or Zen-cart for downloadable products? 1

A friend of mine wants a shopping cart for his downloadable products (images and music).  I’ve worked on oscommerce for a few years now (1 year full time) and know that the code is crap.  Oscommerce is dead, period.  The code is unmaintainable.


I know Zencart is based on oscommerce as the database is pretty much the same and it has most of the same interfaces.  Zencart is a cleaned up oscommerce, but let’s face it, to really clean up oscommerce you need to start over from scatch.  Setting up a downloadable product with zencart is a hack in itself.  Here are two tutorials I found showing you how to do it – and .  After the customer has made their purchase, here is the download screen they’ll use to access the file. You’ll find the list of available downloads scrunched in the middle of the page below.


Today was my first experience with Magento.  The installation was more difficult than Zen-cart and the database is 212 tables as compared to 95 for Zen-cart.  I’ll admit my eyes glazed over looking at the database and the code library today.  Everything with Magento is mod rewrite so when you see there really isn’t a customer directory in the code.  Magento is like wordpress where you don’t modify the code if you want updates and support.  Magento offers paid support programs and customizations… maybe that’s why they made is so damn confusing.  Magento is cutting edge PHP; it’s built on the Zend Framework.  The interfaces of Magento are modern and don’t look like something that came from back when the internet was born.

How to specify that a product is downloadable and upload the downloadable file.

Customer’s view of downloadable products after making a purchase.

In my opinion, Magento is the clear choice going forward.  Here’s my analagy of comparing Magento to Zencart… it’s like comparing a new car to a twenty year old car.  The new car looks better, has better features, and outperforms the older car in every way.  From a developer’s perspective, when you look under the hood of Magento (at the code and database), you’ll feel overwhelmed and will realize there is a lot to learn.

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