E-commerce Platform Reviews, Part 2: Zen Cart… Plus Some Jokes


Registration form of PHP-based E-Commerce Web-...
Registration form of PHP-based E-Commerce Web-Shop-Software ZenCart

If you are an e-commerce company in the market for a new platform, or if you otherwise want to sell anything online, this series is for you. The main control panel at Superb Internet that’s available for use for our clients is called myCP. Through myCP, you can utilize one of two e-commerce platform solutions: Miva Merchant or Zen Cart. Since 2002, we have included Miva free with all hosting packages; since 2007, we have included Zen as well.

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at Miva Merchant. This second installment will look at Zen Cart. Additionally, as explained in the Miva installment, the third and final part will describe in extreme and shocking detail the mating rituals of northeastern Maine’s wondrous wildlife (with a sidebar on tent-dwelling campers).

This review will be a little different from the Miva one. That article drew from various online perspectives on the application.  This one on Zen Cart instead will look directly and in depth into the perspectives from one source: Source Forge, a popular hub for the open source community (not to be confused with the “open sores” community – apples and oranges… injured oranges… there should be a punk band named that). I figured the perspectives from Source Forge will be particularly helpful since it is a fairly well-filtered, tech-savvy population more likely to be familiar with the various e-commerce platforms out there.

Afterwards, as a form of self-therapy, we will pump some iron, mumbling gruffly to ourselves about how the world doesn’t understand us.

Perspectives on Miva Merchant (courtesy of Source Forge)

OK, so let’s a take at what perspectives we can get from looking at user ratings and reviews on Source Forge. Before we get into that, I’ll just point out that Zen is free, but in order to use it, you have to go out and find your own hosting. If you want to use us for Zen Cart hosting, we’ll give you 6 months free (18 months for the price of 12). If you want to use someone else, well, we’ll leave the light on for you (the back light; the front one is for paying customers).

User Ratings

Zen is recommended on Source Forge by 77% of users, which is not bad. It has generated 453 “thumbs up” and 138 “thumbs down.” That’s a total of 591 user perspectives, so it’s also a fairly large sample size, even accounting for some spammers groveling over how great it is and only making partial sense.

User Reviews

Now these “reviews” are actually more like tweets – the longest one is three sentences. However, I think there are several meaningful comments to mention, and then I’ll discuss them as a whole. Here they are, edited for standard usage – and with the occasional addition of a “Praise Jesus” just to keep you on your toes:

  1. Miguel Diego writes, “Good ecommerce platform – works well. I wish the add-ons were easier to put in.”
  2. Diana Taylor writes, “I can’t get it to work.”
  3. Marfel Calimlim writes, “Fastest script for an e-shop. Easy to install and use. Long life to the project.”


These comments actually provide a great mix of positivity and negativity. First is mixed, second is negative, and third is positive. Certainly, you can’t make everyone happy, unless you’re Santa Claus (although home invasion is nothing to take lightly, even if the intruder has presents for the kids). The gist with the perspective of Source Forge users is that it’s great once you get it up and running, but there are some installation & setup flaws. Diana’s and Miguel’s comments are both related to ease of setup – for the platform as a whole and for the add-ons.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not a big deal … but it can certainly be frustrating. Here is the Zen Cart forums page with full instructions on installation of both the platform and its plugins (with us, of course, it’s already in your hosting control panel, so that’s irrelevant).


That’s it for my review of Zen Cart. Pluses and minuses, like anything, but I think Zen Cart is in the black. It’s a solid application if you’re looking to sell online or try something different. Plus, beyond templates and add-ons, it’s fully customizable. Open source, if you haven’t heard, allows you to get into the code and tinker around. That means that, worst-case scenario, if you get upset about any of the functionality, just grab a programmer and have them make whatever updates you want.

Again, Zen Cart is one of two options we have pre-installed with all our hosting packages. We also have Miva Merchant, discussed in Part 1 of this series. Now that we’ve reviewed Miva and Zen, it’s time to move on to our final part: mating rituals of northeastern Maine’s wondrous wildlife, including occupants of tents (but not lean-tos – those guys deserve their own three-part series).

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

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